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Last updateFri, 24 Mar 2023 11am

Wheatland County in prime position to attract hydrogen, new energy investment

Wheatland 2021

Wheatland County could be in a prime position to attract investment to the region in the hydrogen, or new energy, sector according to a report presented to council by new energy and agribusiness capital solution company Navigatio Capital President Markus Lehmann during the regular Tuesday, February 21 council meeting.
Due to its proximity to Calgary, the county could be in a prime location to market hydrogen production “to a consumer-based aspect,” and has already been selected as a location with one of the best geographical resources for hydrogen production.
“Hydrogen, in the new energy economy, will be the base molecule for new energy developments to occur,” Mr. Lehmann shared during the presentation.
In 2022, there was a total investment in new energy developments across the globe valued at over $1 trillion (U.S.). Over half of this investment-some $514 billion-was made in China alone; the United States invested an estimated $120 billion in the new energy sector.
The province is already producing an estimated four million tonnes of hydrogen per year.
This is mostly used in industrial applications such as ammonia and methanol production; ammonia is a key component in fertilizer production, which is essential for the agricultural sector. It is hoped hydrogen could be used by the power grid for “seasonal and ancillary storage,” or in its gaseous form as an alternative fuel for heavy and industrial vehicles, such as forklifts, or aviation and maritime fuels.
Currently, nearly all hydrogen production-about 98.5 per cent-is through steam methane reform (SMR), though this has a very high carbon footprint.
Other hydrogen production methods with lower carbon footprints, including SMR with carbon capture and storage, will hopefully transition SMR to 50 per cent of all hydrogen production by 2030, and completely phase it out by 2050.
There has already been interest in Wheatland County for hydrogen production from entities either looking to establish or expand production. Mr. Lehmann attributes this to Wheatland County’s “open for business” mindset, along with other advantages including access to both CN and CP railways, major transportation corridors such as the TransCanada/Highway 1 and Highway 22X, and abundant surface and subsurface resources.
Council accepted the report as information and directed administration to incorporate recommendations from the report as they see fit into the responsibilities of the Economic Development Officer and report back to council with actioned items and rationale.

Southern Alberta Livestock Investigations charge Wheatland man

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Multiple charges have been lay against a Wheatland County man following an investigation by the Alberta Agriculture Inspections and Investigation Section (IIS), and RCMP Livestock Investigative Unit (LIU).
In November 2022, Alberta Agriculture IIS, RCMP LIU, and Wheatland County received complaints concerning a male who was slaughtering sick and injured cattle, selling uninspected meat, and unlawfully disposing of dead animals.
The sale of uninspected meat has potential to result in severe illness or death, as it has not been determined safe for human consumption.
During the course of the investigation, evidence was obtained regarding the male causing unnecessary suffering to cattle by failing to adequately care for and feed his animals. Officers gathered evidence of sick animals and of meat sales in contravention of Alberta Meat Inspection Regulation.
On Tuesday, February 21, RCMP LIU, Alberta Agriculture, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency entered the property and witnessed employees on site actively slaughtering cattle.
The male was arrested at the scene.
36 dead calves, multiple cow parts and over 100 tags from slaughtered cows were located during the search.
Peter Wiebe, 59, a resident of Wheatland County, has been charged with causing unnecessary suffering to animals; allow/permit animals to be in distress; unlawful disposal of dead cattle; deal in livestock or livestock products without being licenced; sell uninspected meat; fail to label meat “UNINSPECTED - NOT FOR SALE”
Wiebe was released to appear in Drumheller Provincial Court on Friday, March 24.

Standard Rural Fire Association attends increased number of calls in 2022

Fire Dept. 2022

The volunteer Standard Fire Department responded to approximately 40 per cent higher call volume in 2022 than it did in 2021.
The department provides fire services to the Village of Standard and surrounding rural areas of Wheatland County, comprising about five townships; funding for the rural areas is undertaken by the Standard Rural Fire Association.
“The increase in calls was not due to an increase in any one particular area, but a general increase across the board,” said Standard Rural Fire Association President Leah Jensen in a statement provided to the Mail.
There were a total of 110 calls in 2022, which ranged from serious motor vehicle accidents, structure fires, and medical assists. This was a significant increase compared to the 31 calls members responded to in 2020, and the 70 calls in 2021.
The department responded to a number of medical assist calls over the last year where firefighters were dispatched to provide basic first aid to patients while waiting for an ambulance to arrive and take over the scene; firefighters may also provide further assistance once paramedics arrive.
“With so much discussion in the news about long wait times for an ambulance, we want to remind the community that it is still important to call 911 for emergencies. The fire department will most likely be dispatched to help assist in your emergency until an ambulance can arrive,” Ms. Jensen said in a statement.
Increased call volume was not isolated to the Standard Fire Department alone.
Wheatland County manager of Emergency and Fire Services Michael Bourgon explains, across all eight departments in Wheatland County, there was about a 20 per cent increase overall; however, Mr. Bourgon notes, individually, call volume was staggered with some departments seeing fewer calls in 2022 than in the previous year.
“We are up (on calls), but we are working together a little more,” Mr. Bourgon tells the Mail.
He explains the County operates on a “Dispatch by Apparatus” model, which sees the nearest fire engines and tenders dispatched to calls, and says this has partly attributed to the increase in call volume.
This model helps to reduce call response times as, prior to adopting this model, a single department would be dispatched to a call and may then need to request additional units from neighbouring departments for assistance once they had time to assess the scene.
As all Wheatland County fire departments are volunteer based, there are times where a department may not have a full crew to respond if members are unavailable, whether because the call came in during work hours or a member is otherwise unavailable. This is when a mutual aid response is requested.
“It just goes to show the commitment of our volunteer firefighters,” Mr. Bourgon says.
As of August 2022, the Standard Fire Department had some 15 volunteer members.


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