Coal tran­si­tion panel meets in Hanna

The Drumheller Mail - - NEWS - Pa­trick Ko­lafa The Drumheller Mail

Hanna is look­ing at a fu­ture with­out the coal in­dus­try, and last week lo­cal lead­ers in the com­mu­nity were able to voice their con­cern and ideas about what that may look like.

On Tues­day, Fe­bru­ary 21 and Wed­nes­day morn­ing, the Ad­vi­sory Panel on Coal Com­mu­ni­ties met with in­vited stake­hold­ers. They spoke with mu­nic­i­pal lead­ers, the Hanna Learn­ing Cen­tre, the Cac­tus Cor­ri­dor Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion, the Ru­ral Al­berta Busi­ness Cen­tre and the lo­cal Cham­ber of Com­merce. They also spoke to lo­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the coal in­dus­try.

Mayor Chris War­wick said it was a pos­i­tive meet­ing.

“It was a chance for them to hear some of the im­pacts that are go­ing to hap­pen in our area and re­gion, so they can make their re­port,” said War­wick.

“The re­port is due in late spring and it is re­ally de­pen­dent on the panel get­ting all the in­for­ma­tion.”

War­wick said the panel started in Hanna and then headed to other af­fected com­mu­ni­ties in­clud­ing Forest­burg and Park­land County.

He said the panel made no promises, and that isn’t their role.

“Their work is to rec­om­mend to the gov­ern­ment how the gov­ern­ment can help coal com­mu­ni­ties tran­si­tion away from coal, that is their man­date,” he said, adding that much of the tran­si­tion plan­ning is in the com­mu­nity’s hands to de­sign.

“We are closer to the im­pacts and to what we want to see in the re­gion. From here go­ing for­ward, it is re­ally in our hands to come up with a tran­si­tion plan of some kind and then im­ple­ment it. That is where we will get the help from the gov­ern­ment and to pos­si­bly uti­lize their de­part­ments and how they can help us tran­si­tion away from coal and still be vi­able.”

War­wick said the panel ap­peared to be re­spon­sive.

“It was good. The panel has some re­ally good ques­tions and it was a good op­por­tu­nity to sit down and dis­cuss and give them a tour of the town to show them ev­ery­thing we have to of­fer,” he said. “I felt it was very good, their ques­tions were per­ti­nent to what is hap­pen­ing in our area.”

There are no firm time­lines. The re­port from the Ad­vi­sory on Coal Com­mu­ni­ties is due later this spring, and War­wick said af­ter the re­port is pub­lished they can be­gin to look how to work with the gov­ern­ment on the tran­si­tion.

“It felt like we were heard, we just have to see what comes out of it in the end,” said War­wick.

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