Coal mine re-opening good news for Grande Cache

By Eric Rosendahl, MLA for West Yellowhead

Grande Cache residents got a major piece of good news over the Christmas holidays, the coal mine has been sold and is expected to reopen sometime this year! I want my constituents in Grande Cache to know I share their optimism about what this could mean for the Grande Cache Community - I have heard estimates that 200 or more jobs will be returning, which will have a
major positive impact in the region.

It has been a tough two years since Grande Cache Coal closed its doors in the wake of plummeting coal prices. The loss of Maxim power due to low rates in the electricity market also hurt the local economy. Residents of Grande Cache know how tough it’s been better than anyone, and our government has heard your concerns loud and clear. I’m proud that my advocacy has contributed to Grande Cache being included in our government‘s initiatives to support coal communities.

While the closure of Grande Cache Coal is attributed to the price of metallurgical coal used in steelmaking, rather than the federally mandated phase-out of thermal coal for power generation, the coal-transition supports offered by our government are available to this community as well.

I have spoken up for the people of Grande Cache within the NDP caucus, and have spoken up for the people of Grande Cache in conversations with Economic Development Minister Deron Bilous as well, to make sure this community has been included in our coal-transition supports. Regardless of how significant a role coal will play in this community’s future, we must also identify and act on any other opportunities for economic development.

I’m aware the Town of Grande Cache has made an application under the Coal Communities Transition Fund, and I would encourage any affected workers to look into the Coal Workers Transition Fund program. Financial supports are available to help laid-off coal workers transition into retirement or into new employment in other sectors. This support can include tuition
vouchers for post-secondary courses, retraining programs and a variety of professional certification courses.

Workers and their families can visit www.alberta. ca/support-for-coal-workers.aspx for more information, or call 1-877-644-9992 on weekdays between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. Even though the coal mine is planned for re-opening, these supports are still available for the people of Grande Cache.

I would encourage anyone with questions or concerns about these programs to contact my constituency office at 780-865-9796 or to contact me at west.yellowhead@assembly.ab.ca.

First published Jan. 23, 2018, in the Grande Cache Mountaineer.