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Seismic testing raises concern of ratepayers

The MD of Willow Creek heard concerns from a group of ratepayers about seismic testing and addressed them by meeting with the seismic company and the ratepayers.
Council was updated on the situation by chief administrative officer Cynthia Vizzutti.
Vizzutti explained a group of 13 ratepayers in the Eastern Slopes were approached by a company to test for oil and gas on their lands.
Negotiations with the land owners were unsuccessful, so the company will go up undeveloped municipal road allowances which is allowed by the provincial government.
Vizzutti and superintendent of public works Roy Johnson decided to meet with the seismic company the next day to discuss the concerns of ratepayers.
“Again, the municipality has no jurisdiction in the oil and gas exploration regulations,” Vizzutti emphasized.
Vizzutti then read a letter from the land owners to council which outlined a series of concerns.
The ratepayers want to know who the company is working for, or if it is doing the testing on speculation in the hope of selling it to an oil and gas company.
The ratepayers asked the MD of Willow Creek to obtain the company’s environmental plan; its fire insurance policy and fire protection protocol; and its blasting information including the amount of blasting material to be used in each hole.
Land owners are also concerned about soil erosion and asked the MD of Willow Creek to insert a clause that no snow plows will be used to remove snow during operations which may inadvertently remove grass and soil.
Finally, the ratepayers want the MD of Willow Creek to ask for limited compensation for fence repair if fences are cut on road allowances, and for damage to grass on leased road allowances.
Vizzutti again reiterated the municipality’s lawyer has stated the issue is under provincial and not municipal jurisdiction.
The MD of Willow Creek can ask for compensation, as an example, but the company can say no.
Johnson added the seismic company has to satisfy provincial regulations.
Coun. Glen Alm asked who polices the provincial regulations.
Johnson replied if the company does something the MD of Willow Creek doesn’t like, they can contact the provincial department of energy.
Johnson and Vizzutti also repeated they were meeting with the seismic company the next day.
“We both know there are two sides,” Vizzutti said. “We can ask for anything, but they’re not compelled to do anything.”
Vizzutti added the developer has said they have offered compensation for fences.
Vizzutti also stressed land owners should lease undeveloped road allowances because it helps them legally fence them, and it removes the argument from developers who say they can’t be that important if they aren’t even being leased.
Coun. Neil Wilson asked how the company would access road allowances that are hard to get to, especially without crossing private land.
Johnson said he was told they may go by foot, or use helicopters.
It was noted councillors Ed Neufeld and Alm would also be attending the meeting the next day.
“We need to try and represent our ratepayers,” Alm said.
Council also agreed to contact the land owners to ask for one representative to also attend the meeting.
Later in its meeting, council passed a resolution to send a letter to Livingstone-Macleod MLA Evan Berger, to start a conversation with the department of energy about resources companies and their use of road allowances.

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