Rowdy wind farm staff blamed for troubles in the Stettler area

Stettler RCMP’s patience is wearing thin with some of the rowdier construction workers brought into Alberta for the Halkirk wind farm project.

Work crews deliver a blade to a turbine site about one kilometre northeast of Halkirk last week

Stettler RCMP’s patience is wearing thin with some of the rowdier construction workers brought into Alberta for the Halkirk wind farm project.

“We have an issue with some out-of-towners here who are working in the area,” Sgt. Duncan Babchuk said this week. “A majority of our problems are from them as of late.

“I think the reality is these guys are not in their home province. They’ve lost control of themselves. I don’t know a better way to put it.”

A couple of weekends ago, police were called numerous times to a Stettler watering hole to deal with brawling and intoxicated patrons.

“We had 11 prisoners and 10 of them were from that (wind project) crew,” he said, adding only one was a local person.

Police ended up laying numerous counts of causing a disturbance and resisting arrest, as well as single counts of obstruction and possession of a controlled substance. Among those who found themselves in cells were workers from P.E.I., Ontario and B.C.

About 260 workers have been hired by Edmonton-based Capital Power Corp. for its $357-million project to build 83 giant wind turbines by the end of this year between Halkirk and Castor.

Most of the troublemakers live in local motels. Some workers have staked out temporary homes in a town campground.

To keep order, police have been laying charges, and release conditions for some have included no alcohol provisions and orders to stay out of the County of Stettler. The wind project is in the neighbouring County of Paintearth.

The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission has been alerted and is stepping up enforcement in local bars. Town officials have also been informed of the problems.

Besides the rowdiness, Stettler RCMP have been kept busy giving speeding tickets to workers heading back and forth to Halkirk, where the wind farm is being built.

At least 40 tickets have been written since mid-summer, with some drivers already dinged more than once. One lead-footed driver was ticketed twice within a few minutes.

Babchuk said police are getting fed up and the next step will be to contact the company that has hired them.

Michael Sheehan, a Capital Power spokesman, said they have not heard from the police.

“I trust that if the RCMP has specific concerns, they will contact our project manager,” says Sheehan in an emailed response.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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