Information on Manitoba Hydro's Pointe du Bois Spillway Replacement Project and Associated Sub Projects
Manitoba Hydro has applied on June 17, 2011 for environmental licencing for this project. An Environmental Impact Statement(EIS) has been submitted which is intended to describe the scope and effects of the project, including areas of concern gathered through public consultation and how Manitoba Hydro intends to mitigate those concerns. Based on a WCA review of previous Environmental Impact Statements for related projects, the EIS may contain additional information on the scope of the project that was not previously provided to the public. The Environmental Assessment and Licensing Branch of Manitoba Conservation as well as the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency will review the application. A licence may be granted without a public hearing if these regulatory bodies do not deem one necessary. Download a summary of potential environmental effects and proposed mitigation measures.
The project was initially named the Pointe du Bois Modernization Project and included replacement of the aging generating station. That proposal has since been withdrawn and Manitoba Hydro has established components of that project as separate entities including a Temporary Vehicle Access Bridge Project and the Spillway Replacement Project. The word "Temporary" was removed from the EIS submitted with the application for environmental licensing of the bridge and Manitoba Hydro now states that it considers the bridge "permanent." Manitoba Hydro stated at a May 5, 2011 meeting that it has no plans for replacement of the generating station currently on its books.
Area cottagers' and residents' concerns include safety issues related to the sharing of roadways with heavy equipment. Rock and clay material may be hauled through the town site from quarries located off the new Slave Falls Road which was licenced as an unrelated project. No traffic projections have been provided in recent publicly presented material, but the EIS submitted for licencing this road project estimated an average of 250 two-way trips per day for several months of each construction year. (see "Pointe du Bois Modernization"- Adobe Reader page 37/actual EIS page 106) In earlier public consultations Manitoba Hydro had stated that an alternate route could be created to separate these construction hauling activities from local cottage and residential traffic. The most recent presentations include no plans for such a bypass route. This was confirmed at the May 5 meeting. At that time Manitoba Hydro also stated that material source areas (Slave Falls road, PR 313) and hence traffic volumes, will be at the contractors' preference. It was stated that flag men and other safety precautions would be utilized if hauling through the town site. We were informed that our safety concerns regarding construction traffic on PR 313 were the responsibility of Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation (MIT) and traffic enforcement authorities.
The section of PR 313 from PR 315 to Pointe du Bois is narrow with no shoulders and does not meet current load or safety standards (see page 6.). Materials and supplies from outside the immediate Pointe du Bois area will be transported via this roadway. Documents referenced at the bottom of this page indicate that Manitoba Hydro was initially working with Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation on a plan to replace this section of road. Manitoba Hydro now states that roads are not it's responsibility. While Manitoba Hydro has consistently stressed safety issues in seeking expedient regulatory approval for each of these projects, it has to date failed to put forth a proposal that would satisfactorily mitigate the aforementioned safety concerns of the public.
Another major concern is loss of property value during the extended construction period. This period could possibly be extended even further as Manitoba Hydro will eventually construct a new powerhouse and needs to upgrade the Slave Falls facility which is accessed via Pointe du Bois. Block 7 cottagers will be particularly affected as the sole access route to their properties will be via the construction zone/shared traffic route. A construction staging area has already been created between the Block 7 cottage road and the new Slave Falls Road. This is not shown on the images presented to the public by Manitoba Hydro. The visibility of construction activities from cottage properties will also have a damaging effect on the esthetic appeal of the area to cottagers and potential purchasers. Construction noise will have a similar effect. There has been no mention as to mitigation or compensation to cottagers for negative financial effects of this project on those who either desire to or must sell their properties during this period. On May 5 Manitoba Hydro acknowledged that "there will be unavoidable effects during the construction period." Construction is expected to be completed by 2016.
Other information from the May 5, 2011 meeting:
a "construction access road" may be built across the river below the existing dam if water flow conditions permit. (this work is now underway as of November 2011)
the peak workforce on site will be 200 people plus 20-25 Manitoba Hydro staff
the contractor will provide workers financial compensation for finding there own local accomodation including renting local cottages or lodging with local camp operators
a construction camp will be setup outside the Park boundary
the summer work schedule for 2013 and 2014 will utilize 2 shifts working 6 days per week
peak truck traffic on PR 313 will occur in June and July of 2012 (200 trucks/day)
the Manitoba Hydro boat launch will be closed until 2016
the parking lot for the Sawmill Bay boat launch wil be expanded and improvements will be made to the ramp
October 2011 Update
Although news media reports have indicated that this project may be placed on hold due to the current financial status of Manitoba Hydro, the WCA has been advised that Hydro will be funding the expansion of the Sawmill Bay boat launching and parking facilities.
November 2011 Update
Manitoba Hydro is proceeding with work on a temporary trestle bridge across the river immediately below the existing dam.
A short movie from Manitoba Hydro about the history of the Pointe du Bois generating station.