THE CANADIAN PRESS – CALGARY – Coal-dependent communities in Alberta are taking a hard look at their future as the age of coal in the province starts to draw to a close.
For Grande Cache, Alta., the closure of its coal mine last year and the looming final shutdown of Maxim Power’s Milner coal-fired power plant has put the very future of the town itself in question.
Mayor Herb Castle says the town council has requested that the regional government study whether Grande Cache, about 430 kilometres west of Edmonton, should dissolve and become part of the municipal district of Greenview. “They will examine all our finances, our infrastructure, our longer-term needs, and say either you’re viable or you’re not viable,” he said.
Castle said council has been considering the move for a couple years, with federal regulations already requiring the Milner plant to shut down at the end of 2019.
But the loss of 400 jobs from a nearby coal mine because of the collapse of the global steel-making coal industry has brought new urgency.
“We’re in the cellar. Our economy is shrinking. We have people who have walked away from houses and mortgages because they can’t afford them,” said Castle. The loss of hundreds of jobs in the town of about 4,300 people means everyone will be affected, he said.
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