Open houses are being held this week across the region regarding the Waasigan Project.

Daniel Levitan, Vice President of Stakeholder Relations at Hydro One, says the new transmission line will bring a lot to the region.

“It’s going to bring about 350 megawatts of power. That increase in capacity is going to support mining and forestry activities and really more importantly, enable growth,” says Levitan.

According to Levitan, that amount of electricity could power approximately 11 new mining operations.

“I think the headline here is the north is growing,” adds Levitan. “Communities are growing. The mining sector is expanding. This line is going to help bring those new opportunities for economic growth to the region, for Indigenous nations, local communities, and Hydro One’s obligation is to make sure we’re ready for that growth.”

A Thunder Bay CEDC 2021 mining readiness report states “mining-related electricity demand in the northwest is expected to increase 180% over the next five years.”

The line would start at the Lakehead Transmission Station in Shuniah and travel as a double circuit 230-kilovolt line to Atikokan’s Mackenzie Transmission Station before transitioning to a single circuit 230-kilovolt line to the Dryden Transmission Station.

The name “Waasigan” comes from Ojibwe, which means “to bring light.”

The first community open house takes place tonight from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the Oliver Road Community Centre.

That will be followed up by an open house tomorrow, January 17th, at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 145 in Atikokan, from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.

The final open house will take place on Wednesday, January 18th, at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 63 in Dryden, also from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.

These aren’t the first open houses held for consultations. Levitan says previous events led to selecting a preferred route for the line.

“This is as much of an opportunity to educate the public on where the project is as it is an exercise in making sure that as we continue to build that project we get as much of that necessary feedback as possible.”

Levitan says the current schedule is for the environmental assessment, which is expected to see construction in 2024, with an in-service date set for 2025.