Preserve Edmonton's river valley from industry - stop Epcor's solar power plant

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This petition urges City Council to preserve Edmonton’s North Saskatchewan river valley from further industrialization by rejecting Epcor’s application to rezone 99 acres of river valley land to build a solar power plant.

Epcor is proposing to install 45,000 solar panels in the southwest river valley adjacent to the E.L. Smith water treatment plant. The initiative responds to a shareholder requirement to “convert approximately 10 per cent of its conventional power consumption to locally produced renewable sources.” (The shareholder is city council, which acts on behalf of Edmontonians, as Epcor is 100-per-cent owned by the City of Edmonton.) In its business case, Epcor justifies the power plant as the most cost-effective option; however, this ignores triple-bottom line accounting, which values profits + people + planet. Epcor is to be lauded for shifting toward green energy. However, the proposal to build a large-scale power plant in the river valley fails to recognize the conservation value of a natural river valley.

This project will compromise the river valley’s natural beauty, ecological diversity, and importance as a wildlife corridor.

Edmonton has spent the last century removing industry from our river valley; this project is a step backward. Such utilities can and should be located elsewhere—that’s what rooftops and brownfields are for.

Epcor’s business case states, “this project is about environmental responsibility.” However, even a solar power plant, when placed in an ecologically important wildlife corridor, is not “environmentally responsible.” Location matters.

This proposal directly contradicts our city’s commitment to preserve the river valley. The first goal of the river valley bylaw (Bylaw 7188) is “to ensure preservation of the natural character and environment of the North Saskatchewan river valley and its ravine system.” The bylaw notes the pressure on the river valley due to public utility proposals, and states that these uses tend to be incompatible with the aims of nature preservation and parkland creation.

The river valley is close to the hearts of Edmontonians, who value its natural beauty and the opportunity to enjoy it.

Are there other options? Yes. Epcor’s business plan includes two alternatives: one for solar panels on its facilities’ rooftops; the other is to purchase green power from an existing green energy provider. Either of these options should be explored.

Green energy should not be produced at the expense of Edmonton’s ribbon of green. We ask that city council not approve this project.