Altalink open house clears rumours and reveals new route

By Ryan Parker

Posted 4 days ago

Right up until Altalink’s open house held in Hillspring on Wed, June 6, 2012, people like Anne Stevick and others had been hearing a lot of rumours about the proposed Goose Lake to Etzikom Coulee Transmission Project. Stevick, as well as others, had heard that some residents who had had face-to-face consultations with Altalink employees may have signed a kind of letter of intent that if the line did cross their property in the suture they would receive $10,000.

At the open house, Leanne Niblock, Altalink Media Relations, and other Altalink employees listened to questions and set the record straight. At this point in the project it is far too early for anyone to signing anything with the promise of money. Right now the only thing those who have been given consultations are signing is a form that states that the project details have been discussed, and whether or not that person would be willing to enter into a land easement. A land easement being a binding agreement that the landowner retains ownership of the land and is compensated for having a line on it, but restricts things like building close to the line.

“What we are doing right now is consultation meetings with people, chatting and getting information,” Niblock said. “People do agree with what they discuss and its accuracy, that is all that we are doing at this point. We do not compensate for consultations, we speak to thousands of people and we don’t want there to be the idea that we are paying someone for their information.”

The confusion most likely came from a misconception of a $10,000 early access and routing consent payment. This payment is made to landowners for access to their property for things like surveys. This payment can be made prior to the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) decision on the transmission line’s actual route, but Altalink must first determine a preferred route, which they have not done yet.

“It gives us the opportunity to go in and do extra work, and this wasn’t in the first newsletter because it’s so early on in the process,” Niblock said. “It will be in subsequent newsletters but right now it’s so early then we have these multiple options that come out later in the process.”

In fact, Altalink had on display at their open house another proposed transmission line option which runs through the Blood Reserve. As of now, the discussions regarding the transmission line going across the Blood Reserve are still ongoing with the Band.

Right now, new newsletters should be on their way to those who could be affected by the proposed project with updated line options and a landowner compensation section.