By Heather Cameron
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The following are selected briefs from the M.D. of Taber Council meeting that took place on July 18, 2023.
Barany Family receives 2023 BMO Farm Family Award
Council briefly discussed how the Barany Family of Chin Ridge was the recipient of the BMO 2023 Farm Family Award. They also mentioned how the Barany Family made quite a contribution to agriculture.
Recent Staff Addition
Council discussed that as of July 10, James Eve joined the M.D. staff as the Information Services Technician.
Cst. Kennedy Gallant, the newest member of the R.C.M.P. Detachment, provided the M.D. Council with statistics from June 2023.
In June 2023, Gallant said, the M.D. of Taber had 262 calls for service: Barnwell had 10, Vauxhall had 18, and 12 were outside of the jurisdiction/boundaries. There were two impaired drivers in the M.D and one in Vauxhall. There were also seven Criminal Code violations in the M.D. of Taber with one being in Barnwell, four in Vauxhall, and two outside the M.D. boundaries.
There were 105 9-1-1 hangups within the M.D., eight in Vauxhall, and six outside of the boundaries, making a total of 126.
The detachment also did 24 criminal record checks and four fingerprint checks for the general public.
As far as patrols go, the M.D. did 152 along with 26 in Barnwell, 48 in Vauxhall, 14 in Enchant, 27 in Grassy Lake, and 13 in Hays. The campground patrols were as follows: eight were done at the M.D. park, one was done at the Forks, 10 were done in Enchant, three were done in Chin, one was done in Hays, and one was done in Grassy Lake for a total of 24 campground patrols.
The detachment, Gallant said, wrote 17 tickets while 15 were written by Lethbridge Traffic Services.
Gallant reported that the detachment also responded to two complaints of family violence last month and charges were laid where evidence was present that an offence had been committed. Supports, Gallant said, were made available to the victims.
In terms of the provincial crime gauge from January to June 2023 compared to 2022, Gallant said, there has been a four per cent increase in persons crime, a 54 per cent decrease in property crime, three fewer instances of Criminal Code violations, there’s been nine fewer break and enter crimes, zero change in theft of motor vehicles, and seven fewer instances of theft under $5,000.
On top of all that, Gallant said, a kindergarten class from Vauxhall took a tour of the detachment and police vehicles; and Cst. Gallant even attended the National Indigenous People’s Day hosted by the Town of Taber in Confederation Park.
CP Rail and weed issues
Michael Keeler, Director of Municipal Operations, stated that there are weeds along the CPR rail tracks from the Saskatchewan border to the B.C. border. Keeler said his ag field man communicated with his contact with CP Rail and CP Rail did run a train with a weed sprayer, but it only covered about a foot. Council also discussed that they sent a letter to CP Rail regarding the weeds issue but have not yet received a response.
Councillor Turcato put the question forth if there was a better process for dealing with CPR, and that there are other municipalities who have found ways to deal with the same issues, so perhaps the M.D. of Taber would benefit from reaching out to them.
Council also mentioned that residents are complaining about weeds on roadways but said that discussion about how to address the issue will be held at ASB.
As far as weeds on the rail and municipal roads go, Councillor Hildebrandt said they are a topic of concern with residents and they also cause issues with the stability of electrical system irrigators, causing equipment to shut down or causing voltage dips and spikes.
Councillor Hildebrant Report Highlights
Council Hildebrant mentioned his visit to the Potato Growers of Alberta Open House in Taber and said that their facility was good. Crofts also mentioned that it was good to see the advocacy that the PGA does for their growers and the economic development in the region.
Hildebrant also mentioned that he had two meetings regarding Highway 3 twinning with the chairman for Highway 3, Bill Chapman. Together, they engaged with Minister Dreeshen and emphasized the importance of getting the project done because it is one of the steps necessary for economic development in the region.
On top of that, Hildebrant said he engaged with the local MP’s regarding Highway 3 and is seeking engagement with them as to what is the best way to ensure NTCF funding for the project and help move along the deployment of it.
Reeve Harris Report Highlights
Reeve Harris reported to Council that he attended a joint Council meeting with Barnwell, Vauxhall, and the Town of Taber regarding the Clearview Lodge modernization and expansion. The discussion surrounded what everyone can do to try and make the project work. Harris said that the discussion of how the Council is going to find their portion of the request to fund the project will be held at the Council meeting on August 4.
Councillor Turcato Report Highlights
Councilor Turcato reported that he, a couple of other council members, and some administration attended the Low German Service Provider Conference and he suggested to Council that they discuss possibly investigating membership in the Southern Alberta Kanadier Association, as some of the M.D.’s neighbouring municipalities are members. Turcato suggested that Council ask someone from the association to come and do a presentation during a Council meeting so there is an understanding about what the Kanadier association is and does.
Council discussed upcoming events: the RMA visit and Committee of the Whole Meeting on August 1, and the Fall Convention from November 6-9, 2023.
Fire Restriction Implementation
Chief Nathan Cote visited Council and explained about a fire restriction that the M.D. had recently put into effect. The restriction, Cote said, involves the Fire Service going out and pre-inspecting areas where people request permits and talking to the individual who approves the permits about the area’s conditions. Cote said that there have been no requests for permits as of yet, so people understand that it is currently a dry season. Councillor Classen made a motion to accept the fire restriction and the motion was carried unanimously.
Township Road 17-3 and Vauxhall Airport Paving
Council stated that although the projects were previously approved in the 2023 Capital Budget, when the budget exceeds a certain amount or has a tender, it must come before Council for final approval. The discussion, Council said, was intended to close the tender and get a construction schedule from the contract.
The Council also admitted that they should have a discussion at some point about what the M.D.’s strategy is regarding airports, since there are already two airports within the municipality and the length of the airstrips is a concern for operators and the air ambulances.
Council also discussed the fact that, although they have applied for funding through the Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program for money to expand their airport’s runways and never received it, it might be worth applying again in the future.
Council even questioned the CAO if it would be worth it to have other municipalities sign letters of support for an application for a runway expansion. CAO Arlos Crofts responded that such an action couldn’t hurt an application’s chances.
Crofts added that he had a brief encounter with the Minister of Transportation and mentioned the airport runway situation to him because it is considered an economic development and health and safety piece for the residents of the municipality.
A motion was ultimately made for the M.D. of Taber to award the contract for Township Road 17-3 and Vauxhall Airport upgrades to McNally Contractors in the amount of $1,025,931.29. Councillor Hildebrandt also put a motion on the floor that Council direct the airport community to schedule a meeting and assess the need for airports within the M.D. of Taber and that Council also refer the item to the Strategic Priority Review at the next Committee of the Whole Meeting. The motions were carried unanimously.
M.D. Public Park Wi-Fi Project
Bryce Surina, Director of Community Services, brought an RFD to Council regarding the project that is intended to provide Wi-Fi at the M.D. of Taber Park. Surina first reported that the application for a grant through the Healthy Communities Initiative that the M.D. submitted was successful, as some of the mandates of the program were perfectly in alignment with the Wi-Fi project. That grant produced $86,000, Surina said. The project itself was ultimately bid out to Echo Networks, a service that also provides to customers in Vauxhall and the company has proposed a network in the M.D. Park at a total cost of $175,500. The cost, Surina said, is a fully incorporated cost for the implementation of the project, but there are also some unknowns with regards to electrical, so the application required an additional budget of $36,500 to ensure the project’s success. Council had several questions, including when the deadline for implementation was and Surina responded that the deadline is September 2024. After much discussion, a motion was ultimately made to table the discussion and have Administration provide further information with regard to impacts on camping fees and clarification on the long-term annual operating costs, at the Council meeting on August 15.