Manitoba

Manitoba man battling Hydro to keep lines off brand new property

A Manitoba man is in a battle to keep 60-metre tall Manitoba Hydro towers off the brand new property he bought near Richer, Man.

Manitoba man shocked Hydro plans to build 60-M tall towers on his brand new property

Conrad Theissen's 50-acre property is located six kilometres away from Richer, Man. (Courtesy Conrad Theissen)

A Manitoba man is in a battle to keep 60-metre tall Manitoba Hydro towers off the brand new property he bought near Richer, Man.

“It never would have dawned on me that Manitoba Hydro could just come and say, ‘Hey, we’re cutting your property in half and taking some of it and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it,’” said Conrad Thiessen. “This is my land. I just bought it!”
Conrad Thiessen works as a welder and commutes to Steinbach. His wife is a system administrator who works in Blumenort. The pair had hoped to retire on their 50-acres of land in southeastern Manitoba. (Courtesy Conrad Thiessen)

Thiessen, 45, bought a home about six kilometres from the southeast Manitoba town last summer.

Thiessen and his wife looked all over the area for a secluded spot they could settle down and eventually retire on.

And for the first six months, the pair enjoyed their 50-acre property.

But in January, Thiessen got a letter about a Manitoba-Minnesota transmission line planned for the area.

It invited him to come to an information session and have a “one-on-one” sit down with a Hydro official.

He went, not thinking much about it. Thiessen said he thought he could just tell them he didn’t want a line on his property.

This is not eight acres of random, unused swamp land, this is my home- Conrad Theissen

“It became abundantly clear right away that they weren’t asking for my permission and didn’t need my permission,” he said.

He said Hydro officials offered him an easement — a payment for a small portion of his property they planned to build two 60-metre high towers on.  He said it was about $6,000.

Thiessen didn’t want the money or the towers, but he said the Hydro official said he could either accept the money or Hydro would use the expropriation act to take it.

The worst part, Thiessen said, is he was told there was nothing he could do about it.

“When the deer come to feed in my yard, I can see them from almost a quarter mile away as they make their trek through the swamp, and a 200 foot tower — 200 feet? That’s like a 20-storey building,” he said. “That’s huge. The tallest trees on my property are only about 35 feet tall and this is going to be six times that.”

The issue especially burns Thiessen because he and his wife specifically told their realtor they wanted to avoid power lines and power projects in the area.
“When the deer come to feed in my yard, I can see them from almost a quarter mile away as they make their trek through the swamp, and a 200 foot tower -- 200 feet? That’s like a 20-storey building,” said Conrad Thiessen. (Courtesy Conrad Thiessen)

 “In no way as that unobtrusive, that’s as in your face as it gets. Number one, I don’t want them here. Number two, don’t tell me that this is invaluable land. This is my home,” said Thiessen.

Manitoba Hydro spokesperson Scott Powell said he understands Thiessen’s frustration.

“You know, obviously, not everyone’s going to be happy about it, but there’s a lot of factors that go into determining where these lines are going to be routed, and we do our best to minimize those impacts,” he said. “The issue is that whenever you build something long and linear, you’re going to impact some people. If it’s moved from his property, it may impact four others down the road, and is that any fairer?”

Powell said the project is critical for Manitobans. It will increase the amount of power that can be exported to customers, which he points out, “generates revenue, which helps keep Manitoba rates low.”

It’s also going to be used to import power in times of emergency -- like when water levels are low.

Powell said the project has been in the works for years, but Thiessen said it’s not clear when the “preferred route” through his property was decided on.

Thiessen said he has contacted his reeve, MLA and MP, but so far hasn’t had any luck.

He’s worried the lines will attract more people and traffic to the area.

 “This is not eight acres of random, unused swamp land, this is my home. It’s not worthless to me. I would prefer for them to not be here,” he said. “It really bothers me that their attitude is that there’s nothing you can do about that.”

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