THUNDER BAY – Today marked a significant step in the unprecedented First Nations-led Wataynikaneyap (Watay) Power Transmission Project to connect remote First Nation communities to Ontario’s power grid.
With a projected completion date by the end of 2023, the Watay Power Project will be the largest Indigenous-led infrastructure project in Canada, and most far-reaching First Nations grid connection in Ontario’s history. When complete, the project will provide over 14,000 First Nations people in northwestern Ontario with a clean, reliable and affordable supply of electricity.
The Ontario Government is providing a loan of up to $1.34 billion for the Watay Power Project’s construction costs, enabling the project to move forward.
Pikangikum First Nation was the first community in the Watay Power Project to be successfully connected to the provincial power grid in December 2018, giving 3,000 residents access to safe and reliable power and ending reliance on diesel generators.
The project has strong financial, social, and environmental benefits for First Nations, Ontario, and Canada. The project will lead to direct employment and economic benefits for northwestern Ontario, including First Nation community members. Watay Power expects that construction of the project will create an estimated 769 jobs.
“Ontario is committed to working in partnership with First Nations and government partners to connect remote First Nation communities to the electricity grid, remove barriers to community growth, and spur economic development,” says Minister Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines. “These loan agreements signify Ontario’s commitment to the project’s success and are an important step for construction to proceed.”
For communities, reliable power will mean the ability to pursue key initiatives such as new housing, water treatment and other infrastructure needs. In addition, the environmental costs of diesel generation, which include reduced air quality and risk of diesel fuel spills, will be avoided.