'We're looking for transparency': Coal-mining demonstration held in Pincher Creek
LETHBRIDGE, ALTA. -- Levi Williams-Whitney is one of many Albertans worried about proposed coal-mining projects in southern Alberta.
In December, he posted photos and video of mining activity on Grassy Mountain just north of Blairemore, where Australian company Benga Mining LTD (Riversdale Resources)owns a significant piece of land.
He's since been handed a fine for trespassing to which he plead not guilty on Tuesday in a Pincher Creek court.
Williams-Whitney said the situation is about more than just the money.
"One of my biggest issues with this entire deal is that there hasn’t been a lot of public consultation, whether that be Indigenous or general public," he said.
"We'd like to have a say in this and we're looking for transparency throughout the whole process."
Dozens of people from across southern Alberta gathered for a demonstration outside of the court house in Pincher Creek during Williams-Whitney's court appearance.
Many of the people who attended the protest took aim at the provincial government and its handling of the region's mining situation.
"This government is turning a life-long conservative voter to the other side. That's what's happening here," said one demonstrator.
A policy that protected the summits and eastern slopes of the Rockies had been in place since 1976 but it was revoked last year.
After serious pushback, the policy was restored in February, however, six exploration leases were sold before it was put back in place.
At least six companies are currently working on land where a large quantity of Alberta's drinking water comes from.
The group is calling on the government to put a stop to all coal mining exploration.
"As we speak there are roads are being built, trees are being toppled and holes are being drilled to see if mines are actually viable," said Williams-Whitney.
The demonstration in Pincher Creek is just one part of a growing concern that's been brewing in the province for quite some time.
More than 200 people gathered in Calgary on March 27 to display their concerns about the impact of expanding mining along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.