The Keephills project—a large open pit coal mile and plant—is a unique event in the history of developer and community relations in the province of Alberta, Canada. Many "firsts" resulted from this project. It was the first time an established hamlet has been relocated to accommodate a coal mine for thermal power generation; it was the first major attempt in the province to implement a consistent policy of public participation involving cooperative decision-making by community and proponent; and it was the first Alberta energy project to have utilized sociological consultants to conduct a longitudinal social impact assessment and monitoring programme. While the details of the Keephills experience are unique, the process of public participation carried out by this proponent may serve as a model for dealing with local residents' concerns in other developments. This brief paper addresses only one of the many issues that may emerge in large scale natural resource development: the relocation of the hamlet of Keephills.