By Jensen, Randy on June 29, 2020.
Lethbridge Herald -PINCHER CREEK
They say you can’t fight city hall, but one small greenhouse owner near Pincher Creek is doing her darndest to do just that by attempting to stop the installation of a livestock incinerator at the local Crownest-Pincher Creek landfill.
Diana Calder says the proposed incinerator is potentially harmful to those living nearby due to the contaminants released from the burning, and an overall waste of taxpayers’ money.
“There is absolutely no reason to put an incinerator in to get rid of dead cows because they can go to Lethbridge for the bio-gas plant and get turned into energy,” she says. “The plastic they want to burn with the livestock is all recyclable. It seems to be a make-work project, and there doesn’t seem to be any real underlying reason to bring in an incinerator.
“The people directly in the path of the wind from said incinerator are very concerned, and everybody here has asked for environmental reports or assessments before it goes in, and we have been refused that at every turn. They are refusing to test the water, refusing to test the land, or the air.”
The landfill is jointly managed by a board appointed by the Town of Pincher Creek, the Village of Cowley, the MD of Pincher Creek and the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass. Both the Town and Village have registered their concerns with the proposed project, with the Town going so far as to formally appeal the awarding of any permit for the project. And to date 14 nearby property owners, including Calder, have all sent letters of concern to Alberta Environment regarding the project.
Crowsnest Pass councillor and current landfill association board chair Dean Ward feels Calder and the project’s other opponents are making a mountain out of molehill.
“To be honest, there is no project,” he explained to The Herald. “The board decided back in 2014-2015 we needed to look at incineration. We had a problem with dead carcasses of various animals in the area, and a big problem for a couple of our partners, the MD of Pincher Creek, the Town of Pincher Creek and the Village of Cowley, and not very much of a problem for the Crowsnest Pass. Less than five per cent of the dead carcasses were coming from the Pass.”
Ward said the incinerator was originally proposed because it was felt it would benefit local ranchers, Hutterite colonies and meatpacking plants with their carcass disposal. It would also help municipalities get rid of high volumes of roadkill. About 300 tonnes of carcasses are produced in this area of southwest Alberta every year, he says.
“The board at that time decided to look at the option of incinerating the animals among other options,” Ward stated, “and the board decided to direct administration to do a little bit of research on incineration. We did as much research as we could before we got into spending some serious dollars, but before we spent any serious dollars we wanted to make sure the landfill could get a permit to actually do that. So we applied for a permit to put an incinerator in place.”
Once that permit was awarded by Alberta Environment, both Calder and the Town of Pincher Creek decided to launch appeals.
“We got the permit,” Ward confirmed, “but since that time the board has decided they are not going to go in that direction. The board is putting it on hold indefinitely. It’s probably a minimum of $4 million to $5 million project, and so without provincial and federal funding we wouldn’t have proceeded with it anyway.”
The Town of Pincher Creek recently decided to drop its own appeal after receiving assurances from the landfill board the incinerator would not be built any time soon.
Calder, on the other hand, was not assured – noting once the permit is on file the incinerator can be built at any time. She opted to continue her appeal, and was originally given until July to file it. This week that deadline was pushed back until September, Calder confirms.
“All we hear from local councils and things is ‘I don’t think we are doing it for now,'” she said. “Or ‘wait until the appeal has gone through, and then we’ll see. But there will be ancillary benefits.’ They love talking about ancillary benefits, but no one has really accosted them and said what exactly are these benefits? That’s the big mystery. How on earth does anybody benefit out of this? There are already ways to get rid of dead cows. It isn’t like we have got a stack of dead cows piling up anywhere.”
The Herald did reach out to Alberta Environment to request comment on the proposed incinerator project, but has yet to receive a reply.
Follow @TimKalHerald on Twitter