Music Festival Mobilizes Support to Stop Coal Project
Posted by mhudema on June 29, 2008
Sun, June 29, 2008
Sounds of protest
By GLENN KAUTH, SUN MEDIA
An annual Tofield music festival has morphed into a polite show of protest against a controversial coal project.
Owen Forster, a volunteer with the Wild Oats and Notes Music Festival, said the event will celebrate rural living.
“It’s an opportunity for people to come out and see where their food comes from,” said Forster, whose farm is under threat from the coal gasification project proposed by Sherritt International Corp.
During the three-day festival, farmer Brian Schultz will host 25 acts on his property near Tofield, 68 km east of Edmonton.
Schultz expected up to 1,000 people to show up yesterday and today for the event, whose proceeds will go to the Voice of Community and Land Society, an organization opposed to the Sherritt project.
Schultz declined to say how much he expected to raise from the event.
Instead, he said the goal is more about spreading awareness of Sherritt’s proposal for a facility that will produce hydrogen for the upgraders planned for Fort Saskatchewan.
The development would involve a large strip mine that farmers fear would alter the character of Tofield by permanently displacing them from their land.
“We think that the higher use of the land in the long run is agriculture,” said Schultz, who calls the project “very, very short-sighted and very, very invasive.”
Opponents are particularly concerned that city-owned utility Epcor might be involved with Sherritt under a proposal to provide power, water and wastewater treatment facilities to the plant, called the Dodds-Roundhill coal gasification project.
“One of the things for the community is Epcor is involved, and a fair amount of water would be coming out of the North Saskatchewan River,” said Forster.
But Epcor spokesman Mike Gibbs said the company’s participation in Dodds-Roundhill is up in the air.
The move comes after Sherritt announced last month it was putting the project on hold as it investigates how government carbon-dioxide regulations might affect its plans.
“At this point, we’re stopping our involvement with the project until Sherritt assesses the project,” said Gibbs.
However, Sherritt said in a statement yesterday that, despite those developments, it is still pushing ahead with Dodds-Roundhill.
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