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 2017 Municipal Election Results: The results are in for the 2017 municipal elections

Edson Municipal Election

Unofficial results from the 2017 Edson Municipal Election for Edson Town Mayor: Kevin Zahara - 1160 (Mayor Elect). Edson Town Council elect are: Krystal Baier 1286; Trevor Bevan (Incumbent) 1010; Gean Chouinard (Incumbent) 1120; Jacqui Currie 996; Troy Sorensen 908; Janet Wilkinson (Incumbent) 1303.
-Defeated were Greg Pasychny (Mayor Incumbent) 735, and councillor candidates Johnny Walker 703, and Doug Woodhouse 885.

Yellowhead County Election

Unofficial results from the 2017 Yellowhead County Municipal Election for County Mayor: Gerald Soroka* Elected (1293).
Yellowhead County Councillors are: Div. 1: Sandra Cherniawsky* (179); Div. 2: Anthony Giezen* (169); Div. 3: Penny Lowe (163); Div. 4: David Russell* (171); Div. 5: Shawn Berry* (acclaimed); Div. 6: Wade P. Williams (238); Div. 7: Dawn Mitchell* (153); Div. 8: Lavone Olson (227).  *incumbent
-Defeated County Mayoral candidates were: Maxine Beasley (746), Dallas Haywood (137), Ruth Martin Williams (548). Defeated County councillor candidates were: Div. 1: Theresa Druar (90), George Zinyk (140). Div. 2: Kristina Ewen (23), Steve Otway (164), Deborah Verhaeghe (28). Div 3: Frederick Glober (58), Ronald Rauhut (112). Div. 4: Sarah DePee (24), Larry Richter (134). Div. 6: Mark Mitchell (142), Bev Shearer (77). Div 7: Marshall Hoke (105). Div 8: Faye Saunders, Jack Williams (156).

Living Waters School board

Unofficial results for the Edson ward of the Living Waters School board are: Gemma Christie -incumbent (253), Tammy Kennedy (205).  Defeated was Albert Bahri (70). There were two seats available in this ward.

GYPSD board

Unofficial results for the Edson ward of the GYPSD board are: Fiona Fowler (821), Joan Zaporosky (803). Defeated was Kristie Gomuwka (661). There were two seats available in this ward.


News: October 16, 2017

Cadomin and Wildwood to get improved cellular services

by Dana McArthur

Cellular coverage for Cadomin and Wildwood was under discussion during the October 10 meeting of Yellowhead County Council.
Council was considering a request for decision to approve a partnership between Yellowhead County and TELUS mobile solutions for cell service in Cadomin and Wildwood.
Yellowhead County administration was previously tasked by Council to develop a communication strategy to improve rural communications throughout the County. Administration began discussions with several internet service providers and cellular providers to bring better coverage to the County.
In 2014 the first Yellowhead County towers came to life with the design and construction of two rural communication towers. These towers were installed in Wildwood and Obed in early 2015.
In 2016 two more rural communication towers were built in Fulham and Cadomin. With these towers in place the ability to enhance safety and service for County residents began to move forward.
Currently, on all towers is the Yellowhead County communication system supporting all its communications needs, as well as partnerships with the Town of Edson, Town of Hinton, and Grande Yellowhead School Division. The provincial first responders radio system AFRRCS, is also located on one of the towers.
There is also a internet service provider located on one of the County towers, which has enhanced broadband service in the County. Administration states they have continued to lobby and have open discussions with providers to look at partnerships to again enhance coverage for residents. There is one tower currently in the design phase, with several other towers proposed.
Lobby efforts have seen a partnership proposal forwarded to Yellowhead County from TELUS to provide cell coverage in Cadomin and area, and to enhance coverage in the area between Wildwood and Niton.
"In meeting with TELUS they have proposed a cost sharing agreement with Yellowhead County that would see a 50/50 split of the capital cost to install cell service in Cadomin and enhance the service between Wildwood and Niton," stated County CAO Jack Ramme.
For the Wildwood cell service Yellowhead County's portion would be $461,000 in a 50/50 cost share towards the capital costs only. The Cadomin installation would cost the County $446,000 in the same 50/50 cost share. This includes the fiber connections to the tower sites. TELUS would fund all operational costs, would own all equipment, and be responsible for all service and repairs. The company would also pay a monthly rental fee for each tower site, as other providers do.
TELUS has offered a $78,000 discount to Yellowhead County if both sites are constructed together. This means the total cost to the County for both towers would be $829,000. The company gave assurance it is ready to start construction of both of the systems and will have service in place in 2017.
Councillor Anthony Giezen commented, "We have heard from residents time and time again of the need to have adequate cell service in the area. I think this is a good step forward."
Mayor Gerald Soroka said, "I know this was one of council's strategic priorities when we first started four years ago. It's amazing how long it takes to make these plans come to fruition."
Councillor David Russell opposed the plan. "This is a significant amount of money. I agree this is a target we have worked toward, but I do not think it's our place to partner with private industry on this level. Especially when we have competitors that could also ask for matching dollars. I cannot support this."
Ramme responded, "In Cadomin and Wildwood we have been told there isn't the market base for a cell provider to go in on their own. Without partnering the chances of getting cell coverage to these areas is very slim. We've were told, if there was a market in those areas they would have been there already."
 Councillor Jack Williams said, "In summer there are many, many people in the Cadomin area and cell service is a big issue anytime I attend a function there."
Councillor Sandra Cherniawsky commented, "I want to voice my support for this. This is something our residents want and need."
The motion to enter into a partnership with TELUS and pay the 50/50 capital split for cell equipment for the Cadomin and Wildwood towers was carried.

News: October 9, 2017

From caregiver to homeless, now living in a tent

by Deanna Mitchener 

  D. J. Garreau is living in a tent —he is homeless right now. 
"Rent for a two bedroom used to be $500 a month and now you are lucky if you can rent a two bedroom for $1,100 a month plus utilities. You need to make a lot of money to be able to afford that kind of rent," said Garreau.
  "Going back to Ralph Klein when he got rid of a lot of the group homes, people that weren't really accustom to budgeting all of a sudden had to go out and take care of themselves. That was a big strain on the system, a strain on the hospitals, and on the police services as you now had people getting into trouble with the law," said D.J.
  "I am very lucky that I don't smoke cigarettes or do drugs. A lot of people have multiple substance abuse. Not all homeless people are out doing drugs but they all seem to get stereotyped as doing drugs, don't want to work, and are just lazy and looking for a free hand-out," said Garreau.  "There are plenty of reasons for people to become homeless. I don't think anyone goes out in life thinking 'I want to be homeless'."
  "I'm not on welfare or getting any money other than from little jobs I can manage to pick up. I'm living in a tent because I don't have enough money to rent a place," said D.J.
  "I was working and living in Edmonton when my mom really needed me to come home to look after her. She had taken a fall and broke some bones. I came back to Edson to be a caregiver for her. My mom was in her 80's and became incontinent so I was caring for her and doing all the cooking and cleaning. I couldn't work any longer due to her failing health. After my mother passed away I had a hard time finding work and found myself homeless shortly after her passing," said Garreau.
  "I'm so thankful for Reflections. I can come have a shower and clean myself up. They let you do laundry here and they have three meals a week. Reflections is a big help to not only myself but others in the community who are facing the same issues," said D.J.
  "They have shelters for women, but no shelters for men. Men need a place to be able to go and heal too. I'm 60 years old and who wants to hire me? No one. So I just pick up odd jobs earning a few bucks to eat. I'm used to being very frugal," said Garreau.
  "Reflections is open 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. once they close I will walk to the library and read some books. The library is a nice smoke free atmosphere. When it closes at 8 p.m. I sometimes go visit someone or just head out to my tent," said D.J.
  It would be so nice if Reflections could stay open longer and was available seven days a week because some of us really count on them being open so we have a place to go," said Garreau. "I'm so grateful for the local Food Bank and Kate's Kitchen as well. It's places like these that help certain people make it through the month."

News: October 2, 2017

Edson facility study recommends consolidation

“If you are operating one building instead of ten your operating costs will be better.”
by Adrienne Tait
The development and operation of a multi-use facility was the number one recommendation to come out of the Edson and Yellowhead County Community Services Strategic Plan report.
The study, first discussed publicly at a county Committee of the Whole meeting in February 2016, was a joint effort between the two municipalities to examine existing community service programs and amenities.  The independent study conducted by WMC out of  Edmonton surveyed area residents, stakeholders, and user groups to determine facility and programming priorities.
Joyce Tustain, director with WMC, presented the final report to both town and county councils on September 26. A multi-use facility which would house everything from an indoor pool, curling rink, and fitness center to the library, multi-use rooms, and the Boys and Girls club in a central location was the first recommendation. 
Other recommendations included building a theatre attached to a high school in Edson, relocating the visual arts centre (currently in the library) to the Red Brick, relocating the pottery centre to a suitable industrial site, selling the Boys and Girls Club for development, selling the library and tennis courts, and the demolition or sale of the Recreation Complex.
In her presentation to county council Tustain said, “You asked for a strategic plan that was evidence based and rooted in best practices,” the plan included the findings from public consultation as well as the firm’s recommendations which “ran parallel to but not the same as” the feedback from stakeholders and citizens.
The information complied in the report was the resultof analysis of current facilities and programs, feedback obtained from stakeholder facilitated sessions, user group written responses, partner organization interviews, a public survey, and focus group session with staff, facility, and program management personnel, and comparisons which similar communities.
789 surveys were completed by area residents with 554 from Edson and 226 from Yellowhead County.  Nine were from outside the municipalities or were unidentified.  Approximately 358 seniors, 1070 children and 919 families were represented.
WMC used the communities of Grande Cache, Whitecourt, Athabasca, Drumheller, and the Yukon Arts Centre as comparable communities.
Tustain recommended the consolidation of assets and said with the current facilities run at or near capacity a new facility is warranted.  “If you are operating one building instead of ten your operating costs will be better,” said Tustain.
While the town and county scored well on summer programming the report identified a definite lack of winter programming and drop in availability.  Councillor Jack Williams asked if she was recommending building more than one pool, one rink etc. in order to accommodate the drop in programs.  Tustain said new facilities are often designed with drop in programs in mind so that user groups such as swim teams, for example, are able to practice concurrently with public swimming.
Yellowhead County mayor Gerald Soroka expressed some concerns with the possible recommendation of a staged build at the current Repsol site.  “It would be challenging to make it functional and aesthetically pleasing,” said Soroka, “That piecemealed together look seems good on paper until its out there.”
In addition to a multi-use facility Tustain told councils, “Clearly you need a new theatre.  We recommend one that is jointly funded and having it attached to a high school would ensure daily use.”  Tustain said building onto or renovating the Red Brick Arts Centre was not recommended as it is a historical building and therefor possibilities would be limited.
Town councillor Trevor Bevan said this is the third report that has indicated the need for a multi-use facility and it is time to move forward, “With regards to the theatre I would love to have it attached to a school so it would be well utilized.  Maybe Vanier?  We can move a ball diamond easier than other structures.”
Councillor Gean Chouinard said contrary to the report the library has received upgrades and asked if there was a cost comparison between current facilities and one that combined all together.  Tustain said she did not have a specific amount, “But there is no question there is a substantial savings.”
The report will come before both councils at their next regular council meetings for adoption.

News: September 25, 2017

16th Annual Run of Hope happening October 1

by Deanna Mitchener
The 16th Annual Run of Hope will be taking place on October 1 in Edson.
The location for meeting before the run will be at the Edson and District Boys and Girls Club, located at 5414 6th Avenue. Registration starts at noon and the run, walk, or cycle starts at 1 p.m.
 Fern Foreman and Charlene Parker started this journey after their older sister Vinia Taylor, who also lived in Edson, passed away from breast cancer in 2001. The sisters wanted to do something in her memory, and help out the breast cancer cause.
Charlene said, "We encountered a few other like-minded ladies and in 2001 we came up with the name and started the Run of Hope, and here we are 16 years later still going strong."
"Seven years ago we also added a Comedy Night which usually happens a week or two before the Run; The Boob Tour Comedy Night. It has been really amazing to see the support year after year and to see many of the same people coming out to both our events, and new ones as well," said Charlene.
 "Over the 16 years we have raised over $600,000 which has gone towards breast cancer research and education, along with a significant amount of money that has stayed local for the new hospital palliative care room. As well to local people going through cancer treatments that have extra expenses not covered anywhere, this is for any cancer, not just breast cancer," said Charlene.
The Run of Hope committee members are Cheri Ladouceur, Wanda Desautels, Trish Souter, Dawn Critchley, Donna Conger, Kristy Swartz, Keanna Parker, and Charlene Parker. Marie Meropoulis also helped the committee for a number of years but has recently moved away.
"Close to $50,000 since 2014 has gone towards helping people right here in our area. We have a Cancer Support group for anyone with any kind of cancer, not just breast cancer. The support group meets the third Thursday evening of the month at the hospital community room at 7 p.m. People can contact Wanda at 780-723-1729 for more information. We try to have guest speakers on topics of interest and everyone is welcome to share what they feel knowing what is said at the meeting is confidential," said Parker.
Come out and support the Run of Hope in their 16th year and help make a difference.

News: September 18, 2017

Voting: fundamental democracy

Dana McArthur

 The municipal elections will be taking place on October 16, 2017.
This is your time to make your voice heard on who you want as your elected mayor and council for Edson or your elected mayor and council for Yellowhead County.
Every citizen has the right to vote. But we often take that right for granted and low voter turnout is the result. Low turnout at the polls often leads to decisions that supersede the will of the majority and replaces it with the will of the minority —and that's a breakdown in how a representative democracy like Canada should work.
The ability to vote exists as our most cherished right, that many fought and died for throughout Canada's history. If the right to vote no longer existed, Canada would not be the glorious and free land we know today.
That right to vote was a difficult battle to achieve for many citizens of our country. In our age of equality it seems unbelievable that it wasn’t until 1916 that Canadian women 'received' the right to the vote. And it took until 1920 for Canadian women be 'granted' the right to stand for election.
So, take time to understand where each of the candidates stand on all the issues faced by local government, after all, good governance is much more than the issue-of-the-day.
Voting is easy. And armed with knowledge, each citizen has the opportunity to truly make a difference in building the kind of community everyone can be proud to call home.

News: September 11, 2017

Get your pledges ready for the Seniors Walkathon

by Deanna Mitchener
 Parkland Lodge is holding their annual Walkathon for seniors on September 23. The idea behind this Walkathon is to show support for seniors in the community. It is for everyone to get out and enjoy a nice leisurely stroll with someone you know. They do not have to be a senior, and you can walk, run, or even bike if you'd like.
Ann Steffes said, "Pledge forms are available by contacting myself at 780-723-4522, or stop by the temporary lodge located in the Old Hospital. If you are unable to pick up your pledge form, and would like, I could even drop one off for you. The Walkathon starts at 10 a.m. on September 23 at the Old Hospital also known as Parkland Lodge until further notice. Some of our seniors will walk around the hospital, others will go farther. All funds raised will go to benefit the Lodge residents with their quality of life."
The second point of the Walkathon is to help raise awareness for community members to stay in touch with seniors, and it would be meaningful to see more youth out taking part. There is a growing gap between seniors and youth.
Seniors are at risk of being socially isolated and disconnected from their communities and getting young people involved with local seniors and show them support by getting pledges for the Walkathon, would be a very welcome step.
This event is a great opportunity to show support for seniors and help raise some needed funds.

News: September 4, 2017

First Annual Air and Car Show brings crowd to airport

by Ana Manning
The Edson Airport hosted the First Annual Air and Car Show on Sunday, August 27 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event was sponsored by the Town of Edson.
Different models of light-aircraft were lined up next to each other for the public to admire and ask questions of the owners. Members of the Edson Flying Club were there participating as well. A “Show & Shine” car show was also out with gleaming vehicles right across from the air show.
 Members of the Edson Custom Cruisers Club took time to talk with the crowd and show their vehicles. Each vehicle was unique, with story to tell. A large bouncy castle was provided for the children and the good weather brought many out to attend the free event.
Edson Airport manager, Sam Shine, says, “We are putting this show on to get some public awareness and have them come in and use the facility. We are going to try to have it each year, and hopefully as word gets around, it will get bigger and bigger every year."
"Having the car show together with the planes will attract car enthusiasts which in turn are also fans, or are curious, about planes. It’s fun and a great way to promote the airport,” says Shine.

News: August 28, 2017

AHS explains ambulance service challenges to County Council

by Dana McArthur

Alberta Health Services representatives gave a public presentation to Yellowhead County Council during their regular council meeting on August 22.
Director of EMS Clinical Operations North Zone, Dan Huckabee along with Rob Barone the Associate Executive Director gave council an overview of ambulance services as it pertains to the Yellowhead County.
In the Northern Zone, AHS maintains 257 Primary Care and 115 Advanced Care Paramedics as well as 18 Emergency medical responders who are responsible for transporting ill or injured patients from scenes of emergency and/or between facilities.
"In the Northern Zone we have 80 ambulances doing emergency calls and interfacility transfers," said Huckabee. "Of those 80, about 50 are Advanced Life Support and 30 are Basic Life Support Ambulances."
In the north, AHS operates eight fixed wing air ambulances and one rotary out of Grande Prairie. "We do not operate any dedicated interfacility transfer trucks in the northern zone," said Huckabee.  Ambulances are used for interfacility transfers of patients (emergency or non-emergency transfers), as well as emergency calls.
With 61 thousand events per year, AHS has faced many challenges included a very large territory with sparse population.
"We are experiencing a lack of Advanced Life Support Paramedics as well as system capacity issues," said Barone.  "For the last six to eight years staffing has been a concern, particularly in the northern zone. We have seen a 35 to 40% reduction in paramedics in the north zone." 
"In an effort to keep ambulances on the road we have been filling those vehicles with Emergency Medical Technicians [Basic Life Support], "said Barone. AHS has made efforts with hiring and retention including making the two year training courses available through some northern colleges.
A increase in interfacility patient transfers has also been a challenge for AHS. Mayor Gerald Soroka asked about the reasoning behind ambulance staff having to remain with a patient even after they arrived at the destination hospital. "Until the hospital takes over care, the care of the patient remains the responsibility of the EMT. We have look at this at length, and there is no magic solution," said Barone.
A lack of long term care beds has caused patients waiting for long term care to occupy regular hospital beds. The lack of regular beds causes a back-up in patient admitting, and hence EMT staff must remain with their patients longer before they can be admitted. "It's a dominos effect, a situation of 'no room at the inn', said Barone.
Mayor Soroka said, "It's interesting there is a great deal of concern with patient care in a hospital when there are patients outside with potentially life threatening injuries, with no ambulance available, because it's waiting at a hospital."
Barone explained that EMS services are moved in from other areas when there is a void, based on the resources available and probability of an event. "It's a moving target with an aging population and increased demand for services," said Barone. "Could that be wrong, Murphy's Law says it will be sometimes."
County CAO Jack Ramme asked if an EMS technician could be stationed at a hospital to take charge of a number of patients, releasing ambulances back into service faster. Barone explained they are trying patient consolidation, but, as patients are scattered throughout a hospital for different services, that system has not been very successful.
Scheduled air patient transfers and advanced notice of ground transfers has had some success in lowering EMS wait times, explained Barone.
Both Mayor Soroka and COA Jack Ramme asked about who is ultimately responsible for initiating (or cancelling) a STAR air ambulance call. "On the human side, it's a combination of the dispatch manager and the supervisor. But it's driven by the FLEX tool [computer-aided dispatch software]," said Barone. Based on real-time probabilities the system can aid predictions based on past events.
Mayor Soroka asked who is responsible for deciding whether STARS or a ground crew takes the call. "In the event of grey lines a transport physician is brought into the call and ultimately they will make the decision," said Barone.
Mayor Soroka thanked the AHS members saying, "We have a better understanding now. It hasn't answered all our questions, but it appears to be system that is very complicated with a lot more involved. We were concerned with how this worked, and you have answered that to some degree."