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