Government cabinet ministers are being urged to give quick approval to a project many see as the catalyst for the economic future of the northwest.
The completed environmental assessment for the long-planned Northwest Transmission Line (NTL) was presented to provincial mines minister Pat Bell and environment minister Murray Coell January 13.
The two now have 45 days in which to decide whether the $404 million project should receive environmental approval or not.
At 340km in length from BC Hydro’s Skeena Substation near Terrace up Hwy 37 North, the transmission line is expected to lead to the development of at least two mines.
It will also transmit power from at least one large run of river project, the Forrest Kerr project on the Iskut River, southward.
The anticipated two mines, the Forrest Kerr run of river project and the transmission line itself amount to several billion dollars of expenditures within the next three years.
BC Hydro has pegged a start date of spring 2011 for construction leading to a completion date of late 2013.
“We look forward to beginning construction of the NTL as soon as the required approvals and permits are in place,” said Jennings.
Members of the local business community are urging Bell and Coell to make a decision quickly.
“The sooner it happens the better,” said Nino Roldo of Rolcan Fabrications.
Roldo brought together a group of Terrace and Kitimat businesses last spring to express support for the line as its environmental assessment began.
“There are going to be hundreds of jobs and it’s jobs this area needs,” he continued. “But it all depends on the power line.”
Another businessman, Michael Farrar, noted that there is no opposition to the project and that no overriding environmental problems surfaced during the assessment.
“Finally, we have a chance to recover from the economic devastation of the past,” said Farrar referring to the forest industry collapse.