Hydro One, the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) and Conservation Halton announced that they will partner on a project to establish 25 hectares of upland forest in the Glenorchy Conservation Area in the Town of Oakville as part of Hydro One’s Bruce to Milton Biodiversity Initiative.
The initiative will expand the existing adjacent forest associated with Sixteen Mile Creek and will replicate its natural topography, habitats and ecological functions, creating a contiguous green space for local wildlife. Tree species planted as part of this project include Sugar Maple, American Beech, and various species of Oak, Hickory and Ash.
Traditional Métis values and knowledge are a key part of establishing the upland forest. As such, Conservation Halton and the MNO will establish a working group to identify and select species for the upland forest that are significant for ceremonial and medicinal uses. Métis community members and elders will provide direction and advice ensuring those species selected are important to the broader community.
The Biodiversity Initiative is an innovative mitigation approach that will create and enhance natural habitat in partnership with First Nations and Métis communities, and community-based organizations. The initiative shifts the Company’s focus from its traditional compensation approach of “area for area” replacement of woodlots when constructing new high-voltage transmission lines. Hydro One was recognized by the Canadian Electricity Association (CEA) for this Biodiversity Initiative receiving the CEA 2009 Environmental Commitment Award.
“We are very proud of the Biodiversity Initiative and the opportunity it provides us to enhance the natural habitat and give back to communities as we modernize the electricity transmission system,” said Laura Formusa, President and CEO, Hydro One Inc. “Partnering with the MNO and Conservation Halton means that community values are reflected in the mitigation process, helping to ensure success while making sure Hydro One can deliver the electricity Ontario needs.”
“Hydro One and MNO have been working closely for the past three years on the Bruce to Milton Project and we are extremely proud of the strong relationship we have developed. Hydro One’s unique approach to biodiversity has enabled MNO to partner with Conservation Halton and collaborate on what promises to be a groundbreaking biodiversity initiative. This is the first of its kind for the MNO, and we are very proud to share this success with Hydro One and Conservation Halton,” said Gary Lipinski, President of the Métis Nation of Ontario.
The engagement protocol signed between Hydro One and the MNO for the Bruce to Milton Project was the first of its kind in the energy industry and the Biodiversity Initiative continues to lead the way.
“Conservation Halton is delighted to be working in partnership with Hydro One and the Métis Nation of Ontario on this important project to help restore biodiversity in Glenorchy. It will be designed to reproduce the natural topography of the area, through the creation of pits and mounds in the forest floor. This is key to restoring a diverse and resilient ecosystem,” said John Vice, Chair of Conservation Halton. “The innovative technique will also significantly increase breeding habitat that is essential for the survival of many salamander and frog species that are native to this area.”
This year, seven partners will receive funding from Hydro One to implement 22 locally-designed biodiversity initiatives. These projects will help restore and enhance approximately 380 hectares of habitat and ensure there is net gain of woodlot and wildlife habitat within the four watersheds crossed by the new transmission line. Approximately 280 hectares of woodlots will be removed to enable construction of the Bruce to Milton Project.
The Bruce to Milton Project received Ontario Energy Board section 92 Leave to Construct approval on September 15, 2008 and Environmental Assessment approval on December 16, 2009. This new 180 kilometre double-circuit 500 kV transmission line from Kincardine to Milton will transfer more than 3,000 megawatts of clean and renewable power from the Bruce area to southern Ontario. This project represents the largest expansion to Ontario’s transmission system in 20 years. The new line is planned to be in-service in December 2012.
For more information on the Biodiversity Projects and partners please visit http://www.HydroOne.com/projects/brucetomilton