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Coronach, Sask. prepares for economic future with federal plans to phase out coal

The Town of Coronach, Sask. is preparing for its economic future as the federal government plans to phase out coal by 2030.
The Town of Coronach, Sask. is preparing for its economic future as the federal government plans to phase out coal by 2030. Derek Putz / Global News

Federal plans to phase out coal by 2030 has one Saskatchewan town thinking about its future.

The economy of Coronach, Sask., relies heavily on Westmoreland Coal Poplar River Mine and Poplar River Power Station, a coal-fired station owned by SaskPower.

Although there are no set closing dates for either plant, the town is working to develop an economic transition plan.

“Over 40 years ago, we transitioned from an agricultural community to an industrial town,” said Trevor Schnell, the town’s mayor.

READ MORE: Coronach, Sask. ‘will die’ in the push for a greener Canada

“Today, we are in a different century, and like many rural communities, Coronach is being presented with new challenges that we have to face.”

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The loss of those mines will likely result in 80 per cent of residents leaving. Roughly 300 residents work at either the coal mine or the power station, the town said.

The town has hired MDB Insight, a professional economic development research firm, for the next three months as they look at ways to help its transition away from coal.

READ MORE: Estevan, Sask. preparing for coal phase-out putting hundreds of jobs at risk

MDB Insight will be consulting with community leaders, businesses and residents in early October.

The town said the plan will be geared towards developing more economic initiatives in the area.

“We have an innovative and motivated community…and we have been given a large window of time to work on short- and long-term action plans to ensure Coronach remains prosperous and vibrant,” Schell said.

WATCH: (June 28, 2019) Federal funding to help Saskatchewan communities phase out coal

Federal funding to help Sask. communities phase out coal
Federal funding to help Sask. communities phase out coal

The town recently received a $1.6-million upgrade to their water treatment facility, something they believe will help both residents and businesses moving forward.

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READ MORE: Feds announce funding for coal energy transition in Saskatchewan, Alberta

Upgrades and expansion are being undertaken at Southland Co-op, while Richardson Pioneer is also planning a new build in 2020.

Residents and businesses also formed the Business Network in February, focusing on promoting local business which led to the creation of a pubic market in August.

Coronach tourism is in the middle of expansion as an RFP for a Coal Interpretative Center feasibility study/business plan is being done. It’s expected to be completed by early 2020.

Coronach is a town of nearly 700 people located about 210 km southwest of Regina.