Crowsnest Pass has not had an operational coal mine for 40 years. Now the struggling community is divided over whether to embrace the resource to save itself
For decades, John Kinnear and his family proudly mined coal from the towering mountains that form the border between Alberta and British Columbia. As a local historian in the nearby community of Crowsnest Pass, he has seen the bounty that coal brought for generations of families.
But he also knows how the country – and world – has soured on the dusty black commodity buried deep within the Rockies, and he has come to understand that point of view. Recently, when he visited Line Creek, a Teck Resources coal mine to the community’s west, he was struck by the desolation left in its wake.
Everything that made the landscape distinct – the alpine flowers below the ridges, the rabbits and mountain sheep – had disappeared. “Now all I see is shovels, and trucks and mountains being decapitated,” he said. “I’m quite unsettled by it all.”
Mr. Kinnear and the thousands of residents of Crowsnest Pass – a storied Alberta region of rum runners, communist mayors and cursed gold mines – have found themselves at a crossroads. The community is deeply divided as it struggles to decide the future of the town and its forests and mountain peaks.
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