By Jeremy Appel
Alberta Newspaper Group
The Forty Mile Rail Association used the grand opening of its railyard last week as an opportunity to raise money for the cash-strapped HALO air ambulance service while promoting the benefits of wind power.
Attendees were invited to sign a windmill blade, just like those that have been coming into the railyard for the Whitla windfarm.
“Capitol Power donated a blade. I don’t know what’s wrong with it, but it’s not going up on the windfarm, so they donated it and it’s sitting in our railyard,” explained Foremost Mayor Lorne Buis.
The blade itself will then be donated to the Etzikom Windmill Museum for preservation and display, Buis said.
He says it was important to mark the occasion by lending a hand to HALO, a “very valuable service to south Alberta.”
“With the vast distance between farm yards and communities, that rescue helicopter is vital for the southern Alberta area,” said Buis.
The fundraiser went from Nov. 8 — the date of the yard’s official opening — through Nov. 17, so the precise donation amount was unavailable by press time.
It was supposed to be a single-day event, but Buis says poor weather conditions convinced them to extend the fundraising a week.
The plan was originally to collect signatures for a blade that was going on the turbine, but the logistics were overly complicated, he added.
Buis says the wind power project has been somewhat contentious, but that it’s increasingly becoming the norm.
“We’re not going to get around it,” he said. “I know there’s people out there who won’t like wind power, there’s people who don’t mind them, those are their personal opinions.
“But ecologically-produced power is the thing of the future, so it’s going happen, there’s going to be more of them going in — we know that — so we’re just going to have to deal with it and carry on from there.”
He says these sorts of projects have the potential to provide a great economic boost to the region.
“It’s going to bring jobs to the area for sure, because they’re going to need technicians to look after them,” said Buis.
“My only hope is that, due to the fact that it’s in the County of Forty Mile, these companies realize that they should have their employees live in the county, whether it be the Village of Foremost or Town of Bow Island.”