Alberta briefs – September 29

Firebans have now been issued throughout the Highway 2 corridor from north of Edmonton to the City of Calgary. As of Monday, outdoor burning is not allowed in Red Deer and neighbouring counties, including Ponoka, Lacombe, Stettler and Mountain View.

Fire bans expanded

Firebans have now been issued throughout the Highway 2 corridor from north of Edmonton to the City of Calgary. As of Monday, outdoor burning is not allowed in Red Deer and neighbouring counties, including Ponoka, Lacombe, Stettler and Mountain View.

The ban is also extended to provincial campgrounds within those areas and will continue as long as the risk of fire going out of control remains high. Wood, briquette and gas or propane fires are not allowed, including those contained in designated fire pits. Campers may use gas or propane-fired barbeques and cookstoves.

Mountain View County announced its ban on Monday, stating that outdoor burning permits are now void and prohibiting all potential sources of ignition, including fireworks and burning barrels.

Clearwater County had not issued a fire ban

Details are available online at www.albertafirebans.ca and at www.albertaparks.ca


Stelmach dismisses defector claim

Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach says he doesn’t believe reports that up to 10 Tory members of the legislature may cross the floor to the Wildrose Alliance Party if Danielle Smith is picked as its leader next month.

“I don’t stop and pay attention to a lot of that because we have a duty to govern and lead this province coming out of this recession,” Stelmach said Monday in Lunbreck.

The report of the defections is in Alberta Scan, an inside-Alberta politics newsletter put out by veteran journalist Paul McLoughlin, based at the legislature.

In the Sept. 25 edition, McLoughlin wrote: “Credible Conservative sources say if Smith, a former Calgary broadcaster, wins the leadership . . . as many as 10 MLAs elected as Conservatives are contemplating departing government benches in the legislature to sit as Wildrose MLAs.”

Wildrose Alliance Leader Paul Hinman said he’s heard there’s a lot of unrest among Tories with both the party’s direction and with Stelmach.

However, he said some members of the legislature may be threatening to cross the floor simply to get their way on some issues and policies.

“They’re getting lambasted here in Calgary and elsewhere on health-care changes, and Bill 50 and many things . . . Stelmach undermines one section of the province after another with his poor policies,” Hinman said in Calgary.

Hinman scored an upset victory in the Sept. 14 byelection in Calgary Glenmore, a riding that had been held for decades by the Tories.

Wildrose Alliance is holding a leadership convention on Oct. 7 in Edmonton. Calgary chiropractor Mark Dyrholm is running against Smith to be leader.

On Nov. 7, Stelmach faces a secret ballot vote on his party leadership at the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta convention in Red Deer.


Calgary wants public hearing on Bill 50

Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier says the unanimous council vote asking for a public hearing on controversial provincial power line legislation shows residents worry energy bills will soar.

Council members banded together to ask the province to hold a public hearing on Bill 50, which will see a pair of massive north-south transmission lines that aldermen say could put a dent in consumers’ wallets.

Bronconnier said when he thinks of the more than $15 billion that will be spent in erecting the transmission lines, he also sees the financial effects.

Calgarians are concerned that the AltaLink and ATCO Electric’s plan to build the transmission lines will force them to pay $200 or more a year extra and thousands more for businesses.

Bronconnier said other municipalities are also concerned about the plan, which should be a clue for the province that a public hearing is warranted.

“This type of expenditure in this magnitude … should have a public hearing by the appropriate regulatory body,” said Bronconnier.

“There’s no benefit for city council, there’s no benefit for Enmax as a corporation but it certainly has an implication for Calgary customers.”

The cost of building the power lines is estimated to be between $12 to $20 billion.

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