WANETA EXPANSION – Impacts studied

A consultant will track how the Waneta expansion project impacts Greater Trail.

Cathy Scott-May will act as the project’s socio-economic monitor, producing reports on indicators such as employment, wage income, expenditures, economic development, traffic, health and safety, housing population, recreation and community services.

“Through the monitoring program, I provide an objective assessment of the impacts of construction activities on the local communities, which includes both benefits and stresses,” she said.

“Working with the owners and representatives of the communities, I then help to develop a shared understanding of how the project can realistically maximum benefits and minimize any stresses on the local communities.”

She will present her findings on a regular basis, with the first quarterly report available later this spring. Her first focus will be on the project’s initial social and economic trends, such as employment, employment income, percentage of local and equity employment, and expenditures to local companies that provide materials and services.

The South Slocan resident has 17 years experience as a consultant, including monitoring the Brilliant Expansion Project.

One of the requirements of the project approval certificate from the provincial environmental assessment office is engaging an independent socio-economic monitor.

“A monitoring program is about collecting and presenting information in an objective manner so that all interested parties can discuss it and collectively decide what it means for the local communities,” she said.

“Are things progressing as expected? If not, is there any reason to be concerned? If the starting place for the discussion is objective, factual information, then it is much easier for people to come to agreement on what, if anything, needs to be done to support the interests of the local communities.”

To date the Waneta expansion project has about 160 employees working on site, and together employees have worked a total of 100,000 man-hours.

This 335-megawatt hydroelectric project will inject $178 million into the local economy through the purchase of goods and services, and supply 400 jobs and $200 million in wages and benefits over the course of four years.

To be located just below the dam and existing plant, two large tunnels will bring water to the new powerhouse, which will have two generators. A new 10-kilometre transmission line to BC Hydro’s Selkirk substation will also be built.

Residents with questions or concerns about the construction activities and impacts on the local communities can get in touch with Scott-May at 250-359-7831 or via email at cscottmay@netidea.com

All questions from local residents are reviewed each month with the Community Impact Management Committee, which consists of representation from the partners – Fortis Inc., Columbia Power Corporation and Columbia Basin Trust – local governments and local stakeholder organizations.

“We are very pleased to welcome Cathy to the Waneta project,” said Ali Grieve, Area A director, who sits on the community impact committee. “She brings extensive experience that makes her a perfect fit for this role.”