Peter Fleck and Bev Finlay stand on Range Road 275 in front of the one-kilometre stretch of trees FortisAlberta plans to remove in order to upgrade the electrical distribution line in the area.

Peter Fleck and Bev Finlay stand on Range Road 275 in front of the one-kilometre stretch of trees FortisAlberta plans to remove in order to upgrade the electrical distribution line in the area.

County residents upset over tree-cutting plan

Landowners want to save the trees on a one-kilometre stretch of road along Range Road 275 in Red Deer County. FortisAlberta is currently upgrading a regional electrical distribution line to bring power to the Gasoline Alley area.

Landowners want to save the trees on a one-kilometre stretch of road along Range Road 275 in Red Deer County.

FortisAlberta is currently upgrading a regional electrical distribution line to bring power to the Gasoline Alley area.

But county residents such as Peter Fleck and Bev Finlay are upset that hundreds of mature trees will need to be removed in order for the project to go ahead.

The land in question is along the border between the country residential communities of Woodland Hills and Broderson.

Finlay, who lives across the road from the trees, said there are route options that would make more sense. She also owns a five-acre parcel on the corner of Range Road 275 and Township Road 380.

‘They want to clear cut trees from the corner,” said Finlay, 80.

“Some of them are very old Spruce trees and they are very high. Some of them I have actually planted. They just want to go in with one of those big machines … and clear cut the whole thing.”

Fleck said the clear cutting of trees is just required because of the chosen method of constructing the new line.

He said it would not be required for the maintenance or safe operation of the line once it is in place.

“I have also been informed that alternate methods of construction would be available,” said Fleck in an email.

“They would just be a little more time-consuming and costly.”

FortisAlberta is working with the concerned landowners in the area to come up with a solution.

Finlay hired a lawyer and submitted a complaint to the Alberta Utilities Commission in August.

The Alberta Utilities Commission does not regulate distribution line routing and construction, except on a complaint basis.

The AUC is encouraging landowners and Fortis to discuss concerns including different routes and construction methods.

No formal hearing process has been set at this point.

The AUC will consider holding a hearing, if a mutually-agreeable solution cannot be reached.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com