Steps in the public participation process
Hydro-Québec implements a communications program to open a dialogue with the community while the studies are being carried out. The company is thus able to take into account the concerns and expectations expressed by the public and by key stakeholders so as to best adapt the project to local realities.
This approach aims to provide an understanding of the project, respond to stakeholders’ information needs and gather community concerns regarding the project. Hydro-Québec communicates with representatives of various levels of government, the official representatives of the communities, the landowners concerned, citizens, community organizations and local media.
These consultations with stakeholders are helpful in determining the line route that will have the least social, environmental, technological and economic impact. The discussions also mean that project development can respond better to host community needs and expectations.
For all of its projects, Hydro-Québec implements a public participation process involving three steps: general information, public consultation and information on the solution selected.
The overall approach includes meetings with the communities, distribution of information bulletins, information made available online and full-time access to our team.
In addition, Hydro-Québec’s public participation process is covered in a separate chapter of the environmental impact statement submitted to the Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques (MDDELCC) to obtain the required government approvals.
In the first phase, Hydro-Québec explains its project, its approaches (environment, public participation) and presents the study area. From this phase to the end of the project, Hydro-Québec wants to hear the needs, concerns and input of affected stakeholder groups, to add these to the technical, economic and environmental analyses performed.
During the public consultation phase, Hydro-Québec presents line route variants to collect comments and suggestions from the host community and integrate these in the analysis, with a view to selecting the route with the least impact.
For the current project, in spring 2015, Hydro-Québec will hold meetings with the different stakeholder groups affected to present the line route variants under study and gather the host community’s comments and concerns.
Two open house events will be held in early June to hear the concerns of residents and answer their questions.
A total of over 20 meetings have been held to date.
Information on the solution selected
Once a choice is made, information meetings on the selected solution are held.
During these meetings, we present the results of the public participation process:
- The project and the selected solution (route)
- The mitigation measures
- The main concerns expressed by the host community and Hydro-Québec’s responses and commitments
These activities also allow Hydro-Québec to hear final comments and concerns about the project.
Hydro-Québec reached this step at the end of summer 2015. Meetings, including an open house, were held with the various stakeholders to present the selected line route and gather comments and concerns from the community.
Once the public participation process is over, Hydro-Québec stays in touch with the host community to answer questions and provide ongoing information on the project’s progress.
In line with this approach, in April and December 2016, an information bulletin and letter were sent to all landowners affected by the project and, in September 2016, we held two open house events to answer the public's questions.
Information and discussion panel – Mont Hereford area
Forêt Hereford, which covers over 5,400 ha, could not be bypassed and is crossed by the southern segment of the line route. To reduce impacts and allow for the best possible integration, the sensitive components of this environment and the obligations and restrictions prescribed by the conservation servitude were taken into account when developing the line route. The project team also set up an information and discussion panel with the representatives of the Forêt Hereford organization and the Nature Conservancy of Canada.
The panel has the following objectives:
- Discuss the technical, environmental and social aspects of the project to ensure ongoing communication about shared concerns and promote the search for consensus-based solutions.
- Ensure that the construction and operation of the new line are carried out in compliance with applicable standards and with due respect for community concerns and the obligations of the Forêt Hereford organization and the Nature Conservancy of Canada
Public environmental hearing
In fall 2016, the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) held a public hearing concerning the Québec–New Hampshire interconnection project. During the first part of the hearing, the BAPE’s commissioners and the public asked Hydro-Québec questions on the project and, during the second part, members of the public gave their opinion.
BAPE’s report is now public since February 9th 2017.
All information related to the hearing is available on the BAPE’s Web site (in French only).