PROCESSWEST Magazine Online

Relief is on the way for struggling coal communities

Don Horne   


The Alberta government is supporting locally led projects designed to create new jobs and increase regional economic development in coal communities to the tune of $5 million.

The province announced that the Coal Community Transition Fund will support 12 projects in 17 communities across Alberta.

“Coal communities have a proud history of helping power a prosperous and industrious province, and we want them to continue to be places where people can build a good life for themselves and their families,” said Deron Bilous, Minister of Economic Development and Trade. “That’s why we are supporting these projects, brought forward by local leaders, that will help grow and diversify their regional economies.”

Projects include:


• work to expand economic hubs, including agribusiness, transportation and high-tech industries;

• tourism development;

• strategic planning; and

• feasibility studies to help communities diversify and expand their local economies.

“The transition away from coal creates a lot of uncertainty for families in our community, and we want to create a plan that works for us,” saidCharlene Smylie, mayor, Village of Wabamun. “With support from this fund, we will work together to build a diversified economy for the future.”

The government encouraged coal communities to apply to the Coal Community Transition Fund and worked individually with each proponent during the application and review process.

The Coal Community Transition Fund is one of a number of measures the Government of Alberta is taking to support coal communities and workers. Last fall, government announced the Coal Workforce Transition Program for workers affected by the coal phase-out. The program includes a $40-million fund to provide income support to workers transitioning from working in Alberta’s thermal coal mines and coal-fired power plants to new jobs or retirement.

In addition, the program provides employment and retraining supports, such as tuition vouchers, third-party retraining programs that offer employment placement, job matching and options for work exposure, as well as a variety of professional certification courses.

Both initiatives are in response to the Advisory Panel on Coal Communities. The province continues to work with the federal government to ensure it does its part to support coal communities and workers.


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