PDF Issue: Jan 24, 2022

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The Weekly Anchor

 Town temporarily closes both arenas

  Edson remains about 12% behind the provincial double-vaccinated average

On January 19, 2022, the Town of Edson temporarily closed both arenas at the Edson and District Leisure Centre. The closure was made effective immediately due to COVID related staffing issues.
The closure impacted the arenas only. The pool remained open at this time.
Staffing levels were to be monitored and every effort  made to reopen the arenas as soon as possible.
In the meantime, a deep clean and disinfection of the arenas was to be taking place over the weekend.
As the town continues to deal with this latest challenge, they encourage all patrons to practice continuous masking in town facilities unless actively participating in an activity.
 Masking and two metre physical distancing are mandatory in all indoor public spaces, workplaces, and places of worship.
 For fully vaccinated people who have just completed the 5-day isolation and no longer have symptoms, masks must be worn at all times outside of home for an additional five days.
 Employees must mask in all indoor work settings, except while alone in work stations.
 Masks are still required in places that implement the Restrictions Exemption Program.
 Masks should fit well and be of high quality. People who are at risk of severe outcomes should wear medical masks when in settings with people outside of their household.
As well, we encourage everyone to get vaccinated as they are eligible to do so. Edson remains about 12% behind the Provincial average when it comes to those 12+ with 2 doses. For more information on the COVID-19 vaccines, please visit https://www.alberta.ca/covid19-vaccine.aspx.

 Alberta RCMP Major Crimes investigate sudden death in Evansburg

(RCMP) Evansburg, Alta. – On Jan. 3, 2022, at 10:30 a.m., Evansburg RCMP received a report of a person found lying in the snow in an alley in the area of 49 street and 50 avenue in Evansburg.
Evansburg RCMP attended the scene and located a 27-year-old deceased female whose body was partially covered in snow. The circumstances of the females death are under investigation and the Alberta RCMP Major Crimes have taken over carriage of this investigation and attended the scene.
The Evansburg RCMP, along with RCMP Forensic Identification Section have also assisted with this investigation.
An autopsy was held on Jan. 7, 2022, at the Edmonton Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the findings of the autopsy are pending lab test results.
Alberta RCMP Major Crimes Unit continues to investigate this sudden death. No further details regarding the deceased will be released at this time.

 Edson Mayor looks back on 2021 and what may lie ahead for 2022

by Adrienne Tait
Jan 10, 2022 issue: As 2021 drew to a close and Edsonites begin to look ahead at 2022, we took the opportunity to reflect on the last year and examine what may lie ahead with Town of Edson Mayor Kevin Zahara.
What is the most important lesson you learned this year?
Just when you think COVID is behind you, it isn’t.  While the pandemic has not been easy on anyone, we are resilient and will be stronger because of it.  
What was your favourite moment?
Winning the election was obviously a favorite moment.  Besides that, moving the multiplex project forward with the hiring of Turnbull Construction as our project management firm and the release of the RFP recently have been major steps forward.   Seeing this project becoming more of a reality everyday is exciting. 
What accomplishment from this year are you most proud of?
We started the year without a permanent Chief Administrative Officer.  This is the only employee Council has and is the link between Council and rest of the municipal organization.   We went through a hiring process that I thought was very effective and smooth.  The end result is that we hired a great fit for our organization.  This will have a positive long-term impact on not only the Town as an organization but for the community as a whole. 
What got in the way of your success as a council?
COVID stopped a lot of things from happening.  Responding to the pandemic and the ever changing provincial rules and regulations were the focus rather than some of our strategic goals.  We lost almost 2 years of our Council term dealing with the pandemic rather than the long-term vision and the Strategic Plan for our community. 
What would you do differently if you could?
If it were up to just me we would have had shovels in the ground for the multiplex by now, but it may be a good thing that we waited to save more money for the project, as COVID and supply-chain issues could have really caused some issues with construction. 
What were the most useful resources you had?
We can’t do anything if it wasn’t for Town staff.  Council sets the direction, and it is up to our staff to carry it out.  They are the most important resource we have. 
What was left unfinished?
There were a number of items on our strategic plan that we didn’t get accomplished due to the pandemic and limited capacity.  One of the big things was a re-write of our land-use bylaw which I’m happy to say is a top priority for 2022.  We are putting the budget in place to ensure we have the resources to get it done.  Until we make it easier to do business in Edson, we will continue to lack the economic development we need to pay for public services and grow our community.  Re-writing the bylaw and simplifying the development process is key to encouraging business in our community. 
How do you describe this year in 3 to 5 keywords?
Unpredictable rollercoaster ride.
In looking forward to the upcoming year, and working with the new Town Council, Mayor Zahara outlined his goals and what he hopes will be attainable in 2022.
What is your vision for 2022?
This council will be setting the Strategic Plan for the next 4 years in the first quarter of 2022.  I would like to see us going through a priority based budget process which more municipalities are undertaking as we deal with tighter and tighter financial situations.  It is a bit of a cumbersome process, but it would allow us to ensure that everything we do aligns with our Strategic Plan and provides the best value for taxpayers.  That may mean some services are cut or adjusted to provide the best value for our community.  Just because we have always done something, doesn’t always mean we should continue to do so. 
What are you/we going to continue doing?
I hope we can get back to normal and get back to doing some of the events we usually have in Edson.  These activities help bring the community together and provide some positivity that we all need. 
What do you want to change completely?
Our Land-use Bylaw for reasons explained earlier.  Cutting red-tape and making it easier to do business will help Edson grow.  That along with priority based budgeting I think will serve our community well. 
What do you want to accomplish?
Getting shovels in the ground for the multi-plex will be the top priority in the upcoming year.  Much work has been done in the last several months to ensure we have a project that prioritizes function over form and is operationally efficient.  This facility will serve future generations and greatly impact the quality of life of all our residents by providing a desirable recreation & community space. 
What will you say “no” to?
With a million dollars of provincial government downloading to our budget, increased policing costs and inflation, things are really tight financially.  We can’t be everything for everyone and have to focus on priorities and items in the Strategic Plan.  That means tough decisions even if we do not like them personally.  The end goal though is to focus limited financial resources on high value items and community priorities.   
When you look back at the end of next year what word do you hope describes the year?
I hope that our businesses feel like it was a successful year and that our residents feel less anxiety and that they are seeing success in their lives.  As a municipality I hope that we can look back at 2022 and feel like we are making progress on the goals we set as a Council. 

Edson-County Recreation Multi-Use Facility
groundbreaking potentially by fall 2022

December 21, 2021 – Progress continues on the joint Edson and Yellowhead County Recreation Multi-Use Facility.
The Project Management Committee has been meeting virtually with three pre-qualified bidders working on their proposal submissions for the project. Proposals will include a design of the facility, costing, and a construction timeline.
The goal is for proposals to be presented to the Town of Edson and Yellowhead County Councils in the spring, with potential ground-breaking at the Hillendale location in the late fall of 2022. The build time will span two-and-a-half to three years, and the joint Council-based Steering Committee directing the project sees no barriers to meeting that timeline.
“The Town of Edson is very pleased to see this exciting project moving forward,” said Edson Mayor Zahara. “This type of facility will be a great benefit to the region, and we’re extremely pleased to work with our partners in Yellowhead County, as well as the provincial and federal governments to see it to fruition.”
County Mayor Wade Williams said, “The steering committee is eagerly awaiting the design options from the three bidders. The committee and administration have worked hard to ensure the input from our residents and stakeholder groups is reflected accurately in this new facility--we want to get it right.”
This $70 million project will provide a full range of ice, aquatic, walking track, and gymnasium-based recreation and sport development opportunities for the residents of all ages in the region, now and into the future. The project priorities that were set are function over form, maximized utilization, and operational efficiencies through design with a focus on flexible spaces.
Both municipalities remain committed to the project and to fostering their historic partnership, which is one of the strongest in the province.
To keep updated on the joint Edson and Yellowhead County Recreation Multi-Use Facility Project, please visit www.edson.ca/facility.

Trans Mountain and Midwest Pipelines make
huge donation to Edson Food Bank

by Shaylyn Thornton
Edson has long been known for having a generous community spirit, with local residents and businesses always doing their best to lend a helping hand.
In recent years, that generosity and spirit has been growing even more as visiting companies like Trans Mountain (TM) and Midwest Pipelines look to make a difference while living and working in our community.
Blaine Friedel, TM Pipeline Inspector, decided to spearhead a 50/50 fundraiser for the Edson Food Bank (EFB) for the second year in a row, with the help of four other guys. Last year, TM and Midwest raised $30,000 for the organization, and this year Blaine decided to “raise the bar a little higher.” Blaine explained that he chose the EFB because of their reach to many different types of people in the community, including families and children.
Blaine decided to set a goal of selling 2,500 tickets on the pipeline, split into five sets of 500 tickets. At $20 per ticket, each set would bring in $10,000, so five winners would receive $5,000 each. “That way it would be easier to get $100 out of everybody, because everyone wants one from each set,” he explained.
The tickets sold out, bringing in a total of $50,000, with $25,000 going directly to the EFB. Blaine noted that the fundraiser had some guys purchasing over $1,600 in tickets. “There were some big spenders throughout it all, and it’s to a good cause anyways,” he said.
While a $25,000 donation would have been amazing enough, TM and Midwest were not finished. They decided to host two early morning food and toy drives, inviting Mr. and Mrs. Claus to be at the main entrance of the yard, where they accepted food, toys, and money from the 1200+ workers that were on board.
 The drive raised an additional $2,400 in cash donations, and the EFB also received $28,000 in cheques from contractors involved in the pipeline project, bringing the total to $55,400. Edson Mayor Kevin Zahara was invited out to draw the winning ticket numbers of each of the five draws, and Tim Hortons donated supplies like coffee and donuts to the early morning events.
Jacey Kemp-Cox, EFB President, spoke about the donation and what it means to the organization. “Oh, wow, it has been so incredible. The day after the draw, when we met up at the yard for the presentation of the 50/50, I was so moved by how huge it became again this year,” she said. “What started out as a small group of employees from Trans Mountain Inspection and Midwest Pipelines who had an idea, to do a 50/50 and it would be their way of giving back to the community; quickly snowballed and it's been amazing.”
“It’s funny, because you only have to meet Blaine once, to see the size of this guy's heart and when I heard from him earlier this Fall, he said he wanted to get a head-start on the planning this time, because he wanted to do another 50/50 draw with proceeds to the Edson Food Bank, but he said this time they wanted to go bigger,” Jacey said. “A $25,000 donation from the draw was such a large amount itself, but it more than doubled with the additional donations collected from the various contractors! We were so blown away.”
In addition to the cash, the EFB also received 447 lbs of food and “a trailer FULL” of toys from the two-day early morning food and toy drive.
When asked what the funds would be used for, Jacey replied, “FOOD!” She explained that last year alone, $130,000 was spent on groceries. “We pride ourselves on supplying a hamper that’s nutritious,” she said, and this donation will ensure fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat can be offered to their clients. “It also allows us to continue supporting other organizations in our community such as Reflections, the United Church Pantry, S.C.O.P.E., and the Shelter Pods.”
As well, the EFB passed on their toy donations to the Kinette Christmas Hampers, and they also assist with client registration for those who will receive hampers. “They will be putting their annual hampers together very soon, so this boost in the toys supply was very much welcomed,” Jacey said.
“I believe it is so important to connect with the other organizations in our community as it just makes sense,” she continued. “Many of our clients here at the food bank, also utilize the other services in town and it's important we help each other out, as much as we can, so that no one is going without. We are so fortunate to be able to do as much as we are, and it's because of the generosity shown like this!”
And the generosity continues along the pipelines, as Blaine also noted that Midwest Engineer Joey Joseph put on two recent skidoo raffles, with the first raffle benefiting Noah’s Law and the second benefiting the family of Cordell Maclellan, the victim of a shooting at a local business.
Blaine also spoke about the community of Edson. “The community’s been good with us, providing us places to rent, and just the services like the grocery stores and the gas stations and restaurants and that,” he said. “It’s been good. It’s a win-win for both sides.”
Jacey also wanted to pass on a holiday greeting to everyone from the EFB. “[We] would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and all the very best for the coming year. May your happiness be large and your worries be small.”

Edson’s 35th Annual Santa Parade

by Dawn Olsvik

Dec. 13, 2021 issue: The 2021 Santa Parade returned this year after a one year break due to covid restrictions. The theme was Superhero’s Christmas.
Kathy Arndt, Edson and District Chamber of Commerce Manager, said, “This year we had about 30 entries, a little smaller than some in the past, however people were very happy that the Chamber was able to go ahead with the parade. We have all been feeling the effects of a change in our lives due to this pandemic and it was really nice to have a little bit of normalcy back into our lives.”
The weather cooperated, and Edsonites of all ages lined the streets from start to finish. There were smiles and shouts of “Merry Christmas” from participants as the parade passed the many happy spectators.
Arndt added, “The businesses and participants worked very hard on their floats and organized all their helpers in order to take part. It is a lot of work and takes time to present a float, your animals, or atv for the community. Edson's Santa Parade is always unique in the fact that we have beautiful floats, different cultures, horses, dogs, atv's, the Edson Fire department trucks and regular vehicles decorated with lights and music. Our MP, Gerald Soroka also took part in the parade which started off with 2 RCMP vehicles leading the way. Bringing the parade to an end was Santa who was able to hitch a ride on the Town of Edson float.” 

Winners of the Parade categories:
-Most colorful, sponsored by WSP Canada - Peak K9 Wellness
-Most original, sponsored by Century 21 TWIN Realty -Town of Edson. .
-Best youth, sponsored by Thymes Two - Orcas Swim Club.
-Top Commercial, Sponsored by GFL Environmental - WSP Canada.
-Top Retail, Sponsored by Freedom Powersports -Midwest Glass.
-Best Non-Profit Community Organization, Sponsored by Jensen's Lifestyle Clothing - Edson Sno-Seekers. 

“Participating in the parade, along with the spectators who bundle up to watch, brings a sense of togetherness in a community.  It gives everyone a sense of pride and a great feeling of being part of a team,” concluded Arndt.

 Town plans 2022 budget – Cyber threats new reality

by Adrienne Tait
Dec 6, 2021 issue: The Edson Town Council held a special meeting on Thursday, November 25th to pass an interim budget in order to allow the Town to continue operating until finalizing the budget in the spring.
Bringing forward an interim budget before passing the official one (once assessments have been completed, provincial grants and budgets released) was standard practice for the Town until the last council.
With little time for the newest Council members to prepare, changes to senior administration (including the Town’s CAO), a desire to wait for the provincial grant announcements, and receipt of the assessment numbers, Council and administration believed it prudent to return to the interim budget system – at least for now.
The Municipal Government Act requires municipalities to have a budget in place by the end of the calendar year.
Included in the budget is a line item to increase cyber security.  While administration said it is not aware of any specific incidents, the I.T. department brought to the Town’s attention that attempts have been made to access the municipality’s systems.  Mayor Kevin Zahara said he is aware of other municipalities that experienced issues.  Council approved an increase Cyber Security and Civic Center Bandwidth at an estimated cost of $3,600 and third party 24-hour IT Support and Cyber Security at an estimated cost of $75,000.
Councillor Krystal Baier said she would like to see the Town move away from relying on municipal reserves.  As costs have increased so has the reliance of reserve funds. In order to move towards a sustainable budget and reduce the reliance on municipal reserves administration proposed a 7.74% tax increase at the budget workshop earlier this month.
Council approved the 2022 interim operating budget and 2022 capital and supported a 4.9% tax increase in order to maintain current levels of service. 
CAO Christine Beveridge acknowledged that this year’s budget was a challenge. “This wasn’t a budget where we had a lot of excess.  We looked for extra efficiencies,” said Beveridge who added she believes the additional time will be valuable and allow administration to, “bring back a better budget.”

 Shop local matters!
Local Journalism Matters!

Editorial Comment: Dana McArthur
Nov 29, 2021 issue: With the holiday season and a new year fast approaching, it's time to contemplate what shopping local means to a community. There are a whole lot of reasons why this makes good sense.
One of the biggest factors is that for every dollar spent locally, more than half goes back into the community to support local charities, programs, and the local economy.
The small business sector is also a major contributor to local employment and quality of life in the communities they serve. The donations small businesses make to local charities and non-profit groups are often the lifeblood of these organizations.
Newspapers also play a defining role, with local journalism that not only covers our municipal governments, but highlights the efforts, struggles, and successes of our local community groups.
The problem is that local shopping and the local advertising dollars are being continually sucked up by massive foreign corporations like Amazon, Facebook, and Google. Even our locally generated journalism is usurped without payment by these social 'media' giants to feed their bottom line.
The irony for newspapers is that we have more readers than ever —and more ways than ever to reach them. More than eight out of 10 Canadians read community newspapers every week, according to the latest research from News Media Canada.
So, before you shop online check out this new video on shopping local in Edson available now on Youtube: https://youtu.be/F4u6r_W-PKA
Please remember that Google, Amazon, or Facebook are not going to donate to your local non-profit group or add to local employment —nor will they be spending money to send a journalist to our local council chambers or write local stories that benefit the whole community.
Simply put, a community cannot prosper and grow without the support of local purchasing.
By making deliberate choices to shop local, and reading local, you are not only helping to support local jobs and the tax dollars those businesses and their employers generate —you are also helping to support local journalism.
Shop local does matters —and local journalism matters— now more than ever!

Concerns raised about crime in Edson

by Adrienne Tait
Nov 22, 2021 issue:  In recent weeks concerns surrounding crime in town have been expressed online and in Council Chambers. 
Mayor Kevin Zahara recently released a statement regarding the perceived spike in crime in the community.
With the exception of theft of motor vehicles; the data from January – September shows an overall decrease in crime, “Without question the last couple weeks we have seen a severe increase in thefts and break and enters. There are active investigations underway. Q4 data which reflect recent events won't be available until early in the new year,” said Zahara.
“Historically crime is cyclical, when certain repeat offenders are in jail, crime is down and when they are out, it goes up,” said Mayor Zahara, “Property crime is often driven by addictions and/or mental health issues and as such we continue to lobby the government for more addictions and mental health treatment supports in our region. We also continue to call on the Federal Government for tougher sentences for repeat offenders.”
There has been a noted increase in visibility regarding the homeless population in the community.  With the Out of the Cold shelter a recent topic of conversation at Town Council’s committee of the whole meeting some citizens have taken to social media platforms to specify concerns surrounding the Shelter Pods and at the Edson Recycling Centre.
From June 1st to November 16th  RCMP received 3429 calls for service.  There have been 12 calls for service to the Shelter Pods since its opening in June with the majority of those being for well-being checks or disturbances between the people using the pods. 
According to Edson RCMP S/Sgt Delisle three of those calls resulted in unwanted males being removed by the RCMP.  
Once a citizen reported hearing yelling at the pods, however, police were unable to confirm or find anyone in distress when they arrived.  
There were two calls for a well-being check in response to a female yelling.  Police responded and were able to confirm with the female that she was safe/unharmed on both occasions.
  One call resulted in a male being transported to hospital as he was discovered passed out.  
  Twice the RCMP responded to a call regarding a couple fighting at the pods and intervened both times.
  An altercation between two males resulted in a call to RCMP but police assistance was declined.
  One citizen, who was at the recycling centre, called RCMP as a homeless male attempted to get in the citizen’s vehicle.  The suspect was not located.
   Other calls to the nearby area in recent months have included one mid-afternoon call to put out a bon fire which was lit by two females by the road.  The Recycling Centre was broken into and the Take it or Leave It building was set on fire during this same time period.
  RCMP were advised people were sleeping in the flower beds, garbage was being left, and some Provincial building employees were scared to go to work due to the homeless people on the property.  The request was made for police to patrol the area each morning.
In addition to patrols in the vicinity of the Provincial building and Recycling centre, RCMP have increased patrols in residential neighborhoods in the last few weeks.
Detachment Commander S/Sgt Christian Delisle is scheduled to host Town Hall public information session at the Friendship Centre on November 24 to provide up to date stats, discuss strategies, and answer questions from the community.  If possible, the Town of Edson is hoping to stream the event live for those who are unable to attend in person, wish to avoid a crowd, or prefer to view the event from the comfort of their own home.