Municipal District of Pincher Creek
Population: 2965 (2016)
The peaks and connecting ridge lines of the Continental Divide sharply define the western boundary of the Municipal District of Pincher Creek – which extends from Waterton Lake National Park to a line north of Crowsnest Pass and east almost to Fort Macleod. The dramatic wall of rock known as the Rocky Mountain Front dominates the landscape and influences the way of life, the economy, and the weather throughout the Texas-shaped rural district.
While energy production has overtaken agriculture as the district's most lucrative economic engine, the two sectors help secure their respective future.
Wind power has been a timely boon to farming and ranching, providing a needed new source of sustaining income while occupying only a tiny fraction of productive agricultural land. Since the start of the wind boom in the late 1990s, wind power has become the focus of economic development in the district (it accounts for 25% of M.D. tax revenue). As of 2010, the District counted 239 turbines producing 291 megawatts of power, with more under construction. Significant expansion of the wind sector awaits completion of a planned collector transmission line that is to loop through southern Alberta.
Culturally, ranching and farming remain paramount and the District’s primary goal is to conserve large agricultural land holdings. The District's residents are concentrated in the hamlets of Beaver Mines, Lundbreck, Pincher Station, Twin Butte, Lowland Heights, and Castle Mountain Resort. There is a desire to preserve agricultural capability by maintaining population concentration in these communities.
The District includes four large Hutterite colonies. The 8000-acre Pincher Creek Hutterite Colony was established in 1926 and runs the biggest food production and processing enterprise in the district. Their pro-technology attitude and their location in the spout of the Castle River wind funnel made the Pincher Creek Hutterites and wind developers enthusiastic early partners.
Shell Canada's Waterton Gas Complex south of Pincher Creek employs 150 people to separate methane, butane and propane from sour natural gas drawn from 75 wells.
The M.D.’s developed recreational assets include Castle Mountain Resort (downhill skiing), the Oldman River Reservoir (boating and wind surfing), and Beauvais Lake Provincial Park (water sports and camping).
- No additional wind projects are anticipated between the Town Pincher Creek and the Rocky Mountain Front. Wind, in the immediate lee of the mountains, is too turbulent for today's generation of tall turbines.