An area community has become the first First Nation in Canada to sign onto to a major solar project.
Fort William First Nation has signed a lease agreement with SkyPower Limited for a 100-acre, 45,000 solar-panel project expected to generate about 10 megawatts of power. Fort William First Nation chief Pete Collins said he hopes the deal is the first of many business opportunities for land adjacent to the Kaministiqua River.
"We think this is a great fit and a stepping stone in the right direction for any other economic development that we can create on those lands," Collins said.
The agreement, which Collins declined to announce how much it's worth, was five years in the making. Collins said Fort William First Nation has its own construction company and hopes to get a good percentage of the 100 expected construction jobs for his members.
"We’re hoping at least to get a good portion of our members working on site," Collins said.
SkyPower senior director James Pagonis said although the deal is the first of its kind with a First Nations community, the process was easy and most Fort William First Nation members were receptive to the plan.
He said besides money from the lease agreement, he’s hoping the community will get jobs and education opportunities out of the deal.
"Hopefully they can take some of that and develop into more opportunities," Pagonis said.
Pagonis said he expects the project and another solar project at the Thunder Bay Airport to be completed this summer.
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