This article was published in May 2020 and may be outdated.
Manitoba Hydro and the four Keeyask Cree Nations (KCN) came to terms Sunday on a plan to remove the current injunction order and blockades barring access to the Keeyask Generating Station.
The plan was arrived at over the weekend on conference call between the chiefs of the KCN communities -Tataskweyak Cree Nation, York Factory First Nation, War Lake First Nation, and Fox Lake Cree Nation - and Jay Grewal, Manitoba Hydro’s president and CEO.
Grewal said the conference call was productive and respectful.
“I’m happy we were able to have an open and frank discussion with our partners,” Grewal said. “We gained a better understanding of their perspectives and concerns regarding the shift change for the Keeyask project and its pandemic plan.”
Both sides made a commitment to broader collaboration in the future. The plan includes conducting a COVID-19 planning exercise with the communities, a face-to-face leadership meeting, and the resumption of the shift change suspended last week. Discussions also ensured the restart of construction on the 695-megawatt hydroelectric project.
“Our objective has always been to ensure the safety of not only our workers at Keeyask, but also that of the surrounding communities,” Grewal said.
With blockades removed and the injunction no longer required, regular shipments of materials and supplies into the site will begin as soon as possible, as will a gradual increase in the number of workers on the project. Under the Keeyask Pandemic Plan, all workers on the project must pass a COVID-19 test prior to being allowed to commence work. Approximately 1,000 workers will gradually return to continue construction on the project over the coming weeks.
The $8.7 billion Keeyask Generating Station is being developed as a joint venture between the four northern communities and Manitoba Hydro. The renewable energy project, located on the lower Nelson River in northern Manitoba, is expected to see its first generators come on line this October.
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