From left are Town of Hanna Coun. Sandra Murphy, CAO Kim Neill and Coun. Sandra Beaudoin. ECA Review/ScreenshotStu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Two members of the Town of Hanna council made comments at their Jan. 31 information meeting that a solar farm company looking to build in the area claimed to have completed public consultation in an official report when it apparently had not.

Both Coun. Sandra Murphy and Sandra Beaudoin stated during the information meeting, which readers should note is not a regular council meeting in that resolutions are not passed there, made comments to the effect that information submitted by PACE Canada LP turned out later to be wrong. A recording of meeting and council comments are publicly available on the Town of Hanna’s YouTube channel.

The agenda item was presented to councillors by Town Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Kim Neill who noted in his presentation that PACE was providing more information at council’s request. 

“Attached to this package is answers to the questions posed by council at the Dec. 13, 2023 council meeting,” stated Neill’s report to council. 

Readers should note the council meeting in question was actually held Tuesday, Dec. 12.

An email thread between the Hanna CAO and PACE spokesperson Rhonda Barron addressed the questions council had from the Dec. 12 meeting and one of the topics was public consultation with residents near the proposed site. 

In his presentation Neill said, “Some of you may know the controversy or confusion around the public consultation portion especially those (residents) within the 400 metre. Claude had indicated that Rhonda had door-knocked on all of those and attempted to reach out to them.

“In hindsight talking with Rhonda following that meeting she indicated that she hadn’t.” Coun. Beaudoin interjected, “…it was on that report, it was on their presentation that (PACE) had done that and they hadn’t.”

Beaudoin also described a message she received from PACE which apparently was supposed to be about the Hanna project but was instead about the Killam project, which is separate project. 

“Like if they can’t get the information right to begin with before it even goes…how can we trust anything they say?” asked Beaudoin. “They got caught.”

At the end of his presentation Neill asked, “Was there any other questions that were asked that have not been sort of addressed?” 

Coun. Murphy answered, nodding her head as she said this, “A lie detector test might be really good.”

More information

Councillors requested PACE provide more information after a company representative, Director of Development Claude Mindroff, appeared as a virtual delegate at council’s Dec. 12 regular meeting. 

Town of Hanna council last fall passed a resolution to issue a “letter of non-support” for PACE’s proposed project in the Hanna area.

Barron’s email thread included a number of different reports, including a confirmation that PACE had met with the Town of Hanna fire department and a representative of Special Areas but Neill pointed out no emergency response plan has been signed off on.

Another report included in the email thread was an estimate of what the proposed solar farm could generate as annual tax revenue for the Town of Hanna, beginning in 2024 at $198,989 and going right up to 2058 with a number of $315,416.

During discussion Beaudoin stated the tax revenue didn’t mean as much to her if there were issues caused by the solar farm, including consequences for the Hanna Airport.

That was another report Barron provided. Barron’s email stated a mechanical turbulence assessment provided by JetPro didn’t meet the pilot’s requirements so PACE has asked JetPro to do another one.

As well, Barron reported PACE awaits a final solar glare hazard report and as soon as it’s available it’ll be shared with pilots.

Information was also provided, including resumes and qualifications, on environmental consultants PACE has engaged with over the Hanna project.

Lastly, Barron confirmed she tried to find any instances of any other uncontrolled airport similar to Hanna’s being located in proximity to a solar farm but she was unsuccessful.

Barron wanted to point out that PACE has been addressing community concerns but the public apparently misunderstands changes. 

“PACE has endeavoured to make this an iterative process but the community perceives this as constant change as opposed to listening to their concerns,” stated Barron in a Jan. 23 email.

By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Feb 07, 2024 at 13:17

This item reprinted with permission from   East Central Alberta Review   Coronation, Alberta

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