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​How our project considers the environment

There are many misconceptions about the project.  In particular its location and the impact on recreational trails and the environment. 

The project development area is located within our existing fenceline.

The project site is contained within the yellow area of this diagram.  Currently this property is mostly an empty field (see photo below). 

Currently, the 51 acre pasture is characterized by plants which aren't original to the site and noxious weeds. This area, in its current state, is a lower value habitat for larger mammals and birds than the adjacent forested and shrub habitat outside our fenceline which are not part of this project and will remain untouched.

The project will not result in any removal of recreational paths established in the area today. 

What it looks like today

 

Environmental benefits of the project

 

​Vegetation

  • Our plan is to restore the solar farm area with a rich, diverse species mix to grow underneath the solar panels (see image above). As a result, the 51 acres will be significantly more biodiverse than they are today and will result in an enriched habitat for small and medium animals and for pollinators.
 

Previously disturbed pasture land will be naturalized and improved with local plantings.

  • In order to install the solar panels and ensure adequate sunlight, we will need to remove select trees or tall shrubs in the project area. EPCOR will replace trees removed during construction.
  • Trees on the riverbank and the small forest to the west will not be removed.  Shrub and grass roots will remain in place and reseeded if damaged during construction activities.
  • In addition, a 40 m wide buffer along the southern boundary of the solar farm will be planted with trees and shrubs, restoring 7.4 acres of wildlife habitat.
  • The footprint of the solar farm has been adjusted to avoid a 125 m forested buffer along the river.  To minimize impacts on open pastureland, the footprint has also been reduced by another 3.4 acres. 
  • This will provide a net gain in tree and shrub habitat and provide additional structure and cover for wildlife movement and use.

A mitigation and monitoring plan and an adaptive management framework will be implemented to verify the effectiveness of environmental mitigations into operation of the facility. This will address any uncertainty in the predicted environmental effects and effectiveness of mitigation measures and ensure any unanticipated impacts to wildlife are fully addressed.

Wildlife

  • The footprint of the solar farm avoids high value wildlife habitat and the provincial key wildlife biodiversity zone so wildlife can continue to roam in the area outside the fenceline.
  • Wildlife that use this area are generally acclimatized to human presence and move around the Water Treatment Plant along the valley slope and use the 30-metre wide corridor between the pump house and the North Saskatchewan River. They prefer to use the forested areas on either side of the solar farm which will remain in place.  It is also well understood that birds prefer these forested areas. This conclusion is supported by 90,000 hours of camera monitoring and winter tracking data we've captured.
  • Bat and bird boxes will be added in the existing forested areas, and pollinator species will be planted. The increased plant biodiversity in the 51 acres will result in an enriched habitat for small & medium animals and for pollinators and insects.