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Power line protest - Metro US

Power line protest

Having high-voltage lines running through Strathcona County to power bitumen up­graders could pose as an unsightly health hazard for residents, says a group dedicated to fighting the controversial project.

Four 500-kilovolt lines are being proposed and two of those options run through Strathcona County.

Roxanne Carr, a Strathcona County councillor, believes power lines shouldn’t be built unless they’re underground.

“Most of the people contacting me are saying they would rather the lines go underground or at least have our government look at the safest way to do this,” she said.

“People are getting more concerned about the environment and the visual effect.”

A group of residents, called the Responsible Electricity Transmission for Albertans, say health studies have shown the lines can cause problems, like childhood leukemia, Alzheimer’s and brain tumours.

The group is also worried about the large population of migratory birds in the area.

“Why would you take a man-made wetland that is designed for migratory birds, and then erect a bird catcher over top of it?” said RETA president Bruce Johnson.

“It just makes absolutely no sense.”

The group has been holding town hall meetings, including one on Friday, and they’ve been canvassing door to door, as well as doing mail drops to provide residents with more information about the proposed route plans.

Epcor has been looking into the possibility of building lines underground and evaluating things like cost and what type of technology is necessary.

“If it comes forward as something we will have to look at, then we’ll have some information to go forward with and bring forward to the people as well,” said Epcor spokesman Mike Long.

Currently, the project is still in a planning phase, with both groups collecting feedback from information sessions, open houses and surveys.

“We want to hear what people have to say.”

Epcor, along with AltaLink, has not finalized which route will be chosen, but Long said the route “with the least overall impact” will be chosen.

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