AUC Heartland Hearing – Day 2
Lawyers for the Sturgeon Landowners Group and Blue Route Utility Transmission Elimination (BRUTE) spent April 12 cross-examining AltaLink’s and EPCOR’s hired team of experts.
The Sturgeon Landowner Group’s lawyer filed a Motion asking that the Applicants’ alternate route be struck from consideration for the proposed Heartland line based on specific wording in Bill 50, the Electric Statutes Amendment Act, 2009. He argued that Bill 50 contemplated only the Applicants’ preferred route and not the alternate route.
Lawyers questioned the integrity and effectiveness of the Applicants’ public consultation process, citing many examples of landowners not being consulted at all, improper consultation, mailing of false information to landowners by the Applicants, and poor consultation follow up on the Applicants’ part. Lawyers also asked questions regarding landowners’ concerns about stray voltage and livestock, the line being built too close to homes and businesses, compensation, and lost business and residential development opportunities.
The Applicants admitted if they were unable to negotiate temporary workspace arrangements with landowners, they would be able to conduct construction within the power line right-of-way (thereby reducing construction footprint and costs). Lawyers tripped up one of the AltaLink staff who said AltaLink was always able to resolve landowner concerns amicably. Lawyers presented information on the AUC forcing AltaLink to deal with a landowner concern several years ago.
During cross-examination of the Applicants, Strathcona County legal counsel challenged BRUTE lawyers, suggesting they were conducting “Sweetheart Questioning” of the Applicants. (“Sweetheart Questioning” means a cross-examiner is purposely asking questions to elicit responses that agree with the cross-examiner’s position….in this case, both the Applicants and BRUTE have made it clear that they want the Heartland line built in the Applicants’ preferred route.) The AUC Chair agreed with Strathcona’s legal counsel, and instructed the BRUTE lawyers to limit their cross-examination to questions that challenged the Applicants.
Some hearing participants on April 11 and 12 wondered why the AUC had hired armed sheriffs to watch over the hearing proceedings.