Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - August 3, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta
District SECOND SECTION The Lethbridge Herald Lethbridge, Alberta, Saturday, August 3, 1974 Local news Pages 15-28 Fertilizer plant finds favor among Raymond residents If Alberta Ammonia Ltd. goes ahead with its plans lor a fertilizer plant, it will mean Raymond can afford to pave its streets, improve its water supply and enjoy other urban services. It may also mean the dis- appearance of Raymond's small-town atmosphere. Jim Grant of The Herald was there this week to gauge residents' reaction to the massive industrial pro- ject. This is what he found. By JIM GRANT Herald Staff Writer RAYMOND The multi- million dollar fertilizer plant proposed for development in this small rural community is regarded as a financial messiah by the majority of its 2.100 residents. The friendly folk of this quiet town that boasts extra- wide streets and family- sized lots are debating the pros and cons of such a massive development being placed in their midst. And there is a percentage of residents who are totally opposed to exposing their peaceful town to an in- dustrial boom of the magnitude anticipated by the development of the proposed Alberta Ammonia Ltd. fer- tilizer plant. But most citizens welcome the fertilizer plant proposal as a source of added revenue that will boost the size of the town to a level where modern urban services and facilities become financially feasible. Those supportive of the development do not boast of it placing Raymond on the map. They are simply interested in paved streets, adequate water pressure and a variety of shopping outlets. Such luxuries, common place in urban centres, to date have eluded this dusty centre in the heart of Alber- ta's irrigated farmland. Those firmly opposed to having what has been labell- ed by its developers as the world's largest ammonia plant fear the loss of Raymond's small-town at- mosphere. There is also a percentage of the population who ex- press the need for some type of financial "shot in the arm" for Raymond but are apprehensive about chang- ing the way of life they have become accustomed to. They are particularly concerned about the affect an influx of about 1.800 men will have on the town during the estimated 15 months the plant will be under construc- tion. Upon receiving final approval from the provincial government, possibly within the next month, construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in spring. 1975. Some residents with young daughters fear the influx of the "riff-raff" type of person who is constantly on the move from one construction site to another. Others are concerned that a sudden ad- dition of a large mobile pop- ulation will bring rowdiness and crime to the town's streets for the first time. Raymond Mayor Bob Graham believes the town that offers "people a good place to raise children" will not change unless the people of the town want it to change. Of the permanent employees, he says, "these guys will be good citizens" because they're well educated and have steady employment. Besides, he adds. Alberta Ammonia Ltd. chose to locate their plant at Ray- mond because of its com- munity spirit and has in- dicated it will do what it can to promote community spirit. Kay Williams, owner of Williams Bros. Insurance and Realty Ltd., can't believe that people really think their life style will change after the plant is in operation. How will it change our way of life, he asks. "With the influx in population we'll be almost the size of Taber and its way of life isn't much different than ours." There are some residents who fear a sudden population Becky Court 'we'll lose' increase will affect the religious atmosphere of the town and allow greedy promoters to lobby for a bar and liquor outlet in the town. The town, which is still about two-thirds Mormon, has been dry since first founded by pioneer Mormon Jesse Knight. Naming thektown after his son. Mr. Knight donated the land for the town site with the provision that the land would revert to the Knight family or heirs if a liquor outlet was ever established there. However, town foreman Bill Haig says town officials have recently learned that a bar could be established in Raymond if the majority of its residents approved of such a facility on a town plebiscite. A supporter of obtaining a bar for Raymond because it would provide one more ser- vice to the residents who live in the town. Mr. Haig recalls one brewery company offer- ing to pave all the streets in Raymond about 20 years ago in exchange for permission to construct a hotel and bar in the town. He estimates a good percentage of the town drinks now. Becky Court, secretary, is one of the town's residents who opposes the develop- ment of the fertilizer plant because it. may "bring a change of religious attitude in the town." "It will bring in more conflict." she believes. Real estater Mr. Williams disagrees. Mormons have always been known for their missionary work and a large increase in non-Mormon population will give them the opportunity to "do good mis- sionary work in their own town." There is very little concern shown by the town folk for the amount of Alberta gas that will be used to produce the anhydrous ammonia, the majority of which will be piped across the border to United States farmers. It is estimated the plant will use 68 billion cubic feet of gas each year of operation. Nor are the people of Ray- mond very concerned about pollution of their air and water by the plant. Almost all those inter- viewed by The Herald seem satisfied with a statement by Duncan Sim, Alberta Am- monia Ltd. president, that the proposed fertilizer plant will not give noxious em- missions or discharge polluting effluent into any water source. There are some who dis- agree with Mr. Sim, including Alberta Environ- ment Minister Bill Yurko. Mr. Yurko has called the plant a "high volume water user and high volume air pollutor." Raymond farmer Albert Heggie is one person who is opposed to the plant if it pollutes Hnwpver, he says, "it it doesn't pollute, I can't see anything wrong with it." 11 the plant does pollute, Dick Kinse possibly stands to suffer the most. His farm borders the 900-acre-plus site where the four-unit plant is to be developed on the southeast edge of town. Alberta Ammonia Ltd. has obtained an option to purchase the land if it is able to receive approval from the provincial government to use the huge quantity of gas required to produce am- monia fertilizer. It must also receive environmental approval from the province. "I am not worried about it polluting nor am I about to stand in the way of progress that is good for Mr. Kinse maintains. Foreman Haig says the company's first choice of land, to the west of town. was discouraged by town of- ficials because they feared the wind, that frequently blows from the west, would bring any noxious odors the plant released directly into the town. The largest percentage of the 12.000.000 million gallons of water the plant uses each day would be evoporated. A small portion of effluent would be released into holding ponds, Mr. Haig claims. A small percentage of the Raymond population is also concerned its large lots or acreages may be threatened by a sudden increase in pop- ulation. Several people have moved to Raymond even though they are working in other centres, such as Lethbridge. to take advan- tage of the opportunity to own an acreage so their children and pets don't have to face the prospect of grow- ing up in wall to wall housing. Although the town has been encouraging people to sell lots they're not using, of- ficials say, they have no intention of forcing its residents, by way of taxes, to subdivide their acreages if they are using them. Mr. Williams has a big lot and wants to keep it. But "I also make use of it." Some people, he says, have let their extra lots be taken over by weeds and cer- tainly are not making use of them. The average lot size in Raymond is between one and 1.5 acres. If these were sub- divided the town would have another 400 lots. Town officials want to en- courage housing develop- ment on as many vacant lots as possible in order to reduce the cost of supplying water and sewer to the new houses. Sewer and water lines now run by the vacant lots. If the town was forced to open new subdivisions, it would be faced with the cost of supp'ying water and sewer lines to the area. If the plant becomes a reality. Mayor Graham says a new subdivision for 20 homes will be opened and the properly housing the fer- tilizer plant will be annexed BILL GROENEN photos 900-acre site southeast of Raymond chosen for site This vacant horizon may soon be filled with tools of ammonia production A Ibert Heggie 'better not pollute' by the town to improve its municipal tax base. In addition to Raymond receiving a substantial boost in revenue from taxes on the plant and new homes, the County of Warner will also profit from taxes on the land used by the fertilizer com- pany to run its pipeline 60 miles to the United States border. The benefits the plant and the additional revenue it will bring to the small town are numerous, according to town officials and businessmen. They claim the plant will: a water system that will give all residents adequate water pressure. The present gravity- pressure water system provides 45 pounds of water pressure to residents on the north end of town and only 22 to those living on the south side. A new pipeline would provide a maximum of 12 million gallons a day to the plant and one million gallons a day and a constant pressure of about 60 pounds to residences. the sons- and daughters of the town people with a local source of employment so they don't have to leave Raymond after high school in order to obtain a job, the town with a tax base of sufficient dollars to pave all the streets in town and eliminate the dust problem. it feasible for the town to construct more recreational facilities such as a larger golf course and a curling rink even though Mayor Graham claims "Raymond is second to none now" with the wide variety of recreation facilities it has to offer. Provide encouragement for other industries to es- tablish in Raymond. the town new peo- ple with new ideas. a larger student population that will make it feasible for the high school to expand its program. Raymond from a point of being a residential area tor people who work in other centres, to a bustling town that houses its own workers. It is now con- sidered by many residents as the "bedroom community" of Lethbridge. About 40 per cent of the town's working population commute to jobs in Lethbridge. Town officials and businessmen do not agree with a few residents who suggest many of the plant's workers will live in Lethbridge and commute to Raymond. They argue that people are being attracted to live in Raymond even though they have to commute several miles to work each day so why would plant workers drive several miles to and from work when they have the opportunity to live in a favorite residential area of many outside workers. Several businessmen are anxious to serve the influx of population and even at this early date are talking of ex- panding their business should the plant be establish- ed in Raymond. Raymond Restaurant owner Ernie W o n k o w stopped selling Chinese food "years ago" because the population of the town was not large enough to support it and has been selling sim- ple dishes such as ham and eggs and hamburger deluxe in his restaurant. However, he is talking about renovating his restaurant and offering Chinese cuisine should the fertilizer plant be developed in Raymond and if he can convince immigration authorities to allow his 38- year-old daughter to move from China to Raymond to run the business. Mr. WonKow has been in the restaurant business in Ray- mond for more than 35 years. The Raymond poo! hall will be enlarged by half its size. Raymond Mercantile Co. plans to com- pletely renovate its building and Williams Bros. In- surance and Realty is con- sidering building a business complex on its property. Many others are also con- sidering expansion or renovations should the plant be built. A six-hour Herald random survey of the attitude Ray- mond residents hold toward the fertilizer plant and the subsequent industrial boorn showed that 70 per cent of those surveyed supported the proposed development. Only about sixteen per cent were totally opposed to the plant being located at Raymond. The remaining 14 per cent approved of some of the changes the plant would bring to the town but they were also leery of the change of life style the modern industry may bring with it. They preferred to sit "on the fence" on the issue. Here are a few of the opinions Lowell Courts, electrician, says "all systems go" and suggests the industry "would improve what we have." Mu r i a Jenkins, housewife, believes the fer- tilizer plant "will make Ray- mond grow up Grade 12 student Max Wendorff sees an improve- ment in the schools and more opportunities for young people to stay in Raymond. Becky Court, secretary, "doesn't really go for it. She fears the loss of the small town atmosphere she has become accustomed to. Lowell Courts 'let's go' Richard Grbavac 'maybe a bar' Hnmemakers Carol Morrison and Cathy Craw- ford are still "sitting on the fence" but don't feel the pro- jected increase in population will change the town's life style. Jeanne Peterson is not "very enthusiastic about it." It will bring a "lot more riff- raff here." she says. Local farmer Monty Smith is looking forward to better streets and recreation facilities in the town while Chris Costly and Richard Gr- bavac. both farm hands, hope the increased popula- tion will mean a bar for the town. All three men believe the plant will encourage more young people to stay in Raymond by providing job opportunities. They don't believe it will change anyone's life style. Ken Kamitomo. bookkeeper, is all for it." An increased population would make it easier for business firms to obtain employees and encourage business outlets such as the theatre to reopen. Don Steed, owner of Ray- mond Pharmacy, says "if progress comes, it comes. It has its good points and bad points." However, he doesn't believe the town will grow as much as some peo- ple anticipate. Joe Remras. retired, says the town needs "new life" and the fertilizer plant will bring a change for the better. Rod Bullock expects the town to go through some growing with the development of the plant but he predicts the "good will outweigh the bad." Jack Evans suggests the plant will bring an end to the town's financial struggle. The plant will "give us a source of revenue that will give us hard surfaced streets and provide the town with the money to service" its residential area.