January 10th, 2018 ~ Vol. 89 No. 2
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Special Council meeting: Riversdale update
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Anna Kroupina Photo
Crowsnest Pass Municipal Council from left tor right: Councillors Marlene Anctil, Dave Filipuzzi, Doreen Glavin, Mayor Blair Painter, Councillors Lisa Sygutek, Gordon Lundy and Dean Ward.
ANNA KROUPINA
Pass Herald Reporter
The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) issued a Notice of Application for the proposed Grassy Mountain Coal Project on October 31, 2017, which began a period where the public can submit Statements of Concern until December 8, 2017.

Benga Mining Limited, a subsidiary of Riversdale Resources, received 24 new Statements of Concern regarding their proposal to open a coal facility in the area.

Riversdale updated Council as to Riversdale’s current stage in the permitting process at a special meeting on January 4.

According to Alisdair Gibbons, the 24 new Statements of Concern are in addition to the 30 they had received in 2015 as part of their first Notice of Application.

The majority of Statements of Concern came from Crowsnest Pass residents and related to concerns for water and species at risk. As part of the permitting process, the AER have also submitted a supplementary information request (SIR) document to Riversdale requesting more information in certain areas.

Riversdale is in the process of working through the statements and responding to the writers, says Gibbons, and responses to the AER supplemental information requests are expected to be posted on the website in February.

On the regulatory front, the AER is reviewing the technical content of the integrated application, and Riversdale is awaiting confirmation on whether the AER decides to proceed to a joint panel hearing. CEEA has already indicated that they will go to panel.
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“We expect the joint panel to have hearings in Q3 this year and a regulatory decision to be made in the next 12 to 15 months,” Gibbons says.

As part of the joint panel review, the panel will decide on the amount and location of information sessions to be held as part of the review process. More information on how to attend will be communicated to the public as details become available closer to the review dates.

As for the environment, most field research has been concluded for the winter, with continued research resuming in the spring. Riversdale will continue to collect additional data on wildlife, water and dust throughout the winter.

According to Gibbons, Riversdale has donated approximately $20,000 to community events over the past six months, like the Blairmore gazebo-decorating project, Pass Powderkeg Ski Society, the Livingstone Ski Academy, and Pincher Creek Minor Hockey to name a few.

Their next major event is the Australia Day Celebration on January 27. All proceeds will be donated to support local four-year-old Jake Burgman, who has a rare disease affecting the central nervous system called Pelizaeus Merzbacher.

New members on the Riversdale team are Environmental Technician Bryan Koentges, VP of External Affairs Gary Houston, Commercial Manager Grant Lindstrom and Environmental Advisor Kristina Benoit. The company will be hiring a Project Director to assist in the construction of the site and a Safety, Health and Environmental Manager.

A question period was held following Riversdale’s presentation. Several members of the public were in the gallery who expressed concerns about the proposed mine, ranging from dust regulation to environmental concerns.
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One gallery member, who says he has worked in the mining industry for over 40 years, said that if the permit were granted to Riversdale, a mine would make “a wonderful addition to the community.” He cited the rigorous environmental standards and regulations currently imposed on mines and said that while mining is “a very cyclical business, in my opinion, it adds tremendous value to communities.”

Councillors pointed out the necessity of supplementing the municipality’s high residential tax base with commercial development. Councillor Dean Ward noted that with Riversdale’s plan to hire 12 to 18 people by the end of the year would make the company the largest non-government employer in Crowsnest Pass.

One Crowsnest Pass local expressed that she felt a lack of clear visual representation of the project and what the loadout would look like in the municipality. Mayor Blair Painter pointed out that Riversdale had held several open houses with 3D representations and Claire Rogers, Riversdale’s community relations manager, added that they are working on a map of the site that will be available on their website.

Realtors in the gallery were concerned with the detrimental effects a mine may have on the high-end housing market in Crowsnest Pass.

“To think that we can have a tourist destination in a coal mining town, you’re not being realistic,” said one realtor.

The next meeting was scheduled for February 28, 2018 at 1:30 p.m. in Council chambers.
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January 10th, 2018 ~ Vol. 89 No. 2
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