4-6 weeks before power restored to Two Manitoba First Nations: Manitoba Hydro

Rock drilling at Pigeon River to set new poles. (Source: Manitoba Hydro)

A new damage assessment by Manitoba Hydro on wildfire damaged hydro poles serving two First Nations shows only 88 poles need replacing.

The damaged section of the power line serves about 1500 residents in both Little Grand Rapids and Pauingassi First Nations who have been unable to return home since wildfires forced them to evacuate earlier this summer.

Initial estimates by Hydro pegged the repairs as high as 100 poles, but the crown corporation now says other damaged poles require new crossarms and other electrical equipment.

Repairs on hydro lines crossing the Pigeon River started over the Labour Day Weekend while crews continue to trim and remove tree hazards around the lines to prevent future outages.

As of September 6, 40 poles have been replaced with many having to be to set in rock which requires specialized drilling equipment.

All equipment and repair materials need to be flown in by helicopter from a staging area in Bloodvein.

This past weekend the Manitoba NDP questioned why repairs to the transmission line were taking so long, pointing to a 2019 ice storm that damaged thousands of poles yet power was restored within 15 days.

The estimated restoration time, subject to changes due to weather and air accessibility, is approximately four to six weeks.

Hydro said additional damage may be found as work continues.

- With files from CTV’s Mason Depatie and Kayla Rosen