Power to the people?
Municipalities to fight NL Hydro over proposed increases
“They were everywhere — Transmitter (Corte Real) Road, Wilburn Bay road, the North West River Highway and many other locations.”
Thomson said the most sites they found were — ironically — located on the dump road, leading into the region’s landfill site.
“People dumping their truckloads of trash along that road is nothing but laziness,” she said. “They’re already on their way to the dump!”
Thompson added she didn’t real- ize the extent of the problem until she started this job.
“I knew it was always going on, but I just didn’t realize how bad it actually was,” she said.
“I guess it’s a case of people get away with it, so it continues to happen.”
However, she noted a new Facebook group might hopefully curtail some of the illegal dumping activity.
“We started a site called ‘ Illegal Dumping in the Upper Lake Melville Area’, where you can view a map and pictures of the 60 sites we found,” said Thomson.
“Every site we found, we mapped and entered into a GPS for future reference.”
Thomson said she encourages the general public to post pictures of sites they may come across and make comments to the issue.
“Maybe someone might see a picture of something they had dumped and think twice about doing it again,” she said.
“We have to adjust the rates to reflect the costs of supplying electricity there in Labrador.”
But neither Oliver nor Oldford believes that such reasoning justifies a rate increase, especially when the Upper Churchill project is next door, and the Lower Churchill project is underway.
“We are the closest to the resource, we are the main beneficiaries for that resource,” says Oliver. “We agreed, initially, with this ( Lower Churchill) project because we were going to see certain benefits. We haven’t seen them…( but) we should get the biggest benefits from that project.”
Karen Oldford points out that, if the province can afford to sell electricity from the Upper Churchill to Quebec for 0.25 cents per kWh, there’s no reason for Labradorians not to receive the lowest rates possible.
“The fact of the matter is, Hydro (Quebec) is only paying a quarter of a cent per kWh to buy that power from Upper Churchill,” says Oldford.
“We certainly are the closest, barring Churchill Falls, to the resource. So we should benefit from lower rates.”
Even though Labrador will still have some of the lowest power rates in the country with the proposed increase, the municipalities are concerned about higher power bills, and the average person’s ability to pay them. Residents of both Labrador West and Happy Valley-Goose Bay have seen sky rocketing rent and housing costs, as well as high prices for food.
“A lot of people are currently having to contribute a lot more than 30% of their income to housing,” says Oldford of Labrador City’s housing crisis.
“They got to compare apples to apples — look where we are,” said Oliver. “The cost of living up here is much more. We’ve got one thing that we can benefit from, and that’s cheap hydro rates, and that’s what we should have.”
For more reaction on this story, turn to page A4.
The Happy Valley-Goose Bay Green Team said sights like this are much too common around the Upper Lake Melville area. This is one of just 60 illegal dumping sites the team documented during the summer.
Happy Valley-Goose Bay Mayor Stanley Oliver was shocked and angered by NL Hydro’s announcement seeking a rate increase for much of Labrador.
The Happy Valley-Goose bay Green Team have been hard at work with various projects around the Upper Lake Melville area, including improvements to the Mud Lake Road walking trail.