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A look back at the odd year of 2020 in Taber

Posted on January 6, 2021 by Taber Times

With COVID-19 creating a temporal anomaly, we look back at last year with the suspicion that it might actually be 10 years in a trench-coat.

January 1: Lost Paws approached the M.D. of Taber. If all goes according to plan, Taber Lost Paws Society will be reaching near their end goal by the end of the year.

January 8: RCMP officers added to battle rural crime. Roughly 300 additional RCMP members will be added to the province’s current complement in detachments and specialized RCMP units as a key component in tackling rural crime issues.

January 15: Application made for M.D. cannabis facility. As part of the Municipal District of Taber’s search to expand economic development, a group is looking to construct a hemp and cannabis extraction processing facility.

January 22: Council receives fire hall update. The town’s new fire hall project is proceeding on schedule and within budget, according to a report delivered to town council by fire chief Steve Munshaw.

January 29: Community mourning passing of Taber Times icon. The community of Taber and the Taber Times itself are in mourning this week with the passing of one of its own. Wilma Jean Bullock, 74, passed away early Saturday morning and leaves with her an impact on a Taber community like few others have. It would be near impossible to talk to a Taberite and not have them know who Jean Bullock was.

February 5: Steps forward for new chamber digs. Taber and District Chamber of Commerce have their sights set on a new home, and the Town of Taber has stepped in to help facilitate that process with the purchase of vacant property in the downtown area.

February 12: Mayor looks ahead to new year in the Town of Taber. With 2019 proving to be a year of challenges for municipalities in Alberta, Mayor Andrew Prokop is hopeful of a prosperous 2020 for Taber.

February 19: Town gets report card in CFIB study. Local municipalities compare favourably with their Alberta neighbours in a recent study of operational spending numbers from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

February 26: Zoning change will allow commercial in Westview Estates. Town council has approved a zoning change that could allow a potential commercial development to go forward in Westview Estates.

March 4: Outstanding Youth celebrated with annual APEX awards. Four deserving candidates from among the region’s youth were honoured this past weekend at the APEX Youth Awards, taking home generous bursaries to assist them in their future endeavours.

March 11: Millions for wetlands project. Designed to improve the treatment of storm water draining into Taber Reservoir, the Town of Taber is moving forward with a major $7.4 million constructed wetlands project located in the community’s northeast.

March 18: Taber area preparing for coming Coronavirus. With COVID-19 concerns continuing to push their way into Alberta, the Town of Taber is preaching common sense during the pandemic.

March 25: Town of Taber continues to be in COVID lockdown. The Town of Taber took more steps last week to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, restricting the Administration Building office to the public on March 18 until further notice.

April 1: COVID pandemic makes for family opportunities. They said Seinfeld was the show about nothing. With how the Coronavirus has forced families to isolate themselves in their homes, some may fear COVID-19 is the pandemic about nothing in the levels of boredom that may ensue.

April 8: Museum looking to preserve COVID-19 history. The current COVID-19 pandemic gripping the world is an unprecedented time in history since the Spanish Flu in 1918.

April 15: Town hoping raw water security locked in for foreseeable future. The Town of Taber has taken the first step toward securing the community’s future raw water supply through endorsement of a new intake and pump station for Chin Reservoir.

April 22: Town in support of highway speed limit changes within boundaries. The Town of Taber is in support of recommended changes to highway speed limits inside municipal boundaries which would see current maximums increase in three locations, but would drop on a stretch of Highway 864.

April 29: M.D. fire departments busy last week. The Municipal District of Taber Regional Fire Service has been kept busy early this spring. Last week saw multiple fire events that required M.D. fire stations to attend in order to battle the blazes.

May 6: Cornfest cancelled as province details relaunch strategy. The global COVID-19 pandemic has claimed another local casualty with the cancellation of Western Canada’s largest free family festival, Taber Cornfest.

May 13: Food banks struggling to meet pandemic demand. With the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic creating food security issues for Canadians from coast to coast, local food banks have been scrambling to keep up with increased demand and declining donations.

May 20: Council hen session over backyard poultry. A renewed campaign to loosen municipal restrictions around keeping backyard chickens in the community is underway, and the Town of Taber has been re-examining the issue to determine if it holds enough merit to make a change.

May 27: TPS officers to see rotation with Lethbridge’s ALERT. Over the next several years and beyond, officers from the Taber Police Service will be rotating through a new position with ALERT.

June 3: Trouble at the henhouse: Council poopoos poultry bylaw. Taberites hoping to feather nests with some fowl friends will be sadly disappointed after town council defeated a motion proposing backyard chickens in a split 5-2 vote.

June 10: M.D. still exploring Lost Paws facility. After approaching the Municipal District of Taber at the end of 2019, the Taber Lost Paws Society is hoping for a financial injection from the municipality as they get closer to the construction of their dog care facility.

June 17: M.D. relaunching under provincial guidelines. With COVID-19 restrictions loosening across the province, the Municipal District of Taber is following suit.

June 24: Modified Canada Day on tap for Town of Taber. With Alberta’s pandemic restrictions loosening, the Town of Taber is planning a modified celebration for the nation’s birthday on July 1 with an extensive pyrotechnics display.

July 1: Taber Fire Department feeling at home in new facility. The Taber Fire Hall is fully completed and Taber firefighters have started unpacking boxes in their new home.

July 8: Highway 3 twinning officially green lit for 2021 construction. After years of pleading and advocating to twin Highway 3 east of Taber, the Alberta government has finally realized those dreams, starting next year.

July 15: Taber gets $1.4 million for raw water project. The good news for the Taber area continued last week when Taber-Warner MLA Grant Hunter alongside Taber Mayor Andrew Prokop announced funding for a raw water project for the town.

July 22: Rural Municipalities of Alberta update. M.D. of Taber Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) are projecting a busy rest of the summer as the provincial government continues to explore ways of kickstarting the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

July 29: Alberta Transportation details Highway 3 twinning work coming in next few years. The announcement that Highway 3 east of Taber would finally be twinned was met with overwhelming praise but details around the project were fairly sparse at Premier Jason Kenney’s press conference in Taber earlier this month.

August 5: Popular Taber corn hits stands. Putting the bad memories of a year ago behind them, local Taber corn growers opened their season in southern Alberta on Thursday and saw brisk business throughout the day.

August 12: Town mends fence with Signature Pointe after split vote. Following a 4-2 split vote, the Town of Taber will be sharing the cost of constructing a fence between the curling club parking lot and Signature Pointe, but not before strong objections were raised among some members of council.

August 19: Chamber promoting ‘Spirit of Taber Cornfest’ for 2020. Cornfest 2020 has been officially canceled, but the Taber and District Chamber of Commerce (TDCC) is moving ahead with a limited celebration on Aug. 29 to ensure that Taber’s premier annual event doesn’t go quietly into the night. While Cornfest 2020 was can- celled earlier in the year due to the pandemic, with the loosening of some of those restrictions and limitations on public gatherings, in recent weeks the chamber board has been planning and working towards a small event that meets all of the Alberta Government’s recommendations but will provide an opportunity for local businesses to showcase what they have to offer.

August 26: Town addresses water quality concerns. Foul taste and unpleasant odor have plagued the Town of Taber’s water system in recent weeks, and vocal citizens haven’t given the municipality a free pass.

September 2: Taber Public Library celebrates 75th anniversary. Despite the challenges this year has presented, the Taber Public Library is happy to be celebrating their 75th year.

September 9: Future uncertain for Alberta’s weekly newspapers. Not unlike many industries impacted by the global pandemic in 2020, weekly newspapers in southern Alberta have been struggling against adversity to maintain the vital role they play in their various communities.

September 16: M.D. council approves shovel ready projects. With the provincial government looking for municipal shovel ready projects to continue to get the economy rolling, the Municipal District of Taber is moving forward on several 2021 construction works.

September 23: TDCALA hoping to acquire M.D. funds for newcomer services. Much like any other organization or business, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented many challenges for the Taber and District Community Adult Learning Association (TDCALA).

September 30: TDHF planning drive-in concert featuring George Canyon. Turning the calendar to fall usually means preparation for the Taber and District Health Foundation’s annual telethon, but as 2020 continues to be an odd year, things are changing.

October 7: M.D. of Taber reviews solar project setback amendments. As solar energy systems continue to break ground across southern Alberta, the Municipal District of Taber have started discussing amendments within their Land Use Bylaw.

October 14: Funding evaporates for GLTC cannabis facility. Originally touted as a $100 million investment in the community with a potential for more than 200 jobs, the Grasslands Taber Collaborative project has assumed a holding pattern in late 2020 as pandemic impacts have eaten into investor confidence.

October 21: Horizon School Division continuing to adapt to challenges stemming from COVID-19. The new school year has been one like no other. While the determination students and staff would be back full-time within schools wasn’t made until the middle of summer, so far so good for Horizon School Division.

October 28: Town organizational review receives mixed reaction. Recommendations calling for a radical reorganization of town administration as well as contracting out municipal services like grass cutting and tree pruning figure prominently in a new Organizational Review prepared for the Town of Taber.

November 4: SouthGrow still exploring how to move forward. As funding is still tight for SouthGrow, the possibilities moving forward are still being looked at.

November 11: No town positions axed in 2021 operating budget. The Town of Taber has approved the 2021 operating budget with a six-figure transfer from reserves, taking more than $600,000 in proposed job cuts off the table.

November 18: MOST announcement marred by criticism. What should have a been good news story regarding nearly $860,000 in grant funding for the Town of Taber instead deteriorated into an indictment of administration and Mayor Andrew Prokop’s initial handling of the announcement.

November 25: Kenney announces new pandemic restrictions, stops short of provincial lockdown. Alberta’s government is declaring a state of public health emergency and putting aggressive measures in place to protect the health system and reduce the rising spread of COVID-19 cases.

December 2: Town of Taber passes mandatory mask bylaw. With COVID-19 numbers escalating locally and throughout southern Alberta, demands for a mandatory mask bylaw in Taber have also been multiplying.

December 9: Horsefly funding a surprise for M.D. of Taber. What originally started as a dream, has quickly become a reality for the Municipal District of Taber as funding for the Horsefly Emergency Spillway project has been realized.

December 16: TPS shifting gears for impaired drivers. Major changes to how law enforcement approach impaired drivers in the province came into effect earlier this month, including making first-time offenders subject to an administrative penalty rather than a criminal charge. Starting Dec. 1 under the new Provincial Administrative Penalties Act, police will be able to administer stricter impaired driving penalties on the road, while most first-time impaired driving charges will be handled quicker outside of court through SafeRoads Alberta. Impaired drivers could face larger fines and lose their vehicles for up to 30 days.

December 23: With Alberta mired deeply in the second wave of the pandemic, earlier this month the provincial government instituted new restrictions for businesses and social gatherings that stopped just short of a provincial lockdown. While everyone needs to be mindful regarding alarming case count numbers and the spread of the virus into more rural areas in recent weeks and months, Taber-Warner MLA Grant Hunter said the UCP government and Premier Jason Kenney have always had one eye on the financial football as it fumbles toward the end zone in 2020.

December 30: The mission of bringing broadband to the rural parts of Alberta continues to be a major focus for the Municipal District of Taber. After the Oct. 27 M.D. council meeting where it was decided the next step was to move forward with the RFP process, the original intent was to continue in preparation for grant applications in the new year. Other good news has also come out as the Canadian government released another grant in the form of the Universal Broadband Fund (UBF).

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