A few NDP blogs have indicated that this is now the justification for going down the west side. It isn't. Manitoba Hydro indicated very early on their choice at the beginning was to build down the east side of the province.
The NDP government said that this wasn't going to happen so Hydro made its proposals for the west side. Much of this was motivated by the desire to get a UNESCO designation for the site. The problem is that the drive to produce a road through the area seems contrary to keeping the location pristine.
My guess is that the issue of the roads is going to be an issue as they ramp up in construction. If a road is permissible, why not the hydro line? Moreover, once the permanent road is built, it is easy to see eastern communities requesting hydro lines to connect to their now diesel fueled electric and heat buildings. What will the NDP government say to that? No?
The expense of the line will not go away. There will be some heated battles all along the private land to get right of ways.
The election will fought and won in Winnipeg. If people in Winnipeg think that the hydro line is on the west side for politics despite the cost, it will be hard for many to support it. And if people who are environmentalists think that the government is pushing a road that they believe is just as bad or worse, there will be a sense of betrayal for many who might have voted for them in the next election.