Grassroots Conservation Group Taking the City to Court

Edmonton, Alberta, December 10, 2020 – Local grassroots non-profit Edmonton River Valley Conservation Coalition has filed a request for judicial review regarding the City of Edmonton’s rezoning of 99 acres of river valley parkland for an Epcor industrial solar plant.

“We have a river valley bylaw precisely to protect our river valley from commercial, industrial, and public utilities threats,” said Kristine Kowalchuk, the chair of the ERVCC. “Solar energy is, of course, good in the right location – like on rooftops, landfills, and brownfield sites. But this is rare aspen parkland habitat that is heavily used by wildlife, and a regionally significant wildlife corridor; it is not an essential, nor appropriate, location for an industrial solar power plant.”

As the ERVCC website states, this land is already sequestering carbon, as well as purifying the air, cooling the city, preventing flooding and drought, and providing habitat. The project would disturb the plants and soil with pilings for 45,000 solar panels, preventing the land’s functioning as a carbon sink. It would also include the cutting of trees. The panels would be located behind a security fence, meaning that an area the size of 26 football fields would be lost as habitat, and a pinch-point “alley” approximately 1.5 km long would be created in the wildlife corridor.

“The city has an obligation to respect the river valley bylaw,” Kowalchuk adds. “And that respect is now critical in this time of climate crisis and biodiversity crisis. Modernity has wiped out 60% of wildlife populations since 1970, and one million species are now at risk of extinction. The greatest cause for these losses is the destruction of natural habitat. By simply locating the solar panels elsewhere, we can work toward our city’s climate goals and preserve our river valley, which is so valuable ecologically and to the people of Edmonton. The ERVCC is standing up for protection of our river valley against this nonessential industrial use.”

The ERVCC is crowd-sourcing funding for the legal challenge. “The river valley matters to all of us,” notes Kowalchuk, “and so we are counting on Edmontonians to contribute to our campaign. We all need to stand up for what we love, or we are going to lose it.” Donations can be sent by e-transfer to [email protected]

For more information, contact:

Kristine Kowalchuk
Chair, ERVCC
[email protected]