Transmission line waits for Bell

Forests and mines minister Pat Bell isn’t exactly sure when he’ll be making a decision to approve or deny construction approval for the Northwest Transmission Line.

Forests and mines minister Pat Bell isn’t exactly sure when he’ll be making a decision to approve or deny construction approval for the Northwest Transmission Line.

Bell said he knows northwestern residents are looking for a quick approval for the project which is to run power up Hwy37 North and lead to the development of promising mineral properties.

“Initially I was hoping made a decision quickly, but now, in looking at the depth and amount of material, I am looking at all of the issues,” he expllained.

He has two thick binders of material; one about six inches thick and the other about three inches thick.

“I’ve started reading them through and am aware of our obligations,” Bell added.

He has had one meeting already with environment minister Murray Coell, the other cabinet minister who has to sign off on the transmission line.

The two ministers have 45 days, a countdown which began when the environmental assessment was completed January 12, in which to make a decision.

The two have also had a verbal briefing from the BC Environmental Assessment Office which spent a good portion of last year looking at the environmental and other ramifications stemming from the line’s construction.

Bell said he’s aware of the northwestern desire to build the line and spur on anticipated benefits.

At a planned 340km in length, the line would run north from BC Hydro’s Skeena Substation near Terrace, ending at Bob Quinn on Hwy37 North.

At least two copper mining projects, NovaGold’s Galore Creek and Red Chris belonging to Imperial Metals, would then run connecting lines from their properties to Bob Quinn.

A third user, the Alberta energy company called AltaGas, would also build a line from its Forrest Kerr run-of-river project to feed power in at Bob Quinn for sale to BC Hydro.

The cumulative economic impact just from construction of the above projects would be several billion dollars over a concentrated period of time.