AUC Heartland Hearing – Day 6

RETA lawyers continued cross-examining the Applicants on April 18 about their flawed public consultation process. When asked whether they ever had a turnout for any of their open houses as large as the turnout for RETA’s Mother-of-All Power Lines Rally at Rexall Place (3,500 to 4,000 attendees), the Applicants said no and that the total turnout for all of their open houses combined was only 1,700.

The Applicants agreed that the parents of children attending Colchester Elementary School are very concerned about health risks of an above-ground Heartland line, the right-of-way which would be just over 100 metres from the school. However, in spite of these health concerns, and the probability that the school would close down if an overhead line was built that close to the school because parents would send their children to other schools, this was not a large consideration by the Applicants. Similarly, the A & D Daycare location right next to the Sherwood Park Greenbelt where the Heartland line would be built was also not considered important by the Applicants. In spite of Colchester School parents and A & D Daycare parents asking that the Heartland line be buried to allay their concerns, the Applicants have recommended building an above ground line.

Strathcona County’s lawyer got agreement from the Applicants that the Restricted Development Area legislation for the greenbelt (TUC) does not restrict development next to the greenbelt. He pointed out to the Applicants that there were 5,194 homes, numerous schools, numerous daycares and one hospital within 800 metres of the Applicants’ preferred route compared to only 342 homes and no schools, daycares or hospitals within 800 metres of the Applicants’ alternate route. He continued that the number of homes within 150 metres appeared to be a more important consideration by the Applicants (even though the Applicants stated that this distance was selected arbitrarily).

A lawyer representing several rural landowners along the Applicants’ preferred route pointed out numerous examples of confusion during the Applicants’ public consultation process, which left landowners uncertain about many aspects of the proposed line. As well, he pointed out several examples of misinformation provided by the Applicants which made the Applicants’ preferred route appear more suitable. The Applicants had already eliminated numerous routes on the basis of dubious data before they applied a more comprehensive list of factors to be considered for the remainder of the route selection process. The Applicants considered a Department of National Defence (DND) receiver site off limits for the proposed power line based on consultant’s reports (Shel-Bar Electronics Industries Ltd.) which were shown to be full of formula and calculation errors.

Perhaps one of the more interesting revelations at today’s proceeding was the Applicant stating that they had started discussions with the DND about their preferred route in December, 2006; had worked closely together with the Alberta Infrastructure Department for several years on their preferred route; and had worked closely with the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) on their preferred route during the conceptual planning stages of the Heartland line. This revelation certainly  supports many of the concerned landowners along the Applicants’ preferred route who feel that the Applicants, the Alberta Government and the AESO have always wanted the Heartland line built in the Edmonton and Sherwood Park Greenbelts (East TUC), and that the Applicants’ public consultation process was a sham.

~ by RETA on April 18, 2011.

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