Hanna Mayor Chris Warwick is staying positive as the town searches for a way to diversify away from its economic dependency on the Sheerness generating station. hannaHanna Mayor Chris Warwick.

Earlier this year, Hanna received $455,000 to help come up with a plan to bring jobs and businesses to the area. Warwick said work has already begun.

"Our $455,000 is for community engagement which we've begun already," he explained. "We had some community consultation and the first meeting was to get our community up to speed with what's happening so far -- where ATCO's position is, where Westmoreland's position is. And, the next night was more a working session and breaking into groups and getting an idea of what opportunities we have, and what low hanging fruit we can run with."

Some of the money went towards hiring a consultant who can advise the municipality moving forward. The consultant is working with the Hanna Learning Centre, explained Warwick, so work can continue even after the consultant leaves at the end of the year.

"Every other week [the consultant has] been meeting with people one-on-one. You know there are people who have ideas that obviously don't want to bring it forth in a public setting. I think they've done 11 interviews and [had] very, very good success. Some of these things are really good ideas that we, hopefully, can move forward with now."

Unfortunately, pointed out Warwick, $455,000 doesn't go very far towards funding these ideas.

Money isn't the only concern. One of the big projects being talked about in the area is the possibility a community-owned renewable power generation facility. However, there's at least one major roadblock in the way.

"Just this last Tuesday, we met with the Minister of Energy, and we were having a conversation about some of the hurdles that community generation projects have. One of them is that a municipality can't own any part of a generation unit. That's a hurdle that doesn't work very well for us if that's what we want to attain!"

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