By Heather Cameron
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The following are selected briefs from the M.D. of Taber Council Meeting from August 15, 2023.
Reeve Harris Report
Reeve Merrill Harris reported to Council that he attended the tour MLA Grant Hunter attended for Simplot executives. Harris stated that it was nice to be invited along on that tour to show Simplot executives what the M.D. is doing with irrigation and potato farming.
Reeve Harris also stated that he attended staff barbecues, the Inter-Municipal Development Meeting, the Taber’s Table Dinner event, two firefighter barbecues, and the Airport Committee.
At the Airport Committee on August 3, 2023, Harris said, they looked at the existing airport bylaw and noted that it was quite out of date, so he proposed that some new bylaws be drafted and brought to a future Council meeting. One of the current bylaws, Harris said, indicated that a town council member was supposed to be part of the committee, and so he mentioned that to Mayor Andrew Prokop, and the mayor said they would have somebody appointed later this year at their organizational meeting. There was also discussion about the needs of the airport, including a longer runway to accommodate larger planes, changing the lighting, and attending to the crosswind runway. Administration, Harris said, has been tasked to bring forward proposals for funding a study on expansion, and costs of doing that expansion.
The Southern Regional Stormwater Committee, Harris said, met on August 11 and, as a result of the meeting, there is an update on the Phase One progress, and out to tender. Earlier in the year, Harris said, there was also a motion to get Phase Two engineered and out to tender, but with the Highway 3 crossings and getting through Lantic Sugar and CP Rail, it just has not been possible to get the engineering done for that. In order to keep the project moving along, the M.D. felt it was important to keep the momentum going by making a motion to get Phase Three ready and out to tender this fall, so the tender should be out by the middle of September with a tender in place by the middle of October so that construction in Phase Three can start. Reeve Harris stated that a municipal controlled corporation is the model that the M.D. is going to go with. Some guidelines and a draft of the model should be prepared in the next month or so for the Council to view, Harris said.
Deputy Reeve Miyanaga Report
Deputy Reeve Miyanaga reported to Council that during the summer, the libraries throughout the municipality have been continually active and continue to be a main gathering place for people. The libraries, Miyanaga said, are considered safe spaces that provide not only knowledge, but community, and the library is a very important location to be able to take their families. Miyanaga emphasized that libraries also help serve to increase the level of humanity.
Miyanaga also highlighted the Taber Food Bank’s Community Garden and stated that while they are having a very good harvest, they are looking for support. Miyanaga encouraged Council to attend the Corn Harvest on August 19 to help harvest the garden’s corn crop. Miyanaga stated the community garden is serving all aspects of southern Alberta and even going beyond that. The produce from the garden, Miyanaga said, is making an incredible difference from one end of the province to the other.
Councilor DeGroot Report
Councilor DeGroot reported to Council that the Veterans Memorial Highway Association is still trying to get its feet underneath it and their next meeting was supposed to be in Lac La Biche, but it was canceled due to lack of people that could attend and they are currently trying to reorganize the next meeting.
Councilor Turcato Report
Councilor Turcato reported to Council that he attended Taber’s Table with several other Councilors and people from the area and emphasized how good of an event it was. As a member of the Joint Economic Development Committee, Turcato stated that he was pretty sure that there would be a push to repeat the event in 2024 and not have it conflict with other events within the community.
Upcoming Events and Discussion
Arlos Crofts, Chief Administrative Officer for the M.D. of Taber, presented a memo of upcoming events to Council that included the Fortis Annual Cornfest Barbecue, Cornfest Parade, and an invitation from the Town of Taber to a dinner that will be held on the evening of Cornfest. Crofts then inquired of Council if anyone was interested in attending the barbecue, as the Japanese Consul General from Calgary usually attends.
Other events Crofts highlighted were an RMA member visit on September 18, and a Coffee With Council, an event at the Vauxhall Legion at 6 P.M. on October 4. In addition to that, Crofts mentioned that the Minister of Municipal Affairs requested a meeting at the fall convention.
At the conclusion of Crofts’ report, Council discussed what they should bring forth to the meeting with the Minister and they mentioned that they would like an understanding of what the provincial government is doing with the assessment review model, and they would also like to know information about local government fiscal framework so that the M.D. can know what they are budgeting going forward.
Other things Council requested were a clearer picture on what unpaid taxes would look like for different types of renewable energy in the region and stable library funding.
Council also touched upon the fact that they requested a meeting with the Minister of Health regarding the ambulance service in Vauxhall. Council also expressed a desire to request a “mini meeting” with the Minister of Transportation and Economic Corridors because Lamb Weston had some issues they wanted to be addressed to discuss Eyremore Dam and the stability of the corridor. The council then briefly discussed requesting a meeting with the new Minister of Agriculture.
Afterwards, Council then shared their concerns with each other that they attend RMA to learn and associate with colleagues, and to learn from ministers. They concurred that some of the issues are so important that they might need to prioritize their willingness to drive to Edmonton or drive to the RMA office to meet so that the M.D. Council still benefits from attending the conference, as there is valuable information there. Councilor Turcato gave a motion to receive the upcoming meetings and events memo and the motion was carried unanimously.
Council discussed assigning someone to attend the meetings of the Kanadier Association, which are held Wednesday mornings, four times a year via Zoom. Council concurred that it was an excellent association to be a part of and they discussed how someone within either the Council or M.D. go and inquire what some of the barriers in the community are for the association as well as learn and share services and opportunities that are available to them. Councilor Claasen offered to attend the next meeting, which is on September 20, 2023, at 10 A.M., and report back to Council. A motion to the effect was made and passed.
Land Purchase Request
Reeve Harris brought a land purchase request from Alberta Transportation and Economic Corridors to Council’s attention.
Bryce Surina, Director of Community Services for the M.D. of Taber, presented on the topic and stated that this inquiry was originally received by the manager of Lands Planning and Development, Brian Pierce, and it is a proposal to purchase 0.59 acres of municipal land as part of securing right of way for an interest that Alberta Transportation and Economic Corridors required, as a result of the 2018 floods.
Councilor Hildebrand made a motion that the M.D. of Taber resolve to sell Alberta Transportation and Economic Corridors the 0.59 acres requested to secure the right of way interest along Highway 864. The motion was carried unanimously.
Safety Signage Concern
Council discussed the possibility of asking Administration to ensure there is adequate signage at the M.D. campground if there are emergencies, so people know the locations of muster points or who to contact. A motion was made to direct Administration to investigate information and signage options to ensure campers know how to access 9-1-1 in the park and the motion was carried.
Item of Recognition
Council invited LeRon Torrie, chair of SMRID, to come to the meeting because he was unable to attend the shovel turning ceremony for the Horsefly Spillway Project. Between Torrie’s and Brian Brewin’s efforts, Council said, the M.D. was able to get the stormwater drainage committee formed and the study to identify drainage options for southern Alberta was taken care of through MPE Engineering with money provided by the province. Council formally recognized Torrie’s part in getting the stormwater drainage committee formed and getting that project underway that will help southern Alberta for years to come dealing with drainage in the area between Lethbridge and Medicine Hat.
Torrie expressed approval at finally seeing cooperation agreement between the SMRID and the M.D. of Taber on the matter of drainage and is excited to see the progress on it because it is overdue and needed. Torrie also stated that the Horsefly Spillway Project is a great project to show intermunicipal cooperation with everybody between Lethbridge and Medicine Hat. And, Torrie emphasized, the project is not only important for drainage, but for the security of the SMRID, which is the lifeblood of southern Alberta.
Enchant Cemetery Foundation Request
Council discussed how Enchant Cemetery Foundation made a request to fall under the liability insurance that the M.D. of Taber has. Enchant Cemetery, Council said, is owned by the M.D. of Taber and is operated by a community group who maintains the property. The additional insurance, the Council stated, would ensure the Foundation is covered if there are any liability issues that do occur. Councilor Reynolds made a motion to add the Enchant Cemetery Foundation to the M.D. of Taber liability insurance policy and the motion was carried unanimously.
Taber and District Housing Foundation Request Update
Councilor DeGroot made a motion that the M.D. of Taber provide a letter of support to the Taber and District Housing Foundation to provide up to $4 million in financial assistance for the Clearview Lodge Expansion and Modernization Project. The motion, DeGroot said, also included the fact that financial assistance from the M.D. of Taber for the Clearview Lodge Expansion and Modernization project is conditional to the Taber and District Housing Foundation obtaining the necessary funding contributions from the Government of Alberta, CMHC, Town of Taber and other partner municipalities within the M.D. of Taber region. The motion was unanimously carried.
Donation Request Applications
Taber Pheasant Festival, an event that brings over 800 hunters to the M.D. for education and hunting, requested $2,500 from the M.D. Councilor Claasen made a motion that Council grant a donation and that motion was passed unanimously.