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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.