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December 16, 2019

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News: December 16, 2019 issue

Parkland Lodge Fundraising Team meets $250,000 goal for new furniture

After over three years of fundraising, the Parkland Lodge Fundraising Team has met their $250,000 goal to purchase furniture for the new Parkland Lodge.
On March 29, 2015 the Government of Canada and the Alberta Government announced funding for affordable seniors housing in Edson. A joint investment of $26.5 million was announced to support the expansion of the Parkland Lodge and provide 62 additional rooms in a new three-story, 102 unit building.
Residents of the old Parkland Lodge were moved into the building formerly occupied by the Edson Municipal Hospital in April 2016.
On October 19, 2016, permit number 079-2016 was granted for demolition of the one-story seniors lodge at 4619-9 Avenue, which was to be replaced by a new, three-story seniors lodge at the same location.
The first official meeting of Parkland Lodge Fundraising Team was held on November 2, 2016 with Committee Chairman Ivan Strang. The Team's objective was to raise money to purchase new furniture for the common areas of the new Lodge. A target of $250,000 was set during this time.
Official sod turning for the new Lodge was held September 11, 2017.
One of the early fundraising events on July 21, 2018 has great support from Patterson's Auction Services and from businesses, corporations, individuals throughout the area, and religious groups, plus anonymous donations.
Other fundraising events included a BBQ hosted by Lodge residents and staff at the temporary lodge, a BBQ at Husky Energy, a BBQ at Sobeys, a BBQ at Patterson's Parts Supply, and a Variety Show by Popovich Productions Ltd.
The new Lodge is expected to permit occupancy in April 2020 when Lodge residents will move from the temporary quarters to the new location.
The main entrance of the new Parkland Lodge will provide an opportunity to view the 'Giving Tree', where the names of the contributors are recorded on colored leaves on the tree.
The Committee is very grateful for the help of all those who have contributed efforts to meet our goal of $250,000.
Another thank you to Committee members Les Halliwell, Bonnie Pillage, Mal Goldie, Ernie Mushtuk, Marsh Hoke, Alba Mihajlovich, Linda Maris, Terry Carter, Ron Christie, Brian Broughton, Donna Roman, Suzanne Robinson,  John Stitzenberger; and a special thank you to Sandra Block, Assistant Manager of the Lodge for her considerable clerical support.
The total funds now sit at $268,429.61, but you can still donate to the project and receive an income tax deductible receipt.

News: December 9, 2019 issue

Trans Mountain starts construction on $7.4 billion Expansion Project

   Acheson, AB – December 3, 2019 – Expansion Project pipe is on the ground in Alberta and will be in the ground before Christmas. Today, Trans Mountain’s CEO Ian Anderson was joined by Hon. Seamus O'Regan, Minister of Natural Resources, Government of Canada, Hon. Sonya Savage, Minister of Energy, Government of Alberta and local government representatives in Acheson, Alberta for an event to mark the start of pipeline construction for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.
“Getting shovels in the ground in Alberta and kicking off pipeline construction is a pivotal moment for Trans Mountain,” said Ian Anderson, President and CEO of Trans Mountain. “We are proud of the Project we have designed and the innovative measures we are implementing that demonstrate the kind of rigour and detail that will go into every stage of this Project to mitigate risks, respect the rights of those directly affected and operate safely.”
“Today, we’re marking an important milestone in this pipeline’s construction,” said Seamus O’Regan, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources. “This Project is supporting workers and will keep our energy sector strong – in the short, medium, and long term. This is a good day for our sector. It’s a good day for Alberta. It’s a good day for Canada.”
“Today is an exciting step forward for Trans Mountain. It is also a step forward for not only Alberta, but for the economic growth and prosperity for Canada as a whole,” said Sonya Savage, Alberta’s Minister of Energy. “Alberta is a world leader in producing energy with the highest environmental, social and governance standards. While completion of the Expansion Project is the one true measure of success, it’s important to celebrate achievements – like this – along the way. Albertans can be assured their government will continue to stand up for our energy industry and get pipelines built.”
Today’s event kicks off pipeline construction in Greater Edmonton (Spread 1), which includes approximately 50 kilometres of pipeline running from Trans Mountain’s Edmonton Terminal in Sherwood Park to Acheson, Alberta. SA Energy Group, the general pipeline construction contractor for Spread 1, has begun pipe transport, stringing and other preparation work that is necessary before pipeline installation.
Trans Mountain officially re-started construction on the Trans Mountain Expansion Project on August 22, 2019, with work underway at the Westridge Marine Terminal, Burnaby Terminal and at pump stations in Alberta. The work includes site preparation activities, in-water construction of new shipping berths, foreshore extension work and facility upgrades. Construction is expected to begin shortly in Spread 2 (Yellowhead), as crews are finishing up pre-construction activities and environmental surveys in that area.
As of October 31, 2019, close to six million person hours have been spent on the Project. Trans Mountain has received more than half of the pipe needed for construction and are staging it at storage yards along the route. As of September 30, 2019, Trans Mountain and our contractors have hired more than 2,200 people for the Project, including Indigenous, local and regional employees. This workforce includes heavy equipment operators, trades people, environment and safety compliance roles, engineers, construction managers and administration staff.
--- The expansion is set to be finished by mid-2022, however, the Federal Court of Appeal is currently still reviewing an appeal by B.C. Indigenous groups. The B.C. government also has an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada in their reference case on whether it has the authority to regulate increased interprovincial shipments of heavy oil and other hazardous substances via pipelines or other means. The Supreme Court will hear the case early in the new year.---

News: December 2, 2019 issue

No changes to Edson's photo radar program for now

The Town of Edson will be status quo for now with the photo enforcement program. 
The provincial government has announced a temporary freeze on new photo radar devices and locations while it reviews the program across Alberta.
The Town of Edson’s goal with the photo enforcement program is to reduce speeding in areas of concern.
General Manager of Community and Protective Services Guy Latour says the speeding problems we face in Edson are unique.  “We have residential, commercial and industrial zones along the highway with no service roads. There are also locations where multiple lanes of one-way traffic merge with opposite direction traffic with no median and limited visibility due to hills and curves. This makes the area hazardous at high speeds and dangerous for regular traffic enforcement.”
Edson Mayor Kevin Zahara says they have been monitoring the program closely. “Council understands the importance of this program for the Town of Edson and have directed administration to ensure a high level of service in school zones as well.”
All details on program are available on the Town’s website, including location details, schedules, risk assessments, and revenue split. https://www.edson.ca/departments/protective-services/photo-enforcement.
The Town of Edson looks forward to participating in the consultation process and working with the province in a collaborative manner to ensure public safety remains the focus of the program.

News: November 25, 2019 issue

'Farmers Spirit Can’t Be Broken' potluck supper held in Peers

by Lynnette Klut
 
Unfortunately, area farmers have had another challenging year to make ends meet. 2019 started by finishing harvesting the remainder of 2018’s crop before even seeding.
 Most area farmers were able to seed their crops with little difficulty but then the non-stop rains, cool temperatures, and low heat units (sunshine) started to have devastating effects to our crops.
Also, some of us received a very destructive hail that completely wiped out a lot of acres of hay, pasture, and crop land.
Due to the excessive rains, some farmers never had a chance to do proper weed control either. Hiring an aerial crop sprayer is definitely out of the financial bracket of our local small farmers, so weed pressure on the growing crops reduced yields also.
On the livestock and forage side of things you may think all that rain was beneficial for growing grasses, but fast growing grass has very little nutrients. The calves came off pasture this fall with lower weight gains than other years; yet another financial hit.
The cows are also starting to struggle to maintain good condition going into winter with the lack of quality hay that was harvested this year.
Normally, we are able to harvest two consecutive hay crops each year. Starting with extremely soft fields, this year proved to be a challenge just to get one quality cut off.
We considered using rig mating just so we could get into our hay fields. Others hooked two tractors together just to get through the mud with their balers. Balers needed to have mud pressure washed out of them regularly. Haying is supposed to be a dry activity, but not this year.
Once smooth fields are now filled with ruts even on top of hills and hillsides. My father-in-law Ernie Klut commented, “We feel like thieves trying to steal our own hay off the fields between rain showers.” The rains would only stop for 2-3 days not giving the hay or field time to dry.
As the wet summer turned into an even wetter fall, we wondered how we were going to keep our swathers and combines afloat in our fields to harvest our 2019 pay cheque.  Area farmers looked into expensive four wheel drive kits or duals for their combines. Some were hoping for an early frost to freeze the soil. Others were not because the cold weather would kill their vegetables or unripe cereals.
Unfortunately, an early snow arrived again this year damaging or destroying some crops and made fields even wetter.
Harvest had many challenges: soft and damaged fields, low yields, damp grain (requiring drying), high humid days, and always rising expenses. All these increasing challenges makes for very stressed farmers.
Now with another year of high debts and low yields, farmers are feeling the financial, physical and mental pressures of trying to feed the world. Farming over the past four years has turned from a fun enjoyable lifestyle into hell on muddy wheels.
After listening to farmers vent their frustrations, I wanted to bring them all together so they knew they weren’t alone in this wet snowy world. Thus the 'Farmers Spirit Can’t Be Broken' potluck supper was put into action in the early fall of 2018.
I made a call to Therese Tompkins on a Friday and the following Friday evening we hosted a potluck supper at the Peers Multiplex. We had over 80 people show up that night to enjoy fantastic food, and most importantly, support from each other. Our community maybe small but our hearts are massive.
Therese and I received many thanks that evening for pulling everyone together and we were asked to do it again this year. On October 18 at the Peers Multiplex we hosted our second spirit supper with the help of a local business Sid’s Safety & Janitorial. We thank you for your support Sid. Hopefully, next year’s potluck supper will celebrate a better growing season.
Farming in our area has many different faces —from livestock, forage, grain, oil seeds, and pulses to honey, vegetables, and market gardens. But we all share the same challenges: poor growing conditions and harvests, trade disputes, high input costs, and low market values, just to touch on a few issues.
With all of these combined, the mental health of a farmer is threatened. If you know of someone struggling with mental health call Alberta Mental Health Help Line 1-877-303-2642 toll free or visit the Do More Agriculture Foundation’s website. The agency focuses on the mental well-being of Canadian Producers —or simply do what we use to do not very long ago, drop in for a visit.
Many problems and stories were discussed over countless pots of coffee at my parent’s farm over the decades.

News: November 18, 2019 issue

Town discusses installation of electric vehicle charging stations

by Cassie Kushniruk
 
During their November 12 Committee of the Whole meeting, Town Council discussed the potential installation of Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations at two public facilities in town.
“The emergence of the electric vehicle is significant,” said Environmental & Fleet Service Manager Bruce Thompson. “Sales have increased by 80% in Alberta over the last year, putting us fourth behind Quebec, Ontario and BC.”
Electric vehicles charged on the current Alberta power grid reduces the carbon footprint by approximately 40% compared to a similar model internal combustion engine vehicle.
According to Thompson, justification to invest in this type of infrastructure is two-fold, “To expand the interconnectivity of this charging network across the province and Canada, and in doing so, increase traveling public stops in Edson. We would encourage sales as well as encourage people to stop into our community and stimulate the local economy.”
According to Thompson, there are currently a number of EV charging stations located throughout town at Moose Meadows Campground, Edson RV & Campground and Guest House Inn & Suites.“Canadian Tire is looking to install a Level 3 sometime in the next six months,” he added.
Administration recommended the installation of two Level 2 charging stations at an estimated cost of $7,000-$10,000 per unit. These stations are recommended for an average recharge of 1-4 hours.
Although Level 3 EV stations can charge much faster in less than one hour, they are much more expensive to purchase, install, and operate, at an estimated cost of $70,000-$100,000 per unit.
The locations recommended by Administration for the installation of these charging stations are the Galloway Station Museum and Repsol Place, preferably the Multi-Use Facility once it is developed.
Administration also suggested that the Museum be fitted with a supplementary solar panel array to “feed back renewable energy into the grid to offset some of the use that is being used by the grid to power that one particular station”.
“The configuration alignment of the [Museum] building is such that it is a good candidate for that,” Thompson said.“I’ve got a rough number of about $20,000 to look at putting that solar array on there.”
In total, the two locations, along with the solar array, is estimated to costbetween $50,000 to $100,000.
As the 2020 budget is not yet assigned, this matter would be explored in the 2021 Budget or funding could be provided to see the program promoted to the 2020 year.
Mayor Kevin Zahara expressed support for the installation of the two charging stations and suggested to utilize funds from the Town’s Energy Reserve so as to not affect taxation.
Zahara added, “I would preferably like to see one installed in our downton core to support our small business community.”
Although Councillor Gean Chouinard agreed with the idea of installing these EV charging stations in town, he stated that the Town should “stay out of it”. “I’m not in favor of us spending town dollars,” he said. “I would rather that we help encourage through a grant because the way I view it, it would just be like us handing out free gas.”
Councillor Trevor Bevan noted, “I went to the Guesthouse and talked to them and they have three [charging stations]. One has been down for six months and they cannot get it repaired. I asked how often these charging stations are being used, and they said they’re lucky if they get one use a week.”
Councillor Jacqui Currie agreed with Zahara that one of the charging stations should be located in the downtown core, with the idea being that “if we’re going to keep them here for an hour or two, we’re helping out the small businesses”.
Councillor Janet Wilkinson agreed with Chouinard that the Town should not be involved in this matter, but that she would be in support of pursuing a grant opportunity.
Deputy Mayor Krystal Baier expressed her support for the charging stations, “I think municipalities have to take the lead on this in order to encourage other private business to follow.”
CAO Mike Derricott cautioned Council, “In the long range, I want to be cautious of the Town filling the role of the future gas station. I don’t think that is our role, but in this early [stage], ensuring that our town is accessible to this mode of transportation is important and should be pursued.”
Overall, Council expressed support for the simultaneous pursuit of both the grant program and the development of the two charging stations in Town.