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October 15, 2018Current issue

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News: October 15, 2018

Changes to Edson's Cannabis Land Use Bylaw

by Masha Scheele

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

News: October 8, 2018

Town passes Cannabis Consumption Bylaw

by Masha Scheele
 
In preparation for the legalization of cannabis this month, Edson Administration passed all three readings of the new Cannabis Consumption Bylaw to go into effect on October 17, 2018. The bylaw draft was amended to reflect Council`s wishes for a total ban on cannabis consumption in public spaces. Director of Community Services Jim Desautels presented minor modifications made to the bylaw concerning transporting cannabis and fines for consumption in public spaces at the Council meeting on October 2.
Section 2.2 of the Cannabis Consumption Bylaw, which deals with the prohibited transportation of cannabis or cannabis accessories in a vehicle unless it remains in an enclosed space and out of reach of the driver and passengers, was first pointed out
after Councillor Troy Sorenson asked it to be completely removed at the Committee of the Whole meeting on September 25. “I just want to comment on my appreciation for removing clauses that overlap with RCMP responsibilities and federal law. I think that’s a great improvement,” said Councillor Sorenson.
Mayor Kevin Zahara then asked about signage to ensure that the public is aware of the ban on cannabis consumption in public spaces, “especially in places such as our park spaces where those individuals sometimes like to go to and may have a different idea of what our bylaw is.”
“Certainly we will use the Media, social media, and our website to promote education on this new bylaw,” Jim Desautels replied. “We will also be posting signs in our facilities, and in our public spaces, including trails and park spaces.”
Councillor Gean Choinard then added that the $250, $500, and $750 fines will be a useful deterrent, but he hopes that through advertising people will understand cannabis is treated in the same controlled manner as alcohol. “You can’t have a beer in a park so you shouldn’t have marijuana. But I do like the fine structure and I believe the bylaw would be, first of all, a warning, and then there are some pretty good fines,” he commented.
“Absolutely, education is our main concern,” replied Desautels.
Additionally, the powers of searching a property during investigations for violations under this bylaw were removed as it was felt other bylaws already contained the necessary authorities to address unsightly premises and other similar municipal concerns.

First reading of the Cannabis Framework for changes to the Land Use Bylaw was also approved in September. This deals with cannabis related businesses and zoning. A few changes were made to the original framework. Council has requested that cannabis related store setbacks be reduced to 100 metres to allow for more opportunities and less restriction on competition. They`ve also removed cannabis lounges from the framework to allow for Federal rules and guidelines on lounges and edibles to be established first.
Feedback can still be provided by calling 780-723-4402 or emailing engineeringandplanning@edson.ca. A public hearing on the cannabis related land use changes is scheduled for October 16, 2018 at 7:30pm in Council Chambers.
The results of the town`s Public Cannabis Framework survey and the full bylaw and changes can also be found at www.edson.ca/bylaws.

News: October 1, 2018

GYPSD Board votes to close Wildwood and Evansview Schools in favour of new K-12 Grand Trunk School

by Cassie Kushniruk

September 27 marked the day when the Grande Yellowhead School Division Board of Trustees made their public decision as to whether or not the division's Three Year Capital Plan should be changed. The original plan was the modernization of three Lobstick Zone schools: Wildwood School, Evansview Elementary in Evansburg, and Grand Trunk High School in Evansburg.
At the beginning of the meeting, the board opened up the floor to stakeholder delegations, each then stating their opinions on which school(s) should be closed and suggested other solutions.
Nick Myschuk representing the Wildwood Community Association advocated for Wildwood School to remain open as a K-6 school, thus closing Evansview Elementary and moving their students into Wildwood. Older students, he suggested, would then attend Grand Trunk High School in Evansburg. “It's the oldest building for a centralized elementary school,” he said of Wildwood School, wondering why Grand Trunk was being considered for modernization as it is the newest school out of the three Lobstick zone schools.
Local Wildwood resident Jennifer Hollman then spoke on behalf of the Wildwood parents, suggesting that two capital projects be submitted, with Wildwood as a K-6 school and Grand Trunk as a 7-12 school. “This would allow both communities to have equal say and equal rights,” she said. “If you close Wildwood School to amalgamate them into Evansburg, you are signing a death sentence to our community.”
Representing the teaching staff of Evansview, Debra McKinnon mentioned that if Evansview Elementary is closed, parents will end up sending their children to school in Entwistle, as it is closer to Evansburg than Wildwood is. Superintendent Carolyn Lewis also confirmed that she had received responses from Evansburg parents saying that they may prefer to sending their students to Entwistle for school.
Chair Brenda Rosadiuk then opened the floor up to school trustees for any questions.
Trustee Ellen Aust from Hinton asked about the challenges with educational programming in smaller schools. “The most significant challenge is to staff smaller classes,” replied Superintendent Lewis.
Aust then asked, “How would wrap around services change if amalgamating the schools?”
Assistant Superintendent, Learning Services Karen Shipka replied, “If we were to combine them into one building, access to speech language pathologists and occupational therapy, etc. would be more readily available because all the students would be under one roof.” She also mentioned that it is more difficult to provide these services in Wildwood due to the distance between the two communities. 
Jasper Trustee Dale Karpluk then asked how bussing would affect all students when combined into Grand Trunk. Director of Transportation Services Cory Halabi responded, “A majority of students will not experience significant changes.”
The motion to revise the Three Year Capital Plan for 2019-2022 to place the Grand Trunk High School amalgamation as its number one priority was made.
Before calling on a vote, Chair Brenda Rosadiuk said a few words, “I would like to say that the motion we have on the floor for amalgamation is a bittersweet decision. I have lived, and my family have lived, in the Wildwood/Evansburg area. So for me, not one of these options is going to make everybody happy today. I have stood shoulder to shoulder with most of the folks in this room as we have attended house-packed gymnasiums of sports teams and Christmas concerts. So I do not take this lightly at all. I emphasize with the community, the staff, and the students. I celebrate with the community of students and staff that one of these decisions will be offering more programs, collaboration, and modernization of their current schooling. I stand by making the decision to do what is best for the students of Wildwood, Evansview, and Grand Trunk. That decision is not just to serve the students of the day, but students of tomorrow.”
The motion was then voted on and passed with a show of hands from the majority.
Superintendent Lewis then described what the next step will be for the amalgamation of the three schools.  “Grande Yellowhead School Division will resubmit their capital plan to Alberta Education. At that point in time, we'll be considered alongside approximately another 200 requests for funding and finance for school modernization. We will then wait to see if we are one of the 20 projects that will be selected by Alberta Education this year. If it is accepted, then there will be quite a lengthy process to follow.”
Director of Facility Service Ken Baluch added that if the project is approved, it will be a five year process before becoming a fully modernized and amalgamated school.

News: September 24, 2018

GYPDS host 'hand-on workshop' concerning
Wildwood, Evansview, and Grand Trunk Schools

by Dana McArthur
 
On September 13 the Grande Yellowhead Public School Division (GYPSD) held a 'hands-on workshop' at the Wildwood Community Hall with over 120 people in attendance.
The GYPSD is conducting a review of three of their facilities in the Lobstick zone including Evansview School (K-6) and Grand Trunk High School (7-12) in Evansburg, and the Wildwood (K-9).
The GYPSD states the goal of the review is to determine how they can provide the best learning environment and educational programs for the students of Wildwood and Evansburg, given the resources available. Community sessions were held in both Evansburg and Wildwood in June 2018 to learn about community hopes and concerns.
During the September 13th workshop over 200 people were in attendance. Stakeholders were broken down into small groups at various tables set up in the hall with all questions, concerns, comments, and ideas channeled through a table facilitator and passed on to the main facilitator, who then announced the results back to the whole group and the GYPSD board members present.
Attendees were given handouts with pre-form questions as the 'potential decision criteria' to discuss among their group as the table facilitator complied the information. They were also given a sheet listing the "Current Facility Review Options".
Option one: Fully modernize, and right-size Grand Trunk High School (GTHS), Evansview School, and Wildwood School (the Division's current Three-Year Capital Plan)
Option two: Fully modernize GTHS for kindergarten to grade 12 (K-12) with a 500 student capacity and consolidate all three schools.
Option three: Fully modernize and expand Evansview School for 250 K-6 students. Move Wildwood K-6 students to Evansview (Evansburg). Fully modernize GTHS to 250 capacity and move Wildwood grade 7-9 students to GTHS.
Option four: Consolidate Wildwood and Evansview School into a replacement Evansview School with the capacity for 250 students K-6. Fully modernize GTHS to 250 capacity and move Wildwood grade 7-9 students to GTHS.
Groups were also given the opportunity to indentify additional options. As each table of attendees completed their worksheets and discussion topics, the table facilitators were each given the opportunity to present the main concerns from their assigned tables to the whole group.
New options presented by the table facilitators on behalf of their groups included a new K-12 school an equal distance between Evansburg and Wildwood. But the most repeated theme was to modernize Wildwood School and amalgamate Evansview students, and modernize and right-size GTHS.
Other main themes included modernizing Wildwood school, and modernize GTHS as a K-12 and consolidating it with Evansview School. No table facilitator presented closing the Wildwood School as an acceptable option from their group.
The meeting concluded with the facilitator and GYPSD board members thanking people for attending and outlining the next steps including a Drop-In Review Session in Evansburg and Wildwood on September 19 and 20.
A 'Special Public Board Meeting' is planned on Thursday, September 27 at 10 a.m. at the Edson Legion. GYPSD's Board of Trustees will review all community input received through the workshop, drop-in sessions, and the online survey and make a decision on whether the Division's current Three-Year Capital Plan should be changed. This meeting is open to the public.

News: September 17, 2018

Multi-Use Facility Update:
No formal decisions made on site location

 by Dana McArthur

Yellowhead County and the Town of Edson jointly invited proposals from professional firms to help fulfil the community's need for a new Joint Multi-Use Recreation Complex. The services required include pre-design, site selection, geotechnical studies, and conceptual design.
Submissions received from the Request for Proposal (RFP) process are now being reviewed by Administration and will be forwarded to the Project Steering Committee on October 16 for review and recommendation to the respective Councils.
"The RFP tentatively identifies Griffiths Park as a primary site for 'investigation' but in no way has it been selected as the location site," said Town Manager Mike Derricott. "That is what the RFP process is about. We are going to hire a consultant to do the review of that site and the Repsol site, as well as any others if the consultant tells us those two are unsuitable. Our committee will review the consultant's report and forward it on to the Councils for ratification."
"Certainly no formal decisions have been made about the location of the proposed facility," stated Derricott.
It is anticipated the award of the professional services contract will be ratified by the respective Councils at subsequent Council meetings in the following weeks. Further updates will be released as the project moves forward.  - (with files Town of Edson)