As Canada continues to move away from coal, the federal government has announced its first round of funding to help the Battle River area get started.
On Nov. 16, the federal government announced that the first investment of $257,664 through the Canada Coal Transition Initiative (CCTI) has been implemented with Forestburg and Castor as the hosts to a ‘Battle River Innovation Center’ (BRIC).
Funding will be used to convert two existing office spaces into transition centres that will support entrepreneurship and employment services in seven communities.
These economic transition centres will provide former coal miners, generating station workers and community members with new employment and business support, training programs and entrepreneurial development services.
The government continues to stand behind its climate change policies promoting a need to help smaller communities transition to a low-coal based economy.
In February, after an outcry for support from communities including the Battle River area, the government made amendments to regulations to phase out traditional coal-fired electricity generation by 2030.
At the same time, through the 2018 Budget, they committed $35 million over five years for skills development and economic diversification to support communities affected by the phase out of coal-fired electricity. Western Economic Diversification Canada and Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency will implement the Canada Coal Transition Initiative.
The initiative will support communities and workers in switching from coal generation to a low-carbon economy in Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
“The support of the federal government in seeing this important initiative to support workers and their families adapt to economic change is welcomed by all communities in the region,” said BREOC Chairman and County of Paintearth Coun. George Glazier.
Alberta produces approximately 50 per cent of its electricity from coal-fired electric generation.
The Battle River Generating Station is a three-unit, 689 megawatt facility operated by ATCO Power and is located approximately 20 km south of Forestburg.
It is serviced by an adjacent mine, the Paintearth Mine, which is operated by Westmoreland Coal Company.
Combined, they employ approximately 200 people.