July 12th, 2024

Council expressing mining concerns to province

By Lethbridge Herald on February 9, 2021.

Herald file photo by Al Beeber The Rockies loom large over the streets of Coleman and the communities of the Crowsnest Pass.

Tim Kalinowski
Lethbridge Herald
Lethbridge city council voted unanimously Tuesday to have Mayor Chris Spearman draft a letter to the province expressing the City of Lethbridge’s ongoing concerns with proposed coal mining in the headwaters of the Oldman River watershed; despite the recent Kenney government decision to reinstate the 1976 Coal Policy, pending public consultations on a new coal policy for Alberta.
Spearman acknowledged and thanked the provincial government for its decision to listen to the people of Alberta and reinstate the Coal Policy, but said the fact councillors voted unanimously to send the letter with other points of concern listed meant this was an vital issue for all Lethbridge’s citizens which cut across all political lines.
“I thought it (the motion) was, for the most part, apolitical,” said Spearman, “and the fact that the amendments and the motion in the end received unanimous support (on council) from people with different perspectives — I think says a lot.”
The letter contained several points for the province’s consideration, including a request for comprehensive public consultation on any new coal policy as well as concerns about how any new potential coal mining developments go forward.
The motion made by council stated there should be a complete and thorough analysis done of watershed impacts that may come from the allocation of Oldman River water for mining use, water quality impacts, the efficacy of technology to remove selenium and other contaminants generated as a result of the mining of coal and for a rigorous regime of ongoing testing for selenium contamination levels in watersheds resulting from the mining.
Council also asked the province to consider reviewing the Mine Financial Security Program to ensure there would be sufficient funds to cover the rehabilitation of mined lands, and so we do not end up in Alberta with another Orphan and Abandoned wells type of situation after any potential coal mining is done.
That part of the motion, to be included in the letter to the province, was largely apolitical — similarly the decision to issue an invitation to local MLAs Nathan Neudorf and Shannon Phillips as well MP Rachael Harder to come to address city council on the issue of coal mining crossed party lines.
However, there were two other aspects of the motion passed by council on Tuesday which could be seen as slightly more political. At the suggestion of Mayor Craig Snodgrass of High River, who has been leading a province-wide campaign to raise awareness of the potential negative impacts of coal mining and who presented during Tuesday’s meeting, council also entertained two other amendments to the main motion: to ask the province to put an immediate stop to all coal exploration in the Eastern Slopes pending a broader public consultation on a new coal policy, and for the provincial government to immediately stop any reallocation of water for the purposes of coal mining in the Oldman River watershed and other watersheds in Alberta, pending a broader public consultation process on a new coal policy.
Both of these proposed amendments were adopted unanimously by council.
Spearman said it is no secret water is of vital interest to all members of council, and all stakeholders in the Oldman River watershed, due to the limited amount available, and very real concerns about the potential for contamination of that limited water source due to coal mining.
“We are expressing concerns on behalf of the citizens of Lethbridge about the whole mining issue, but basically from the perspective the impact on the water that our city and region uses,” stated Spearman. “Very much along the lines of the water used for irrigation, that is used for agriculture, that is used for agricultural processing, and used for drinking water. And it is important there be an adequate supply of water, and that water be free from contamination.”
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This should have been done 6 months ago. If this cr*p goes through we all should Class Action this government trying to poison us.


Please explain the rising of the parts per million from 1 ppm to 2 ppm of selenium in 2018. You seem to forget who was at the throttle.

Southern Albertan

What the millions of us downstream from the Oldman River watershed/headwaters should be the most concerned about is the fact the the leases handed out for Category 2 lands are continuing to be explored. That means the bulldozers will keep “cutting up hillsides this summer.” Even now, hikers who have gone back into these ‘restricted’ areas have seen the exploration mess that is already there. Maybe we could have some drone footage of this exploration mess.
How disingenuous is it to announce that the “Coal Policy” is being reinstated but, coal exploration work has not been cancelled in Category 2 lands nor has the Alberta Energy Regulator been directed to prohibit open-pit mines, just mountain top removal?
We should not be fooled here. Nothing has changed. If the Kenney UCP really means to reinstate the ‘Coal Policy,’ they need to cancel these leases and pay them out. After all, the leases were cheap, pennies on the dollar.
Because this announcement was so ‘sneaky’, the Kenney UCP lacks complete credibility, and cannot be trusted.

Last edited 3 years ago by Southern Albertan
Jack Grant

What a crock, remember how Spearman put $60 million into subsidy’s to bring 250 jobs to lethbridge that was a big deal but if any other area wants to prosper? But that’s ok because it worked for Lethbridge. Even the NDP did nothing to discourage mining in a Cat 2 area check out for yourself a letter to Ram River Coal in 2016 does that sound like a party that was anti-coal?. https://images.app.goo.gl/bUuxrjY3XfxUev9e7
When did Alberta become the province that turned it’s back on natural resource development. Do we no longer support regulated reasonable development of our natural resources? Potential of 1200 jobs in the Crowsnest Pass starting at $100,000 a year how many folks do you think would apply for those jobs that live in Lethbridge?
Celebrities who can sing or act what would they be doing for a living if they weren’t blessed with their talents? What have they done to reduce their carbon footprints? Nothing hypocrites


Gee, Jack. Your job estimate goes up each time you comment.

How many jobs will be lost in tourism, or cattle ranchers and feedlots when selenium contamination becomes an issue, or contaminated water used by irrigation farmers? Or country singers who have no more mountains to sing about? You can quote me on this: I think we will lose one trazillion jobs!

[…] support [on council] from people with different perspectives,” Mayor of Lethbridge Chris Spearman told The Lethbridge Herald this […]

[…] Lethbridge, on the banks of the Oldman River, city council voted unanimously in early February to contact the province regarding the city’s concerns with the proposed open-pit […]