Edmonton

Armed sheriffs guard transmission line hearings

Alberta's solicitor general says armed sheriffs are a necessary precaution at ongoing power line hearings in Edmonton.

Energy critic says sheriff presence is an overreaction

Alberta's solicitor general says armed sheriffs are a necessary precaution at ongoing power line hearings in Edmonton.

Two sheriffs are currently watching over the Heartland transmission line hearings at the Edmonton Expo Centre.

Solicitor General Frank Oberle said it's appropriate that they're armed.

"There has been a security review leading into this hearing and they determined the need for sheriffs, so they're there," said Oberle.

But one critic who attended the first day of hearings Monday said it's ridiculous to say such measures are needed.

"We're talking about 70-year-old farmers and retired business people, and only a handful show up anyways," said Joe Anglin, a regular critic of the government's energy policies.

Sheriffs pulled from past hearings

He said the armed sheriffs constitute a big overreaction.

"I've been in jurisdictions all across North America. I've never seen armed sheriffs or armed guards in any utility board hearing," said Anglin.

Last June, armed sheriffs were in place for a few days during a hearing for another project in Fort Saskatchewan before being pulled.

Anglin wants these sheriffs sent home, too.

"Here I am 55 years old and I was probably the youngest person in that audience," he said. "Everyone else was 60 to 70 years old. They are not a threat. It's just ridiculous you would waste time and energy, and what it shows you is they do a very poor job of assessing the situation."

Hearings run for a month

Oberle said the need for this level of security would be reviewed as the hearings proceed.

The Heartland transmission line hearings are scheduled to run for one month.

The City of Edmonton said last week that it wants the segment of the controversial Heartland transmission line that runs through the city's southeast corner to be built underground.

AltaLink and Epcor's proposed route for the 500,000-volt line from Wabamun Lake to the industrial heartland near Fort Saskatchewan runs within 800 metres of nearly 5200 homes, the city said.

now