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Looking back at the year that was

Posted on January 4, 2024 by Taber Times

January

With the provincial government exploring an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) engagement in 2021, they collected feedback from Albertans in an online survey about what they want to see. 

As of right now, the government says feedback has been collected and they put together the design of the EPR approach to single-use plastics, packaging and paper products, and hazardous  and special products. On Dec. 3, Bill 83 — the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Amendment Act came into force to enable the EPR framework.

 Every year, the Taber Chamber of Commerce selects a local business to be awarded Business of the Year. This year, one of Taber’s local coffee shops, The Loft, was awarded such honour. Mallory Nakamura, owner of The Loft, shared her excitement about winning this award before discussing some of the reasons why she believes her business was awarded with being Taber’s business of the year. 

 A balanced 2023 operating budget for the Town of Taber has been prepared and was presented to council at their Dec. 19 regular meeting. The 2023 deficit has been offset by the stabilization fund Taber will receive. The overall deficit is $795,217 and the agenda states this is a variance of $139,762 from what was previously discussed at council — this variance is due to increases in things like employment insurance and benefits costs. Also included in the 2023 budget is the beginning of repayment of the long-term debt associated with the Lagoon Solar project. 

 A balanced 2023 operating budget for the Town of Taber has been prepared and was presented to council at their Dec. 19 regular meeting. The 2023 deficit has been offset by the stabilization fund Taber will receive. The overall deficit is $795,217 and the agenda states this is a variance of $139,762 from what was previously discussed at council — this variance is due to increases in things like employment insurance and benefits costs. Also included in the 2023 budget is the beginning of repayment of the long-term debt associated with the Lagoon Solar project. 

 With the COVID-19 pandemic finally starting to settle down last year, Taber was able to achieve great success after withstanding two years of uncertainty. Mayor Andrew Prokop outlined some of the success the town was able to achieve in the previous year, starting with the ongoing Trout Pond project. 

 With January 2023 well underway, Taber-Warner MLA Grant Hunter has had a few weeks to reflect on the previous year. As usual, the past year was filled with ups and downs like any other, but overall, Hunter was excited by the work done by the provincial government. In terms of excitement level, Hunter stated that further development to the agri-food corridor is the thing he was most happy about. 

February

 A potential application for a grant was brought forward at the Jan. 23 regular meeting of Taber town council called the Green and Inclusive Community Buildings program grant from Infrastructure Canada. 

This item was added to council’s agenda to let councillors know that in the possibility the town was to be selected for the grant, there would be a potential commitment of up to $2 million in matching funding from Capital Reserves. 

Taber’s Planning and Community Services Director, Chris Eagan was called forward to the stand to speak more on the grant application and what it may mean for Taber in the future. 

 With the Horsefly Emergency Spillway project seeing a shortfall of around $5 million for Phase 1, Municipal District of Taber councillors are continuing to seek solutions over the total three phases. While money has been shifted from Phases 2 and 3 to help offset the original shortfall, it still leaves the project without crucial funding moving forward. 

During council’s regular council meeting on Jan. 24, Taber-Warner MLA Grant Hunter was in council chambers to discuss a handful of different topics, including the Horsefly Spillway. Hunter explained what he’s been hearing at a provincial level regarding that shortfall. 

 A change in leadership may sometimes be tumultuous, however, the Conservative Party of Canada seem to have handled the shift quite nicely and are gearing up for the next election. 

With Pierre Poilievre having had half a year to display his merits as a leader, Martin Shields, MP for Bow River, shared his views on the current state of the Conservative Party, as well as discussing some of the challenges that they’re ready to face in the next election. 

 As part of a major federal investment announced recently for southern Alberta through Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan), the Alberta Sugar Beet Growers (ASBG) have received nearly a quarter of a million dollars to evaluate new market opportunities for sugar production. 

Through the federal government’s Regional Innovations Ecosystems (RIE) program, the ASBG received $242,838 for their marketing initiative in January. The RIE program stream aims to create, grow and nurture inclusive regional ecosystems that support business needs throughout the innovation continuum, and foster an entrepreneurial environment conducive to innovation, growth and competitiveness. 

 The beautification of a downtown intersection is off the books for 2023 after town council rejected a tender for a bulb-out at 52 Street and 48 Avenue. 

At the Feb. 13 meeting of Taber town council, administration had recommended awarding the 52 Street and 48 Avenue Bulb-out tender to Brooks Asphalt and Aggregate Ltd. for $720,801.90, with funds to be allocated from the 2022 capital budget, while allocating additional funds for the project in the amount of $27,905.71 to be allocated from capital reserves. 

 Proposing, discussing, debating, and researching legislation is some of the critical elements of being a member of Parliament. 

Precisely because of this Martin Shields, MP for Bow River, took a moment to reflect on three pieces of legislation that he fundamentally disagreed with and fought against starting off with C-21, an act to amend certain acts when dealing with firearms. 

March

 Analysis of monthly police statistics raised concerns among members of the Taber Municipal Police Commission regarding a recent troubling uptick in incidents of property crime. 

The January Crime Trend Analysis, as part of Chief Graham Abela’s report to the commission at their Feb. 15 meeting, showed seven cases of theft under $5,000 in January 2023 by comparison to only three in January 2022. 

 With Albertans headed back to the polls for a provincial election on May 29, the successes and failures of the present UCP government will be under the microscope for voters in the Taber-Warner riding. 

While acknowledging that not everything has been perfect under his party’s guidance, MLA Grant Hunter outlined what he feels are some of the achievements of the UCP over the past four years. 

 The transportational divide between commuters that travel from Taber to Lethbridge and commuters that travel from Taber to Medicine Hat will soon come to an end. 

At the post-budget roundtable Travis Toews held last week, the President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance talked about how Alberta has budgeted three years of investment to ensure that Highway 3 is fully twinned. 

“Highway 3 is a high priority for this government,” said Toews. “Back in summer of 2020 we announced the twinning of Highway 3 as one of our economic recovery projects, and that was the area Taber to Burdett. There’s been about $30 million spent on that project in this current fiscal year. There is another $30 million set aside for ’23-’24, and then $48 million for ’24-’25. Now in ’25-’26 we have a further $15 million set aside for the twinning of Highway 3.” 

 A handful of modular homes should be up for sale in the Town of Taber’s The Meadows housing development by the end of the month.

At their Feb. 27 meeting, town council reviewed the January 2023 Progress Report for The Meadows, which detailed recent developments for the project. 

Four modular homes have been purchased and installed, and they are currently getting prepped with skirting and decks. Several required renovations to get them ready for re-sale which is currently underway. 

 McCain Foods has announced a $600 million investment in southern Alberta which will double the size of the Coaldale McCains facility and bring hundreds of new jobs to the region. 

President and chief executive officer of McCain Foods, Max Koeune, said the development in Alberta is the largest-ever investment in McCain’s 65-year history and will support Canadian producers and through the company’s commitment, “the future of agriculture and innovation in Canada.” 

 The Horsefly Regional Emergency Spillway project sunk shovels in the ground Friday afternoon to commence Phase 1 expansion of the key flood mitigation project for southern Alberta. 

Once complete, the Horsefly Spillway project will help address overland flooding concerns and stormwater runoff problems impacting several regions in southern Alberta which have sometimes seen extensive flooding in recent years. 

 The 28th annual Taber Charity Auction will be held at the Taber Legion Hall on Saturday. 

“This is an event that I personally look forward to,” said Mitch Holst, a member of the Taber Charity Auction Committee. “It is a fun night of spending time with members of the community, and raising funds for amazing causes.” 

April

Growing calls for bail reform among the provinces has recently prompted a pledge from the federal government to walk back 2019 changes to the Criminal Code that critics say have fostered a “catch and release” regime in Canada. 

After meeting with his provincial counterparts in March, federal Justice Minister and Attorney General David Lametti promised targeted reforms for the bail system and Criminal Code. 

 Taber’s 23rd Annual Easter Egg Hunt will take place on Saturday at Confederation Park in Taber. 

“We are so honoured and excited to host the Annual Easter Egg Hunt this year,” said Jillian Boyd, the Youth DO Crew coordinator with Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) Taber. 

 Local non-profit MyCityCare has moved forward with an application for a $7.5 million Rapid Housing Initiative grant that could see development of 25 further units at the Town of Taber’s The Meadows project. 

The Rapid Housing Initiative provides funding to expedite the delivery of affordable housing units to people and populations that are vulnerable and targeted under the National Housing Strategy (NHS). The initiative will support the construction of more than 4,700 units across Canada. 

 The Town of Taber is investigating legal liability and the responsibility of neighbouring landowners regarding water drainage issues in the area of 38 Avenue in the town’s southeast. 

At their March 27 meeting, council had passed a motion directing administration investigate the feasibility of water drainage at that location, and the cost to repair including the sidewalk. 

 Back in March 2023, Alberta’s UCP government implemented a mandate that all police officers around the province would have to wear body cams, including those in the Taber Police Service. 

 During a press event last week at the Town of Taber Administration Building, Taber-Warner MLA Grant Hunter was on hand to deliver grant funding to the Town for future upgrades at the Wastewater Treatment Plant. 

The $1,233,520 grant will assist with upgrades to the Wastewater Treatment Plant Secondary Clarifier. 

As Taber grows, the need for wastewater treatment has grown as well. 

See more Year in Review in next week’s Taber Times.

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