The governments of Canada and Ontario have granted C$1.6bn ($1.2bn) in funding to support the construction of the proposed Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Line project.

The funds allow for a possible transmission business with First Nations and Fortis, who are participating as the equity investors.

Regulated by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB), transmission company Wataynikaneyap Power is owned by First Nations communities (51%) and Fortis (49%).

Developed by Wataynikaneyap Power, the project is designed to connect remote First Nations in northwestern Ontario to the province’s power grid through the construction of 1,800km of 230kV, 115kV and 44kV transmission lines.

“This provides the foundation for the communities to participate meaningfully in the economic prosperity of this country.”

Wataynikaneyap Power CEO Margaret Kenequanash said: “Today’s announcement reinforces the vision of our elders who signed onto the treaty to share in the benefits of any major development that occurs in the homelands, originally contemplated by the First Law.”

FortisFortis subsidiary Ontario will be responsible for construction management and operation of the transmission lines.

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Upon completion, the transmission lines are expected to provide reliable electricity to the communities and help improve the lives of community members.

Kenequanash added: “This project will redefine the relationships and the landscape of how business must be conducted with the First Nations through creating a sustainable First Nation equity position overall.

“This provides the foundation for the communities to participate meaningfully in the economic prosperity of this country. Now we need to get the line that brings light into the communities.”

Funded by the Canadian Government, the project’s first phase from Red Lake to Pikangikum is planned to be complete by the end of this year.

The project’s next two phases are subject to receipt of all necessary regulatory approvals, including the leave-to-construct approvals from OEB by early next year, and are scheduled for commissioning by the end of 2020 and 2023 respectively.