Vulcan’s council is not supporting a Town of High River letter requesting the Alberta government ban new coal exploration and development along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.
The Town of High River has sent out this letter to municipalities across Alberta.
Town council tied 3-3 during a May 25 vote on whether to endorse a letter supporting High River’s proposed coal restriction policy, resulting in the Coun. Lorna Armstrong’s motion being defeated.
“We’re downstream from this municipality writing this letter, and they think nothing of what they’re doing to our drinking water,” said Vulcan Mayor Tom Grant. “And we just accept it, we don’t complain about it, because they’re upstream from us.”
The mayor added many residents living in Crowsnest Pass communities have a “substantially different” attitude to coal mining as the industry is important to their local economies and supports the tax base of municipalities in the area.
“It’s the heart of their community,” said Grant.
High River’s council unanimously supported its proposed Alberta Coal Restriction Policy, which would be effective Nov. 15.
The proposed policy has three key principles: no further coal exploration or development will be permitted on the eastern slopes, existing coal mining operations in the Hinton/Grande Cache areas will be permitted to “retire gracefully,” and reclamation of lands disturbed by coal exploration activities with coal exploration permits issued prior to Feb. 8 must be reclaimed no later than Dec. 31, 2025.
“The Town is strongly opposed to any activity that increases the likelihood of water contamination,” reads the Town of High River’s May 19 letter, signed by Mayor Craig Snodgrass.
“Knowing what we know now, the risks far outweigh any perceived benefit that might come from coal mining. That’s why the Town of High River has proposed the Alberta Coal Restriction policy and we are going to seek support from the other municipalities from around Alberta.”
“Once a waterway has been contaminated by coal mining, this action cannot be reversed,” the letter reads. “Our future generations depend on us protecting this resource.”
Students from Holy Spirit Academy in High River signed a petition opposing coal mining in the Eastern Slopes and Mayor Snodgrass was pleased with their initiative.
“What we are doing is protecting these kids futures. If the coal mining goes through now, it might not have any effect on our water in the near future, but 20-30 years down the line it most likely will,” he said.
The negative effects on the environment, human health, animal health and existing economies far outweigh the new jobs, taxes, royalties or economics that may be generated as a result of coal development in this area, reads the letter.
“It’s got to the point now where people have to make a decision as to which they see the future of coal mining on the Eastern Slopes going,” said Mayor Snodgrass.
- The High River Times will report on new information on responses from other municipalities when the information becomes available