As if it wasn’t enough that a power line recently constructed by AltaLink in the Pincher Creek area has killed hundreds of birds this year and last year, AltaLink is now proposing to build more new high voltage power lines and other infrastructure near Pincher Creek within the internationally recognized Crown of the Continent landscape.
The proposed Castle Rock Ridge to Chapel Rock Transmission Project, part of AltaLink’s Southern Alberta Transmission Reinforcement, consists of: a new Chapel Rock Substation, expansion of the existing Castle Rock Ridge Substation, a new 240kV double circuit transmission line up to 41km in length, a new 500kV transmission line up to 13km in length, and a new telecommunications tower. AltaLink plans to complete construction by 2018.
Local Crowsnest Pass resident David McIntyre has written, “AltaLink has proposed this new routing in response to a reported need for new power lines, but many reviewers question the described need. Regardless of need, the proposed routings, instead of following existing industrial corridors, would, if allowed, violate the aesthetic and ecological integrity of an iconic, drop-dead-gorgeous Alberta landscape.” AltaLink’s new electricity transmission infrastructure would mar the viewscape of the eastern flanks of Alberta’s Livingstone Range that has been seen in Hollywood movies and in the Alberta Government’s Remember to Breathe tourism ads on TV.
McIntyre has also written, “AltaLink has proposed routes that would destroy rough fescue grasslands, cut through endangered forests of limber pine and cast ominous shadows over staging areas for trumpeter swans and other waterfowl. These proposed transmission line routes and their sprawling substations would violate the integrity of a Serengeti-like landscape that’s critical winter range for wild ungulates, and habitat for grizzly bears. The proposed intrusions would degrade – and potentially overwhelm – a conservation corridor that’s being designed to allow safe wildlife movement across Highway 3.” McIntyre insists that AltaLink be required to maintain the integrity of this internationally renowned landscape and to comply with the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan (SSRP).
Many other people who live and work in the area are also opposed to AltaLink’s plans. The Livingstone Landowners Group (LLG) is gearing up for a battle, and has said they do not support, nor do they want to discuss, AltaLink’s proposed power line routes. They want AltaLink to use existing infrastructure corridors and avoid environmentally significant areas such as native grassland. They want the lines located and designed in ways that limit visual intrusions, preferably underground, and they want AltaLink to recognize and act in accordance with the recently-released SSRP.
Based on past experience, the LLG has said that AltaLink may use questionable procedures during their proposal consultations. LLG Director Bruce Mowat recently said, “They’ll do the very best to break you apart. They’ll try and get you fighting with your neighbour and don’t do that. Just staying working as a group. You have a lot of power in numbers working together and we found that out in the past. It’s tactics, they have lots of different tactics to approach it. And they’ll have one (consultant) come talk to you one day and you think you’ll be dealing with that fella’ and the next week it’s somebody else and then the next week after that it’s somebody else.”
AltaLink has a long history of flawed public consultation regarding siting and construction of their electricity infrastructure – see this link for many examples.
This blog is based in part on news articles in Pincher Creek Echo 1 and Pincher Creek Echo 2.