Hanna Mayor War­wick lob­bies for com­mu­nity in light of coal phase out

The Drumheller Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Pa­trick Ko­lafa The Drumheller Mail

Mayor of Hanna Chris War­wick has been vocal about the coal in­dus­try and lob­by­ing hard to have his voice heard.

Since the Al­berta Gov­ern­ment an­nounced its plans to phase out coal-pow­ered elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion, res­i­dents of Hanna have been con­cerned about the vi­a­bil­ity of the com­mu­nity, and have been work­ing to­ward the fu­ture.

One re­cent ini­tia­tive the com­mu­nity has spear­headed is a Cli­mate Change Task Force in the area to col­lect data.

“Our Cli­mate Change Task Force con­sists of a cou­ple coun­cil­lors from the Town of Hanna and our CAO. The Special Ar­eas is in­volved as well as well as our eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment com­pany called Cac­tus Coulee Cor­ri­dor,” said War­wick.

He said they de­cided their best course of ac­tion would be to com­plete an im­pact study. For this they con­tracted a com­pany to do in­ter­views and con­duct a se­ries of town hall meet­ings to col­lect data.

“We are hop­ing to have the im­pact study com­pleted by the end of this month,” he said.

War­wick was at the an­nual Al­berta Ur­ban Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties As­so­ci­a­tion Con­fer­ence and was able to get an au­di­ence with Danielle Larivee, Min­is­ter of Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs.

“She kind of de­flected a lit­tle bit. The port­fo­lio for coal af­fected com­mu­ni­ties lies with the Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment and Trade Min­istry,” he said. “It didn’t sur­prise me.”

“We have been in fairly de­cent con­ver­sa­tions with Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment and Trade. Re­cently it has ramped up a lit­tle bit more be­cause they selected the panel that is go­ing to come, see us, and lis­ten to our con­cerns."

On Septem­ber 22, the Al­berta Gov­ern­ment an­nounced a three-mem­ber ex­pert panel to meet with com­mu­ni­ties, labour and in­dus­try lead­ers af­fected by the tran­si­tion away from coal-fired gen­er­a­tion. He has con­cerns.

“Their man­date is not only mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, it is also the work­ers so I un­der­stand that, but I fail to see the con­nec­tions be­tween the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and the panel, and the ru­ral con­nec­tions. One is from Ed­mon­ton, another is from Van­cou­ver and the other is from Toronto, so they won’t un­der­stand ru-

ral at all,” said War­wick. “They are go­ing to have a fairly big learn­ing curve when it comes to that. I am glad they are mov­ing for­ward, I am not overly op­ti­mistic our voice is go­ing to be heard that well.”

He says there are some op­tions to ex­plore, in­clud­ing retrofitting the ex­ist­ing plant to be pow­ered solely by nat­u­ral gas, how­ever, that would end the coal min­ing side of the in­dus­try in Hanna.

Another grave con­cern is drink­ing wa­ter. With­out the plant, the econ­omy of sup­ply­ing wa­ter be­comes dif­fi­cult.

“They pump the wa­ter from the Red Deer River to their cool­ing pond, and then from there, to our set- tling pond and our treat­ment plant in town. Of course, we send it west to Delia, north to Bye­moor and east as far as Aca­dia Val­ley,” he said. “The big­gest thing is the pump­ing cost from the river to the cool­ing pond, ATCO pays for that cost. If we have to in­cur that cost and pos­si­bly main­tain that pipe­line and pump house, that’s a pretty big hit for very few users on our own.”

He said they have been in con­tact with Al­berta En­vi­ron­ment and they are as­sured the sup­ply will re­main. The big con­cern is the cost.

“We are op­ti­mistic be­cause the com­mu­ni­ca­tion is ramp­ing up a bit,” he said.

Chris War­wick… Mayor of Hanna

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