Opinion: Edmontonians want river valley protected

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Edmontonians’ love of the river valley is perhaps the one thing we all agree on. It is therefore outrageous that Epcor has applied for rezoning of 99 acres of river valley land to enable an industrial-scale solar farm — paid for, furthermore, by its customers through a fee increase. The application came before city council last summer, but the decision was delayed and a new public hearing is happening Oct. 6.

City council needs to hear loud and clear that Edmontonians know this project is not in our best interest, and we will not stand for a handover of our river valley.

This project is anything but “green.” In their review of the project, the city’s own ecological planners criticized Epcor’s environmental assessment, noting that the project not only runs against city environmental policies, contradicts provincial solar guidelines, and ignores standard best practices for solar energy, the proposed measures to mitigate wildlife mortality are not proven to work. The review predicts “significant, long-term, adverse impacts on wildlife” in an area that has been “identified provincially as a key wildlife and biodiversity zone, regional biodiversity corridor, and core biodiversity area.” In the past year, the city’s wildlife cameras have caught deer, moose, and even elk in this area. The harm to wildlife would be resolved by following the provincial guidelines, which make clear that solar panels do not belong in river valleys.

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