April 17th, 2024

City Notebook: Watch out for live wires in power issue

By COLLIN GALLANT on February 17, 2024.

cgallant@medicinehatnews.com@CollinGallant

Figuring out the future of electricity is like wrestling with a Rubik’s Cube, if the cube was somehow playing against you move for move.

Thumb one piece into place, and two others fall out.

It’s a tall task, but one that’s critically important in this city in this province.

And there’s not a lot of time to survey the situation before it shifts, let alone land on a solid position.

Clean energy regulations proposed by Ottawa morphed again on Friday.

The provincial government’s multi-pronged review of renewable power locations and the whole power market concludes on Feb. 29 .

This week Cypress County will outline a land-productivity survey to help in find suitable green energy sites.

Also, the News reported that the Saamis Solar Park is set for an approval hearing in April – leading to even split in a News online poll about the level of acceptance for the $400-million project.

All of the above have major, direct implications for the city’s power business, with the exception of the private-sector Saamis project.

The 1,600-acre solar field does, however, stand to reduce city wide offsite levy fees and boost the non-residential tax base.

It will also be a test case for whatever wind and solar site restrictions are implemented after a seven-month pause on approvals.

This week, Hatters assumed all sorts of skullduggery was afoot when a council committee meeting was postponed despite expectations of an updates on the energy business review.

That document is due later this year, and could be as important to Medicine Hat’s next century as starting a gas production business was to the city’s first 100 years.

But with so many shifting angles, how could such a study predict the right path with any certainty when there’s so much uncertainty politically, socially, economically and scientifically?

“Let’s do first things first,” energy chair Coun. Darren Hirsch told the News earlier this year, brushing off hypotheticals to await the study.

Special occasions

There was some confusion about what day it actually was this past week.

Everyone knows about Super Sunday, and you’d be in big trouble for forgetting Valentine’s Day on Wednesday. But Feb. 13 was also “Agriculture Day” in Canada – a chance for politicians and ag industries advocates to promote food production sector. (This column will provide a running total in 2024 of farm-focused “day of” promos).

Some quarters of the internet also dubbed the day “Fake Emergency Day” as a reminder of the end of the Ottawa convoy protests in 2022.

Interestingly, Feb 15 is officially “Flag Day”, the observance of having adopting the red and white maple leaf banner in 1965.

A look ahead

It’s Family Day in Alberta on Monday (Louis Riel Day in Manitoba, and President’s Day in the States, see above item) so city council will sit on Tuesday.

Wednesday’s municipal planning commission meeting agenda shows three items to rezone for more multi-family and mixed-use infill development.

100 years ago

A women’s hockey contest between Tweed’s Twinklers and Peasley’s Peaches would headline the Hat’s Athletic Association’s Winter Carnival, the News announced in February 1924.

Also on the fundraiser program were “fancy skating” and races.

The social page details a surprise golden wedding anniversary party for Mr. and Mrs. Peter Robertson, parents of the late Pte. James Peter Robertson.

Doukabours in Canada were considering a mass move to Soviet Russia, according to reports, following the end of talks to create a colony in Oregon.

The Raymond Union Jacks defeated University of Alberta varsity, 32-21 in the opener of the Alberta amateur basketball championship before 1,000 spectators in Raymond.

Dr. F.W. Gershaw was elected the head of the Medicine Hat Chamber of Commerce.

The annual divorce statistics were published by the federal government showing that 126 applications were received from across Canada in 1923.

The fallout from the disastrous heavyweight championship boxing bout in Shelby, Mont. continued as the Shelby mayor sued the promoters of the Dempsey-Gibbons contest for proceeds of the fight film shown in cinemas.

The town had specially built a 40,000-seat arena for the July 4 fight that only drew 7,700 spectators. The spectacle weekend also featured a rodeo backed by Medicine Hat ranch magnate Addison Day.

Collin Gallant covers city politics and a variety of topics for the News. Reach him at 403-528-5664 or via email at cgallant@medicinehatnews.com.

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