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 April 20 2015Current Issue

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News: April 13, 2015

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Community Services requests 15 new spin bikes

by Adrienne Tait
The Town of Edson Community Services department has put forward a request to purchase 15 new spin bikes.  If approved, the spin bikes would be placed at Talisman Place and classes would be moved there from HRH.
Currently the town program utilizes the HRH bikes and facility for the town program but those bikes are deteriorating with usage and are in need of replacement.
Alpine Fitness also offers spin classes but as both programs are consistently full with waiting lists management believes that by offering the program at different times and with both classes full the town program does not impede nor create direct competition with the local business.
Councillor Brian Boyce asked if the town run program inhibits Alpine from running additional classes and said, “Alpine started the spin classes and bootcamp and the town is feeding off of that…. If we buy 15 bikes it is competition.  If we didn’t have it Alpine could run more classes.”
As the town is currently paying $100 per session to HRH it was believed that the purchase of the bikes could be paid off within a year to a year and a half.
Mayor Pasychny spoke in favor of the purchase with the conditions that the $100 currently budgeted for HRH be redirected to pay off the capital purchase cost and maintenance costs for the new bikes, and that there be no changes to the fees being charged so as not to undercut local business.
Councillor Bevan said, “I like them up at Talisman Place.  People can come up to do a spin class while their kids swim or play hockey.”
Town of Edson community services director Jim Desautels informed council that the recreation department was able to make adjustments within their existing budget to be able to pay for the bikes.
The vote came in at three in favor and one against purchasing the new bikes.  The matter will now proceed to council for approval.


News: April 6, 2015

What we will be paying more for:

Previous budgets heavily reliant on oil revenues

The 2015 Alberta budget included a number of increases to taxes and fees as well as cuts to some departments.
Alberta Finance Minister Robin Campbell said, “People are tired of the rollercoaster.”  He noted that previous budgets had been heavily reliant on oil revenues and the spending would reflect those revenue projections.  “Then when times are bad we don’t have the money to pay for programming.  When times are good we need to put more money in savings.”
Service fees have increased across the board and will impact everything from the cost of renewing your driver’s licence to the cost of buying a house.  Real estate land title and mortgage registration fees prior to July 1, 2015 were $50 plus an additional $1 per $5,000 increment while the fees after July 1, 2015 will be $75 plus an additional $6 per $5,000 increment.  This represents over 400% increase in land title and mortgage registration fees.  For a home buyer who requires a $400,000 mortgage on a $500,000 fees will increase from $280 to $1,230.
Despite the increase Alberta’s real estate transfer costs remain the lowest in the country.
Budget 2015 introduced two new tax brackets for 2016. Taxable income over $100,000 will be taxed at 11.5% and taxable income over $250,000 will be taxed at 12% to be applied in increments over the next three years and fully implemented by 2018.
The prices at the pumps will go up as tax on gas and diesel will be raised by 4cents per litre, to a total of 13 cents per litre.
The budget also called for an increase in the tobacco tax, for the first time since 2009, which will raise the price of a carton of cigarettes by $5.  According to Alberta finance, “These changes align with Alberta's Strategy to Prevent and Reduce Tobacco Use.”
The cost of buying a bottle of liquor has also increased by 22 cents per litre with mid-sized brewers seeing an increase of 11 cents per litre.
Fines for traffic violations will increase.
Albertans will also see the return of health care levy effective July 1.  “We know health care in the largest expense in our budget….It is not a premium and is not structured like the former health care premium which was eliminated in 2008.  This new levy will be administrated through the personal income tax system and will not payable by employers.”  Albertans with an annual income of less than $50,000 will not be subject to the levy.  The health care levy is capped at $1,000 per year for people earning $130,800 or more.
Post-secondary institutions did not receive their previous level of funding and will take a $72 million hit.  According to Alberta Finance, “To ensure Alberta's post-secondary education system remains sustainable into the future, the system will be transitioned over the next 5 years into a model that reduces reliance on government funding. As a result, Campus Alberta base grant funding will be reduced by 1.4% in 2015-16 and 2.7% in 2016-17.”
Despite the reduction in post-secondary funding the budget includes a $3 million increase for public library services bringing the funding total to $36 million.
The provincial savings accounts will be accessed in order to help offset the projected deficit and the province plans to take advantage of the current low interest rates to fund some of the major projects.


News: March 30, 2015

Yellowhead County Fire Fighters Awarded Services Medals

Several Yellowhead County firefighters were each presented with a Meritorious Service Award at the Yellowhead County Council chambers on March 24, 2015. The awards were presented to honour their actions taken during a multi-vehicle pile-up and fatal crash that took place on December 4, 2014 in Yellowhead County.
The recipients of this award were the first emergency responder to arrive at the multi-vehicle incident that involved collisions on both the east and west bound lanes of Highway 16 at an area between Niton Junction and Chip Lake. Smoke covering the highway limited their visibility while they were on the scene of the incident, further putting their safety at risk.
Yellowhead County Mayor Gerald Soroka presented the Meritorious Service Awards and commemorative plaque to the following firefighters: Corinne Grant, Ed Strauss, Penny Lowe, Candice Canning, and Brenna Smyrski.
“Each time we send our crews out we want to think they’re safe in a safe area, but that’s not always the case,” said Mayor Gerald Soroka, “Thank you for your courage, strength, and dedication.”
The county also presented Alberta Emergency Services medals to Russell Smith and Nolan Jespersen.  The nomination was based on 12 years or more of service.


News: March 23, 2015

Province announces 30% weighting for diploma exams

by Adrienne Tait
Alberta Education Minister Gordon Dirks announced, in a release on Monday, that as of September 1, 2015 diploma exam weighting will shift from a 50/50 to a 70/30 weighting with the school-awarded grades worth 70 per cent.
“We want students to benefit from classroom assessments that reflect their abilities over a longer period of time, rather than relying so heavily on one assessment lasting only a few hours,” said Minister Dirks.
Press had been applied to the Alberta Education department by the Alberta School Boards Association and was in line with the Alberta Teacher’s Association (ATA) Evergreen local’s policy which has been in place since 1990.
The change in diploma exam weighting is designed to provide “a more accurate reflection of student performance” by placing greater emphasis on teacher assessments rather than the single exam mark.
The new weighting system for diploma exams for the grade 12 core courses of language arts, social studies, mathematics, and sciences will be applied as of November 2015.
Kelly Smith, local ATA president and teacher at Ecole Mountain View School in Hinton said, “We are extremely happy with Minister Dirks announcement of the weighting of the diploma exams.”
Kevin Zahara, press secretary for West Yellowhead MLA and Minister of Finance Robin Campbell confirmed that Campbell’s office had received messages from teachers from within the constituency in support of the change.


News: March 16, 2015

Youth-focused Arts Alive returns to Edson

The Arts Alive Festival returns to Edson and area April 25 to May 20.
Youth participants under 18 years old can register to participate in creative writing, photography, and visual art.
Adjudication times will be announced on the festival website and workshops, including a songwriter’s circle, will be offered.
Arts Alive Edson provides an opportunity for young artists to showcase their work, meet other artists, and receive professional feedback.
Everyone is invited to view the Arts Alive Edson entries. From April 28 to May 20, photography will be on display at Galloway Station Museum and visual art at Red Brick
Arts Centre.
A creative writing showcase will take place at the end of April with adjudicator Natasha Deen in attendance.
On Saturday, April 25 there will be a special concert by JUBILOSO and the Bells of Concordia University will ring in the second year of the festival.
It will take place in the Sacred Heart Church hall at 7 p.m. Tickets will soon be available at the Red Brick and Vanier Community Catholic School.
The festival registration deadline is Wednesday, March 25th. Online registration can be completed at www.artsaliveedson.com or forms can be picked up at Edson Public Library, Galloway Station Museum, and Red Brick Arts Centre.
If you would like more information check out www.artsaliveedson.com and the Arts Alive Edson Facebook page.


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