Well, here we go again! Round two begins of consultations with ATCO and AltaLink. Apparently, landowners provided too much input and it confused the companies, or so they would want you to believe. Remember the definition of insanity: Doing the same thing and expecting different results?
In this round, both companies are pushing landowners to commit to accepting a route, with a “what can you live with” scenario. I encourage those who have not yet done so to submit your concerns and route suggestions again. In the second package you received from ATCO or ALTALINK there is a form for you to complete and submit called “Shape the Conversation.” If mailing, please keep a copy. There will be no more open houses. Route selections will be made and applied for at AUC.
It’s unfortunate these companies are allowed to manipulate this process of consultation. How simple would it have been to present two routes in the very beginning, knowing the two routes would have allowed landowners to engage in meaningful dialogue? If landowners actually had property rights, these companies would be forced to consult and negotiate while respecting landowners’ rights, eliminating their divide and conquer strategy!
I recently attended a Paintearth County council meeting in response to a letter of concern with the CETO project regarding Paintearth Council’s position on Halkirk 1 and 2 wind turbine projects. Circle Square Ranch made a very good presentation regarding the proposed Halkirk 2 project and the proposed transmission route, outlining the negative effects which these projects will have on their operation. The transmission line crosses in front of the gateway to their ranch. I was amazed at council’s response to their presentation. They clearly showed lack of concern. They even doubted the impact of wind turbines and transmission lines on the ranch. At the very least, council should have made a motion to send a letter of support stating the transmission line should not be routed anywhere near Circle Square. At a time when rural communities are struggling with revenue and population numbers, an organization such as Circle Square needs to be recognized as a valuable asset to the Paintearth County.
Circle Square Ranch is a nonprofit organization that has been operating in this area for 41 years. During peak season, they host around 5,000 guests and employ 60 staff and volunteers, so there are 220 people on the ranch each week. Since 1978, over 150,000 people worldwide have graced this area. Plus, Circle Square spends approximately $45,000 per month at local businesses. Their programs are specifically designed around the beautiful Paintearth coulees. People come to see rural Alberta, they come for the view. If the number of visitors decline due to visual pollution caused by the transmission line and wind turbines, Circle Square would be forced to sell and move elsewhere. Can Paintearth County afford to lose this organization and tourist attraction?
Federal, Provincial, and Municipal governments need to fully address the implications of the decisions they make.
Brett Penosky, Stettler County