North America

Cree nation votes to develop Manitoba’s 200-MW Wuskwatim

Members of the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation have voted to approve development of the 200-MW Wuskwatim hydroelectric and transmission project in Manitoba, in partnership with Manitoba Hydro.

The Wuskwatim Project Development Agreement gives the native group an opportunity to own up to a third of the C$1.2 billion (US$1.1 billion) project, which is proposed for a site on the Burntwood River in north-central Manitoba. The pact includes long-term potential for the nation to earn millions of dollars and contains financing and liability protections for Cree investment.

Seventy percent of eligible members voted June 7 and 14 at Nelson House, Thompson, South Indian Lake, Leaf Rapids, Winnipeg, and Brandon, Manitoba. About 62 percent of those voting approved. Chief Jerry Primrose announced the outcome June 15, declaring victory for the future of the 4,000-member nation.

Province-owned Manitoba Hydro said it would have canceled the project if a majority of the Cree nation had not voted in favor. Earlier this year, the utility said costs of construction materials and environmental monitoring had increased by C$241 million (US$211 million) for the combined generation and transmission project.

Parties planned to sign the agreement June 26 at Nelson House. Six years of construction is to begin upon receipt of licenses and approvals. The project is expected to provide employment for Cree members and revenues of about C$100 million (US$90 million) in construction contracts for Cree businesses and joint ventures.

For information on tender opportunities when they become available, see Manitoba Hydro’s Internet site, www.hydro.mb.ca.