Residents of Hanna had the opportunity to learn more about some of the ideas put forth to secure the future of the community.
On Thursday night, November 29 about 120 attended a Hanna Coal Transition meeting. Mayor Chris Warwick said it was a positive gathering.
“We were very pleased with it. We gave an update on where we’ve been on lobbying the government and what we have been doing as a taskforce. It was very well received,” said Warwick.
The committees have been working on ideas towards viability in light of the announcement by the Alberta Government to phase out coal-powered electricity. Warwick says they have learned the generation plant in Hanna is being converted to natural gas, but will still have coal functionality.
“It will have the ability to run both gas and coal, just because it doesn’t cost more to do that, so they are going to leave the option of coal, you never know with a change of government. The latest date they will be converted to gas will be April of 2022,” said Warwick.
He says the community action teams that were formed have been brainstorming.
“These are ideas that have been brought forth by residents of Hanna, such as business opportunities and all kinds of things,” said Warwick.
One of these initiatives is looking at making Hanna a livestock hub. Warwick says veterinarian Tamara Quaschnick was a driver of this idea.
“It would be a hub that would offer very specific agricultural services and offer a one-stop-shop model, It’s a really good project.” said Warwick.
Another proposal is the Retire to Hanna initiative.
“There are some infrastructure things that may need to happen within the community but not that hard to overcome,” said Warwick. “The beauty of Hanna is that it checks off all the boxes. Some of the things retired people are looking for are hospitals, being within a couple of hours from a major centre and amenities such as walking tracks. The advantage of Hanna compared to Red Deer or other larger centres is the cost of living.”
Mark Nikota was part of this taskforce, and he says a large component will be marketing.
“The biggest thing in our group is we don’t tell anyone about it, so part of our initiative is a marketing plan,” said Nikota. “We want to let people know what Hanna has to offer.”
“Of course these things take capital dollars, so it is always a hurdle when it comes down to that,” said Warwick, adding they have not made a specific proposal to governments for funding of any of these projects yet.
Warwick hopes to have more meetings in the future.
“It was fairly lengthy because we haven’t done an update in quite some time, so we are going to try and have these on a more regular basis so we can keep our community updated,” said Warwick
He says most of the legwork for these initiatives have been coming out of the Hanna Learning Centre and is funded by the Coal Community Transition Fund, the community received from the government in August of 2017
“We have extended Hanna Learning Centre’s contract to go well into next year,” said Warwick.
“All of these ideas were brought forth by the community…it was all grassroots, which is excellent, that’s how you get buy-in.”