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Shell praised as invaluable community contributor

Sunday, 13 October 2019. Posted in Shootin' the Breeze

Shell praised as invaluable community contributor

Darrell Archibald and Kali Larson, on behalf of the staff of Shell Waterton Complex, accept a gift of original artwork at the community thank-you luncheon held Oct. 4. The piece depicts a scene similar to what one sees on the drive south of Pincher Creek toward the gas plant.   Photo by Jess Harrington

Shell praised as invaluable community contributor

By Jess Harrington

Though many in attendance would likely agree we will never be able to thank Shell Waterton enough for their contributions, last Friday a crowd that filled the Pincher Creek town hall gym did their best to appreciate this most enduring and important partner with a free community lunch.

After filling their bellies with succulent roast beef, guests settled in for a program of speakers invited to reflect on the gas plant’s legacy.

Brian Hammond, reeve of the MD of Pincher Creek, recalled the history of the plant, starting with its construction in 1957 and operational opening in 1962.

He traced Shell’s involvement in the community through a fund that provides financial aid to organizations where Shell employees volunteer. After almost 60 years, he said, these contributions have grown to the point that “it would be difficult to find someone who has not benefited in some way from Shell’s enterprise,” directly or otherwise.

Pincher Creek town councillor Lorne Jackson continued this thread, saying: “It is nearly impossible to overstate the importance [Shell] has had over the years. Practically every group and organization we have in our greater community has received assistance from Shell in one form or another.”

Lynn Lievers of the Pincher Creek and District Agricultural Society illustrated this point by describing Shell’s impact on her organization.

She stated that if it weren’t for the donations Shell Waterton has continually made towards infrastructure and event sponsorship, starting in the 1970s, the ag grounds wouldn’t be what they are today, and the community would lack an asset that everybody benefits from.

James Van Leeuwen of the Southwest Alberta Sustainable Community Initiative spoke about Shell’s partnership with SASCI, and its role in crafting a report on the potential economic and social impacts of the gas plant’s closure, which Shell anticipated would happen by 2030 before the plant was sold to Pieridae Energy earlier this year.

Pieridae has not explicitly stated how long it believes the plant will continue operating, but has expressed intent to expand the Waterton gas field and extend its life.

James praised Shell for not only sharing their projections when they were first announced in 2015, but also seeking to act on them.

“It’s a credit to Shell as a corporate citizen that they would take responsibility for the future … and give the community decades of lead time to adapt its economy for the day when the complex is done.”

The program wrapped up with the presentation of a gift, which was received by Kali Larson, community liaison officer for Shell Waterton, and plant manager Darrell Archibald. Both took the opportunity to express earnest thanks back on behalf of the complex.

Kali shared the story of her first visit to the plant, when she was just a little girl. She was delighted when the plant operators let her play dress-up in their protective gear before rolling in a TV and making up a big batch of popcorn.

Without the support of good people in the community, Kali said, the good people at the plant — like the operators who cared for her — would not have been able to do what they did.

She thanked the community for believing in Shell as much as Shell believes in the community.

With hand on heart, Darrell described Shell’s relationship with the region’s people as sincere and powerful.

“When I hear Kali speak about how much this means to her, I think it’s really representative of our team and how much this relationship [with the community] means to us. It’s very personal,” he said.

“We have common values and we have trust — and it’s amazing, when you have that, what you can accomplish.”

While the future of the Waterton gas plant is still a bit uncertain, Friday’s event made two things abundantly clear: the new owners have big shoes to fill, and Shell is deserving of more thanks than can be expressed over the course of a community meal.

But at least it’s a start.