Alberta Minute: Banff Plans, Business Loans, and Emergency Alert Issued
Alberta Minute - Your weekly one-minute summary of Alberta politics.
This Week In Alberta:
The Legislature remains on break this week, but the Select Special Conflicts of Interest Act Review Committee will meet this morning at 10:00 am. The Committee will review the Conflicts of Interest Act.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses estimates that around one-fifth of the independent businesses in Alberta will begin shutting down if they are required to pay back the Canadian Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loans (provided during the COVID-19 pandemic) by the Thursday deadline. The CFIB says that 41% of its members surveyed just before Christmas will not be able to repay their loans by the deadline.
- Canmore residents, opposing a proposed development that could double the town's population, are urging Alberta to conduct a new environmental assessment on the plan. The Three Sisters Mountain Village, approved by Canmore town council in October, is facing renewed scrutiny. Lawyers representing a group of citizens argue that the environmental assessment process under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act has not been completed. They've sent a letter to Alberta Environment and Protected Areas, requesting an Environmental Impact Assessment.
Last Week In Alberta:
- As frigid temperatures descended upon the province, the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) issued three grid alerts in three days due to the power system being under stress. A new record was set for peak demand at 12,384 megawatts of power consumption. The high demand was attributed to extreme cold weather leading to increased use of space heaters, vehicle plug-ins, and furnaces. Two natural gas generators were offline, one for planned maintenance and another due to an unplanned outage caused by the weather. On Saturday night, Albertans received an emergency alert warning of rolling blackouts if they did not immediately cut back on power consumption. Edmonton's Royal Alexandra Hospital ER lost heat for a short time during the cold weather, and a power outage stopped several of Calgary’s CTrains.
The federal government threw a wrench into the Town of Banff’s plan to put a pedestrian corridor in place. Council had planned to create a permanent summer and fall pedestrian zone along Banff Avenue, but received a letter from Sal Rasheed, the Superintendent of Banff National Park, demanding that Council consult with the federal government ahead of any such decisions. The letter from Rasheed also said that "the proposed ongoing commercial use (e.g., restaurant patios, outdoor merchandise displays) of public space, is contrary to the laws which ensure this special place is protected”
- In November, Alberta's oil production surpassed four million barrels per day, marking the highest level since 2010, with a notable increase of 336,822 barrels per day. The surge is attributed to oil-sands companies gearing up for the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, set to begin operations this year, providing an additional 590,000 barrels of export capacity. Alberta's oil-sands deposits are the third-largest globally. The increased production may impact global oil markets already grappling with rising inventories, as the Energy Information Administration predicts a 2.2% increase in US crude production to 13.2 million barrels per day in 2024.
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