Leaderboard

The Weekly Anchor

Off-highway vehicle use broadened in County

by Dana McArthur

Nov 28, 2022 issue: Off Highway Vehicle Bylaw 18-22 was discussed during the Nov. 22 Yellowhead County Council meeting.
The bylaw regulates the operation and use of off-highway vehicles on highways under the jurisdiction of Yellowhead County. The current bylaw only allowed OHV use on routes from a property to a trailhead.
After the draft bylaw was presented to Council at a previous GPC meeting, Administration was instructed to bring the bylaw back for debate and approval at a regular Council meeting.
"The current bylaw was passed in 2012 and was written based on current usage of the day and Traffic Safety Act within Alberta," said Albert Bahri, General Manager of Protective Services. "The current bylaw was forwarded to Reynolds Mirth Richards & Farmer LLP for their review. There were several changes recommended in this review."
Administration also reviewed the current bylaw in its entirety. Statistics were also reviewed to determine any major enforcement issues that were encountered with the current bylaw. No major issues were found.
"It was clear in the research that OHV use in hamlets and county roads is done in a very responsible manner. The one major issue in hamlets is that the current bylaw only allows travel from a residence to a trailhead. It doesn't allow for operation throughout the hamlet for extended periods or on a regular basis. This means that there are daily violations of the bylaw," said Bahri.
The changes in the new bylaw will allow operation of off-highway vehicles in hamlets and county roadways on a regular basis, but in a safe and controlled manor to include proper operation in county ditches. Not just to go from a property to a trailhead.
"The changes have been reviewed for their enforceability and do not pose any challenges to the Traffic Safety Act," said Bahri.
Mayor Wade Williams said, "I think this is a very good plan moving forward. I think we will get really good support from residents in the hamlets."
Councillor Shawn Berry asked, "Are we actually promoting the use of county ditches for off-highway vehicles? I thought we were promoting on road, licensed and insured."  Bahri responded, "We are recommending they drive on the road when possible. There may be times when they need to use the ditch, but they have to operates properly in the ditches and not ripping it up —we have regulated that."
Council passed all three readings of the bylaw, bringing it into effect.

Community Care Foundation fundraising for additional cataract suite equipment
 

by Dana McArthur
 
Nov. 21, 2022 issue: During Yellowhead County's Governance and Priorities meeting on November 15, the Community Care Foundation of Edson & District requested support for the Ophthalmology Program at the Edson hospital. The presentation was made by their president, Ruth Martin-Williams.
Martin-Williams advocated for the need of addition equipment for the cataract surgery suite at the Edson hospital.  This would enable patients to have their pre-operative assessment in Edson. Currently patients must travel to Sherwood Park, she stated.
"Everybody had to go to Edmonton for [cataract] surgery and it increased the wait time for many surgeries up to two, three years. With cataract surgery now in Edson we are able to do it in about two and a half weeks." Over 560 people have had surgery at the new clinic since 2021.
"What we don't have for cataract surgery or any other additional special surgeries at any of the hospitals in the province is equipment, and that's where Community Care Foundations come in," she stated. Unlike AHS, Community Care Foundations are able to issue tax receipts for donations.
"Rather than having to drive to Sherwood Park to have the assessment done," where wait times are up to 3 hours, "we want to have these assessments done in Edson," said Martin-Williams.
She stated that the surgeon is prepared to complete the pre-operative assessment in Edson, but requires the following equipment: an IOL master and a macular OCT machine, totalling approximately $150,000. Martin-Williams requested the financial support of the County.
The cataract surgery suite's catchment area extends to all of Yellowhead County, west to McBride in BC, and north past Grande Cache. Martin-Williams stated they will also be asking the other communities for donations.
Mayor Wade Williams thanked Martin-Williams for the presentation. Council passed a motion to request Administration to return the request to a future council meeting for deliberation.

Municipal government register as lobbyists?

Editorial/Comment by Dana McArthur
 
United Conservative Party members want all municipal politicians and staff to register as lobbyists if they have any dealings with provincial officials.
At the UCP's annual convention on October 20, party members voted in favour of a resolution to require municipal representatives to register as lobbyists if they're in touch with the provincial government.
This means Mayors, Town and County CAO's, and staff would be required to register as lobbyists. Then, before speaking to any elected official like an MLA or a provincial civil servant, they would need to indicate who will be doing the lobbying, what ministries they will be contacting, and what topics they will communicating about.
By definition, the current Act states municipal civil servants are not lobbyists. "A member of a council or other statutory body charged with the administration of the civic or municipal affairs of a municipality, or an individual on their staff" —are not lobbyists.
Now, UCP resolutions are not bills, and bills are not legislation —but each can be very short stepping stones to laws. And this new stone is particularly concerning for local government.
Edson Mayor Kevin Zahara said, "Such a move would create further divisions between levels of government at a time when we need to be working together."
"Elected officials should be able to talk to each other without layers of bureaucracy in the way. Lobbying legislation is in place for those who are trying to get contracts or funding/legislation changes for private interests. We are elected by people and represent our constituents, not private business interests," Mayor Zahara stated. "What is going to be next? Residents have to register to speak with their elected representatives?"
The UCP resolution seems to apply a ponderous red-tape solution, without a problem. "It [municipalities] should require to be held to the highest standards of accountability and transparency in all areas of their activities/operations and exercise of their judgment and authority…"
As a journalist, editor, and publisher I have been covering municipal council meetings for over 30 years. And in my experience, municipal councils (albeit not perfect) are extraordinarily better at accountability and transparency than their provincial counterparts —and far better at responding to journalist inquires.
 A peculiar example of this is an unprecedented email we received last week from Premier Danielle Smith's office asking about removing The Weekly Anchor as a listed "publication interested in media opportunities engaging with the Premier and Cabinet Ministers for your articles and stories". We can not fathom why a Premier's office would ask about closing down communications with any rural Alberta newspaper, particularly one with our substantial readership. Of course we asked to remain on the list!
"Municipalities are the creation of the province through legislation. To have legislation in place restricting access to municipal representatives makes zero sense and would only create a further narrative that the government is not interested in working with municipalities. Our communities are stronger when we work together," concluded Mayor Zahara.

The Evansburg Legion: Then and Now

by Shaylyn Thornton

Nov 7, 2022 issue: The Evansburg Legion Branch No. 196 has been an important part of our local communities since they were granted their charter in 1946.
Branch No. 196 had 12 founding members who started off meeting in a small room in the top of a red house, as they had no Legion building for the first three years. After the local community hall burned down, Branch No. 196 collaborated with Evansburg community groups to help rebuild the hall as “The Royal Canadian Legion Community Hall.”
While part of the rebuild was covered by insurance, much of the funds came from money raised by the Legion. The hall reopened to the public in 1949. Since that time, the hall has gone through several expansions, adding wings on each side and digging out the basement.
Legion membership has also grown considerably over the years. Currently, there are just under 200 members, although pre-COVID they saw numbers as high as 350.
Past President Floyd Fausak noted that about 75% of members are locals from the Evansburg, Entwistle, and Drayton Valley areas, however they still have long-time Legion members who keep up their membership despite having moved away.
Fausak said that he has been a member for about 15 years now, and a board member since 2013. "We're a pretty proud group, and our main goal is to be of service to veterans and veteran's families," he said.
Fausak became involved with the Legion through his father, who was a World War II veteran. He said that there were many soldiers from the Evansburg area, both male and female, who went off to fight in WWII.
Fausak estimated the number to be around 250 people who went off to fight for our freedoms during the second world war, based on photos and records he was able to find. Afterwards, many WWII veterans continued to make the Evansburg area home.
The Evansburg Legion also has a cenotaph, which is erected near The Royal Canadian Legion Community Hall. The cenotaph represents all veterans lost in any war or in peacetime.
One important aspect of any Legion is its dedication to the community. The Evansburg Legion has been a great example of this throughout the years, donating to and helping many organizations, both local and outside the community.
Hockey, dance, seniors' groups, and Camp He Ho Ha are just a few of the beneficiaries of the Evansburg Legion. Fausak noted that, in the “glory years with lots of volunteers” there were “10s of thousands of dollars given away every year.” While donating to that extent is not currently possible, Branch No. 196 continues to find ways to help when they can.
One way the Evansburg Legion has continued to give back is through their purchase and operation of the Evansburg Lodge. Out of 22 residents, 4 are veterans. The Evansburg Lodge is run by volunteer board members.
The community hall is also benefited by “dedicated volunteers” who “work very hard” on everything from events to facility maintenance. With “massive utility bills,” these volunteers make such a difference in the continued operation of the building.
You can also help support your local Legions by taking part in events, visiting their establishments, or buying a membership. The Evansburg Legion holds several events that you can support, including weekly meat draws, holiday-related events and, of course, their yearly Remembrance Day celebration.
Fausak noted that the Evansburg Legion's celebration is “traditionally one of the largest” in the local areas, often seeing approximately 250-300 people. During COVID, only a cenotaph ceremony could be had, but this year the group is able to do a full service, parade, and wreath-laying. After the ceremony, the Lounge will be open, and the band Flat Broke will also be providing some live entertainment later in the day.
Everyone is welcome to attend, no membership is required. You can find more information about this event and others on the Evansburg Legion's social media.
Fausak also encouraged the public to support your local Legion, wherever you're located. “We're all struggling right now,” he said. “The main thing is to get out and support your Legion. The very least we can do is be grateful for our freedom.”

Wild boars detected in Yellowhead County

by Dana McArthur
 
Oct 31, 2022 issue: During the Yellowhead County Council meeting on Oct. 25, Administration provided an update on wild boar in the county.
Wild Boars (Sus scrofa) are considered a pest when at large in Alberta. Raising wild boars or starting a wild boar farm in Yellowhead County is not allowed, as wild boars are prohibited animals under Yellowhead County's Animal Control Bylaw and Prohibited Animals Bylaw.
Wild boars can weigh over 150 kilograms (330 lbs) and stand about 1 meter (3.28 feet) at the shoulders. They are protected from cold weather by a thick woolly undercoat. These highly adaptive animals can travel more than 40 kilometres in a day. Their ability to survive in almost any climate makes them among the most prolific and invasive species in North America.
Wild boars usually live in the forest and emerge to devour crops, contaminate water sources, and harass livestock. They also carry diseases that can be transmitted to domestic pigs.
"In May 2022, Yellowhead County Council received an update on the Wild Boar Bounty program, and as per the recommendation by Administration, Council declined to continue participating in the program," stated Jennifer Benson, County's Agricultural Services Supervisor.
Since that time, Administration twice received reports of sightings of wild boar within the County from Agriculture Forestry Rural and Economic Development (AFRED).
"Information was not provided regarding whether these sightings have resulted in damage to property and/or livestock, the report was mainly to notify staff that wild boar are present," said Benson. "Additionally, we have not heard from landowners regarding wild boar impacting their property."
Staff will continue to remain in contact with provincial representatives to stay informed on the status of the wild boar population as well as any new initiatives or strategies that can be implemented to address the concern.
"We are not getting a lot of sightings and because we don't have a bounty program, we are not getting [boar] ears sent in. But it is of the opinion of Administration that a problem does exist," said Benson. "The two neighbouring municipalities to the north have a significant problem. It's just a matter of time before those boar encroach our borders."
Councillor Brigitte Lemieux said, "I read an article on eDNA testing to monitor wild boar populations. Could you expand on that?"   
Benson responded, "eDNA stands for Environmental DNA. What they do is test water bodies in the area for wild boar DNA. What it allows us to do, is know if its a single boar or a sounder [herd of wild boar] in the area."  Benson explained they do not have plans currently to bring the technology to the county, but Administration is talking with neighbouring municipalities regarding the costs and benefits to residents.
Councillor David Russell said, "Wild boar are a problem and they grow exponentially. Currently we are dealing with the viewpoint that they are a recreational opportunity for hunting. This is an erroneous viewpoint, because once the population grows to a certain point, there is no stopping it. They will grow completely out of control. The State of Texas estimates the impact on their agricultural industry at $1.4 billion per year. We have an opportunity to stop this 'infection' now and we need to continue working on it."
Councillor Shawn Berry was not in favour of eDNA testing at this time, "There are trappers out there who want to trap them for the ears, and people who want to use them recreationally for hunting. So it's a divisive topic at this time, and I am hoping for more clarity on what we want to do in the future. It's hard making a decision because we are not seeing them, we are not testing for them, and people are arguing on the side of keeping them wild —and others want to be farmers. It's still way too controversial at this time."
 Councillor Russell pointed out that these are not "pink little piggies" running around, "These are large nasty creatures. The first human fatality has been recorded in the United States. These animals will attack human beings without hesitation. The time to deal with this is now."
Council for Yellowhead County voted to accept the wild boar update as information.

Edson's 2023 Draft Operating Budget introduced

Oct 24, 2022 issue: Edson Town Council was introduced to the draft 2023 Operating Budget on October 15.
During the budget consultation earlier in the year, residents identified a desire for a service level increase for roads while maintaining service levels in most other departments. The $30.5 million draft budget responds to these priorities by increasing the budget for transportation through increased infrastructure funding and snow removal. The budget also includes funds for casual staff to assist with outdoor rinks, a sidewalk maintenance program, and a proposed backflow prevention program.
The draft budget also includes the completion of the final phase of the Covid Recovery Strategy ($295,000), which was implemented to reduce taxation impacts through the pandemic, including a tax reduction of 5% in 2020.
The Town of Edson faces numerous challenges with this budget due to increased inflationary pressures, rising gas and electricity prices, and a substantial mandatory increase in the policing contract. To lessen the taxation impact, additional funds from the Revenue Sharing Agreement with Yellowhead County have been allocated towards the operating budget. Efforts have also been made to reduce spending and increase revenues where possible.
The base budget accounts for 4.52% of the proposed increase, which is comprised of mandatory items such as policing, inflationary costs, compensation, and other obligations including 2.46% for COVID recovery. The additional 3.19% is made up of improved service level changes which were reviewed during the introductory budget meeting with Council.
Council requested further information to provide costing for the hiring of additional summer students to support the road program, dust control on the Willmore Park access road, and the reinstatement of the skating oval at Water Tower Park on an annual basis. The operational effects and costs for these items will be brought back to Council for further consideration.
When all of this is taken into consideration, the draft budget proposes an approximate taxation increase of 7.71%. Each percent represents approximately $120,000 in revenue.
The draft budget will be adjusted in the coming weeks before being brought back to Council for deliberation.
The Town of Edson is committed to providing a high level of service to meet the growing demands of our community, all while being fiscally responsible and ensuring long-term sustainability.

Yellowhead Ag Society renovation receives County support

by Dana McArthur
 
Oct 17, 2022 issue: Crystal McNernie, Interim General Manager of Community Services for Yellowhead County, updated council on the Yellowhead Agricultural Society's request for funding for repairs and abatement costs due to the discovery of mould in the riding facility.
Repairs are estimated to cost approximately $456,226.75. The society has confirmed financing for the project and is looking to start repairs immediately.
"At the September 27th council meeting the society shared they were no longer looking to pursue a new facility, but instead want to extend the life of their current facility," said McNernie.
The Yellowhead Agricultural Society operates and maintains a 16,000 sq ft community indoor riding facility that offers a variety of programs, workshops, and events to the public while also providing a home base to other local clubs and service groups within the area. To date, they have 346 members, 194 of which are Yellowhead County residents.
Over the past number of years, the society has been pursuing the construction of a new facility to better meet the needs of the community. Yellowhead County had committed $500,000 in the 2022 capital budget to assist with this endeavor.
However, with rising costs, a new facility is no longer feasible and the society is now pivoting its approach and looking to extend its current facility's life.
The request to Yellowhead County is for a $100,000 commitment toward the project, which, if approved, would go directly towards paying back the financing loan.
"In the 2022 budget we do have $500,000 allocated towards the society for a new facility. A portion of that money could be used to fund this request and the remainder could be redirected to general revenue," said McNernie.
Councillor Brigitte Lemieux said, "I think this facility is extremely important to the region." Lemieux added that she would support the request under two conditions: that the lender provide County with written confirmation that the society has secured the funding; and the society provides written confirmation that County funds will only be used to offset the original loan principal.
Councillor Dawn Mitchell said, " I agree with Councillor Lemieux that those two conditions should be part of the motion."
Mayor Wade Williams said, "I was very happy to see the Ag Society decide to try and repurpose the existing building rather than building something new at this time, because I am sure the costs would have more that doubled."  He added, "With the two conditions Councillor Lemieux added, I think I can support this motion and get them back up running. I think that would be good for the residents that use this facility."
With the two added stipulations, council approve the funding request from the Yellowhead Agricultural Society for $100,000 to complete their facility repair and mold abatement project; and that the remaining $400,000 originally allocated towards the Yellowhead Agricultural Society's new facility project be moved from capital to general revenue.

Memorial Wake and Reconciliation held in Edson

by Deanna Mitchener

Oct 10, 2022 issue: During the course of three days, starting on September 29, the Edson Friendship Centre welcomed the community to take part in a Memorial Wake and Reconciliation at the Lions Park in Edson, as part of  Canada's National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
A ceremonial fire that burned for 24 hours was a special part of the event, and drummers from the Hinton area performed during the start of the fire. Near to the fire was a tipi (tepee), which are structures that retain culture significance and are constructed for special functions. A couple of canopies were also set up for Indigenous Elders.
The fire-keepers build, maintain, and keep watch over the fire for 24 hours so it’s never unattended. Fire is the element that requires the utmost care and attention, since it can bring new life and take life away.
Fire can devastate land during times of drought but can also provide a natural cleansing of Mother Earth, Elder Jackie Whitford explained.
When asked the reason behind the ceremonial fire, Renay Woelfing said, “It is a memorial wake for all the children that are beginning to be found. For the ones that have been found, the ones that are still lost, our present children, and future generations.”
“The fire is also open to the community for their own prayers. Once the fire is opened, all prayers are open to our creator. Anyone can come to the fire, we will have tobacco pouches, which are tobacco offerings that can be used,” Woelfing explained. “So they can pray for their loved ones, as well as for anyone who may be sick or struggling, and even for their ancestors that have gone on.”
    Chad Dickson supplied all of the wood, providing enough for the 24-hour ceremonial fire as well as for a fish demonstration and for the making of Bannock.
   September 30th began with a free community breakfast, where everyone was welcome to attend and enjoy. This was followed by a ceremonial smudging, prayer, and then the lighting of the fire. Out of respect, those in attendance refrained from photography.
Everyone that attended was offered the opportunity to take part in the ceremonial smudging, and the drums for the ceremony also were smudged. ‘Smudging’ involves the burning of sacred herbs used for ceremonies and rituals involving smoke.
Elder Jackie Whitford explained, “The smudging we did today was the opening of calling all our ancestors and little ones down to join us. The songs that were sung are a cleansing. It’s a prayer for all the little ones to join us.”
Many individuals from all walks of life attended and took part in this special ceremony, which is significant. “Everyone is invited, it doesn’t matter who,” said Whitford.
The drummers, Bowdrie and Grayson Roan, sang while playing the drum. Drums are considered sacred amongst Indigenous people and represent the heartbeat of people, animals, and Mother Earth.
While it was hoped that a blanket exercise would be a part of the event, it was cancelled as not enough people signed up. The blanket exercise will likely be offered again soon.
Before heading into the Lions Park Hall for lunch, individuals took part in a round dance. Regardless of background, the Round Dance is a time when all members of the community can come together with family and friends to join hands. Round Dance is a community gathering of all people.
In Indigenous cultures, Elders are always given great respect as they are looked upon as leaders, teachers, role models, mentors, and healers. The Elders lead the way into the lunch.
The huge luncheon was offered to the community free of charge. There was plenty of good food to enjoy over the course of the ceremonial event. Between lunch, supper, and a breakfast before closing remarks, everyone was sure to leave satisfied.
Elder Jackie Whitford explained the importance of the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. “It is a learning for everyone about our culture. They need to know that we feel this still today. It is still going on and continuing,” she said.
“So if we don’t start helping people to understand us and where we come from, the racism will continue. It’s from all cultures, not just one culture. If we don’t stop and take the time to learn about each other, we are never going to understand each other,” Whitford explained. “It’s not about the 'poor me, poor me' anymore, that’s all gone.”
"It’s time we share our culture, not just ours, but everyone’s culture. It is so important to learn and understand each other,” Whitford continued. “I’ve learned so much from other cultures, it’s amazing. We need to teach our children… Be proud of who you are and not ashamed.” Whitford stressed the importance of education and learning about not only your own culture, but the culture of those around you.
The three-day event was filled by many stories being shared, prayers, crafts, food, and new friendships being formed through teachings, listening, and the encouragement of opening your heart and mind to another’s culture.

County adds library renovation project funding request to 2030 budget deliberations

by Dana McArthur

Oct 3, 2022 issue: During the Yellowhead County Council meeting on Sept 27, council discussed the Edson & District Public Library's request for financial support to complete both an extension and renovation to their current library facility.
The library board requested $538,000 in financial assistance from the county for the project. Total project budget is estimated at $2,875,243*.
At the September 20, 2022 Governance and Priorities Committee meeting, members of the Edson & District Public Library (EDPL) presented to Council their plans to undertake both an expansion of their current library facility as well as interior renovations.
In a briefing to Council, GM Crystal McNernie with Yellowhead County stated that the proposed project would achieve: a welcoming, engaging design; increased capacity and functionality; accessible and inclusive spaces; address safety and code compliance issues; and dedicated children and teen spaces.
Timelines indicate that the project will be tendered in quarter one of 2023, with construction beginning soon after. The library board anticipate a total project length of 12-18 months, with the facility being finished in its entirety by 2024.
To date, funding has been pursued through the library's own fundraising and reserves, provincial and federal grants, as well as through requests to both the Town of Edson and Yellowhead County Councils.
Council voted to direct Administration to include the $538,000 request from the Edson & District Public Library for 2023 budget consideration.

YCE Multi-Plex Centre Project Update

by Dana McArthur
 
Sept. 26, 2022 issue: The YCE Multi-Plex Centre steering committee asked DIALOG Design to do a condition assessment report of the YCE Multi-Plex Centre Project which has now been completed.
The draft report of the condition assessment and conceptual design of the Multi-Plex has been received and a presentation to both Administration and the YCE Steering Committee highlighting the findings of the assessment took place on September 13, 2022.
Yelllowhead County council had the opportunity to discuss the report during their Governance and Priorities meeting on Sept. 20.
GM Crystal McNernie stated, "What we found during the final report is that overall the structures of these three buildings are sound (Centennial Arena, Memorial Arena, and the Aquatics Centre) and can continue to support utilization over the next 50 years."
"This is great news as we were all sort of holding our breath waiting for this report to come in; great news for the potential of that facility and options we can now pursue moving forward," added McNernie.
Key findings from the report include that overall, the structures of all three program areas (Centennial Arena, Memorial Arena, and the Aquatics Centre) are sound and can support continued utilization over the next 50 years.
Recommendations for the future use of these program areas were focused on whether the space could be re-used in its current form, re-purposed to accommodate another use, or should be replaced entirely.
The next steps for the project will focus on developing strategies in which the combination of new with renovated or repurposed buildings can deliver all the desired program areas as outlined in the statement of requirements, as set out by the planning committee. This would include the development of concepts for consideration by the Steering Committee, with a final concept being utilized to amend the grant application for funding.
Councillor Shawn Berry pointed out that due to the overall condition of the aquatic center, as laid out in the report, if it was better to replace the pool facility. The report indicates that, while the swimming pool facility is still safe for current use, it has many deficiencies which must be rectified to extend its useful life and a complete new build of a swimming pool facility is likely a more logical option to consider.
McNernie responded, "The aquatic center is recommended for complete replacement. The structure itself is sound. What we will be looking at is what use could that space have? Could it become a fitness center or a dry space? The aquatic center as you know it will not exist in the new facility. We will be looking at a complete replacement."
"Building a new aquatic center while keeping the old one functional and then repurposing the space is very positive —22,000 people a year use that facility," stated Berry.
Council accepted the YCE Multi-Plex Centre Project condition assessment and conceptual design draft report for information.
Yellowhead County and Town of Edson Administration will continue working with the architectural team to refine concepts to include all the desired components of the original plan: two ice arenas, a leisure and competition pool, a curling rink, a walking track and an exercise area. The goal is to have a final concept forwarded to both Councils for consideration before the end of 2022.   -with files

Jasper welcomes back visitors with end of fire threat

by Dana McArthur
 
Sept 19, 2022 issue: Jasper Mayor Richard Ireland stated, "We are able and eager to safely welcome visitors back to the community."
Line transmission power has been restored for Jasper and the Chetamon Mountain wildfire poses no risk to the town site or surrounding communities.  The town was switched to generators due to transmission lines being taken out by the wildfire. Residents were asked to conserve electricity amid intermittent outages.
The wildfire, which ignited September 1, was estimated to be around 6,000 hectares on Sept 14. About 100 firefighters and five helicopters were working on the fire. 
Despite dry conditions over the weekend, Parks Canada deputy incident commander of the Chetamon Mountain wildfire, Landon Shepherd stated they were able to keep the fire growth limited on both the critical north and south ends of the fire.
Reservations for Whistlers Campground through the Parks Canada system was to resume on September 20, with bookings available until October 10. Parks Canada will be keeping all other front country campgrounds closed for the season.
The back country reservation system will be reopening and all hiking trails not within the zone where the wildfire is still burning are open and have not been damaged.
During the Yellowhead County Council meeting on September 13, General Manager of Protective Services Albert Bahri said, "When the fire ignited we were able to watch that on our Aspen Heights camera. So we watched it develop from Friday straight through the weekend. That enabled us to do our planning to move equipment into place very quickly."
County worked with the Agriculture and Forestry department and Jasper Park on what the fire was doing, how it was moving and any points of concern, said Bahri. County deployed structure protection equipment including tanks in the Brule area for sprinkler protection.
"There is 15 kms of distance from the fire to Yellowhead County; the fire is very subdued. It did pose a hazard to surrounding communities. It was moving very quickly and was out of control. That threat is gone now," said Bahri.
Councillor Ken Groat, Division 8, Hinton Area/Cadomin/Robb stated, "On behalf of the community I want to thank you and Protective Services for bringing those tanks. People are thankful for what the County did."
Mayor Wade Williams also thanked Bahri for Protective Services' proactive approach and a job well done.

Residents bring flooding concerns to Edson council

by Niki Luymes 
 
Sept 12, 2022 issue: During the September 6 Town council meeting, members of the community came to present concerns about reoccurring flooding of their properties.
 Multiple residents of the Tiffin area of Edson came to speak about issues with the town sewer system that they believe are causing basements to flood during substantial amount of rainfall.
It happened in July 2019 and again on June 28, 2022. The group was represented by Melissa Weeteringen and Liane Richardson, who spoke on their behalf. 
Weeteringen began by giving a summary of her own experiences with flooding.  Both times the water came up from the floor drain.  The damage caused was upwards of $100,000 in 2019 and $90,000 in 2022.  Despite the presence of backflow valves they stated the water pressure coming up from the drains is significant.  New electronic backflow valves would cost around $18,000.
“Our main concern,” said Weeteringen, “is we just want to know where, why, and how water is getting into the sewer system.” Richardson added, “And why it cannot handle what’s coming in, in our area”.  They then asked if the town would be willing to help out with the cost of new electronic backflow valves, as other municipalities have done in the past.
“This isn’t a new problem in our community,” said Councillor Greg Pasychny.  “This it the third event. The first one, which was the worst one, was in the early 2000s.”  He continued to say that steps have been taken by previous councils to mitigate the issue. This includes legislation that prevents new builds from having weeping tile that ties into the sewer system, which causes the overflow. Older neighbourhoods like Tiffin are still connected in the old way and so have those issues.
Weeteringen responded that they know that town is aware. “We’re just wondering if there’s anything that can be done to help prevent it from happening again. [And] if the town is willing to work with us to come up with a solution on what we can do on our end and what the town can do on their end to make the problem go away.”
Mayor Zahara concluded, “We appreciate you taking the time here today. We will refer this to Administration and hopefully follow up with you in due course. And this will certainly be a discussion as we talk about our upcoming budget.” 

Edson BEST: Family Dance Party

by Niki Luymes
 
Sept 5, 2022 issue: As we reach the end of summer, quite a few activities and weekly events are coming to a close. 
Among those events are the free family activities provided by the Edson BEST (Bringing Empowered Students Together). 
The program is 1 of 38 provincial Mental Health Capacity Building In School Initiatives which help to build resiliency in all children, youth and families for successful and healthy futures.
Throughout the summer months BEST has been providing drop-in events of all kinds for people in Edson and Yellowhead County area.
Among the events that happened this summer was a Yoga and Journaling mindfulness event August 23, an Art Club and multiple Pop-up in the Park events across Yellowhead County. The final event of the summer was a free Family Dance Party at the gazebo next to Parkland High School on August 25 from 5 to 6pm.
Like most of their events, the Family Dance Party was done in partnership with a local group.  Professional dance teacher Amy Wesolowsky with the Edson Dance Academy was teaching kids and parents how to bust a move. Although there were small numbers at the dance party, there were big smiles as kids danced along. There were also snacks and cool drinks to enjoy during the breaks. 
While the summer winds down, Edson BEST isn't done with their programming. “We put on programming throughout the summer and throughout the year to provide mental health programming, usually free,” said Edson BEST coach Katerina Giovos. “We're sorry to see the summer coming to a close, but excited for kids to enter back into their school routine.”

Wildwood Ag Fair Fun Returns

by Niki Luymes

August 29, 2022 issue: The Wildwood Agricultural Grounds was bustling with activity as crowds gathered for the Annual Wildwood Agricultural Fair on August 19. 
The fair started 8 am with a pancake breakfast and continued with the parade at 11 am. This was followed by various fun activities going until 4 pm.
The day closed with a supper at the Wildwood Legion at 6 pm.  The Wildwood Ag Fair features both judging competitions and fun activities for all ages.
Various livestock, plants, and handicrafts were there for the competition. Since this was the first fair in two years due to the COVID restrictions, the number of competitors was lower than previous years.
Despite that, there were many events going on throughout the day including horse, beef, sheep, goat, poultry, and rabbit shows. The handicrafts and produce bench show featured a wide variety of items. 
The full schedule of events started at 1 pm with the jelly and watermelon eating contests and basketball games.  After that, the fun continued with a greased pig chase and a catch the rooster chase.  The last of the scheduled activities was the nail pounding and log sawing competition at 3 pm. 
To go with the scheduled events were plenty of drop-in games and activities. From the money pit dig to face painting, rock climbing, axe throwing, and balloon animals there was no shortage of fun things to do.  There was also options for snacks and lunch, plus live music from Singing Sawyer and Friends. 
This is the 81st year for the annual fair, not counting the two year break.  Wildwood Agricultural Society President and Fair Coordinator, Wilma Swinkels said, "It’s good to be back —but it was nice to have the break."  The Wildwood Fair will return again in 2023. “So long as I have the volunteers we will keep going,” said Swinkels.

Ice cream fun traveling across Yellowhead County

by Niki Luymes
 
August 22, 2022 issue: Ice cream fun is traveling across Yellowhead County.
For each week in August and into September, Yellowhead County is sending out free games and ice cream to different parks and playgrounds across the county.
People of all ages are welcome to come out to enjoy the treats, while also interacting with the community.
On August 15, the event landed in Peers at the Family Fun Playground. For an hour from 3 pm till 4 pm, members of the community were able to enjoy getting out and have some fun.
“The goal of events like this,” said Recreation Program Coordinator with Yellowhead County Nicole Parven, “is to get people using the county playgrounds and parks and help residents get to know one another, socialize, and maybe make some new connections.”
The Peers event saw a good turnout with upwards of 30 to 40 people making their way to the ice cream cooler on site.
To go with the cool treats, there were also multiple lawn games available. Croquet and lawn golf proved especially popular.
The events are put together by the Yellowhead County Parks and Rec Department. The first of these ice cream socials took place on August 12 in Brule from 1 to 2 pm and had a turnout of close to 50 people.
Future locations include Robb on August 23 from 1-2 pm, Evansburg in September on the 1 from 1-2 pm, Wildwood on September 1 from 3-4 pm, and finally Marlboro on September 2 from 1-2 pm.
All Ice Cream Socials are weather dependant, so keep and eye on the skies and the schedule to make it to the next one happening near you.

Edson's school zones to share same speed/time limits as playgrounds

August 15, 2022 issue: Changes are underway to school and playground zones in the Town of Edson.
A thorough review of all traffic zones identified many inconsistencies and showed that most school zones contained playgrounds and gathering spots that were used outside of normal school hours. As such, Council made the decision that all school zones will become playground zones in the Town of Edson.
In January of this year, Town Council also passed Bylaw 2273, which set the new active times for playground zones in Edson. Playground zones are now in effect from 7:30 am to 9:00 pm, 7 days a week, year-round.
New signage is being posted over the next few weeks starting with Phase 1 of three phases totalling 13 zones. Target completion date of the three phases is set for mid-late fall.
These changes will update all former school zones to the new playground zones as part of the harmonization project.
While signage is being erected, the focus will be on education on the new hours and new zones, as opposed to enforcement. The goal is to allow everyone time to adjust to the changes with enforcement going into effect as the new school year commences.
Background
At their January 11th meeting, Council gave all three readings to Bylaw 2273, amending the Edson Traffic Bylaw. The amendment harmonizes all school and playground zones to playground zones only.
The CAO has been authorized to designate these zones and a review was conducted to ensure the zones fit the current pedestrian traffic patterns.
These adjustments come after a thorough review of all school and playground zones in 2020/2021. During the review it became evident that many zones were inconsistent and many school zones contained playgrounds that were used more than just during school hours.
It’s hoped these changes will provide greater clarity and consistency to drivers and increase safety in potential hazard areas when school is not in session. This could include organized events and general use of playgrounds and sports fields after school hours. Safety is paramount, especially in the winter when the sun sets well before 5:00 pm.
For more information on these changes, and maps of the zones being updated, visit www.edson.ca/zones.

Peers Gold Dust Daze returns

by Niki Luymes
 
August 8, 2022 issue: Summer 2022 has seen the return of many annual events. This past weekend was the return of the ever popular Peers Gold Dust Daze. From July 30 to August 1 people flocked to the McLeod Valley Recreation Grounds to enjoy food, activities, and entertaining events. 
The weekend was full of things for the whole family, and despite shifting weather, was consistently busy.  While entrance to the grounds is always free, some activities required tickets. The official opening ceremonies were at noon on the 30th. Both Yellowhead County Mayor Wade Williams and local MLA Martin Long were there to show their support for the event.
The weekend had no shortage of activities.  What started with a parade through Peers downtown on Saturday at 10am, did not slow down until the last of the slopitch games on Monday.  There was something for all ages to enjoy.  For the kids there were bouncy castles, gold panning, arts and crafts, kids tube races, and a free Sunday night family dance.  There was also weekend-long camping available for any who wanted.
Each day of the event started with a pancake breakfast. There were also lots of food trucks on hand offering both amazing meals and great snacks for spectators. Some of the featured competitions were a show and shine, horseshoe toss, mounted shooting, horse pull, tubing races, and ranch events. Gold Dust Daze also runs a weekend-long slopitch tournament that coincides with all the other events. Saturday night ended with an 18-and-up dance with a live concert by local country artist Tyler Babiuk. 
This year was an amazing return to form for the annual event. Not including the pause during COVID, the event has now been running for 44 years.  Watch out for next year's event on the August long weekend. 

County hosts Bear Chase Triathlon

by Niki Luymes
 
August 1, 2022 issue: July 21 saw the return of the Bear Chase Triathlon held at Bear Lake Park and Campground.
The Bear Chase Triathlon is a kids and family event that has been running for close to five years with a pause in 2020.
This year's event had 104 racers in four different age categories.  The youngest group was the under-fives then the 6-7s, 8-9, and finally the 10-11s.
All racers began with a short dash through the lake, continued with one or two bike laps around the campground, depending on  age, and then either a half or full lap run to the finish.  An 12-13 age category had been offered in previous years, but was removed due to lack of entries.
This year was unique as it was the first time that a prize was offered for the top ranked racers. Stone RV in Whitecourt donated both the main prize and multiple items for draws. 
There was also a free barbecue run by Integra Tire/Advantage Towing.  They served up hamburgers for racers and their families from 4:00 till 7:30 pm.  The event began at 5:30 pm with the first race and the last one finishing about 7 pm.
Fun activities were also available into the evening.
The Bear Chase Triathlon was planned and staged by Yellowhead County. “We wanted to feature Bear Lake as a great place to explore in the county,” said Nicole Tarves, Recreation Program Coordinator with Yellowhead County.  “We really wanted to encourage families being fit together. It's not about necessarily winning, but just completing it, trying it, and everyone working together and enjoying themselves.”

Summer Festival Returns to Edson

by Niki Luymes
 
July 25, 2022 issue: Great weather and fun rides made for an amazing time at this year's Edson Chamber of Commerce Summer Festival from July 13th to 15th. 
Main street Edson was filled with rides, games of chance, local food trucks, and local businesses offering great deals to all who came by.  Each day the festivities would begin at noon, and go into the evening.  Wednesday and Thursday ended around 9pm, with the whole event coming to a close at 5pm on Friday. 
“The Chamber's last summer festival was 2019, before COVID,” said Chamber Manager Kathy Arndt.  “Our numbers this year were considerably up from 2019, which is absolutely awesome.” 
This year was the first time that tickets and wrist bands were available for preorder online.  There were over 50 rides, courtesy of West Coast Amusements. 
Popular amongst festival goers was the new Speed ride that towered over the town.  Other classic rides available included the Ferris Wheel, Carousel, and Bumper Cars.  Overall, there was a great mix of rides for dare devils and casual riders alike. 
A big hit this year was all the local food trucks. From Mexican to ice cream to the always popular elephant ears, there was more than enough for attendees to choose from.
Shopping the main street sales was also a big draw this year.  “People were just happy to get out, get on Main Street, get some good sales, have some rides and eat some carnival food,” said Arndt.  

Recreation Multi-Use Facility Update

July 18, 2022 issue: Work continues by the Town of Edson and Yellowhead County towards the construction of a Multi-Use Facility for the region.
Unfortunately, due to inflationary pressures in the construction industry, the Request for Proposals for the Hillendale site came back substantially over budget. The project team was tasked with looking at alternatives which can achieve similar results, but within the approved $70 million budget.
In June, six high-quality proposals were received from consultants to evaluate the possibility of revamping the existing Edson and District Leisure Centre to see how it could be upgraded and worked into the community needs and program requirements. It would also need to fit into the scope previously approved for federal funding.
The successful consultant will conduct a condition assessment for major building components and complete a conceptual design and cost estimate. The updated plan is expected to be complete by December 2022 and will be submitted to the funding agency for approval at that time.
Both municipal Councils, as well as the Project Steering Committee, are continuing to meet and remain committed to ensuring a facility is developed for the community that meets the region’s needs now and into the future.
Edson Mayor Kevin Zahara stated, "The numbers we received for the Hillendale site were very disappointing and unachievable.   We know from the work that has been done that there are some benefits of the existing site including it’s central location which is preferable to many town residents.  There are also challenges but we hope with some fresh eyes and outside the box thinking we will be able to achieve a similar outcome utilizing some of the existing structure and reducing our costs.  The work that is going to be done over the next few months will give us insight on what we can achieve at this site including getting an independent assessment of the major building components.  We are fully committed on getting this project done as it a priority in both municipalities strategic plans."

Edson and area celebrates Canada Day

July 11, 2022 issue: Crowds of people gathered in Edson on July 1 to celebrate Canada's 155th birthday. 
The celebration began at 9am with a free pancake breakfast at the Edson Legion. It then continued at 2 pm at the Edson Leisure Centre with opening ceremonies.  Live performances began shortly after and went until 11:00pm.  At the end of the evening everyone moved to RCMP Centennial Park where it all ended with the annual fireworks display at 11:15pm.  
There was no shortage of activities for both young and old attendees. The two Leisure Centre hockey arenas were bustling with people. One was set up with bouncy castles and kids activities, while the other housed the performance stage and local artisan market.  The parking lot was also full of local food trucks for all to enjoy.  The free caricature artist and henna tattoos proved to be especially popular.  Roving performers, and creative activities provided by the Edson Recycling Centre added to the fun.
The opening ceremonies began with O Canada sung by young Jayd Brown followed by a traditional blessing from Melvin John of the Kehewin Cree Nation.  Yellowhead County Mayor Wade Williams, MLA Martin Long, and Edson Mayor Kevin Zahara also gave speeches to kick off the event.  “We are so privileged to live here in Canada, with all of our freedoms and our society where we are so welcoming and caring for the world,” said Mayor Zahara during his opening speech.
Many talented performers hit the stage over the course of the day.  Audiences enjoyed the variety of performances, including circus comedian the Great Balanzo, and the Kehewin Native Dance Theatre.  The highlight of the day was the evening concert featuring award winning country artist Drew Gregory. 
Like other years, the event was originally planned to take place in the RCMP Centennial Park. However, the choice was made to move to the Leisure Centre to avoid potential rain. 

Mayor’s Inaugural Charity Golf Tournament

by Niki Luymes
 
  June 4, 2022 issue: Golfers gathered at the Edson Golf Club for the first ever Mayoral Charity Golf Tournament on June 24. Despite cloudy weather, the occasional rainfall, and being the first of its kind, the event was extremely successful. 
Participants not only had the chance to golf for a good cause, but also could enter various raffles and bid in a silent auction.  Items in the auction were all donated by local businesses. Golfers also enjoyed a free breakfast, and various refreshment stands set up across the course.  Most golfers arrived around 8:30 am with tee-off happening around 9 am.  The tournament was won by team GFL.
There were 116 golfers participating, and together they raised $23,000 in support of The Edson Seniors Transportation Society (ESTS).  TC Energy also made a $5,000 donation to the cause bringing the total raised to $28,000.  The event was a part of ESTS's fundraising push as they prepare to upgrade their busses in the near future. 
There were multiple golf activities available beyond just doing the course, including a putting contest, a speed hole, and a hole in two contest. The tournament was well attended. Not only were members of the Edson Town Council present, but also members of the Yellowhead County, Whitecourt, Rocky Mountain House, and Sylvan Lake councils as well. 
Along with raising funds for ESTS, the event gathered donations for the Edson Food Bank. In total nearly 106 pounds of food was gathered.  “From day one we had a tremendous response from Edson residents and businesses for the event,” said Mayor Kevin Zahara. “From the sponsors to the golfers, everyone was very generous to the cause. We hope to make this an annual event to help support different organizations in our region.” 

Community celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day

by Deanna Mitchener
 
June 27, 2022 issue: The Edson Friendship Centre, in cooperation with the Town of Edson, held Indigenous Peoples Day events at the Kinsman Park on June 21, with lots of room for activities and fire pits. 
The event drew a large crowd, for a day filled with learning and fun. Grades 1-3 from Mary Bergeron Elementary School and some grade 9 students from Parkland High School joined in the day. 
Renay Woelfing, with the Friendship Centre, said, “Students have been taking part in Indigenous games and learning, including how to do dry meat on a meat rack. We had homemade bannock with homemade jams, and they even got to try some roasted beaver tail. We had lots of open range for fun."
In the afternoon the event was open for the whole community to join in, with more homemade bannock and jam, various demonstrations including moose nose cooking, dried meat, and beaver tail. Every part of the animal was eaten or preserved, including the nose. The moose's long, nose is still considered a delicacy among indigenous communities.
There were also opportunities to make a drum, and to do some fish scaling and fish scale art.
Kristie Gomuwka, with the Friendship Centre, said, “We decided to do an event within the community, something that is available to everybody. We brought in some food and some indigenous games for kids to play. It was a great opportunity to gather, as no one has been able to the past couple of years.”
“There have been tons of people here checking out the event, which is great to see,” said Gomuwka. 
When asked why this event was important to the community, Gomuwka replied, “With many of our conversations with the elders and the board, it's important that reconciliation happens where we open ourselves up to the larger community. This allows people the opportunity to experience these traditions, and we can celebrate together. Years gone by things were only done in classrooms at school or alone. We feel this is a better opportunity for people to just get to know each other and build our community.”
The weather was great and many people came out to take part in the activities and enjoy some great food.

Art in the Park returns to Edson

by Niki Luymes
 
June 20, 2022 issue: Epic 80's music filled Centennial Park in Edson during this year's first Art in the Park event. 
The event happened on June 11 from 1pm to 5pm.  It featured a live performance from local Edson band ‘Not Quite Right’ as well as free balloons animals, glitter tattoos, bouncy castle, and a live painting demonstration from local artist Bryan Gate.
The purpose of the Art in the Park event is to, “Promote arts and culture, especially local arts and culture,” said Community Development Arts and culture Director, Diana Inscho. “So that’s why we have a local artist doing demos and the local band.”  From the bouncy castle to the balloons, all the vendors at the event were local too. 
The event appealed to the young and old alike.  The live music was intermixed with 80’s trivia challenges for the older audiences, while the kid’s enjoyed the free activities and themed swag that was being handed out.
Despite looming clouds, the day stayed warm and sunny. While an air band competition was planned, a lack of sign ups prevented it from happening. Originally, the retro themed Art in the Park event was planned for 2020. The whole year was going to be themed ‘hindsight is 2020’, but due to the pandemic all events were cancelled.
This was the first of four Art in the Park events, planned by the Town of Edson, to take place over the warmer months.  The next event is July 30 and will feature a Renaissance Fair theme, while partnering with Edson & District Historical Society’s Amazing Race.  For more information on this and all future events visit Edson.ca/artinthepark

Medal wins for local Firefighters at FireFit

by Niki Luymes
  June 13, 2022 issue: On June 4 and 5th people from across Edson and beyond gathered at Griffiths Park for the return of the Northern Alberta, B.C., and Yukon FireFit Challenge regionals.
The FireFit challenge consists of a series of competitions, completed either alone or as part of a team relay. From the stair run to hose pull, each challenge is made to test important firefighter skills.
The competitors race for the fastest times, with the best being able to go on to compete at nationals in September.
The Edson Fire Department was able to take home gold in the mixed relay, and silver and bronze in the male over 40 relay.
Yellowhead County Fire Department received bronze in the Tech 2 Relay, with East Delta West Shore, taking silver, and Edmonton Fire Rescue taking gold.
Due to an equipment malfunction the winner of the Tech 2 relay was decided by a spur of the moment leg wrestling match between the two teams.
In the singles, Ian Carroll and Katherine Heidler of the Edson Fire Department took gold in the over 50 and women's categories, respectively. Ryan Rupert, also from Edson, took silver in the over 40 category.
The event also functions as a great way to build camaraderie between Fire departments. “We got a whole bunch of new guys from Edson that just tried it out for the first time, plus we got national level competitors from Edmonton, Yukon and Delta BC,” said Edson Fire Chief Tyler Robinson. “It was awesome to have them here.”
The event was standing room only during on the sunny Saturday, and despite some colder weather on Sunday, the event went off without a hitch and was enjoyed by those in attendance.

First ever RCMP Bike Rodeo

by Niki Luymes
 
June 6, 2022 issue: Families gathered under perfect skies, to participate in the first ever RCMP Bike Rodeo. 
The event took place on May 28, and was put on by Edson RCMP with help from Edson Victim Services, Citizens on Patrol, Yellowhead County and the Town of Edson. 
Various members of the Edson RCMP detachment were on hand to interact with the kids including RCMP mascot Safety Bear. The event was staged in Griffiths Park Centre in Edson.
Throughout the event, which ran from 11am to 4 pm, kids were able to learn the basics of bike safety, enter various draws, and complete an educational bike obstacle course.  
‘Our goal is to teach Kids Bike Safety,” said event organizer Constable Amanda Merlin. “As well, it’s important to us [Edson RCMP] to get out with the youth and kids in the community and be able to engage with them and let them realize that we’re apart of the community.”  
Kids who completed the training and obstacle course were given a certificate and entered for a chance to win a new bike donated by Indominus Sports.  While the kids could only enter the draw once, many of them enjoyed doing the obstacle course multiple times.
 The event was a great way for families to gather and have fun, while also learning.

 Art in the Park returns to Edson

by Niki Luymes

May 30, 2022 issue: Art in the Park returns to Edson.  On June 11 everyone in Edson and area are welcome to come enjoy free entertainment at RCMP Centennial Park. The event will run from 1pm to 5pm and will include snacks, activities, and live entertainment.  This year’s first event is inspired by the 80’s and will feature live a live performance from local band ‘Not Quite Right’. 
For the first time Art in the Park will also feature an air band competition complete with cash prizes.  Air bands will be judged on band name, costumes and props, accuracy and rhythm, choreography, and audience reaction. It’s free to enter and open to everyone.  You can find out how by going to Edson.ca/artinthepark. 
Art in the Park is a series of events put on by the town of Edson. “The goal of the events is to enhance our residents' quality of life, to showcase local talent and to build a healthier, happier, safer community,” said Diana Inscho, Community Development Coordinator for the Town of Edson. 
The June 11 event is only the first of four events planned for the summer months. Other events include a Renaissance Faire theme partnering with Edson & District Historical Society, Amazing Race on July 30, a 1950s Art in the Park featuring Elvis Impersonator August 13, and finally a Wop May Country Fair, artisan market and bench show in partnership with the Edson & District Historical Society September 3. 
Anyone interested can find more details at Edson.ca/artinthepark

Edson focuses on Economic Development

by Adrienne Tait
 
May 23, 2022 issue: The economic development workplan presented to Council on Tuesday provides a roadmap for the initiatives Edson administration plans to pursue for the remainder of the year as well as direction moving forward.
Economic Development Officer Kundiso Nyambirai said the plan aligns with Council’s strategic goals to “Foster a Robust and Adaptable Economy.”
Nyambirai told Council the first goal is to support new and established businesses within the Town.  To that end, the workplan calls for a complete re-write of the business licensing bylaw, provide easier access to the licensing process, establish partnership for tourism initiatives and develop an ongoing business visitation program. 
Nyambirai said he would like to foster a relationship with local businesses to “capture common points of concern.” 
Promoting and developing the local tourism industry is also a priority.  The second goal outlined within the workplans is the desire for Edson to “become a destination of choice for talent and capital.”
Developing and maintaining a community profile, expanding online content, creating a business case for an economic development strategy, and developing a mobile business unit and/or market vendor pilot project are all objectives in the 2022 workplan.
The market vendor/mobile business pilot project is one which administration is already developing alongside the Galloway Station and Museum.  Nyambirai said the mobile business community is active and he would like to develop a program where businesses such as food trucks, T-shirt sellers, seasonal ice cream vendors etcetera will feel welcomed and become part of the community.  Griffiths Park was identified as a possible location in which to encourage such vendors to set up their businesses.
One of the main focuses will be to develop a stronger online presence as there currently is not much which speaks to economic development.  “It is trying to define and give a voice to economic development and in doing so try to build it up a profile for Edson as an economic development town,” said Nyambirai, “It is establishing a foundation so people from far off can see what economic development looks like here.”
CAO Christine Beveridge said data which is required for attracting investors and has been identified as missing in the Town’s online presence.  “Ensuring we have enough information so it’s very clear when someone is looking at our community that we have the information they need,” said Beveridge. The concern is investors may choose another community if we don’t have that information available and accessible.

Over 400 attend LEAP Touch-A-Truck fundraiser

by Niki Luymes
 
May 16, 2022 issue: The Edson LEAP Society held their first ever annual Touch-A-Truck fundraiser on May 7. For a $5 per person entry fee families could see and interact with various vehicles and machinery.
There were 30 different units available to explore including a fire truck, Zamboni, road grader, garbage truck and many more. Participants were also able to ask questions to the operators present.  The first hour of the event was sensory friendly with no flashing lights, horns or sirens.
The event acted as both a great learning opportunity and a successful fundraiser for the Edson LEAP Society.  The Edson LEAP Society is a local not-for-profit that specializes in helping families with kids who have diverse learning needs. The funds raised by this event will go directly to supporting and creating resources for those families.
Despite the windy weather, people of all ages enjoyed the event which filled the parking lot of Parkland Composite High School. “This year’s turnout far surpassed all expectations,” said organizer Melissa Johnson with LEAP.  Over 400 people attended the event, which ran from 10:00am to 2:00pm.
“The support from sponsors, and local business was overwhelming,” said Johnson. “We’re expecting next year’s event to be quite extravagant, and we’re very excited for it.”

Edson Trade Show returns!

by Niki Luymes.
 
May 9, 2022 issue: People from all around the area flocked to the annual Edson and District Chamber of Commerce Trade Show held on April 29 and 30.
The event was housed once again at the Edson Leisure Center. This year's show featured 55 different booths for both local businesses and local not-for-profits. The Trade Show was open from 12:00am to 8:00pm Friday the 29th, and 10:00 till 4:00 Saturday the 30th. 
Total attendance for the show was 14,000 people through the door, with another 200 working the vendor booths.
Along with the booths, the Trade Show also had food trucks, mascots, and some live musical performances put on by Parkland Composite School.
“There is always a good mixture of businesses and non-profits participating so there are lots of new ideas and items, along with all our favourites. The vendors always have awesome free hand-outs and great door prizes to be won,” said Kathy Arndt, Manager for Edson Chamber.
Due to the COVID 19 pandemic restrictions, the Edson Trade Show did not take place in 2020 or 2021. 
“Events like this are very important to our community as they bring people out to help support businesses locally and from other areas. It is also a fun time for families to get out and enjoy some time with each other," said Arndt.
"The vendors and the community just seemed really happy to get out and enjoy time spent looking at and buying products after a long two years of restrictions,” Arndt added.
 Preparations have already begun for next year’s event.

Edson to test Emergency Siren

April 27, 2022: The Town of Edson will be testing the emergency siren at the Edson Fire Station on Wednesday, May 4th, 2022, at 6:45pm. This is a TEST ONLY. The test is a part of Emergency Preparedness Week on May 1-7, 2022.
Emergency Preparedness Week is a national awareness initiative that has taken place annually since 1996. It is a collaborative event undertaken by provincial and territorial emergency management organizations supporting activities at the local level, in concert with Public Safety Canada and partners. EP Week encourages Canadians to take three simple steps to become better prepared to face a range of emergencies:
· Know the risks
· Make a plan
· Get an emergency kit
The Town of Edson will be using this opportunity to test the emergency siren at the Edson Fire Hall. Prior to the current pager/radio systems, volunteer firefighters used to listen for the siren as a notice that they needed to get to the station for a call.

Town and County Councils reject Multiplex design/build proposals

Costs come in 45-57% higher than target budget; YCE Steering Committee to focus on alternative proposals to ensure equivalent project built

by Adrienne Tait
 
Council pushed pause on the proposed joint use multiplex facility at the Tuesday Council meeting.  The deadline for proposals was March 25th and both proposals received came in well over the $70 million budget.
Clark Builders/TBD Architects’ proposal came in at $84,349,308 ($496 per sq. ft) while the EllisDon /Stantec HMCA’s proposal was $90,819,951 ($436 per sq. ft.).  The original construction budget was $58mil with a $12mil contingency for additional owner costs.  The received proposals were between 45% - 57% higher than the target price for the design-build portion of the project.
In addition to price point concerns, the proposals differed from each other in both size and amenities.
Mayor Zahara said it could be argued that the smaller of the two “would not work for our community.”
County and Town Councils both voted in favour of rejecting the project proposals outright.
The recommendation was then made that “alternative proposals for an equivalent project” be pursued and was passed at the council meeting.  When asked if “equivalent project” meant looking for alternative plans for a recreation centre or if the wording opened up the possibility of pursuing a new Civic centre, library, arts center (or other major project discussed in the last few council terms) Mayor Zahara said the intent is to pursue a “similar concept with recreation programming under one roof.”
In a release from the Town the high bid was attributed mainly to supply chain issues, commodity prices, and labour shortages. “This type of price escalation is not normal and is based on the current situation in the world. There is always a certain amount of inflation expected but nothing like this,” said Zahara in a follow up interview.
Adding to the complexity of the situation is the $20mil in federal grant funding that has been secured and designated for the original project.  Mayor Zahara confirmed the grant was pledged based on the scope as outlined.  However, the steering committee and administration for Town and Council are working with the grant administrators to ensure the grant can be used on an alternative project.  Construction inflation has become a problem across the country and the grant administrators recognized the challenge.
“While they can’t guarantee a change to our grant approval with a different project submission, they were open to working with us to facilitate the best submission possible for the grant, and for the Town and County. Ensuring that $20 Million is available for the project is critically important,” said Zahara.
If the project does not move forward in some form the funding is then lost - that potential loss is pushing the two municipalities to work together towards another proposal.
“We have said all along that the project needs to be within the budget outlined. We are committed to a financially viable project. This is a prudent decision and allows us to regroup and find an alternative. I'm proud of the work we are doing collaboratively with the County and confident we will find a solution with the incredible administrative teams we have in place,” said Mayor Zahara.  More information on page 3 in our April 25, 2022 issue.

Electricity costs wreak havoc on Operational budget

by Adrienne Tait
 
April 8, 2022 issue: “2%!” exclaimed Mayor Zahara when reviewing the operating budget at Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, “2% of our operating budget is going towards electricity costs.”
The cost to keep the lights on in municipally operated facilities came in $108,500 higher than anticipated.
Despite the increase in costs, administration was able to present a final operating budget that called for a 4.52% tax increase, which includes 1.9% for COVID recovery, as opposed to the 4.90% originally projected in November’s interim budget.
However, as deliberations continued Council was tasked with considering how best to implement economic recovery strategies following COIVD.
In 2020, the Council of the day implemented an emergency budget that included a 5% tax decrease to ease some of the financial burdens being faced by residents due to the pandemic.  A five to six year plan was then created which would ease the loss of the taxation revenue and allow for service levels to continue.  If that plan was to remain in place only 0.06% of the 2022 budget would go towards the recovery and would require tax increases of between 1.07% and 1.45% to be implemented every year for the next four years just to reach the 2020 taxation level. 
At Tuesday’s meeting administration presented the current council with two possible courses of action to accelerate recovery efforts and decrease the reliance on reserves.  The first scenario administration called an “all in” approach.  This would require an increase of 3.29% (on top of the 4.52%) to bring the tax rate to 7.81% for 2022.  Doing so would result in a larger taxation increase in 2022 but would save approximately $855,000 in reserves usage.
The second scenario reduced the original plan to a two-year recovery and would see an additional 2.60% in 2022 tax rate and 2.63% in 2023.  Doing so would save $560,000 in reserve usage but would lessen the impact on taxation.
Councillor Krystal Baier immediately spoke in favour of the first option stating she was “struggling with the thought of using the reserves to reduce taxation.”  Baier said without keeping funds in reserves it would be challenging to complete other projects in the Town’s strategic plan. 
Councillor Peter Taylor said while he agreed scenario one would be the financially prudent option, and that six months ago he would likely have voted for it, he now felt that scenario two was a better way to go.  Taylor said he believes rising costs for electricity, gas, inflation and everyday living has placed a strain on residents and was hesitant to add more.  “People only have so much to give,” said Taylor, “We recently toured the food bank and their numbers are increasing.  Yes, we could eliminate the 5% decrease but the hit to some residents would be substantial.”
Councillor Baier responded that she was “the single mom working two jobs with the $350,000 house” and therefore she “got it.”  Baier said the impact per month for the first scenario was still less than what her home internet went up this past month.
Mayor Zahara said while he would like to “rip off the Band-Aid” and implement the first scenario he is conscious of seniors on fixed incomes and of residents who are struggling to make ends meet.  Zahara said he is also aware that the municipality will be responsible for approximately $500,000 in retroactive pay for RCMP and has little confidence there will be any help from the federal government.  When the decision to decrease taxes by 5% was made it was done with the information that was available at the time, “None of us dreamed that we’d be here talking about a sixth wave or in another war,” said Mayor Zahara.
The budget will come before the Council at a regular Council meeting for ratification in the coming weeks.

Council frustrated with Province's approach to Provincial Policing

by Adrienne Tait
April 11, 2022 issue: Frustrations were evident in the discussion around a consultation session regarding the Alberta Provincial Police Service Transition Study which was attended by several council members and regional partners on March 31. The session was closed to members of the media and public. Additionally, municipal politicians and administrators (the only people invited) were told that the facilitator would not answer questions that were political in nature as they were “beyond the scope of his mandate.”
'No substantive engagement' —'Felt like a lecture' — 'If you’re not going to be honest just don’t do it' — 'Seems predetermined' — 'Wasn’t appropriate' — were the comments and responses heard from Town Council and Administration with regards to the March 31st session.
A letter has been drafted and will be sent to other municipalities in the region for support and expressing concern with the lack of true consultation regarding the possibility of moving to a provincial police force.
The Alberta Provincial Police Service Transition Study is available online and outlines the operational requirements, costs, and process to transition from the RCMP to a provincial force as well as assesses current services and capabilities of the RCMP. The study does not, however, provide a recommendation as to whether a provincial force should be created.
The mandate of the PricewaterhouseCoopers study was to “take a whole-of Alberta approach” to “find operational synergies” that might improve services or provide “economies of scale.”
“The Transition Study has identified the need for further detailed study across a number of areas to validate the initial stakeholder engagement undertaken. Furthermore, the mandate of the study did not extend to direct engagement with communities. This should be explored if the Government of Alberta decides to further pursue the creation of a provincial police service, including but not limited to engagement with Indigenous communities,” states the report.
However, the community and stakeholder engagement as undertaken on March 31 fell short of the mark according to Edson councillors.
Councillor Baier said despite the slide show presentation containing seven opportunities for questions, the facilitator skipped past five of them. Baier also remarked that the first 20 minutes of the presentation was spent outlining numerous questions the provincial representative would not answer.
Councillor Taylor said he felt like the engagement session was the province “just checking a box” with no real or appropriate discussion permitted.
Mayor Zahara said, “If you’re not going to be honest just don’t do it.” Zahara also expressed frustration that the questions and feedback being asked by the government only allowed for responses that would support the outcome the province desires.
In the letter to Minister Shandro, Edson Town Council requests a meeting with the Minister, MLA Martin Long, and neighbouring municipal stakeholders.
“The whole morning was rushed and only provided further evidence that the Government of Alberta is not interested in what Albertans have to say on this issue,” states the letter, “Our municipalities believe that changing our police service in the province is the wrong decision, and the government has not provided clear evidence that the APP will provide a better level of service… The issues around rural crime are due to the revolving door of the justice system, lack of crown prosecutors, and the need for increased supports for mental health and addictions. It is not an issue with our police force.”

Legendary Dinosaur of Chip Lake

April 1, 2022 Feature: In 1921, the Federal government approved the draining of several lakes in western Canada to increase viable farmland. Chip Lake was on the government's list, which would free up almost 20,000 acres for new settlers. Chip Lake was a perfect location for this land reclamation. The lake is very shallow and has the Lobstick River as an outlet to the East.
 
A twelve-man crew was assigned to begin the lake's drainage in early August of 1921. After only a few days, the crew stopped working. One of the crew members spotted a weird object protruding out of the lake. Initially, the men thought the object was a Grand Trunk Pacific Steam Engine that had derailed into the lake three years prior. Upon closer inspection, they realized it was the skeleton of an ancient reptile.
 The foreman went to the Junkins station and sent word to the University of Alberta about the discovery. Only two days later, a couple of scientists arrived at Chip Lake... See this week's edition of the Weekly Anchor online now for the rest of the story ;)

Wilson’s Hockey Tournament was a great time for all

by Shaylyn Thornton
 
March 28, 2022 issue: The Edson & District Leisure Centre was a busy place from March 18-20 as the 13th Annual Wilson’s Hockey Tournament hosted 26 teams for a great weekend of hockey and giving back.
The first tournament was held in 2007 as a “fun year end tournament,” said Colleen Wilson, who owns and operates Wilson Skate Sharpening alongside her husband.
The size of their tournament has grown significantly since that first year, which started with 4 teams, then grew to 16 teams for a few years, and now the tournament hosts four divisions that can accommodate up to 32 teams. This year, there were 26 teams that participated, including one that was brand new this year.
Unsurprisingly, the Wilson’s Annual Tournament was another event that took a hit thanks to COVID, shutting them down for the past two years. Being able to come back made things all the more exciting this year.
The Wilsons had plans in place for this tournament since December, hoping that things would work out. “We were very grateful restrictions lifted,” said Colleen.
One big aspect of the Tournament is that they raise money for the Run of Hope Cancer Support Group and the MS Society. The Cancer Support Group is a local organization and has been a recipient since the very beginning, whereas the MS Society was added a few years ago when Colleen was diagnosed with MS herself.
“Everyone knows someone with these diseases,” Colleen said. With the help of raffle tables filled with great prizes, “We raised over $10k,” she said. “[It] will be like a 60/40 split.”
A winning team is named among each of the four divisions, and the winner of each division gets a trophy. This year, the winning teams were as follows:
-  Bubba Cup - A Division: Bag Draggers
-  Ice Breaker - B Division: The Sask Boys
-  Gnome Cup - C Division: White Russians
-  Heritage Cup - 45+Over Division: the 88 Sabres
The Wilsons are already looking forward to next year, especially after hearing “nothing but positive reviews.”
“Everyone was glad to be back, play hockey, see friends,” said Colleen. “It’s a lot of work, organizing teams, schedules, but we have awesome friends that volunteer their weekend with us. A lot of our success is made possible with the support of local businesses.”

Reinventing Glenwood Park

by Adrienne Tait
 
March 21, 2022: Residents in Glenwood, and all those in Edson and surrounding area, who enjoy spending time at the Glenwood Park will soon see some major improvements.
Senior Manager of Community Services Tanya Byers told Council on Tuesday evening that $326,2350 in funds have been secured via government grant to revitalize the park upgrading and/or replacing the existing arena.
The new outdoor arena will provide year-round recreational opportunities.  The arena will have a cement base making it easier to flood the rink and during the summer can be used for activities such as basketball, fitness classes, and pickle ball.
The project is budgeted for $465,000 with $108,750 coming from the Revenue Sharing Reserve.
Groundwork for the project is expected to begin in April and completed in September.

Alberta Municipalities voice opposition to provincial police service

More than 300 representatives of Alberta Municipalities member-communities met on March 3, to determine the Association's position on the possible creation of a provincial police service.
Executive Committee members Angela Duncan, Trina Jones and Tyler Gandam led members through a detailed presentation on the Government of Alberta's $2 million PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) feasibility report. Following the presentation, members asked questions related to federal funding of provincial police services in Ontario and Quebec, options for preventing crime, and comparator police services.
A Request For Decision (RFD) statement was presented, discussed, amended, and voted on. In all, 144 representatives voted in favour, and 34 voted against.
Alberta Municipalities' policy position on the PwC proposal for an APPS is as follows:
THAT Alberta Municipalities oppose the APPS models proposed in the PwC study and develop an advocacy and communications strategy to advance our position.
Further, THAT Alberta Municipalities urge the Government of Alberta to invest in the resources needed to:
- Address the root causes of crime (i.e., health, mental health, social and economic supports); and
- Ensure the justice system is adequately resourced to enable timely access to justice for all Albertans.
Further, THAT prior to issuing formal notice to terminate Alberta's contract with the RCMP, the Government of Alberta will put this question to all Albertans in the form of a clear referendum.
Should significant new information be forthcoming on the proposal, Alberta Municipalities may choose to revisit this position.

Edson raises Ukrainian flag in solidarity

-Raising of the flag in Edson is meant to show solidarity and compassion for the Ukrainian people
 
by Adrienne Tait
 
March 7, 2022 issue (story updated): Councillor Greg Pasychny moved that the Ukrainian flag be raised at the Edson Civic Centre in solidarity with Ukrainian people and citizens who are having to flee their homes and country.  “I'm of Ukrainian descent and happy to show our support,” said Pasychny.
Mayor Kevin Zahara said the town of Edson has many residents of Ukrainian descent - nearly 10% of the population according to the 2016 census. Zahara said he can't understand the unprovoked attack of a sovereign nation.
Russia attacked the Ukraine on February 24 thereby violating the sovereignty of an independent country.  The raising of the flag in Edson is meant to show solidarity with the Ukrainian people, compassion and recognition of their loss and distress, as well as condemnation of the Russian attack. The flag had not yet arrived as of The Weekly Anchor press time, but Council directed Administration to raise it as soon as it arrived, which was on March 3 later in the afternoon. 
Several other municipalities like Calgary, Edmonton, Grande Prairie, Vegreville and Strathcona County have also raised Ukrainian flags or undertaken similar initiatives.
Councillor Peter Taylor recommended that residents who wish to show their support for the Ukraine consider donating to the Red Cross or humanitarian aid.
Town Council also held a moment of silence at the start of the meeting asking that everyone keep the Ukrainian people in their thoughts.

Wildfire season starts March 1

by Caroline Charbonneau
Wildfire Information Officer | Edson Forest Area
 
We would like to remind residents and industry that starting March 1, any current burning projects must be fully extinguished and all new burns will require a fire permit, with the exception of a campfire, within the Forest Protection Area of Alberta.
If you're burning without a fire permit or outside fire permit conditions, your fire is considered a wildfire. Fire permits help us to track what is burning on the landscape and help keep our firefighters free to fight real wildfires instead of responding to reported smoke.
Fire permits are free and can be requested from your local forestry office at: (780) 723-8527.
  Remember to revisit all winter burn piles before March 1. When checking your winter burns, spread around any remaining debris so you can probe the area for hotspots. If you see or smell smoke or feel heat with your bare hand, the fire is still burning. Douse any remaining hotspots with water and stir up the ashes. A fire is not out until there is absolutely no heat emanating from the ashes.
Stay current on Alberta's wildfire situation and download the Alberta Wildfire app. You'll be able to see where wildfires are burning within the Forest Protection Area of Alberta. Get up-to-date information on wildfire conditions, wildfire danger and much more. You can also access you forest area's wildfire blog and get notified when new ones are published.
Last year in Alberta 62 per cent of wildfires were human caused and could have been prevented. Please do your part to prevent wildfires this season.
For more information about Alberta Wildfire, visit www.wildfire.alberta.ca.

Protestors gather outside Town of Edson office

by Adrienne Tait
 
Feb 21, 2022 issue: A group of approximately 20 protestors gathered outside the Municipal building on Tuesday evening February 5, in support of Annie Desjarlais' presentation to Council opposing the REP program, lockdown measures, and expressed vaccine hesitancy.  Desjarlais represented a group of concerned citizens who wanted to ensure Council was aware of the negative impact mandates have had on community sports, mental health, and the division they have created in the community. 
Desjarlais acknowledged that the mandates were under provincial jurisdiction and not a municipal decision but hoped Council would choose not to implement the REP program if brought back.  A petition was also given to Council and Administration.  Administration has 45 days to verify its validity.  The protestors remained outside and blasted music which could be heard throughout the remainder of the council meeting.
In other council meeting items, the Council Code of Conduct bylaw has been amended and those changes passed as of Tuesday evening.  The recommended changes to the bylaw came following a review by administration and a legal opinion sought and include removing the CAO as an investigator of conduct concerns.  Other changes address mandatory training following an election, communication procedures with regards to addressing the media and the public, social media best practices, and conduct complaint procedures. 
The fourth quarter financial report showed the Town is projected to have a surplus of approximately $600,000 once the final audit is complete. 
The surplus is due in large part to the months various senior leaderships positions were vacant throughout the year as well as reduced staffing levels at Town run facilities during the pandemic.  The travel and expenses costs were also down approximately $130,000 as seminars, meetings, and events were either cancelled or held virtually during the pandemic.
Policing costs increased and Vision Park rental revenue was down but landfill revenue was higher than expected.

Teachers want normalcy, but caution is still needed...

Feb 14, 2022 issue: In response to the latest COVID-19 provincial update, ATA president Jason Schilling has released the following statement:
Just one month ago, the government decided to extend winter break and provided new, medical grade masks to all schools. Now just days after those masks have arrived in some schools, the provincial government has decided to eliminate masking requirements entirely. The school community expects that the government will make decisions after carefully considering expert scientific advice and, when appropriate, proceed with a gradual reduction in safety protocols so that students and teachers can continue to learn and teach with confidence that our schools are safe and healthy places.
“A return to a more normal school setting is something that everyone is hoping for. However, we do not want a hasty decision, only to take us a step backwards in a few weeks. We urge the government to take a more cautious approach regarding the safety protocols in schools.
“Teachers, like most Albertans, are tired of the pandemic, but they are also worried about the speed at which the government announced the removal of the one protection that was available to all students—masking.”
Throughout the past two years, the minister of education has consistently abdicated the responsibility of the pandemic response to school boards. The minister has stated the importance of school boards' autonomy and their ability to make decisions and respond to specific local needs. In response, many boards stepped up and made the hard, but necessary, decisions to ensure community safety. However yesterday, this strategy changed, and the minister stripped school boards of their capacity to respond to COVID in their schools and communities.
“Once again, the government has made a decision without consulting educational stakeholders, including the Association and school boards. Consulting those working every day in schools was the bare minimum the government should have done. They didn't.”
The government of Alberta has repeatedly stated that schools reflect the COVID that is present in the community. Average COVID rates remain at a high level across the province, and students will now be in crowded spaces, many poorly ventilated, without masks.
“We have consistently heard from the government that schools reflect the COVID that is present in the community. Why remove the mask mandate so quickly when community spread has not decreased significantly? What will be so different next week from this week?”

Speeds of up to 160km/hr recorded in Edson...

“Ridiculous and dangerous,” says Sgt. Desautels in update to town council

by Adrienne Tait
 
Feb 7, 2022 issue: Speeds of up to 160km/hr on 63rd Street, 157 km/hr on Edson Drive and 156 km/hr by Hillendale were all clocked by the speed signs during 2021. 
The signs both clock the speed and provide local enforcement officers with data by date and time in order to help improve patrols and enforcement.  Peace Officer Sergeant Jim Desautels called the speeds “ridiculous and dangerous.”
Desautels provided information, updates, and stats to Town Council on February 1.
2021 also saw a total of 22,637 Automated Traffic Enforcement (photo radar) tickets issued.  Desautels said the department received 14 complaints regarding photo radar with three calls complaining the photo radar truck was not parked safely, eight people were angry they received a ticket, one lost ticket, one saying the ticket wasn’t theirs, and one complaint of too many photo radar vehicles.  Desautels said, “The amount of traffic that comes through Edson is significant.  We see thousands of vehicles every day.”
In accordance with new provincial regulations the local photo radar vehicles will be wrapped in the bright yellow before the end of the year.  The 20 currently identified photo radar zones will all be reviewed before the end of the year.
The revenue from photo radar tickets was $668,000 which then gets directly reinvested into the community for safety such as covering some of the costs for the local RCMP detachment.
Community Peace Officers responded to 1,813 calls for service in the past year.  Moving traffic calls topped the list at 755 calls.  These included such complaints as loud mufflers, school zones, and speeding.

Think you're entitled to your day in court? - think again...

EDITORIAL COMMENT: by Dana McArthur

Jan. 31, 2022 issue: You would no longer have the right to a trial if you dispute a traffic ticket, according to the UCP government's Bill 21, the "Justice Transformation Initiative".
February 1, 2022 is when Phase 2 of the bill was supposed to kick in. Phase 1 introduced some much-needed tougher penalties for driving under the influence.
According to our research, Alberta would be the only province in Canada to eliminate the option of a court trial to dispute a traffic ticket. In fact, ticket fines would be re-branded as a "notice of administrative penalty". 
Never heard of Bill 21? That's not surprising as the provincial government has kept it pretty quiet and has not publicized the changes. The bill actually received royal assent in July of 2020 during the frantic beginning of the pandemic. The government's previous news releases on Bill 21 only succeeded in confusing and blurring information regarding the judicial changes for common traffic infractions like speeding and distracted driving, with the much-needed strengthening of DUI penalties.
Critics of the bill say that it ignores due process and deters citizens from fighting what they consider unfair fines.
There would no longer be an option for a court date to fight your ticket. There would be no cross-examination. There would be no opportunity to face your accuser, and no witnesses could be called. This would also wipe-out the traffic ticket assistance companies that aided in getting penalties reduced.
In essence, you would be presumed guilty and must prove your innocence by paying a government fee to have an online government 'adjudicator' review your ticket —not the separate court system; not a judge. The "burden of proof", according to Bill 21, is on you.
Bill 21 also states, "In conducting a review, the adjudicator is not bound by the rules respecting evidence applicable to judicial proceedings."
You would have only one week to review your ticket through the online 'adjudicator' process. The cost of the review is a non-refundable fee of up to $150 depending on the amount of the fine. "The filing of a request for review of a notice of administrative penalty does not stay the administrative penalty," states the bill. In other words, you pay the fine upfront.
There will apparently be no option to reduce the fine or length of suspension. Tickets would only be rescinded or upheld. Incidents serious enough to involve bodily injury or death would get a court date. A narrow scope for judicial review of an adjudicator's decision could only be done through the Court of Queen's Bench, likely costing $1000's.
Phase 3 of Bill 21 will go even farther and potentially apply the same online 'adjudicator' process to all provincial fines.
The provincial government states, "By removing these matters from the court system, we will save thousands of hours of police and court time per year, ensuring Alberta's prosecutors and courts are able focus on the most serious justice matters and more police are patrolling the streets."
The government's plan is to free up police and court resources by quickly moving two million traffic tickets through the system each year. Of those, approximately 60,000 traffic ticket challenges receive a court date.
However, freeing up the backlogged system on the backs of Albertans' right to a fair trial does nothing to serve justice or democracy. It is simply taking away your rights, that the government apparently deems less important.
Fortunately, for now, the province has decided to pause the rollout of Phase 2, stating in a release, "We have clearly heard from Albertans who shared their thoughts with us on traffic safety in this province. That is why we are pausing the rollout of Phase 2. We will take the next 90 to 120 days to ensure that we communicate and consult with Albertans and that they are educated on the changes proposed in Phase 2. We will listen to what Albertans have to say and we will share the benefits of these changes with them."
It is bewildering why this government has chosen this potentially unconstitutional course, as there must be a myriad of other ways to free up these resources. It is simply unpalatable to remove an Albertan's right to their day in court. But at least for now, you can have your say.

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?
Successful. 
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.