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Thu, October 9, 2008
Opponents target upgrader, work camp

Residents near Gibbons have joined forces with Greenpeace in an attempt to stop the development of a Petro-Canada upgrader and 3,500-person work camp project just kilometres from the small community.

"Where the Petro-Canada upgrader is slated to be put, along with the work camp, is some of the best farmland in all of Alberta," said Mike Hudema, a climate and energy campaigner with Greenpeace.

"We're displacing farmers that have lived on the land for over four generations,"

Hudema and residents living near the proposed site are also concerned about the effect such a facility would have on the infrastructure of Gibbons, which has a population of less than 2,800 people. It's located 40 km north of Edmonton.

The mega facility - which, according to Energy Resources Conservation Board documents will be designed to process 54,000 cubic metres of bitumen daily - is to be built a few kilometres from Gibbons and about 11 km from Fort Saskatchewan.

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"I don't think enough planning has been done, We've seen what has happened in Fort McMurray," Hudema said, pointing to the overburdened infrastructure of that city.

"I fear that the same thing is true for putting a 3,500-person work camp into a very small area that is already facing some of the social infrastructure strains.

"It's simply going to make a bad problem even worse."

According to a release by the environmental organization, nearby residents worry that medical and policing resources will be stretched too thin, and already busy roads will have more cars and trucks pounding their pavement than they can handle.

A public consultation on the matter is set for 9 a.m. Oct. 21 at Festival Place in Sherwood Park.