tp-edm-truck-sign-nuclear

Signs protesting a possible nuclear power station in Peace River country are raising questions from Alberta Transportation. ((Lydia Neufeld/CBC))

A business owner in northern Alberta was shocked when a contractor working for Alberta Transportation took down a "No to Nuclear" sign on her store in Dixonville, Alta.

"You know we said, 'What right do you have to come on to private property and take a sign like that,'" Connie Russell said. "I said 'Where's your court order saying it's to be removed?'"

Alberta has no nuclear plants, but Bruce Power is working on a proposal to build one about 20 kilometres southeast of Russell's store, near Peace River.

The province said in December that it's not a proponent of nuclear energy but won't stand in the way of any company that wants to build a nuclear power plant.

This is what provoked Russell and others to put up signs protesting against the potential power source.

"It's our rights that they're taking away," Russell said. "These are the rights that our grandfathers and our great-grandfathers fought for, and now our own province is taking those away."

Removal was a mistake

A spokesperson for Alberta Transportation said the removal of the sign at the store was a mistake and it has since been replaced.

But Heather Kaszuba said transportation officials have identified 26 other no-nuke signs on private property in the area that don't comply with highway guidelines. Letters have been sent to the landowners asking the signs be removed.

"So that we minimize distractions for motorists, and so that they're able to focus on the signs that they need for direction and for speed and for safety reasons," Kaszuba said.

The expectation is that landowners who receive the letters will take the signs down.

But some are putting up bigger signs, with more than just the "No to Nukes" message. The new signs say "Yes to Free Speech."