Manitoba Hydro has delayed a shift change for its workers and has moved the Keeyask project into “care and maintenance status” as a blockade continues in the area.
The blockade went up last Friday at an entrance to the site over worries that incoming employees could be carrying COVID-19.
Manitoba Hydro was in the midst of a shift rotation after 500 Hydro employees and contractors had been at the site for eight weeks and needed to be rotated out.
Care and maintenance mode means around 100 people will still be required at the site to provide security and to maintain critical camp operations.
Leaders from the Tataskweyak Cree Nation, War Lake First Nation, York Factory First Nation, and Fox Lake Cree Nation have come together to form the blockade.
Manitoba Hydro spokesperson Bruce Owen said safety has become an issue.
“It became clear the illegal blockade was impacting the safety of those at site and their wellbeing by blocking shipments of food, waste removal and other critical supplies for employee safety and wellbeing,” Owen said.
The blockade remains despite RCMP serving Tataskweyak Cree Nation with a court injunction earlier this week.
This blockade could come with a steep price, Hydro says, and will cost the project $1.7 million per day and may bring other one-time costs for demobilizing and remobilization at a later date of up to $50 million.
Hydro says the four chiefs of the Keeyask Cree Nations have been invited to a teleconference call with Hydro President & CEO Jay Grewal.
“Our community is in an extremely vulnerable position at this point,” Tataskweyak Cree Nation band councillor Nathan Neckoway said earlier this week.
“We are trying to do everything we can to protect the safety and wellness of our citizens. As a sovereign Nation, this is our right.”