A committee of local municipalities is taking the next step in their fight with Manitoba Hydro over 4.2 million dollars.
In 2017, the Crown Corporation promised to split the sum between La Broquerie, Ste. Anne, Taché, Stuartburn, Piney, and Springfield as compensation for their proposed Manitoba to Minnesota Transmission Line which would be running through their RMs. However, just before the project was officially approved in June, that promise disappeared.
Read more: Manitoba Hydro Cancels Payout To Local Municipalities
Manitoba Hydro has confirmed that this move was nothing intentionally dubious and says no formal agreements were ever made. Nevertheless, the snubbed RMs have since joined together, lobbying to get their funding back.
Read More: RM's Fighting For Funding Removed By Manitoba Hydro
Laurent Tétrault of La Broquerie Council is leading the charge. The councillor chairs a committee of delegates from each affected municipality excluding Springfield who opted out in order to better lobby the province on other matters.
“We’re still not sure why it was withdrawn,” comments Tétrault. “It was a promise made by the NDP government and when the Conservatives were elected they just decided to remove the funding.”
The Association of Manitoba Municipalities begins a convention Monday morning where they discuss various inter-municipal subjects. While the specific topic of lost compensation is not directly on the agenda, Tétrault says his committee will meet during a recess to discuss their strategy going forward.
“We are gathering as a group and I am proposing that we meet with the new Minister,” states Tétrault. Minister of Crown Services Jeff Wharton, who is a member of the PC Party, was sworn in late September, taking over the position from the NDP. “We would like him to listen to us and see if there is a way to negotiate something with the government.”
Tétrault believes a positive response from Wharton is essential to seeing this issue move forward. Meanwhile, he says his stance on the situation remains firm: “We feel we are affected by this hydro line, we’re scared of the forest fire hazard, its [construction] will likely do damage to our roads and ditches, and our people will be staring at the line for the rest of their lives. We feel we need to be compensated.”