Central Alberta county rejects $50M rail oil transfer station

A rural community east of Edmonton is rejecting a proposal to build an oil transfer station in the name of the environment and safety.

County of Vermilion turns down jobs, development for environment, safety

Mike Schmidt successfully fought a oil transfer station proposed for a site near his home. (CBC)

A rural community east of Edmonton is rejecting a proposal to build an oil transfer station in the name of the environment and safety.

Altex Energy hoped to build an oil transfer station in the County of Vermilion where trucks would unload oil onto rail lines 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The company promised thorough environmental and emergency planning and local jobs  at least 40, 

The site for $50 to $70 million project would have been 100 metres from Mike Schmidt's property. 

Schmidt had a dream to raise his kids in the country, buying a parcel of his parents' land. 

"Basically the day I was going to order the house to move there, I found out ... that his would be changed to an industrial property and that I wouldn't want to live beside that."

Schmidt and 60 other area residents signed a petition and spoke out at a public meeting.

"We felt a little bit like a David and Goliath situation," he said. "Having 250,000 trucks converge on the road right beside us definitely isn't worth that money.

Eventually the municipal council voted down the project. 

"I think that in 40 years I would rather have people living here in the county, rather than having it be empty — and only oil wells," said deputy reeve Ed Parke

Schmidt said the benefits of such projects often don't outweigh the cost.

"We live here, we work here, the oil is here," he said. "It should be better for us, but it's not."

During the past three years, more than 1,100 new oil wells have been drilled in the area north of Vermillion, Parke said. 

"Obviously the residents in this county don't benefit from the oil and gas industry fairly. And we hear it. There is a lot of frustration."

Parke is hoping Altex can find another site in the county, only farther from where people live.

With files from Marion Warnica