Minister: Jack Park
The Energy and Infrastructure (E&I) Department was created by Resolution of the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) Caucus to transition from the Hydro portfolio to a more inclusive department that recognizes industry sectors other than Manitoba Hydro.
The Resolution specifically recognized that the energy sector, which includes the development and management of hydro electricity, solar power, wind power, nuclear, natural gas and oil pipelines, is a significant industry that causes energy-related developments to be constructed on lands utilized by the Manitoba Métis Community.
The E&I Department works closely with the Central Registry Office, Natural Resources, Environment, and Engagement and Consultation Departments as many of the projects that are proposed by industry have a direct impact on the rights, claims and interests of the Manitoba Métis Community. As a result of this, coordination with other MMF departments is integral to our process.
The E&I Department has a number of specific responsibilities and manages a variety of project based and/or relationship agreements. The following is an update on these agreements.
Kwaysh-kin-na-mihk la paazh (Turning the Page) Agreement
Historically, Manitoba Hydro has spent billions of dollars on projects that are aimed at damming rivers, diverting water and building transmission lines with the goal of providing a sustainable power source. This practice has brought about a significant reduction in the traditional harvesting areas of the Manitoba Métis Community and has resulted in tremendous impacts to the rights, interests and claims of our people.
With the long-term impacts of these projects in mind, the MMF continues to nurture a beneficial working relationship with Manitoba Hydro to better define the relationship as it pertains to projects being undertaken by the Crown corporation. These projects include those that are already in the construction stage, such as the Bipole III Transmission Line and the Keeyask Generating Station; projects that are in the environmental assessment stage such as the Manitoba Minnesota Transmission Project; as well as future generation and/or transmission projects in Manitoba such as the Conawapa Generating Station. The MMF is committed to ensuring that impacts to the Manitoba Métis Community are not overlooked.
In 2014, the Manitoba Metis Federation, along with the Province of Manitoba and Manitoba Hydro, signed an agreement to build a forward-looking, productive and non-adversarial working relationship. Kwaysh-kin-na-mihk la paazh means “turning the page” in the Michif language and the Agreement recognizes the following:
- The Crown has a duty to consult with Métis when any proposed Crown decision or action might adversely affect the exercise of the Aboriginal Rights of Métis and to reasonably accommodate concerns about the effects of the decision or action raised in the consultation by attempting to substantially address those concerns.
- Manitoba Hydro is committed to avoiding, minimizing and where appropriate, mitigating and offsetting the effects of its Existing Developments and Operations and Future Developments on the Aboriginal Rights of the Métis.
The Steering Committee formed under the Agreement is the primary vehicle for addressing issues and resolving disputes that may arise among the parties. The Steering Committee has met multiple times to date and at all the meetings, the MMF has focused on ensuring the Province of Manitoba and Manitoba Hydro understand and appreciate the significance of the necessity of meaningful consultation and engagement.
Manitoba Hydro Liaison Officer
The role of the Manitoba Hydro Liaison Officer (MHLO) is to act as the primary liaison person on behalf of the MMF with Manitoba Hydro. The focus of the MHLO is on broad, high level issues and communications with a focus on regular and necessary communication between MMF and Manitoba Hydro to maintain and grow the relationship between the two parties, as well as to explore areas of mutual interest. The MHLO works with the MMF and Manitoba Hydro staff in an effort to address and manage potential conflict and communication issues between the parties before they escalate and harm relationships.
The MHLO position was absorbed by the Kwaysh-kin-na-mihk la paazh Agreement in 2014 and transitioned into the Director of Energy and Infrastructure in 2016. As a result, we are looking forward to welcoming a new person to our department in the role of Manitoba Hydro Liaison Officer.
Bipole III Transmission Project
The MMF continues to work toward an Environmental Protection Plan and an Access Management Plan with Manitoba Hydro that will serve to limit the impacts of the Bipole III Transmission Project (BP3) on the Manitoba Métis Community. Where that is not possible, the MMF will attempt to reach an agreement with the province of Manitoba and Manitoba Hydro to come to a resolution. Nothing in the Kwaysh-kin-na-mihk la paazh Agreement prevents the MMF from moving forward on a process for dealing with impacts that Manitoba Hydro and the MMF agree have not been addressed through the existing planning design, construction and mitigation of BP3. The MMF is moving forward with an understanding related to impacts that may be addressed through a variety of offsetting, mitigation or, if necessary, compensation measures through negotiated agreement(s).
The MMF was successful in securing funding from Manitoba Hydro for an environmental monitor and a community liaison for the N4 section of BP3, a community liaison for the C1 section and a “hybrid” community liaison for all of the other sections. Manitoba Hydro has confirmed funding for all four positions for the length of construction of the line, likely a two-year commitment. These individuals will be instrumental in ensuring direct communication between the MMF, Manitoba Hydro and the construction companies contracted to do the work. With construction season quickly approaching, the MMF will soon be hiring and training for these positions.
Manitoba Minnesota Transmission Line
The Manitoba–Minnesota Transmission Project (MMTP) includes construction of a 500-kilovolt AC transmission line in southeastern Manitoba and upgrades to associated stations at Dorsey, Riel, and Glenboro. To best assess the potential impacts of the project, the MMF has undertaken a traditional and ecological knowledge and socio-economic baseline study specific to the project study area designated for the MMTP line, including the connector lines and the upgrades to the converter stations.
Manitoba Hydro has filed its environmental assessment and the project will be reviewed and licensed by Sustainable Development under the Environment Act (Manitoba). This spring, the project was brought before the Clean Environment Commission for a public hearing. The MMF participated as an Intervenor in the hearing and is waiting on the release of the panel’s recommendations to the Minister. Since the proposed line connects at the Canada/US border, authorization for the construction and operation of an international power line (IPL) is required. This means the project will require a regulatory process managed by the National Energy Board (NEB) and is also subject to an environmental assessment by the NEB under the federal National Energy Board Act.
The MMF will be seeking Intervener status at the hearings and will endeavour to ensure the hearing process includes the information collected through the traditional and ecological knowledge studies and included in the Métis Specific Interests Report.
Birtle Transmission Project
Manitoba Hydro is proposing to construct a 230-kV transmission line from Birtle Station, south of the community of Birtle, to the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border.
Manitoba Hydro will be developing an Environmental Assessment (EA) Report which will be submitted to the Environmental Approvals Branch of Manitoba Sustainable Development for review. The Project is classified as a Class 2 project under the Environment Act (Manitoba).
Manitoba Hydro has provided the MMF with funding to undertake a study to assess the impacts of the project on the use of lands, water and resources in and around the project study area. The MMF will use this information to accurately assess the impacts of the project on the Manitoba Métis Community and will provide it to Manitoba Hydro to ensure the environmental protection program and construction management plans are sufficient to address the concerns.
Summerberry Trappers Settlement
Two years ago, the MMF signed an agreement with Manitoba Hydro which provides compensation for the negative impacts of the Grand Rapids Hydro Generating Station on the commercial trapping activities of Trappers in the Summerberry Marsh.
The agreement will settle the claims for Summerberry trappers in the communities of Cormorant, The Pas, as well as other trappers from across Manitoba who were invited by the management authority to trap on the Summerberry Marsh. Individuals who trapped the Summerberry Marsh for at least one season between 1940 and 1964 or, are the wife, common-law partner or child of a deceased Trapper, and have not previously received compensation from Manitoba Hydro for impacts on commercial trapping rights in the Summerberry Marsh, may be eligible to receive compensation from this settlement. Compensation under this agreement is specific to two groups of trappers – First Preference and Invited.
The lists were developed by Manitoba Hydro and are based on Trapper Cards provided by Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship. The MMF did not have any input into the development of the lists however there is a process for individuals who have been left out in error. Individuals must show proof that the Trapper has been left out in error. To show this proof, you must provide a Manitoba issued Trapper Card containing the name of the Trapper that demonstrates a lawful right to trap the Summerberry Marsh.
The anniversary date of this agreement was May 4, 2017. The MMF has successfully negotiated a 12-month extension to the agreement and during this time we will continue to search for and provide compensation to trappers or their eligible survivors.
The MMF is very proud to announce that it has also successfully negotiated an equalization payment in the amount of $3500.00 to be made to First Preference trappers. This brings the total compensation amount for each First Preference Trapper to $15,000. The MMF is undertaking a strategic approach to connect with the citizens of our community to find and document the remaining individuals.
To date, the MMF has paid beneficiaries in 265 First Preference files and 159 of the Invited Trappers files for a total of 424 files. As of August 1st, compensation in the amount of $2,918,675.37 had been provided First Preference trappers, their spouses or eligible survivors, and similarly $1,025,674.49 for Invited Trappers.
The MMF has one full time Summerberry Compensation Coordinator specific to the Invited Communities Trappers in the NW Region and one full time Summerberry Compensation Coordinator at Home Office. The MMF also has a researcher who is focused on finding information on trappers for whom we have not yet received any information. Your assistance in identifying trappers is greatly appreciated!
The MMF is actively seeking entitled beneficiaries and we would like to encourage everyone to review the lists of trappers to identify any relatives they may have who are entitled to receive compensation. The MMF would also like to encourage the citizens of our community to assist us in finding those individuals for whom a compensation claim has not yet been processed.
A portion of our responsibility under this agreement is to identify any trappers who are now deceased and have no living entitled beneficiaries. The compensation allotted for those trappers will be redistributed by the MMF to the beneficiaries who have come forth to make a compensation claim. We are seeking the assistance of the Manitoba Métis Community to identify all of the trappers on the lists so that those people will receive the long overdue compensation to which they are entitled.
Please visit the MMF website at www.mmf.mb.ca to view the lists, obtain contact information for the offices coordinating the compensation program and/or to obtain additional information on the compensation process.
In addition to the projects identified above, Manitoba Hydro has also proposed or is currently constructing the following projects:
- Stony Brook Station;
- Harrow-Station to Bishop Grandin Transmission Project;
- Lake Winnipeg East System Improvement Project;
- Poplar Bluff Transmission Project;
- Riding Mountain National Park Transmission Line Widening;
- St. Vital Transmission Complex;
- Tyndall Transmission;
- Morris Natural Gas Transmission Pipeline Project; and
- Northwest Winnipeg Natural Gas Project.
Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Project
Built in the 1960s, Line 3 is part of the Enbridge crude oil pipeline system known as the Mainline System. Line 3 is a 1765 km pipeline from Hardisty, AB to Superior, Wisconsin. The Canadian portion of the pipeline ends in Gretna, MB. The $7.5-billion L3RP is the largest project in Enbridge history, and includes replacing the existing pipe with modern pipe materials. The program’s target in-service date is currently late 2018.
The MMF completed a Traditional Knowledge, Land Use and Occupancy Study (TKLUS) focused on collecting Métis-specific concerns related to the proposed project and impacts on the Manitoba Métis Community. It has provided that information to Enbridge and both the federal and provincial regulators. Canada approved the Line 3 Replacement Program subject to 37 binding conditions recommended by the National Energy Board (NEB) in its report. Canada also announced it will co-develop an Indigenous advisory and monitoring committee (IAMC) to provide ongoing monitoring and engagement for the project. Canada will also establish an Economic Pathways Partnership that will make it easier for Indigenous groups to access existing federal programs that help them participate in and benefit economically from the project. The MMF is currently involved in both the Working Group and the Drafting Team tasked with developing and implementing the IAMC’s Terms of Reference and will have representation on the IAMC itself once it comes into effect.
With the project’s approval, the NEB will be issuing to Enbridge a certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for the project and Enbridge will be required to meet all of the NEB conditions, as well as apply to the NEB for the detailed route for the pipeline. The MMF continues to work with Enbridge on the development of a Métis-specific mitigation and monitoring program, including environmental protection and emergency response planning that would include community liaisons and environmental monitors to work directly with the mainline contractor.
The Manitoba Metis Federation and Enbridge have come to terms and the MMF is looking forward to working collaboratively in the best interests of the Manitoba Métis Community.
TransCanada Energy East Pipeline Project
The TransCanada Energy East Pipeline is a 4,600-km pipeline project that will transport approximately 1.1 million barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries in Eastern Canada. The pipeline will start in Hardisty, AB and end at the Atlantic coast of New Brunswick. Since the pipeline will cross provincial borders, and is a major pipeline development, TransCanada is required to get regulatory approval from the NEB.
The MMF has been accepted as an Intervener in the Energy East Pipeline NEB hearing process. Through this process, the MMF will have the ability to collect Métis-specific information and provide evidence to support any concerns raised by the Manitoba Métis Community. The MMF anticipated conducting a Métis land use study to identify any potential impacts from the project on the Manitoba Métis Community however TransCanada has yet to meaningfully and respectfully engage with the MMF. As such, the MMF will be using information collected to date to include in the submission to the NEB when the hearings begin in the spring.
East Side Road Transportation Network
TThe MMF has completed a TKLUS specific to the impact of the proposed projects on the use of lands, water and resources of the Manitoba Métis Community. The reports have been provided to provincial Sustainable Development, Infrastructure and Indigenous and Municipal Relations departments, as well as to Natural Resources Canada (NRC) and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA).
Although the MMF is not opposed to the development of the road network itself, of particular importance to the MMF is the impact of the development on the rights, interests and way of life of the citizens of the Manitoba Métis Community who live in or use the area around the projects. The all-season road network will provide much needed access to social services for those individuals. However, the focus of Manitoba and ESRA has been on First Nations who are considered local to the area. The MMF is working diligently to ensure our Métis Citizens who live in the villages and settlements along the east side of Lake Winnipeg receive the same consideration.
On March 1, 2017, CEAA released their draft Environmental Assessment Report and draft Potential Conditions on the P4 Project. The MMF conducted a review of the report, which included hosting a community meeting in Grand Marais, MB to hear comments on the report from Métis Citizens who live and/or harvest in the vicinity of the Project. The MMF subsequently submitted a report to CEAA, reviewing the findings of the EA Report and commenting on the potential conditions.
MMF Participation in Review of Federal Regulatory Processes and Legislation
In 2016 the Government of Canada committed to the undertaking a review of the federal environmental and regulatory processes. This review was focused specifically on the following:
- Reviewing federal environmental assessment processes (i.e. the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012);
- Modernizing the National Energy Board; and
- Restoring lost protections and introducing modern safeguards to the Fisheries Act and the Navigation Protection Act.
As part of this regulatory review, Canada solicited feedback from the general public, as well as Indigenous groups across the country through various methods, including expert panel engagement sessions.
The MMF was awarded funding to participate in all four (4) regulatory review processes, and utilized the funding to organize community meetings with Métis Citizens designed to gather information and perspectives of the Manitoba Métis Community on the current legislation and processes. The MMF submitted several documents to the various Ministries describing the Manitoba Métis Community’s review of the Fisheries Act, the Navigation Protection Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, and the National Energy Board Modernization. The MMF also had the opportunity to provide a presentation directly to the NEB Modernization Expert Panel on February 16, 2017 describing the Manitoba Métis Community and providing the MMF’s recommendations for modernization of the NEB.
The federal government’s Expert Panel Reports on the review of the Fisheries Act, Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, and the Navigation Protection Act and the NEB modernization process have been released. The MMF has provided additional comments and recommendations on these reports. The final step of the process will be the submission of the MMF’s comments and recommendations specific to the recently released Discussion Paper that attempts to address the commonalities between each of the four reviews.
“Freedom Road” All-Season Road Project
Shoal Lake No. 40 First Nation, in partnership with Manitoba Infrastructure, is undertaking the Freedom Road Project. This is an initiative to construct a 14.7 km all-season road linking the isolated Shoal Lake No. 40 First Nation Community to the TransCanada Highway southeast of Falcon Lake.
Manitoba Infrastructure and Shoal Lake No. 40 First Nation filed an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Freedom Road Project on December 14, 2016.
The Project is located directly within the recognized Métis Natural Resource Harvesting Zone (MNRHZ) and therefore has the potential to adversely affect the Manitoba Métis Community and their collective rights, interests, claims and land use. The MMF provided comments on the project scoping document and subsequently proposed the completion of a Métis-specific interests study to inform the EIS. Although the collection of Métis-specific information would be helpful for the assessment and consultation processes, the proponent has advised that they do not plan to undertake any further engagement. As such, the current EIS does not include any Métis-specific information.
The MMF continues to reiterate that exclusion of the Manitoba Métis Community and Métis-specific information within the EIS is an unacceptable approach on the part of the proponent and the Crown. The MMF responded to the filing of the EIS through a letter, detailing the significant concerns with the lack of Métis-specific information in the document, as well as the proponent’s engagement failures thus far.
Metis N4 Construction Inc.
Metis N4 Construction Inc. has formed four joint venture partnerships; one with Forbes Bros. Ltd, one with Breezy North Construction Inc., one with Interlake Powerline Ltd and another with Pine Creek First Nation. Through the joint ventures, Metis N4 Construction Inc. continued the clear cutting of the N4 and C1 sections of BP3 and began the work under the contract for anchors and foundations in the C1 section. The weather was a challenge for much of the 2016/17 construction season but the work has been completed as contracted.
The contract for the C1 anchors and foundations was signed in early December 2015 and mobilization to site began shortly thereafter. There were approximately 130 km of anchors and foundations to install between the N4/C1 boundary at Renwer and the C1/C2 boundary at Rorketon and Metis N4 Construction Inc. was successful in doing so. Metis N4 Construction Inc. purchased and set up a temporary work camp 5 miles north of Winnipegosis to provide accommodations for those working the C1 section. This camp is currently being leased to Outland. Metis N4 Construction Inc. also set up a camp in Treherne in 2017.
The MMF continues to work with Manitoba Hydro on issues related to procurement that would assist the MMF in bidding on additional work through Metis N4 Construction Inc. including work on projects such as Lake Winnipeg East and MMTP. A team has been appointed to deal with this issue and in addition to the opportunities through Manitoba Hydro, N4 is now preparing for work on the Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Project in 2018 and continually sourcing new contracts and services.