Innisfail residents make formal request for review of power line decision

Innisfail residents on the route chosen for a proposed power line have not given up the fight.

Innisfail residents on the route chosen for a proposed power line have not given up the fight.

A formal request for a review of the Alberta Utilities Commission’s (AUC) routing decision has been sent. Those with a stake in the project have until Oct. 30 to make submissions to the AUC.

After that deadline, the AUC will decide whether there are grounds for a review of the board’s July routing decision.

Residents in Red Deer’s Pines subdivision are also asking for a review of the decision to keep an upgraded power line along an existing right-of-way behind their homes. The City of Red Deer made its own request for a review of the Pines route on Monday.

AUC spokesman Jim Law said a decision on whether either review will happen follows fairly quickly after the submission deadlines have passed.

“It’s usually fairly expeditious but there is not an established timeline for it,” said Law on Tuesday.

Those making Pines submissions have also been advised to have their information in by Oct. 30, although a specific deadline has not yet been set.

In Innisfail, residents were split over the best location for the power line. The town and a group of residents known as the Wachter Group supported an alternate route north of town.

Other residents wanted AltaLink’s preferred route in the south end of town.

The AUC picked the alternate route, citing the town’s preference and the impact of the power line on the Woodlands subdivision, which is expected to see 300 to 400 new homes in coming years, as the “driving factors” for the decision.

Residents opposed to the alternate route cited the 138-kilovolt power lines’ impact on property values, visual and noise impacts, concerns about electromagnetic frequency (EMF), and inconvenience to farmers in the area.

Richard Wagers is among those opposed to the chosen route, which will cut across a number of farm quarter sections, including the property his family has farmed since 1949.

Their land has already been “assaulted” by a pair of gas lines and the building of a Hwy 2 in the 1950s.

“We love this land and we don’t really want it to be affected,” he said.

Audrey and Jack Daines want the route changed because it will place power lines across a small lake that has been a temporary home for migratory birds for the 57 years they have lived there.

“It really interferes with the migration,” said Audrey. The Daines have commissioned an environmentalist to do a report on the lake and its feathered residents, which the couple hope they can submit to the AUC as part of a review.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com