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Mayor Snodgrass and Councillor Bruce Masterman Advocate to Protect Eastern Slope Watersheds

Logo of Town of High River

by Town of High River

12/08/2021

Council

Mayor Snodgrass and Councillor Bruce Masterman Advocate to Protect Eastern Slope Watersheds

August 12, 2021

Mayor Craig Snodgrass and Councillor Bruce Masterman, on behalf of Town Council, presented a major report on Tuesday, August 10, to the public consultation committee charged with helping shape a new coal policy for Alberta. The Alberta Coal Policy Committee was established in March by the Alberta government to develop and lead a widespread and comprehensive public engagement process to inform Alberta’s long-term approach to coal development.

Mayor Snodgrass and Councillor Masterman presented a 93-page report during a 90-minute presentation to committee chair Ron Wallace and members Natalie Charlton and Bill Trafford (members Eric North Peigan and Fred Bradley were absent).

High River Town Council has led a municipal campaign against new coal mines to protect water produced in watersheds along the Eastern Slopes, including the Highwood River watershed. The campaign included Council’s approval on May 10 of the proposed Alberta Coal Restriction Policy.

The policy calls for:

- No further coal exploration or development on the Eastern Slopes.

- Existing coal mines in the Hinton/Grande Cache areas will be permitted to retire gracefully.

- Reclamation of lands disturbed by coal exploration activities on coal exploration permits issued prior to Feb. 8, 2021 must be reclaimed no later than Dec. 31, 2025.

The proposed policy details the following rationale:

- The inherent value of the Eastern Slopes only exists with the landscape remaining intact.

- The headwaters and landscapes of the Eastern Slopes are critical to the future of our province. Our communities, agriculture producers, food production, tourism, recreation, sport fishing and hunting all rely on these landscapes and watersheds producing clean water.

- Economics – no amount of jobs or money created by coal exploration or development can offset the negative effects to the environment or human and animal health.

A total of 25 Alberta municipalities endorsed the Alberta Coal Restriction Policy. They are listed in the report presented on Tuesday. The municipalities include the City of Lethbridge – the largest populated municipality that would be impacted by coal mines in the Oldman River watershed – and the Municipal District of Ranchland, which would stand to gain millions of dollars in annual tax revenue from coal mines along the southern Eastern Slopes.

In addition to the 25 municipalities that endorsed the policy, it also was supported by two First Nations, seven organizations and five businesses.

Town of High River Council also documented the actions of 35 Alberta municipalities and several First Nations that have written letters and/or approved motions expressing concern about the coal issue to the Alberta government. That means a total of 60 municipalities, representing 3.2 million Albertans, have either called for no future coal mining or have expressed concern about coal.

The Coal Committee will provide advice and recommendations to the Minister of Energy, with its final report scheduled to be presented to the Minister by Nov. 15. The deadline for public submissions is August 31.

For further information, please check out Coal Policy Committee | Alberta Online Engagement.

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