A group of farmers have spent 48 hours camping in the cold near Steinbach protesting Bipole III construction.
Jurgen Kohler with the Manitoba Bipole Landowners Committee says Hydro has not treated farmers properly.
“We have simply lost trust in Manitoba Hydro. There is no trust there, it’s been broken. This whole thing should be monitored by a third-party.”
Kohler says they have concerns about the negotiating process to acquire the land.
“Hydro is being utterly disrespectful to these landowners. We’re out here supporting these landowners for their property rights.”
He adds they are not stopping the construction process, they just want to make sure their concerns are heard.
Manitoba Hydro has responded, saying that procedures to control bio-security risk are in place and that they worked with landowners “before, during and after construction of the Bipole III reliability project.” They say they developed a set of procedures with industry experts and agriculture staff with the government to protect land from invasive species and crop disease.
Statement from Manitoba Hydro:
Despite a small number of land owners blocking access, and getting in the way of construction activity, the work on Bipole III is proceeding as planned – there is no truth to the fact that Manitoba Hydro has “pulled out of any site.”
We still have crews on site waiting for protesters to allow access of concrete trucks. Manitoba Hydro has full legal access to the land where construction is active.
We experience good cooperation from most landowners – we have easement deals with more than 80 per cent of landowners – and we’re confident in our ability to deal with these blockades, albeit frustrating and time-consuming for all involved.
Before any augers are moved we scrape them to remove the loose material. Any remaining material, clays from below ground, are then sprayed with Virkon, a disinfectant used to help manage biosecurity risk. At this time of year, the top soil where contaminates could reside is frozen and does not adhere to the auger.