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Fort Macleod council to hear from coal company

Fort Macleod council — and residents of the town — have a chance this month to quiz representatives of a coal mining company.

Council has asked Atrum Coal CEO Andy Caruso to attend the Monday, May 10 meeting to make a presentation on coal mining on the Eastern Slopes.

Residents can submit their questions to council members, since the meeting is not an open public forum.

The decision to have the presentation followed by a question and answer period came at council’s April 26 meeting at the G.R. Davis Administration Building.

“It’s heating up, as council is aware,” chief administrative officer Sue Keenan said of opposition to coal mining on the Eastern Slopes.

The discussion came after council reviewed a letter from High River Mayor Craig Snodgrass.

High River council at its April 12 meeting adopted a resolution to have the province and Alberta Energy Regulator stop all activities related to coal exploration.

The province subsequently halted all coal exploration on the Eastern Slopes until a public consultation process is completed.

However, two mines in the Crowsnest Pass are planned for Category 4 land and are not affected by the government’s decision related to Category 2 land.

Keenan told council Atrum reached out to request an audience.

Mayor Brent Feyter suggested Atrum Coal could make its presentation at the meeting of mayors and reeves of southern Alberta.

Coun. David Orr suggested inviting the company to Fort Macleod as well.

“At minimum, it would give our residents a chance to hear their presentation and see what they have to say,” Orr said. “That wouldn’t be something available to our residents if they (Atrum Coal) only met with the mayors and reeves. For that reason, I would encourage them to come here if they’re willing to do that.”

Council agreed to put a presentation by Atrum Coal on the agenda of the May 10 meeting.

Keenan stressed that since it is a regular council meeting, there will not be an opportunity for residents to speak or ask questions.

If council wanted an open forum, it would need to host a special meeting or town hall meeting.

Residents who have questions are asked to submit them to the Town Office or an individual council member.

There is a link on the Town of Fort Macleod’s Facebook page to submit questions for Atrum Coal. That survey is open until 11 a.m. Thursday, May 6.

Council will meet prior to the May 10 meeting to review the questions residents want answered, and to prepare to ask them of Atrum Coal.

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