Order under 12(4) of the Far North Act to exempt Phase 1 and 2 of the Wataynikaneyap transmission line project

ERO number
Notice type
Far North Act, 2010
Posted by
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
Bulletin posted
Last updated

This notice is for informational purposes only. There is no requirement to consult on this initiative on the Environmental Registry of Ontario. Learn more about the types of notices on the registry.

Bulletin summary

An exempting order under subsection 12(4) of the Far North Act, 2010 has been made for an electricity transmission line development in the Far North of Ontario.

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This notice is for your information. The Environmental Bill of Rights does not require this notice to be placed on the Environmental Registry; however, section 6 of the Act does allow the Environmental Registry to be used to share information about the environment with the public.

Bulletin details

Although this decision is not subject to the posting requirements in Part II of the Environmental Bill of Rights, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) has nonetheless elected to post this information notice. The previous posting on this subject (ER # 013-3691) provided notice that Wataynikaneyap had requested an exempting order under subsection 12(4) of the Far North Act, 2010 and provided an opportunity for public input.

Comments Received

Six responses were received by the Far North Branch. Overall the comments expressed the desire for the environmental process to be completed before a decision on the exemption were to be made and noted the necessity of adequate consultation to be completed with affected First Nation communities in the area.

Following MNRF’s consideration of comments provided, a decision has been made. The proposed exempting order under subsection 12(4) of the Far North Act, 2010 was made for the electricity transmission line development in the Far North of Ontario on August 16, 2019.

Wataynikaneyap is a partnership between 24 First Nation communities and Fortis Inc. an experienced electricity transmission developer and operator. Wataynikaneyap proposes to construct a two-phase electrical transmission project in northwestern Ontario. Phase 1 of the project consists of an approximately 300 km, 230kV transmission line and associated facilities running from Dinorwic (east of Dryden) to Pickle Lake. Phase 2 of the project consists of a network of approximately 1,500 km of 115kV, 44kV and 25kV transmission lines north of Pickle Lake and north of Red Lake to connect 17 remote First Nation communities to the provincial electrical grid. The Federal and Provincial governments are supporting the connection of 16 diesel-reliant communities at this time, with a possibility of connecting the 17th community at a later date.


Portions of Phase 1 (the Line to Pickle Lake) and the majority of Phase 2 (the Remote Connection Lines) will be situated in the Far North. Work in the Far North must meet the requirements of the Far North Act, 2010 in addition to other legislative requirements.

Both Phase 1 and Phase 2 pass through areas in the Far North that do not have approved community based land use plans in effect.

In most cases, a community based land use plan must be in place before development can proceed in the Far North, unless an order is made to except or exempt a specific development. Under subsection 12(4) of the Far North Act, 2010, the Lieutenant Governor in Council may, after taking into account the objectives of the Far North Act, 2010, make an exempting order determining that a proposed development such as a transmission line is in the social and economic interests of Ontario and is therefore permitted.

The proponent, Wataynikaneyap Power, has addressed Environmental Assessment requirements. The Environmental Assessment requirements for both phases of the project were completed in advance of the issuance of this exempting order.

Social and Economic Interests of Ontario

Wataynikaneyap has proposed that both phases of the project are in the social and economic interests of Ontario as set out below:

Social Interest:

  • The communities to be served by the project currently use local diesel generation, which is unreliable, does not meet current power needs, and cannot keep pace with a forecasted increase in demand in the communities.
  • The project will connect these communities with the provincial power grid, ending their reliance on local diesel generation and replacing it with clean, reliable power. By halting the use of diesel for electricity generation and connecting the communities to the provincial electricity grid, the project will materially improve the quality of life in the communities. It will do this by significantly reducing the adverse health, safety and environmental risks and impacts associated with the use of diesel fuel, providing electricity supply that is sufficient to meet the long-term needs of the communities, and providing more reliable electricity service by significantly reducing the frequency and duration of power outages currently experienced in these communities.
  • The development of the project has already created many skills-development and employment opportunities, and the construction, operation and maintenance activities associated with the project will continue to do so over the life of the project.

Economic Interest:

  • The project will provide cost savings for all parties involved compared to the alternative of sustained reliance on diesel generation.
  • The project will provide significant short- and long-term economic stimulus at local, regional and provincial scales, including an increase in gross domestic product, short- and long-term employment (job-creation) and related income benefits, increased business opportunities, savings for taxpayers, increased business and government revenues.
  • Considering the current constraints on economic activities and future resource development projects in the area, the project will enable significant economic development in the communities.
  • For further detail please see the PricewaterhouseCoopers & HDR Corporation report “Wataynikaneyap Power Project: Socioeconomic Impact Analysis of Building Grid Connection to Ontario’s Remote Communities” found in the links below.

The Lieutenant Governor in Council has determined, after taking into account the objectives of the Far North Act, 2010, that the development is in the social and economic interest of Ontario.

Supporting materials

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Get in touch with the office listed below to find out if materials are available.

Far North Branch - Thunder Bay

421 James Street South
1st Floor
Thunder Bay, ON
P7E 2V6

Ministry of Natural Resources - Far North Branch

5520 Hwy 101 East
South Porcupine, ON
P0N 1H0

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