By Cal Braid
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Tamara Miyanaga is well into her second term on council at the M.D. of Taber. After six years of service, she entered her seventh as Reeve of the district, and had positive reports to share. In the municipality, seven councillors are elected by the public and the reeve is then selected by council as a whole. Miyanaga reflected on the forward progress that she saw in 2023, and detailed many projects that will remain ongoing into the new year.
She said one of the most important tasks of the M.D. is maintaining the road network. “We have 2,200 km of gravel road and 200 km of hardtop. A significant part of our budget, our planning and our human resources go into ensuring that our roads are in good shape and that they meet the needs of our residents.” The M.D. is committed to keeping the roads safe and efficient, and is ready to adapt as changes occur. With different industries moving into or throughout the region, the demand for new infrastructure becomes a necessity.
Miyanaga highlighted the fact that council serves on over 40 committees throughout the district. Those range from the Highway 3 twinning, to libraries, economic development, and water commissions. “Each member of council takes time to represent their ratepayers and the municipality to make sure that their voices are heard, and also to ensure that those committees understand the needs of the residents. It’s a very effective tool for us,” she explained. “We have seven council members who break up to those 40 committees. Some councillors serve on the same committee but often only one is serving on the other committees.”
Elaborating on the impressive coverage of the seven individuals, she said, “Yes, a great deal of time and commitment is put in by our municipal councillors. The seven who serve truly have the heart of the M.D. of Taber and the communities that we’re involved with.”
The public is aware of the Highway 3 twinning, which is expected to break ground in the spring of 2024, and the Miyanaga pointed out Coun. Brian Hildebrand, who serves on the twinning committee, and Coun. John Turcato, who serves with SouthGrow economic development. “Those two councillors are working hard to ensure that Highway 3 twinning and the food corridor are not only good for our province, but also for the municipality. That really focuses on our neighbours, not just within the MD, but along the full corridor from the B.C. border to Saskatchewan. We’ve really been focused on finding synergies to promote an advance in economic development.”
“One of the main things with the M.D. of Taber is we serve our rural residents and also the hamlets of Enchant, Hayes and Grassy Lake,” she said. “Those communities are served by the members who live around them and they’re such an important part of our municipality. In each of those communities as well as Taber, Barnwell and Vauxhall, we have a relationship with all of them, and I think that speaks to strength and synergy. We work well with the communities and the hamlets. It may sound cliche, but we’re stronger because we’ve learned how to work together.”
Speaking of the hamlets in particular, she said the M.D. has opened a brand new residential development in Enchant that has a number of lots available. In Vauxhall, they’ve opened up two industrial lots beside the truck stop. In Grassy Lake, a residential subdivision is being constructed and lots should be available for purchase in September 2024. “We’re doing all the initial work on that right now and we’re doing our best to provide access to residential lots to help with the pressures of housing.”
The industrial lots in Vauxhall are on land that the M.D. has always owned, and Miyanaga said they’ve been developed to enable the right business to develop alongside the truck stop and the community. The lots are available to be serviced, but have intentionally been left open to meet the needs of a developer who can come in and make them into whatever works best.
The M.D. is the governing body that oversees the hamlets. It looks after the roads, the water, the sewer and the developments. “We cannot do it without the community,” she said, “because they have recreation, library, campground and hall boards, so it’s the heart of the volunteers that makes those hamlets a big success. And that would be true in all three, but they do have representation at the M.D. council chambers through their elected officials.”