Friday, May 16, 2008

Saudino wants Timmins to act now

At least one city councillor wants to push the city’s opposition to a new hydro dam on the Grassy River before the Environmental Assessment process begins.
There is also the possibility that Timmins may officially oppose that project at the environmental assessment level.
Councillor Denis Saudino said this week he wants the city to take a formal stand on the creation of a new hydro dam on the Grassy River. Saudino is on record as being against the project.
Saudino’s comments were made Monday night as the Friends of the Mattagami group revealed it had scored a minor victory in saving Island Falls from destruction by a hydro-electric development just south of Smooth Rock Falls.
Saudino said he was prompted by that success to push for more pro-active action by Timmins city council. He wants a resolution of support for preserving the High Falls portion of the Grassy River.
The High Falls project is yet another proposed hydro-electric project in the region, this one located entirely within in the boundaries of the City of Timmins. There is a proposal in the works by Woods Power Generation of Larder River, near Englehart, to create a new dam.
“I know for a fact that although we discussed it around this table on numerous occasions, no resolution came back,” Saudino said, expressing confidence that the majority of city councillors are on record as opposing the High Falls project.
At Monday’s meeting Saudino alluded to the fact that council had previously been told to “mind it’s own business.” He was referring to the March 10 meeting of council where Shawn Batisse of the Wabun Tribal Council advised city council that the Mattagami and Matchewan First Nations were negotiating on the Grassy River hydro project and had no intention of discussing the matter with the City of Timmins.
“It does affect a couple of companies that do business vis-à-vis to promote tourism. So I think it is our business to comment,” said Saudino.
“It has a real strong potential for an economic generator in terms of tourism, and if we allowed it to be damned up, were just pushing part of that economic development outside of the boundaries of our city.”
Mayor Tom Laughren told Saudino that the Environmental Assessment (EA) phase of the Grassy River project is not yet in the works, but soon will be.
“I think when the EA process starts, that will be an opportune time for council to act,” said the mayor.
The mayor also hinted at the possibility that Timmins will take a stand on the project in the Environmental Assessment phase because a dam on the Grassy River could have an effect on Peterlong Lake and the level of the Mattagami River, which would impact Timmins.
Laughren said the issue is currently being reviewed by city engineer Luc Duval.

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