Weekly Anchor Newspaper
DELUXE FLIP  Nov 30, 2020

November 30, 2020

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Yellowhead County

Edson Honda

  

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County Council rejects Face Covering Bylaw

Councillors experience threats, bullying, and "inhumane behaviour" from bylaw opposers

Yellowhead County Council met for their regular Council Meeting on November 24. One of the topics on the agenda was the motion to go to third and final reading on the Mandatory Face Covering Bylaw that had been proposed on November 17.
Outside the Yellowhead County Office, a group of 30+ protesters gathered to oppose the proposed bylaw. Despite the mask bylaw in Edson, nearly every protestor was not wearing a mask or respecting provincial social distancing guidelines.
The Council meeting began as normal, however when it came time to discuss the bylaw CAO Jack Ramme presented an alternative option to Council.
Ramme suggested that, because of the provincial government’s planned announcements on the afternoon of November 24, the Council consider postponing the bylaw vote pending a potential province-wide mask mandate, which would make YC’s mask bylaw a “moot point.”
Before Council could begin to discuss the possibility of postponing, a unidentified man stood up and began to shout over the Council. Mayor Jim Eglinski asked him to stop, but the man refused and continued on with his speech.
“By pushing this through you are moving Alberta and Canada closer to a socialist and communist government,” he shouted. “I for one do not believe masks work, but that is not the issue here. By forcing people to cover their face… that puts us in a category of objects instead of human beings.”
With the man refusing repeated requests to sit and follow proper Council Meeting procedure, Eglinski called the meeting to be adjourned and all Council members left to a separate room, except for Councillor Anthony Giezen and Eglinski.
The speech continued while Council filed out. “You people are making it easier for our Czar Trudeau to walk all over us and make way for the new world order and his global reset,” he said, as other protesters in the room cheered.
Following the outburst, the man quickly left the room. Council returned to their seats after confirming it was safe to do so and reconvened the meeting.
“I want to make it abundantly clear for those people here, and anybody else, my Council meeting will not be interrupted. I will not tolerate it,” said Eglinski. “I will just close it down, and we will step out. There is a procedure in place, and always has been, for people to come forward and speak and I would ask that you respect that.” (see the Nov. 30, 2020 issue of the Weekly Anchor for the full story)

Editorial Column - Dana McArthur
Masks vs Lockdowns

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not reflect the official policies or position of the Weekly Anchor or its staff.

   Nov 21, 2020 - Lockdowns could be avoided if everyone followed health measures such as wearing masks.
  That was the recent message from the World Health Organization's top Europe official, Regional Director Hans Kluge.
Lockdowns should be a "last resort," said Kluge, stressing that if 95% of people wore masks, instead of the current 60%, "lockdowns would not be needed".
  Hundreds of millions of people are currently living under lockdowns, including many regions of Canada. And no one understands more than Albertans the toll lockdowns take with job losses, disruptions to health services, local businesses, and damage inflicted in terms of mental health, substance abuse, and violence.
  There is a tremendous amount of harmful misinformation on social media about this pandemic. However, according to Alberta Health, the American CDC, the Mayo Clinic, WHO and just about every respected health organization in the world, masks help prevent the spread of Covid-19.
  Cloth masks reduce the number of respiratory droplets a person releases into the air when talking, sneezing or coughing. The overall number of droplets in the air is reduced when more people wear masks, and this reduces the risk of being exposed to COVID-19, according to the Mayo Clinic.
  Common sense also dictates that some protection is better than none. The idea that mask use can be harmful to your health has been repeatedly debunked.
  Sure, there's a lot of hyperbolic chatter on social media for and against masks, but who among those have the strength of conviction to ask their own doctor or medical team not to wear masks during surgery? None, I would hazard to guess.
  The good news is that help is on the way with the first of 465,000 doses of Pfizer’s new vaccine and 221,000 doses of Moderna’s version arriving in Alberta in “early 2021,” stated Alberta's Health Minister Tyler Shandro.
  Vaccines represent a great hope in the war against Covid-19, but the fact remains they won't stop the virus completely. Particularly with the initial limited supply and distribution that's expected.
  While masks alone are not a panacea, they are our best hope for now to protect each other, combined with other measures like hand washing, and physical distancing whenever possible.
  The simple fact is masks are a minor inconvenience for most of us and exceptions are made for those unable to wear one. And the message from our top provincial health experts is clear, if we all work together, and we all do our share, we can save lives.
  The alternatives offer no hope at all other than facing another prolonged lockdown or exponential infection rates and rising death tolls —and those are no options at all.

FCSS promotes Anti-Bullying Week during
Lite-Up late night shopping event Nov. 19

by Jordan Rae
 
Town of Edson Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) and members of the Community Engagement Action Team (CEAT) will be set up in a booth on Main Street from 5 to 9pm during this year's Lite-Up shopping event on November 19 to promote kindness and Anti-Bullying Week.
FCSS and CEAT are hoping main street businesses will also get involved to help spread the message of “Shine Pink” during Lite-Up. The Main Street booth will have plenty of pink goodies on-hand, as well as pink lights and posters to help promote the cause.
Aside from the Lite-Up “Shine Pink” booth, the Galloway Station Museum will host a session entitled “Bullying: Can we stop it?” from 7 to 9pm on November 18, and there will be an Anti-Bullying Workshop on November 21 at Alpine Realty 3%.
This year, Anti-Bullying Week takes place province-wide November 16 to 20, and events will be held all over the province to share in the awareness.
According to the Alberta Government's Bullying Awareness Week webpage, bullying is described as a relationship problem that involves a power imbalance, which is why it can be so challenging to overcome it alone. Regardless of where bullying happens – in school, the office, at home or in the community – there are people and resources that can help. This year's theme in Alberta is #WhereToTurn, which looks to increase awareness and educate each other on the supports available.
For more information on local Bullying Awareness Week events, visit edson.ca and click the FCSS link. If you are a business participating in Lite-Up and would like to help spread awareness, contact Town of Edson Community Development Coordinator Ali Broda at 780-723-4403.

COVID-19 cases increase in Edson

Edson, November 4, 2020

With the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in the region, the Town of Edson Emergency Coordination Centre (ECC) is reviewing protocols, including Bylaw 2250 (Mandatory Facial Covering Bylaw).
If cases continue to rise in the Edson area and surrounding communities, there is a possibility of moving into the medium risk category of the bylaw, which would enact mandatory facial coverings in all public indoor or substantially enclosed spaces.
At this time, we would like to remind everyone of the importance of physical/social distancing and mass gathering limits. If you are experiencing ANY symptoms of COVID-19, stay home. It's up to us to help control the spread and prevent further restrictions from becoming necessary.
Moving into the medium risk category could result in other restrictions surrounding Town of Edson facilities as well. The ECC will be meeting to review protocols as necessary.
For more information on the Town of Edson's response, some of the rules and regulations in place, supports available to residents and businesses, and links to Provincial and Federal data, please visit our website at www.edson.ca/covid.
For the Provincial Health Guidelines and information, including the COVID-19 Assessment Tool and test information, please visit www.alberta.ca/covid19
Please note: While masking has been a polarizing issue, we ask that people are treated with kindness and consideration in true Edson community spirit both in the public and online.

News: October 26, 2020 issue

Municipal Affairs Minister announces
new plan for oil and gas property tax relief

by Dana McArthur
 
In a video conference on October 19, Alberta's newly appointed Minister of Municipal Affairs Tracy Allard announced a modified approach to the linear tax review for oil and gas properties in the province.
The minister rejected the previous four plans put forward by previous minister, Kaycee Madu, that would have seen a loss in municipal revenues ranging from 7% to 20%. 
Allard instead introduced a new interim three year plan that mitigates the impact to ratepayers and municipalities while still offering significant support for the struggling oil and gas industry. "When I was sworn in as minister on August 25 my first decision was to hit pause on this review to do more consultation," she said. "We needed to find a balance between municipal concerns and industry concerns."
Yellowhead County Mayor Jim Eglinski commented after the announcement was made, "I am quite pleased with this new proposal that has come forward. This impact will not be as severe as the other proposals and will likely only cost the county about 1% overall".
Supports to energy companies will include an exemption from property taxes for three years when drilling new wells and building new pipelines. The government will also eliminate the Well Drilling Equipment Tax province-wide for new drills.
Additionally, the government will lower assessments for less productive oil and gas wells while continuing the recently introduced 35 per cent assessment reduction on shallow gas wells for three years. "These measures are to provide much-needed certainty to industry, investors, municipalities and other taxpayers now and into the future," stated the accompanying release.
“We are acting now to encourage new oil and gas development that will create jobs and boost Alberta’s recovery. Alberta needs to be as competitive as possible to attract investment into our communities. We know our municipal partners are committed to do their part to create jobs and support Albertans through this challenging economic time. We are working to secure a brighter future for our province by supporting both industry and communities,” stated Minister Allard.
Rural Municipalities of Alberta president Al Kemmere, stated, “This announcement reflects an effort to achieve a fair balance between enhancing oil and gas industry competitiveness and supporting municipal viability. RMA appreciates the efforts of Minister Allard to reach out to municipalities to better understand how important the current assessment model is to supporting municipal infrastructure and operations, and the efforts of the entire Government of Alberta caucus in supporting these short-term initiatives."
President and CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Tim McMillan, stated, “Municipal taxes and assessments for oil and natural gas are one of the biggest competitive issues facing this province today. The Alberta government's action to incent new drilling and provide relief to ..mature wells is a crucial step to help restore investor confidence and preserve and create jobs for Albertans."
Currently municipalities are classified as unsecured creditors when it comes to unpaid linear property taxes. According to Kemmere there was $173 million in unpaid taxes in 2019. "If we don't fix that in the near future all these modifications will be for naught," he said. "It is our number one concern."
McMillan agreed that any unpaid taxes are a concern, but took some exception with the number put forward. "We agree that there could be some meaningful work done here and some meaningful changes."
In a conference call with community newspaper editors and publishers after the initial announcement, the Minister of Municipal Affairs responded to several questions including two questions from The Weekly Anchor.
Changes to the linear tax assessment have a wide-reaching impact from collaborative frameworks, police funding, seniors and recreation funding, and commercial and residential taxes. The Weekly Anchor asked, "Minister, besides the municipalities, the current assessment model also supports the school and seniors foundation requisitions, among others. This plan is a reduction in tax revenues, so who will be picking up the tab for the requisition shortfalls? Will it be the schools, the municipalities, or the seniors?"
Allard responded, "It is a reduction, but it's minor relative to what was proposed in the previous four scenarios. The Treasury Board has not set the education requisition amounts yet, but we know none of us will get through this whole without an impact felt. I don't have an answer specifically on that yet, but our estimate is it will be $7 million." The minister stated the shortfall would likely be spread around.
The Weekly Anchor then asked, "Will these special considerations for one particular industry open the door to other industries with that same request?"
Allard replied, "We could argue that it would. But I would say when you look at cross-jurisdictions... it shows that Alberta's assessment on oil and gas is higher —and we need to have a competitive review. I do not think every industry can say they are out-priced in a cross-jurisdiction analysis. This is a transition to a more fair assessment and hopefully grow the pie as our jurisdiction becomes more competitive with those also fighting for these dollars."
"Alberta’s government heard loud and clear that now is not the time to make comprehensive changes to the way it assesses oil and gas wells, the machinery and equipment at these wells, and the pipelines associated with them. Today’s announcement reflects our continued commitment to working with and listening to our municipal and industry partners," the release concluded.
Mayor Eglinski concluded, "I am still concerned with the uncollectables and this will be a major issue for the County. We have only collected a small portion these taxes that are due."   --Editor's Note: Alberta Premier Jason Kenney began self-isolating Wednesday afternoon on October 21, after close contact with Municipal Affairs Minister Tracy Allard, who received a positive test result for COVID-19 that same day. The Premier tested negative as of the 21st. Transportation Minister Ric McIver, as well as MLAs Angela Pitt, Peter Guthrie and Nathan Neudorf are also self-isolating, as they had interactions with Allard the week prior.