NORTHERN PENINSULA, N.L.
NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR
Two gates installed by Nalcor along its transmission link access road on the north and south ends of the Northern Peninsula have been damaged.
In a statement to The Northern Pen on Sept. 25, a communications advisor for the Lower Churchill Project confirmed the south gate installed in the Eagle Mountain River area had been damaged and repairs were being organized.
They also confirmed the lock on the north gate near Brian’s Pond was vandalized and removed.
The two gates close off roughly 60-km of road that runs along the new transmission line built by Nalcor to deliver hydroelectric power from Muskrat Falls in Labrador to the island of Newfoundland.
The erection of the gates was met with opposition from people who enjoyed the newly-opened access to areas of the Northern Peninsula.
A sign left on the south gate called the gates the “New Berlin Wall,” in reference to the structure that once separated East and West Germany. The sign also referenced this being “the freedom our soldiers fought/died for.”
Nalcor said it is making plans to install a rock barrier in front of each gate to protect them from further damage until it is able to make necessary repairs.
“We are presently working on resources to effect the planned repairs in the near term,” the advisor wrote.
Late in August, Nalcor installed the two gates in response to outfitters worried about increased public access to the areas opened up by the new road.
Nalcor is legally bound to remove or restrict access on newly-created roads if public access is deemed to impact business operations of outfitters.
After consultations with both local outfitting operations and outdoor recreation enthusiasts, Nalcor decided to lock the gates for only part of the year.
Nalcor said the gates will be reopened when snow conditions allow in the spring – when the snow starts melting and it is no longer buried in snow.
The section on the Northern Peninsula is the only part of the entire transmission line to be gated.
However, many outdoor enthusiasts on the Northern Peninsula, as well as other businesses, continued to express frustration with the decision.
As of Sept. 26, a Change.org petition opposed to blocking of ATV access on the road had garnered 1,659 signatures.
In a September article, locals told The Northern Pen access to the road could drive tourism and new business in the region. They felt this was being denied.
They were also concerned it could be a safety issue in the winter as snowmobilers, unable to cross the bridges where the gates are located, would be forced to cross the brook.
With files from The Western Star