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LICA celebrating 10 years of working in our communities

In celebration of the 10th anniversary of Lakeland Industry & Community Association, commonly known as LICA, I would appreciate the opportunity to provide your readers with some information about our great organization.

In celebration of the 10th anniversary of Lakeland Industry & Community Association, commonly known as LICA, I would appreciate the opportunity to provide your readers with some information about our great organization.

In the 1990s, citizens of the Lakeland area were aware of the growing oil and gas presence in the area, and of course we were interested and curious about many related matters. In response to the regional expansion of oil and gas production, members of the public, oil and gas industry and government formed a community based not-for-profit association in 2000. Our primary goals are to gather and share information on development in our region, and to promote sustainable and responsible development.

We serve the east central part of Alberta, encompassing approximately 18,000 square kilometres and taking in all or part of seven various municipalities, while our offices are located in Bonnyville.

The LICA board consists of five elected community members, two members appointed by the First Nations and Métis communities, three members appointed by the oil and gas industry, as well as appointed members from local government and government regulators (ERCB). Other interested organizations also offer active participation.

The board initially focused on setting up the organization — things like society registration and development of numerous policies and procedures — and then swiftly moved to establish a regional environmental monitoring committee. Water studies, air concerns, and community presence were addressed as we forged ahead.

Excitement grew in 2006 when the LICA airshed zone was endorsed by the Clean Air Strategic Alliance and became the 7th airshed zone in Alberta. This followed the operation since 2003 of a 25-station passive monitoring network. These air monitoring results helped us to design the current regional monitoring program which incorporates the passive network and four continuous monitoring stations. Continuous air monitoring is currently carried out in the City of Cold Lake, St. Lina, near heavy oil thermal (in situ) operations, and in the Iron River area. In addition, we have a popular 'canister sampling' program available to the public at no cost, as well as specialized sampling at selected sites. The airshed zone continues to operate as an independent standing committee of LICA.

And not to be forgotten, the airshed zone also deals with soil and has soil chemistry monitoring plots being established in our region with sampling to commence this year.

As our air-related work reached new heights, so too did our water related efforts. The Beaver River Watershed Alliance (BRWA) was created in 2007 to serve as the watershed planning and advisory council, working with Alberta Environment and other partners on the Cold Lake/Beaver River Basin Water Management Plan review and related items. The BRWA also operates as an independent standing committee of LICA, assisting with and supporting regional water monitoring in our watershed. This includes surface water, groundwater, wetlands, and aquatic ecosystem health. The BRWA also promotes understanding of water quality and water-related issues, and in addition facilitates and communicates results and reports to various interested parties, including the public.

Through all of the monitoring and studies, LICA is able to determine if there is any change over time in air quality, water quality and quantity, and soil and vegetation quality. Of course our interest in the environment and protection of our beautiful region comes at a cost. The committees conducting this monitoring have budgets this year of $1 million (airshed) and $800,000 (BRWA) — money well spent and graciously provided by our Industry partners and Alberta Environment.

We encourage you to contact us at 780-812-2182 or to visit our website at www.lica.ca. Be assured that LICA will continue to be involved in matters of the environment and resource development and we invite you to join our working partnership by attending our events, sitting on the board or a committee, or sharing your concerns and ideas with us.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010 has been chosen as the date of our annual general meeting, which will be held at the Bonnyville Senior Citizens Drop-In Centre, starting at 5:30 p.m. This is also an opportunity for us to celebrate our 10th anniversary. We are delighted that Deputy Premier Doug Horner will be joining us as guest speaker — but we would be equally delighted if you came! This is a no-charge evening, including dinner, and open to the public (as are all of our events), and you'll be happy that you came! You are always welcome at LICA!!

Robert Deresh

LICA board chairman





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