Power project going ahead despite community opposition 


Construction of hydro poles recommences in coming weeks

Pemberton residents will not have the final say in the transmission of power from the Miller Creek hydroelectric project.

Instead, they have been told Tuesday night the various options have been considered and the final solution is to add more hydro poles at greater heights along the roads of their gateway community.

Residents were stunned to hear that the door to further discussions has been firmly shut by EPCOR, the Alberta power company at the helm of the project.

This so-called solution, was not part of the original deal, they said.

"We are not getting what we were promised," said Jack Reynolds, a retired Pemberton resident.

The option, presented by EPCOR representatives at an emotional community meeting on June 25, adds five additional poles to the existing hydro line, increasing the number of poles from 79 to 84, most along Pemberton Meadows Road.

Two-thirds of those poles will be four feet higher than, or will stay the same height as, the existing poles.

The remaining 20 poles will be between 8 to 12 feet higher than the originals.

This plan is better than the first option, which would have brought in far more poles, each 15 feet higher than the originals.

But it’s still not good enough for the local community, which thinks EPCOR has essentially reneged on the original deal.

"We don’t want these poles," said one enraged community member, summing up the collective feeling in the busy gymnasium.

Pemberton residents said the Miller Creek project was only agreed to under the assumption the power would move along the existing hydro lines.

Despite the vehemence of the opposition to the final design, EPCOR were firm in their decision to end consultation with the public.

"The next step is construction of the line," said David Morrow, vice president power development and acquisition at EPCOR, at the end of the meeting.

"We have a schedule here and we’re trying to run a business... We met the standard that you set for us."

Less than three weeks before Tuesday’s meeting residents were presented with the original proposal at the first community meeting.

It was a showdown between angry residents and an apologetic power company that promised to do better.

Residents demanded that EPCOR find an alternative solution, most hoping that solution would see the power lines put underground and out of sight.

The power company voluntarily stopped construction on the hydro poles while it scrambled to reach a viable solution that would work for both the community and the company.

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