Ardeth Jackson was 85-years-old at the time of signing when she sat down with two Access Land Services representatives of Capital Power for four hours on Oct. 16, 2015.
From 10 a.m. through to 2 p.m., they spoke with her while she provided lunch, even going as far as cancelling another appointment to stay with her until she signed.
Her only daughter, Cindy was noted as present at the discussion but it was later explained that she would not have been in the right state of mind to help guide her mother through this decision as she was battling cancer, succumbing to it in May 2016.
Ardeth was also dealing with her own health issues and taking care of her own sisters’ estate.
Since signing the agreement, Ardeth and her son, Barry have endured nothing but what seems to be headaches surrounding the project with their attempts to get out of the contract unsuccessful so far.
Since signing the agreement, Ardeth and her son have endured nothing but what seems to be headaches surrounding the project with their attempts to get out of the contract unsuccessful so far.
“I didn’t sign along with a number of other people – neighbours. But they kept on saying ‘You know oh your neighbour signed, you might as well sign’. It was just a bunch of crap. You know… Bully tactics, pressure tactics,” explained Barry in an exclusive interview with the ECA Review.
Ardeth wrote a letter stating how she wished to be out of the contract as well, noting that she didn’t know that when she signed there was a caveat stating they would have the right to borrow money from her property.
The property, she added, was debt free and has been in her family for over 100 years.
Barry is a full-time power line construction employee who at the time worked up north in Fort McMurray for a three weeks on, one week off rotation, meaning he was not home often.
He has also partnered with his son to run a cow-calf operation with grain farming included as well as hay land and pastureland on his family’s original homestead that is located beside his mother Ardeth’s land.
Several times over the course of November as well as once in February, 2016, Barry met with Capital Power to discuss the project contract.
Legal counsel advised Barry the contract was legal but that he could ask Capital Power to release his mom due to the circumstances.
On June 26, 2016, he requested to the wind energy company he wanted out which was confirmed in Capital Power’s land agent’s notes submitted to the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC).
By July 28, he had gained Power of Attorney over his mother’s affairs.
The ECA Review did reach out to Capital Power for comment on this specific case.
They responded saying, “Contractual matters with our landowners for all of our facilities are confidential and, as such, we would not discuss such matters publicly. We take seriously our commitment to landowners and abiding by AUC consultation requirements.
The AUC decision approving the Halkirk Wind 2 project fully considered our stakeholder engagement efforts.”
To this date, Capital Power continues to contact Ardeth, ignoring the Power of Attorney held by her son.
From Nov. 21 to Nov. 23, Barry was among several people from the Battle River Group (BRG) who attended and spoke about their experience at an AUC hearing regarding the project.
It was during the first of three times of direct questioning about the details of the circumstances of when Ardeth signed the contract, Rob Wydareny of Capital Power eventually conceded he had discussed with Barry their opting out of the contract.
But, later in the hearing Capital Power denied that Barry had requested to be opted out of the contract even though the Land Agent’s notes stated otherwise.
By the end of the hearing, Barry had expressed to the AUC panel that he was looking forward to discussing with Capital Power about getting out of the contract.
He followed up immediately after the hearing with a few emails confirming his interest. But no reply has been received.
The AUC’s decision from this hearing was received on April 11, 2018, stating, “With respect to Ms. Jackson, the Commission notes that she is neither a member of the BRG nor a party to the proceeding, despite being included in both the applicant’s consultation program and being sent both the notice of application and notice of hearing by the Commission.”
Under two years prior and as previously stated, Barry held the Power of Attorney for his mother, therefore all information should have been sent to him.
He was also present at the same hearing and stated his concerns with the project which made him a party to the proceedings.
The Alberta Utilities Commission regulates the utility sector, natural gas and electricity markets to protect social, economic and environmental interest of Alberta where competitive market forces do not, according to their mission statement.
In Jackson’s agreement, along with many other landowners in this situation, it states they are not allowed to speak with the media let alone their own family, friends and neighbours not associated with the project and their experience.
A copy of the landowner agreement states that all correspondence shall be kept confidential unless required by law.
The ECA Review was able to obtain a copy of the standard contract between Capital Power and landowner as it was made a public document within AUC files.
The part of the contract that causes Barry to lose sleep is the hereditary clause named ‘Restrictive Covenants’ in which it states that if Capital Power installs a turbine on neighbouring lands or has intentions to do so, the location or proposed location of that turbine will be made a turbine site.
They define neighbouring lands as land that abut the lands already marked as a site, land that is owned by the landowner or their spouse, or a corporation or partnership that is controlled by the landowner meaning any other land touching the land the current turbine sits on is now eligible by Capital Power to also use for turbine placement.
Barry and his children have never wanted to be a part of the wind project but when he inherits his mother’s land, Capital Power could enforce this part of the contract on them.
Ardeth’s grandson Levi, could also be bound by the same agreement.
“This is crap,” reiterated Barry.
“If the above project moves forward and Capital Power continues to refuse to discuss matters with them, what will happen to the Jackson Family Farm?
“Do we want society to move in this direction? Taking advantage of elders? Corporations and big companies stepping on the small individual landowners to get what they want? I would hope not, but it is continuing to happen,” concluded Barry.