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News: November 19, 2018 issue

4.5% increase in Town's proposed 2019 budget

by Masha Scheele
Administration of the Town of Edson presented the proposed budget for 2019 at the Committee of the Whole meeting on November 13.
The budget proposal includes a 4.5 per cent budget increase and was put together following the initial Council budget deliberations and the budget workshop on November 3.
Property taxes are a primary source of revenue for municipalities and are used to finance local programs and services. Each year, Council determines the amount of money required to operate the municipality. From this, Council subtracts known revenues such as licenses, grants, permits, and user fees. The remainder is the amount of money the municipality collects through property taxes in order to provide services for the year. The total amount of municipal taxes required for 2019 is $11,232,579.
Councillor Janet Wilkinson mentioned that more emphasis should be placed on the fact that $5170.33 is spent to operate Repsol Place per day. “People need to know that they have that service offered through their taxes as well.”
A point emphasized by Councillor Krystal Baiers was how many police officers are subsidized through the photo radar program. “When you get the ticket in the mail you’re not really appreciative of it, but when you realize the contribution it gives to our town that really makes a big difference in our budget situation.”
Councillor Troy Sorenson also mentioned adding the benchmarks to the documents available so the public knows what the town is striving for.
This proposed budget gives the public and other interested stakeholders a glimpse of the changes for 2019. Adjustments will be made as requested and brought back to Council on November 27 for final deliberations before it will be presented for adoption on December 4.
The budget will be finalized in the Spring of 2019 after assessment figures are released to the Town, and requisition figures for schools and seniors’ lodges are received. In May 2019 tax notices will be sent to property owners.
“I would like to see the 4.5 per cent come down but I also know we are really fortunate we only had 1.9 per cent in two years. So sometimes when you are fortunate in that, it means we do need to play catch up,” said Councillor Jacqui Currie.
Since November 13, residents can make use of the “Citizen Budget” tool on the Town of Edson website. This interactive tool will help residents visualize the Town of Edson’s budget, as well as give an idea of the impact certain changes would have to taxation and service levels. This tool can be accessed at www.edson.ca/budget.

News: November 12, 2018 issue

Town approves demolish contract for Recreation Complex

by Masha Scheele
Edson council approved the contract for the demolition of the Edson and District Recreation Complex to Visco Demolition Contractors Ltd at the town council meeting on November 6.
Eight companies responded to the call for a demolition proposal, ranging from the most expensive at over $1.1 million to the majority of proposals landing between $400,000 to $540,000. Visco’s proposal was the best overall value and lowest in price at $339,500 plus GST, according to Edson’s Administration.
Fifty per cent of the evaluation criteria was formed by the price of the proposal, 15 per cent going to qualification description, 15 per cent to the work-plan, and the last 20 percent for their warranty with respect to potential damages to infrastructure, golf course property, trees and hazardous material environmental contamination.
Visco has been in business for 50 years and are a family-owned Edmonton based business, with a long list of large scale demolitions containing hazardous materials on their resume.
“I am very pleased that the company is able to divert 100 per cent of the concrete and metal from our landfill, that’s a huge plus for me,” commented Councillor Troy Sorenson, which was echoed by Councillor Janet Wilkinson and Councillor Krystal Baier.
Councillor Trevor Bevan asked whether salvageable items such as windows and doors could be removed throughout the demolition for purchase or pick up by citizens of Edson. “There are a lot of windows there that could go to greenhouses or any place like that,” said Bevan. “Why send it to the landfill if it’s good?”
“Surely, we would leave that up to the contractor. If they wanted to facilitate a process like that, it’s really at the contractors discretion once we turn the site over to them for the demolition. I don’t see why they wouldn’t engage in a similar process, if they did something like that at Evergreen,” said Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Mike Derricott.
The company is currently in the process of completing demolition of the Evergreen School site in Edson.
“The school was done very timely, and professionally. So I believe this is the right company to do the job for us,” said Councillor Gean Chouinard. Councillor Chouinard also agreed with Bevan but mentioned that removing all salvageable items might delay the start of the demolition.
Councillor Baier asked whether kitchen appliances, cupboards and other things inside the building would be saved to sell to the public before demolition.
“Once the building is deemed to be ready for demolition, everything that’s inside the building goes to the contractor. So whatever is left, they have the option of decommissioning and salvaging and selling what remains,” explained Director of Community Services, Jim Desautels.
Once the Evergreen School project is completed the company will be able to begin work on the Edson and District Recreation Complex. They have estimated that there will be 38 days worth of hazardous materials abatement, 17 days of structure demolition, and 5 days of site backfill and clean-up. According to Administration, the project will be completed well before the target date of March 31, 2019.
“I think it is totally the right decision for our community moving forward with a new facility. Our studies have shown since 2006 that this is a facility that is under-utilized and people would like a facility that is more centrally located,” said Mayor Kevin Zahara. “It also allows our golf club to be in control of their own destiny moving forward.”
Administration recommended the project to be funded from the Revenue Sharing reserve, which was amended to the motion. The motion was carried with all in favour.

News: November 5, 2018

Bikes stolen from Boys and Girls Club

by Deanna Mitchener
On October 29 or 30th a shed at the back of the Edson and District Boys and Girls Club was broken into and bikes were stolen. Program Coordinator Sarah Ireland with the Boys & Girls Club of Edson and District is seeking community assistance.
Some time on the night of October 29 or early morning of October 30 they had 10 of their program bikes stolen from their shed behind the Centre. "These bikes are used in the summer months so children can take part in trail rides on them," said Ireland. "This past summer they were even out biking with a couple of the local Peace Officers."
 "It is a real disappointment that we no longer have these bikes. If anyone knows of any information please come forward. It is so sad that people need to steal, but stealing from children is even worse."
"Most of the bikes that were taken were larger bikes for the older kids and some that the staff use to go biking with the kids. The individuals involved in this act came prepared to steal, as they had tools and gloves," said Ireland.
The Boys and Girls Club is a vital part of community providing activities and a safe, accepting place for the children of Edson and Yellowhead County.  Please contact the Edson RCMP if you have any information or call the Club at 780 -723-7240.

News: October 29, 2018

Recreation Multi-Use Facility project moves ahead

by Masha Scheele
Edson and Yellowhead County councils awarded the contract for architectural services for the new Recreation Multi-Use Facility in Edson to Stantec Architecture of Edmonton.
“We’ve reached a milestone in Edson. We’re at a point where we can actually decide, and we’re submitting our decision for your [council’s] recommendation on who’s going to do the first three stages of this RFP,” said Director of Community Services, Jim Desautels to Town Council on October 23 at a Special Meeting of Council.
The stages include the pre-design and site selection stage, the geotechnical study stage, and the conceptual design for the new facility.
Edson Mayor, Kevin Zahara said, "This is the largest municipal partnership in the history of the Town of Edson and Yellowhead County. Our council is proud to be working on this project in a collaborative manner with our Yellowhead County partners for the benefit of both Edson and Yellowhead County residents."
Yellowhead County Mayor, Gerald Soroka commented, “We are very excited about how this project is beginning to take shape – the finished facility is going to be first class and will be something that Edson and Yellowhead County council and residents will be proud of and able to make use of throughout the year.”
“It was a joint submission from County Administration and Town Administration that the winning tender/RFP should go to Stantec Architecture Ltd. The price came in at $67,800 and that’s without the geotechnical study,” said Desautels stating that most submissions suggested that the geotechnical study not be done directly with the architectural work. “The range that the geotechnical study will likely come in at, as an additional cost, is somewhere between $12,000 and $20,000.”
Stantec indicated that they have an internal geotechnical arm that would be providing the geotechnical study, according to CAO Michael Derricott.
The Edson Multi-use Recreation Complex architectural and professional services Request for Proposals closed September 7, and the Project Steering Committee approved forwarding this RFP/tender award to both Councils for approval.
Out of seven submissions, all of which met the criteria, Stantec's proposal was the best price, had top marks in all the other categories, and received excellent references.
The scoring system listed in the RFP was based on completeness and overall quality of proposal, proximity, experience, understanding, technical, and financial.
“I am pleased that we had a $300,000 budget and we came in at $67,800 plus the $20,000. We have to be more than happy because I have to agree that Stantec is a good firm, they’ve been around for many years,” said Councillor Gean Chouinard.
Desautels explained once this decision is ratified the start time of the project will be November with a target deadline of January 31, 2019.
CAO Derricott added that this submission was ratified earlier that day by County Council at their weekly meeting.
The amenities included for consideration in this project are two standard ice rinks with boards, an aquatics facility with a minimum six lane/25-meter pool, child pool, lazy river, waterslide, hot tub and sauna/steam room, a four sheet curling surface, a gymnasium with a multi sport court for basketball, volleyball, indoor soccer, pickle ball etc., a walking track and a fitness area with studio rooms, and an area for weights and equipment, adequate storage to support each service area and a basic skate sharpening and pro shop with food service provision areas.
Additional features that may be considered for including as part of the facility are a climbing wall, an indoor playground, an FCSS Parent Link Centre, a leisure skating pond, lease space for private paramedical services (i.e. physiotherapy, chiropractic, etc.), Boy & Girls Club, Primary Care Network, a teen drop-in area and more.
Based on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two municipalities, both councils have agreed to cost share 50-50 on the capital costs of this $40M project. A 60-40 Town-County split in operational costs were also part of the MOU; as well, each partner will have an equal say in operations, with an operational agreement to be drafted as the process moves forward.

News: October 22, 2018

County discusses minimum distances for landfills


by Dana McArthur


As a result of the recent County Council decision to defeat a motion for a Second and Third reading of Secure Energy's application to re-district lands for a new non-hazardous industrial landfill, County Administration was seeking greater clarity on the newly created Landfill & Composting District.

In regard to the Land Use Bylaw, CAO Jack Ramme stated, "In particular, the statement "on crown lands away from residential development" does not provide clarity or comfort to potential industrial developers or to residents near crown lands. What is required is a standardized distance to help all players understand impacts and expectations."

"A number of issues have arisen since the defeat of a rezoning application that met the standards of the MDP and the LUB —hence it is being brought forward for discussion," said Ramme.

Concerns included whether Council still supports the concept of landfill sites in the County? If so, what is a reasonable standard (distance) to be considered as a definition to "residences near crown lands"? And would Council consider a cost share formula with Industry for road construction if such development is supported but only in such remote areas that road construction is not feasible for a developer?

Councillor Wade Williams, stated, "I certainly support landfill developments but maybe we need different distances for industrial, compost, or garbage landfills. I feel 3kms from an industrial landfill should be a minimum."

Councillor Shawn Berry said, "I want 5kms from the nearest residence. I am in favour of cost sharing on a road if an industrial developer needs it." Berry suggested areas 9kms down the Wolf Lake Road may be suitable.

Councillor Sandra Cherniawsky asked if the distance from a residence included livestock. Mayor Soroka point out that distances from a residence and distances from private land were very different and would imply there could be no landfills near any developments.

Councillor David Russell said, "I do not know how we can pick a distance without a dispersion model to understand how it could impact at different distances. Without looking at the science then I would say 10kms."

Councillor Anthony Giezen, said, "We thought that placing these on Crown Land would provide acceptable distances from residences but now we are looking at longer distances. To put a number to the distance without more information on the potential area is difficult." Ramme clarified, "Without the certainly of council's criteria you would be making it cost prohibitive for anyone to do business here. You may as well say you do not support landfills."

Councillor Lavone Olson stated she supports landfill development in the county, "I think a reasonable distance from residences is 5kms. But I do not support cost sharing on roads as it would single out landfill developers."

Councillor Penny Lowe agreed with 5kms but from private land, "We do not want to drive away businesses from the County. I think we need this type of facility." Councillor Dawn Mitchell agreed with 5kms but also from private land.

Councillor Olson suggested, "As part of Council says 3kms and part says 5kms, could there be a compromise at 4kms?"

The majority of council agreed that 4kms from an existing residence and on Crown Land would be an acceptable distance to place in the bylaw. The bylaw change will come back for three readings at Council.

News: October 15, 2018

Changes to Edson's Cannabis Land Use Bylaw

by Masha Scheele

Changes were made in the initial draft of the First Reading of Edson's Land Use Bylaw, including setbacks of stores selling cannabis.
The Cannabis Act is allowing for cannabis use, sales, and related matters on October 17 and opens the process for the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) to issue licenses for Cannabis related uses in Alberta. Edson's Land Use Bylaw will accommodate these businesses and a public process has been undertaken to gain input and increase awareness to determine and additional restrictions or changes.
After discussions with the public on what these setbacks would look like, Manager of Planning and Development, Martino Verhaeghe presented five maps with different zoning options for cannabis retail at the Town of Edson's Committee of the Whole on October 9.
Verhaeghe mentioned that during the public referral of the bylaw a correction was made to include the C-3 highway commercial district for retail use, which was shown on the first map.
The second map presented only the minimum restriction applied by AGLC, which doesn't include any setback regulations applied by the Town of Edson.
Map three indicated the highest level of restraint possible, with a 200-metre setback from everything people considered non-complimentary like professional medical offices, places of worship, trail systems, and residential areas. This option, Verhaeghe mentioned would “essentially remove retailing of cannabis from Edson.”
During the first reading of the bylaw, map four was passed with a 200-metre setback from hospitals, AHS owned facilities, government offices, and public park areas.
Councillor Jacqui Currie later questioned the reasoning for the restrictions away from provincial and municipal buildings as most other bylaws include mainly schools and hospitals.
“We were looking at public uses and quasi-public uses. Quasi-public uses goes into issues like churches, places of worship, and it really opens that envelope to basically any club or place where people gather for any reason. When you look at public uses, however, it is more restricted to schools, cemeteries, municipally owned facilities, government offices and so on. Public uses were included and quasi-public were not, the only thing that is questionable is whether a government office is considered a public use or a quasi-public use,” Verhaeghe explained. “It is an option that we can have, or it's an option that we can remove.”
Chief Administrative Officer Mike Derricott added, “In the early goings, we were both considering the zoning and the consumption in tandem. Recently, council passed a prohibition on public usage [of Cannabis] so this is strictly for retail outlets and storefronts. Using liquor stores as an analogy and how they are placed in our community —you can possibly use this as a similar dynamic. It's not a restriction we place on liquor stores, but it is up to council on how restrictive they want to be in this regard."
Councillor Currie responded that she would like to not include the government buildings in these restricted zones, as it limits those cannabis retail buildings, which Councillor Krystal Baier and Councillor Gean Chouinard agreed with as well.
There was also another option shown, similar to option four, but with a 100 metre setback from those stated public spaces.
Councillor Baier mentioned, “After talking to Hinton and Drayton Valley and what they've passed on zoning, they're very lenient. I don't recall that they had any restrictions beyond what the government has put in. I would like Edson to be open for business, marijuana is already in our community, whether we have two stores or five stores.”
She also mentioned that in comparison with the amount of liquor stores in Edson, there doesn't seem to be an issue, but that setbacks for cannabis retail should be considered for schools, daycare facilities, and parks.
Mayor Kevin Zahara mentioned that as retail shops get approved more areas will be restricted as stores can't be within 100 metres of each other. He also voiced concerns that he will bring up at the public hearing, “We effectively are not going to be allowing these stores on our main street where we have various empty buildings which I think we should be happy to see some sort of activity and investment in our downtown core.”
“I think we need some restriction but as proposed right now, we might be too heavy, especially considering we have a few applicants approved,” Zahara added.
Councillor Chouinard also agreed that main street's empty stores might be suitable for the retail of cannabis.
To view the different map options go to https://edson.civicweb.net/document/27975. A public hearing on the cannabis related land use changes is scheduled for October 16 at 7:30pm in Council Chambers.