AltaLink among issues on Albertans’ minds

By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on August 8, 2014.

The dog days of summer do not appear to be the dog days so much anymore.

Eleanor Roosevelt had a great saying: “Small minds discuss people; average minds discuss events; great minds discuss ideas.

So small mind it is today. Re: The airplane travel: Alison Redford flew with ghosts, Ralph Klein flew with friends, and both were wrong.

Besides that distraction, the legislative activity here in the city and in the province has been active. There seems to be no end to issues that are piquing people’s interest (actually ticking them off) but one topic that, at this point, is fairly consistent is the sale of AltaLink to Berkshire Hathaway, which is one of Warren Buffet’s billion-dollar companies. Joe Anglin wrote a fairly comprehensive op-ed on this anticipated sale in The Herald Tuesday, Aug. 5. The calls to my office are increasing.

Our citizenry banded together pretty quickly, forcefully and effectively when there appeared to be trouble in our backyard, i.e. what was labelled as urban drilling, but we don’t seem to have the same passion for this sale of our transmission lines to the Americans. Are we all just too busy to pay attention, or are people OK with this sale? Warren Buffet has promised a couple or so million dollars for social projects in Alberta – I believe that is yearly – but millions are basically his coffee money, and they probably use those numbers as round-offs!

Despite the previous comments, I am still doing my homework; will this sale down the line (pardon the pun) still remain beneficial for Albertans? Will we continue to pay for building transmission lines when we don’t get the rewards that those dollars should create? These and many more are the questions people ask me. In my mind, it is part and parcel of the privatization and deregulation of the electrical utilities.

The National Geographic issue in July 2010 had a very good article on this subject and a grid map for all of North America, which included a line from Alberta to California. Several websites which may be of interest are:, http://www.nationalgeographic.com2010/07, and

documents. They do have perspectives from an American view, but can be relevant for Alberta and the future. In the article there is the suggestion of solar power from the Sahara desert being used in the Scandinavian countries via a grid system. However, wherever there is an abundant supply of solar, would it not be better to produce it there?

My understanding is that there is more money to be made in owning the grid system than in the actual production system. I certainly stand to be corrected.

I had the opportunity to drive up the Allison Creek road, and the logging roads off of that road. It is north of Highway 3 and west of Coleman in the Crowsnest Pass. It was hot and not a breath of wind and that is when I really started to think about water and the headwaters where it comes from. I am certainly no biologist, but I know a little. And even I noticed that the headwaters in the Forest Reserve is a busy place with random camping, off-highway vehicle traffic, grazing, petroleum development and logging.

Last week the province declared that both bull trout and cutthroat trout are now designated as “threatened” because populations have shrunk to dangerously low levels. The Allison Creek area is their living and breeding grounds. I was astounded to see that what appeared to be a logging road had slumped and there was erosion of the bare slopes and the road surface was allowing mud to seep directly into Allison Creek which contains cutthroat trout. There was evidence of attempts to fix this problem, but they appeared ineffectual and amateurish. In fact, there were places the mud was seeping under the barriers or just rerouting around the ends of these barriers as the water ran down towards the stream. At one point a culvert was draining the ground water but the runoff still drew some of the mud directly into the creek. The mud/silt changes the bottom of the creek bed as it mixes with the existing stones and can become almost concrete-like in its substance. And for obvious reasons, that is not good for our fish! No wonder they are decreasing.

Our government is in the middle of land-use frameworks for different regions. But, in my mind we do need to monitor more carefully how close logging roads are built to streams, where the quad and snowmobile trails are, and the reclamation of the land following the cutting of trees for the forestry industry. I intend to bring this to the attention of the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development.

At the risk of evoking another roast about too many mussel articles, I was very pleased to see on the front page of yesterday’s Herald the information about sniffing dogs capable of detecting quadra and zebra mussels in boats. I have being championing this fight for a couple of years now and am pleased with this great step forward. There will be a number of demonstrations in various boat launches throughout the province and I will be at the one in Beauvais Lake on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon.

My office will be closed for part of Aug. 21 so that I and the staff can lend a hand and volunteer to help and back up the Lethbridge Bid committee for the 2019 Canada Winter Games when the selection committee will be in our city. The more the merrier: please join everyone at the Galt Gardens and show that selection committee what Lethbridge is all about and that we can deliver the best-ever games.

Whoop-Up Days is coming: parade, pancake breakfasts, exhibitions at the Exhibition Grounds and of course the midway and lots of fat, yummy food. Enjoy our week of great community mingling.

Enjoy the rest of the summer and, as always, my phone number is 403 320-1011.

Bridget Pastoor is the Conservative MLA for Lethbridge East. Her column appears monthly.