The Town of Coronach faces an uncertain future with the federal government’s plan to phase out coal power by 2030.
The town, located about 200 kilometres southwest of Regina, is facing the loss of 250 jobs at its coal mine and power plant — and with them, a sizeable chunk of the population.
“I’m not fooling myself into thinking that life will continue as normal in Coronach,” said Jim Achtymichuk, the town’s deputy mayor.
For Achtymichuk, it’s a sad prospect to face given he’s set down roots in town. But he said this was eventually going to happen because historically, countries have moved away from coal production as they developed.
According to the deputy mayor, equipment at the power plant will be at the end of its lifespan in 2029 anyway.
There have been musings that the town’s plant could be turned into a carbon capture facility but Achtymichuk is sceptical that will happen considering Coronach’s location.
“We have the coal but we don’t have natural gas here. We would have to get natural gas piped in. If they were going to use the carbon, it would have to be piped out to someplace that could use it,” he said.
“SaskPower in their planning department would probably choose to put a facility in a location closer to the end-use to avoid the (need for) piping. Realistically I don’t think it’s an engineering reality.”
Achtymichuk said the town has been meeting with Western Economic Diversification to figure out what to do next.
He isn’t sure if bringing new industry to town will even be possible.
“There’s no major highways going past us. There’s no rail lines,” he said.
“We’re starting to think along the lines of, instead of two large industries employing 130 people each, maybe we should be looking at 20 smaller industries employing 13 people each.
“But again, 20 smaller industries is probably 19 more than what’s realistic for this location. We’re trying to envision what’s possible.”