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May 20, 2019Current issue

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News: May 20, 2019 issue

Tax impact of new Multiplex presented at Open House

“This is about building a facility for future generations”: Mayor Zahara
 
by Cassie Kushniruk
 
During an open house at the Galloway Station Museum on May 9, tax implications for Edson residents relating to the Town and Yellowhead County’s joint $70 million Multi-Use Recreation Facility were presented. 
The capital cost for this project is being shared 50-50 between the Town and the County, with a 60-40 Town-County operational split.
The Town of Edson will be using a combination of $20 million in savings, as well as $15 million in borrowed money to cover their half of the expenses. Meanwhile, the County will be delaying capital projects in order to cover their expenses without borrowing money. County Mayor Gerald Soroka clarified, "The County typically budgets 40 to 50 million dollars for capital projects yearly with higher priority projects coming first. Will this delay some less urgent projects? Absolutely." County recently approved their 2019 budget with no municipal operations increase.
Based on today’s borrowing rates and expected operational costs, Edson taxpayers can expect to see an estimated $130 increase in taxes yearly per $100,000 in assessment. For an average household of $350,000, this will equate to an estimated increase of $450 per year, roughly $38 per month.
 “I’ve talked to families in our community that stopped by today and they said they are comfortable with [the tax increase] for what they’re going to get,” said Town of Edson Mayor Kevin Zahara. “There’s obviously people who are struggling and maybe are on a lower income and it’s going to have an impact on them, but there’s a lot of things that we build and supply that not everybody uses; that’s the type of society we’re living in.”
“At the end of the day, we either have to invest in our existing infrastructure at multi-million dollars or look at something new, and the best return on investment is looking at something new that is going to serve our community for the next 50 years like our current facility has served us,” Zahara continued.
“I try to remind people that why we’re here today is because of the feedback we received through two studies: the 2006 CONRAD report and the 2017 facilities study,” said Zahara. “The 2017 study had over 800 respondents. They provided the feedback that they did not want us investing in existing infrastructure; they wanted us to look at something new that would bring everything into one building, would be energy efficient, and would allow them to do multiple activities and have additional programming.”
Zahara mentioned that residents can visit the Town of Edson website to put in their property assessment to see exactly how much the capital cost and the increased operational cost will impact them.
“One of the reasons we have decided to delay the project a year or two is so we can put those financial plans in place to limit those impacts,” explained Zahara, adding that the Town will continue looking into grant opportunities in order to limit tax increases by borrowing as little money as possible. 
Yellowhead County Mayor Gerald Soroka added, “We’re not really limiting the construction by that much because we have no detailed design work and no geotechnical work done yet, so by the time we complete this, we’ll be looking at a minimum of two years just for that. We’re giving ourselves that extra time frame of a year to make sure that we’ve got it down perfectly and that we’re not rushed for the construction.”
One of the biggest challenges associated with the current site selected for the Multi-Use Recreation Facility is the fact that the land is currently occupied by the Edson and District Boys and Girls Club. “The Boys and Girls Club are currently in a facility owned by the Town of Edson and we’ve provided that facility since the 80s,” said Zahara.“Obviously that is one of the biggest challenges with this site because the Boys and Girls Club do provide a valuable service in our community.”
“We’ve already communicated to them that they are going to have to find a new home,” Zahara continued. “Even if they were included in the new building, they would still have to find space because of the construction.”
Soroka added that some other concerns regarding the site location include the types of soil on the site or the location itself. “I think some people are a little concerned about change because they figure that the facility is at the perfect site that it’s currently at,” he said.
It has also been made known that once the new Multi-Use Recreation Facility is constructed, Repsol Place will be torn down as the Town will not be able to afford the operational costs associated with both facilities. “I know there had been some discussion about just keeping that facility operating, but we just can’t afford to unless we want the taxes going up that much more,” Zahara said. “There could be opportunities that present themselves at that time and we’ll have to look at that at that point.”
Soroka added, “We have to understand that the operational costs are significantly higher because of the size of the building.”
In response to comments that the new facility will not be centrally located, Zahara said, “It is more central than where the curling rink was. It is connected to our trail system. It also allows us to be within the corridor with the Galloway Station Museum, Centennial Park, and the Skateboard Park where our residents can utilize all these facilities within a close distant. So for things like Canada Day, that’s going to be amazing for our community because we can leverage all our facilities.” 
Soroka said, “I think it’s a much needed facility for keeping our community an active community, whether it’s for recreational needs or making sure we have people that want to come live and work in this community.”
“So far we’ve had a great relationship with the Town of Edson,” Soroka said. “I know this is a hit financially to the County, so I can appreciate the commitment that the Town is making.”
Zahara closed, “This is a historic project for our community and we really appreciate the cooperation and partnership we have with the Yellowhead County on this. We continue to look forward to working together and building a stronger community for all the residents. This is about building a facility for future generations.”

News: May 13, 2019 issue

Volunteers desperately needed for Food Drive

by Deanna Mitchener
 
The Edson Food Bank is in desperate need of volunteers to help with the upcoming Food Drive on May  15.
Luella Wells, who organizes the Food Drive, said, “This year we are in dire need of volunteers. As of May 7 we have only nine confirmed volunteers. If anyone would like to help out please call the Food Bank at 780-723-1350. We could surely use all the help we can get.”
 The Food Dive takes place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. with the town sectioned off into 22 different areas for collections. Each of the areas need three people including a driver and two others to go door to door gathering food donations. That's a total of at least 66 volunteers needed for two hours. 
 “We only have one Food Drive a year and usually brings in a lot. But if we don’t have the help going door to door the Food Bank is really going to suffer. We also count on the generosity of families to help make the Drive a success. Our Food Bank's success depends on your donations,” said Wells. 
If you will be away from home between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. during the Food Drive on May 15 please consider leaving a bag or box of items just outside your door. Mark it for the "Food Bank" that way the people gathering items will know to take it. 

News: May 6, 2019 issue

Multi Use Recreation Facility moves forward

by Deanna Mitchener 
 
The community has been buzzing with great news about the plans moving forward with the New Multi Use Recreation Facility.
The Weekly Anchor had the opportunity to interview the Town of Edson Chief Administration Officer Mike Derricott on April 26, just prior to the Edson and District Chamber of Commerce Trade Show getting underway.
 “We have a conceptual design developed which has identified the core elements of what will be in the building. Basically it is two ice rinks, four sheets of curling ice, an aquatics pool facility, and a large gymnasium/fieldhouse component, along with a walking and running track and a fitness area. This will somewhat be the core of the new project,” said CAO Derricott.
 “The site that has been identified at this point is the Griffiths Park location. Some may know this area as the Boys and Girls Club or where Vanier School is located. There were a couple of key elements that made that site the most visible. One of those being its size. It allows us some flexibility in terms of design, parking, and accessibility. We also expect this facility to become a community hub. This area also offers potential for adding future elements to it down the road. We are very excited about that opportunity,” said Derricott.
“We did also review the current Repsol site. The biggest challenge with that location other than its size was the fact that it would require a phased approach. The loss of services for a period of time while we build was not appealing. We also heard from Stantec that we would be looking at an added 15% cost to do a phase build that adds onto an existing facility, as well as adding an additional year to the timeline. All those elements were certainly considered,” said Derricott. 
 “The timeline has been identified for the next phase of the process, which would be detailed design work. For a project of this magnitude it will take at least a year to complete," said Derricott.
"So that’s looking like it will be scheduled for late 2019, into all of 2020, and maybe a little bit more. With a scheduled start of construction in late fall of 2020. Then the construction time is a minimal of two years, so we are looking for a opening of late 2024 as things stand right now. That is our targeted timeline,” added Derricott.
 “We are anticipating getting lots of questions during the Trade Show. I think the most important thing to do if you have questions is please come to the Town, check out our website, and seek information. We do have some information available so if anyone hears something that is concerning or not sure about, come and talk to us and we can probably provide information that will at least address their concern. They may not always be satisfied with the information, but at least the information will be accurate," said Derricott.
"As always, we are just really thrilled with the collaborative partnership that we have taken with Yellowhead County. We are further along in this project than we have ever been. I know the community has been waiting a long time for a facility like this, and the fact that the County has come to the table ready to engage this project, has been really fantastic,” said Derricott. 
   When asked what will become of the present facility after the new one opens, Derricott response, “As of right now this facility would be slated for demolition once the new facility is completed and operational. I don’t have anything that would lead me to believe there would be another outcome."
"One of the reasons we are designing and building a new facility the way we are, is for efficiency of operation, getting more of our activities happening in one place. That will allow us more efficiencies with staff, operational costs like utilities, and those types of things," stated the CAO. 
"We do not have a specific outcome in mind for the land itself, that’s something that can be determined at a later date. It would be something with the highest and best need identified at that time. It is certainly unique to have a piece of property like that become available in the community at any given time. We will definitely put a lot of thought into what might take place on that property in the future,” said Derricott.

News: April 29, 2019 issue

Grow Yellowhead to connect consumers with locally grown food

by Cassie Kushniruk
 
“There’s quite a surge in popularity of people wanting to learn more about their food,” said Community Futures West Yellowhead Community Liaison Jax Delisle.
In partnership with Yellowhead County, and with additional funding from Hinton Cares and the provincial CARES grant, Community Futures West Yellowhead recently launched Grow Yellowhead; a website dedicated to connecting consumers with locally grown food in the region in one click.
On April 9, Community Futures held an open house in Edson —along with four other communities— to raise awareness for the website while providing the opportunity for community members to ask questions and provide feedback. “It was really different in each community,” Delisle recalled. “It was interesting listening to all their different needs and requests, but mainly people were just interested in finding local food options.”
“One of the big things that people were looking for was honey and local eggs,” said Delisle. “We’ve got a number of farms that sell beef, poultry, pork and all kinds of stuff; pretty much everything you’re looking for.”
While not knowing what kind of turnout to expect at these open houses, Delisle was pleased with the 15-20 people who showed up at each open house in the different communities. “I’m really glad that so many people came out and that so many people are interested in local food,” she said.“I think some people came out not sure what to expect and were pleasantly surprised when they realized they could take this database home with them and be connected with food in their area.”
In preparation for last year’s Alberta Open Farm Days’ farm-to-table dinner, Delisle visited a U-Pick registered on Grow Yellowhead and was shocked at how inexpensive the food was. “For pretty much the same price as a grocery store you can go and support a small business in your community, which is really important,” she said.“I would so much rather support a local farmer myself and I know that consumers feel the same way.”
Over the summer, Delisle mentioned that she visited over 13 farms and her “eyes were opened” after realizing the abundance of locally grown food in the region. “I think that it’s really important for people to buy locally and to realize you actually can buy a lot of food locally,” she said.“I think it’s really important that we’re putting this information out there for consumers.”
Delisle added, “You can know exactly what’s in the food and you can talk to the farmer about what they use on their products. It’s just a really good experience and is so important for the County.”
While Grow Yellowhead currently has 20 farms registered in its database, Delisle hopes to bump the number of registrants up to 50.“Even if you’re not a farmer yourself and you know of a farm that should be on that database, send me a message and I will connect with that farmer to see if they’re comfortable being on the database,” said Delisle.
The Grow Yellowhead website can be reached at https://growyellowhead.wordpress.com/.If interested in registering your farm or suggesting a farm for registration, contact Delisle at jaxdelisle@gmail.com or 780-865-1224.

News: April 22, 2019 issue

Opportunity for youth to ‘Make Your Mark’

by Shaylyn Thornton
 
Taking something that may be rundown, and making it look brand new again is a rewarding experience. With the ‘Make Your Mark’ project, the Town of Edson is inviting youth to help them do exactly that.
The project involves a team of youth that identify areas in Edson that could use a spruce up, and the group then works to recreate the area in question. A previous undertaking of the group was the Scout Shack in Kinsmen Park, which was completely transformed last summer.
Community Development Coordinator Diana Inscho said that the project allows youth to “come up with ideas and help create a sense of place” for areas of Edson that need a little TLC.
“They want to make the community a more vibrant place,” Inscho said. “The goal is to create art that makes people want to stop and look.”
The team they have is enthusiastic, and all display a clear drive to make Edson a little more beautiful.
Artist Jayme Rauch said, “I love being able to be artistic, and being involved in remaking something in a creative way.”
Her teammate, artist Dylan Cooper, was glad he took the opportunity to join the project. “I heard it over the announcements at school, and decided to give it a try,” he said. “I really like getting to be a part of recreating things around town.”
The project was started in 2018, after Madison Sharman, lead artist, reached out to the Town of Edson with the goal of doing a mural on the Scout Shack. After speaking to Community Development Coordinator Ali Broda, the mural idea expanded to become the ‘Make Your Mark’ project.
The team has room for youth who would like to get involved and make a mark of their own. For more information, contact Diana Inscho at 780-723-8107 or by calling the Town of Edson.