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News: July 24, 2017

Peers Area Structural Plan reviewed

Deficiencies in cell, internet, and seniors housing identified

by Dana McArthur
The Area Structural Plan for Peers was discussed at the Yellowhead County's Committee of the Whole meeting opened up on July 18.
There have been three Steering Committee meetings held along with an Open House on January 11 of this year that was attended by 30 people.
County Planning and Development Manager Brent Shepherd presented the review. "The next Open House is scheduled for August 17 at 7 p.m. in Peers."
The plan provides a framework for the long-term growth and development of the lands in the hamlet of Peers. The overall goal of the plan is to establish policies that identity and encourage new residential and non-residential development. Identify opportunities to existing spaces and improve the quality of life for residents and visitors.
Flood and soil studies were done as part of the planning process. "Further vacant lands could be developed in the hamlet. There are 55 residences in the area with eight of these vacant. There are two multi-family dwelling, and currently no designated seniors housing," said  Shepherd.
"There are currently a number of commercial businesses in the hamlet primarily located around 50th Street. Industrial uses include Brisco Manufacturing with 42 employees," said Shepherd.
"When we looked at the opportunities and constraints we found there were some low service cost lots available which could easily be subdivided to create residential lots. We also have opportunities to create high density housing," said Shepherd.
Shepherd asked if council would consider incentives to encourage construction. Mayor Soroka responded, "In the past we have never given incentives and we have lost development. But how far do you go when you start giving incentives?"
Councillor Dawn Mitchell said, "We encourage growth and development by keeping taxes low and I think we do that, and it's fair across the board."
"Would something be considered for deferring costs to the developer in the areas that have water and sewer to their properties?" said Shepherd.
Councillor Shawn Berry said, "If developers wants to make the profit then they should pay the bills. However, I want to encourage development particularly in Peers. But if it's the developer or the property owner, I think it has to be paid and not come out of the county pocket."
CAO Ramme said, "Would it be fair to say that that if there is water and sewer going by it we may consider an incentive?" Council concurred that given this situation, it would be considered.
The needs for low cost rental in the Peers area was also an issue brought up in the study as well as senior's independent living accommodations. Also the poor internet and cell service in the hamlet.
"We are still missing coverage in Peers. We believe we can put a 100 foot tower within the hamlet which would give the ability for high speed internet, but it does not solve the cell phone issue," said Ramme. "It may take some funding from us to move this forward."
Councillor Fred Priestley-Wright said, " It does make people think twice about living in Peers." Mayor Soroka added, "If my phone rings in Peers and I can talk, I'm amazed. It is so hit and miss."
Brent Shepherd then addressed the issue of seniors independent living housing in Peers. "This was brought up by local residents at the last Open House." Councillor David Russell added, "This is a hot button topic in Peers."
Mayor Soroka said, "Speaking with Edson Mayor Pasychny, the Chair of the Evergreens Foundation, in their long range plan they are looking more at Yellowhead County. They are looking at more of a hybrid model of assisted housing and seniors apartments. This way a senior could transition through the same facility if they required assisted living. Maybe there is potential to partner with Evergreens on this type of housing."
Priestley-Wright, who is on the board of Evergreens, said, "This type of facility seems to be working well and there are lots of good examples out there."
Ramme said, "If you are looking at a combined facility it's not going to happen in Peers, no one is going to fund that. The county may have to focus on bringing in 10 granny suites for rent as opposed to selling them. That way you control them as the landowner and when a senior decides to move to the next phase of assisted living, that unit becomes available."
"I agree with you and I think it's worth a try. It's definitely needed. Evergreens is very good at managing seniors facilities, but they are not developers," said Priestley-Wright.
Mayor Soroka said, "Whatever we are doing in Peers there are other hamlets we have to look at and it has to be functional. If the County takes the lead on this then we have to look at more than a 10 unit facility, when a network of facilities would be more cost effective for staffing and management."
Several Council members including Mayor Soroka expressed concerns that a private facility could become neglected over time. Jack Ramme said, "I am hearing concerns from council that public/private partnering may become more profit driven than senior driven."
Council agreed to remove the wording mentioning public/private partnering in that section of the area structural plan.

News: July 17, 2017

Evansburg battered by hail storm

by Dana McArthur
During the sweltering heat on Sunday, July 9 a severe thunderstorm watch was in effect that included the Evansburg area in Yellowhead County. By late afternoon the storm struck battering homes and vehicles.
"The storm that came through produced hail the size of pool balls," said Sandra Cherniawsky, Yellowhead County Councillor for the area. "It was short lived so thankfully crop damage was minimal."
There was extensive vehicle damage including cracked windshields as well as some back windows completely destroyed.
Margo Stewart, with Lefty's Auto Glass in Evansburg, said, "We've been getting quite a few calls from people who got their windshields broken. People are still dealing with their insurance but we've had at least a dozen calls so far."
Most of the calls have been for windshields, "but we've had calls about car side windows too. A lot of the calls people have mentioned body damage to their cars as well," said Stewart. "I'm sure we'll be hearing from a lot more. It must have been scary for those caught outside in it."
Lynn Webster, manager of the Pembina Valley Golf Club in Evansburg, said, "We had some cart damage from the large hail stones we got. We also had damage to the greens on the course and are just out repairing them now."
"We've kept a few of the stones for insurance to see. But a lot of the cars that were out here that night sustained a lot of damage. It was unbelievable, it just hit so fast," said Webster. "Lots of blown out windshields and hood damage by the golf ball and pool ball size hail stones coming down."
The Club is in the process of sanding and reseeding some of the greens. "The greens took substantial damage. They looked like Swiss cheese. The greens were in such beautiful shape and its going to be a few weeks before we see a full recovery," said Webster.
Residents also experienced damage to their homes which included siding, shingles, backyard gazebos and greenhouses.
"I think we were very lucky that it was not a prolonged hail storm or we would have seen a lot more devastation," said Councillor Cherniawsky.

News: July 10, 2017

Edson RCMP investigate motor vehicle and cyclist collision

  On July 5, 2017, at approximately 9:00 p.m. RCMP responded to a complaint on Range Road 181, west of Edson, where a cyclist was struck by a motor vehicle. The cyclist was pronounced deceased at the scene.
The investigation is continuing with resources from Edson and Hinton Detachments as well as members of the Alberta RCMP Criminal Collision Investigation Team.
The Alberta RCMP confirmed that the victim of the Edson cyclist collision was an off-duty member of the RCMP with the Edson Detachment. The identity of the deceased has been confirmed as Constable Austin MacDougall, who came to Edson in 2016.
Justin Lyle Jensen, 35, of Yellowhead County was the driver of the motor vehicle involved in the collision and was arrested at the scene. Jensen has been charged with: Impaired driving causing death; Refuse to comply with demand of a peace officer.
Mr. Jensen has been released on bail with conditions to appear in Edson Provincial Court on July 18th 2017 at 10:00 am.
If you have information about this incident, please call the Edson RCMP at 780-723-8832 or call your local police. If you want to remain anonymous, you can contact Crime Stoppers by phone at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), by internet at www.tipsubmit.com, or by SMS (check your local Crime Stoppers www.crimestoppers.ab.ca for instructions).

Link to photo and updates-


News: July 3, 2017

Clubs gearing up for Annual Toy Run

by Deanna Mitchener
The Annual Toy Run is taking place in Edson on July 8 starting at the Lion's Park.
Mary-Anne Bittner with the Kinettes, said, "This year we have done something different and added an overnight stay and some extra fun and games."
 Friday, July 7 the McCleod Valley Recreation grounds will be open for campers to check in and stay overnight for free.  Registration for camping will continue the next morning at 9 a.m. Camping cost for Saturday night will only be $20. Registration for the parade will be at the Lion’s Hall for 10 a.m. entry fee is an unwrapped toy.
"The parade will run through out the town of Edson on the same route as last year. If people watching the parade can also donate a toy. A truck will follow the parade to pick up any toy donations so just wave your toy so they can swing by to pick it up," said Bittner.
A free barbeque will be held at the Lion’s Campground at noon where they will also stuff the bus with all the toys.
"The Poker Rally registration will occur throughout the morning and will start at 1 p.m. The stops for the rally will be the Lion’s Campground, the rest stop along Highway 16, the Carrot Creek General Store, Niton Junction Shell, and last hand will be at the McCleod Valley Recreation grounds.
Winner will be announced at 4:30 p.m. The new addition will be out at the McLeods Valley Recreation grounds with 5 p.m. supper, pulled pork on a bun, hot dogs for the kids, salads, finger foods and water and pop. 
 Following supper will be a scavenger hunt for the kids, as well as glitter tattoos and a bouncy house courtesy of Melisss’s bouncy house rentals.
Bikers will also have a chance to play some games including longest on a 2x4, slowest race, water balloon toss, and weenie bite. There will be prizes for the games as well as 50/50 and raffle items through out the night.
All the proceeds of this event will be put towards the Kinette Christmas Hamper program. "Last year we were able to provide over 300 hampers to families as well as over 400 toy bags for kids," said Bittner. 

News: June 26, 2017

County asks for senior lodge or may
withdraw from Evengreens Foundation

by Dana McArthur

Councillor Fred Priestley-Wright addressed the issue of seniors' lodging needs at County council's Committee of the Whole meeting on June 20.
Priestley-Wright proposed to have a seniors lodge built in the Wildwood area or seek provincial approval to leave the Evergreens Foundation and set up a new foundation that will better meet the needs of Yellowhead County residents.
Councillor Priestley-Wright represents the County on the Evergreens Foundation board. The Foundation is the management body for seniors lodges in Jasper,  Hinton, Edson, Grande Cache, and a 30 unit lodge in Evansburg which is managed in partnership with the Good Samaritan Society.
"I think a lodge is needed in the Wildwood area to address the needs of county residents to support progression from rural and private homes to self-contained facilities and to a lodge within Yellowhead County," said Priestley-Wright.
"Why —I think it's necessary to minimize the greater risk of social isolation and depression and to minimize the risk to personal health and safety," said the councillor. "Homecare is not too effective out in the county. There are just not enough workers out there."
The councillor pointed out that there isn't sufficient spaces at the existing lodge in the county and there are currently 14 people on the waiting list. There are 40 on waiting list in Edson, but he said, these lists are fluid and can go up and down.
"Yellowhead County is requisitioned for more than 50% of the operating capital for the five lodges. Edson and Hinton, with comparable populations to Yellowhead County, are paying considerably less. However, Yellowhead County has only one vote on the Evergreens board," said Priestley-Wright.
The councillor stated that Evengreens is focused on expanded facilities for Edson and Hinton and it was unlikely that a new facility in the Wildwood area would get approval under the current structure, despite the County's similar needs.
Mayor Gerald Soroka said, "The issue is, we have a need and we know it exists. We definitely are adamant that we need to do this and I don't think anyone is opposed. But what are our options to getting this done?"
County CAO Jack Ramme said, "We have two options. Work with Evergreens on the importance of this or lobby the provincial minister and put forward our case."
Councillor Shawn Berry said, "I have a lot of seniors in my area and they don't want to go to Edson."
Council agreed to draft a letter to the Evengreens board asking for more development in the County to serve county residents' needs. "If they are not agreeable then we can move forward to the minister," said Soroka.

News: June 19, 2017

Lodge, dialysis, and cataract unit updates
at Community Care Foundation AGM

by Miranda L'Hirondelle and Dana McArthur
The Community Care Foundation of Edson and District held their AGM on June 8 at the new Edson and District Health Care Centre.
The foundation assists the health care needs of the community by purchasing equipment, especially needed hospital equipment, through fundraising and donations that would otherwise take years to acquire.
During the meeting Tracey Correia site manager for the Health Care Centre updated the foundation on the hospital. "We are running every program now we were designed to run, except dialysis. We are working with Northern Alberta Renal Services but the money we need is still held up in the bus. We do have a plan for staffing, but if I got a call tomorrow it would still take three months to get running. There has been no construction in Hinton ad Whitecourt and they do not have the spaces ready like we do, and that's been a hold up."
During the meeting board members were appointed including Doug Woodhouse who was re-elected by acclimation as the foundation's president.
Later on, Ivan Strang representing Parkland Lodge spoke about the need to raise $250,000 to furnish the new lodge once the construction is complete in about 18 months. Current grants and funding do not cover any new furnishing for the expanded lodge.
"It would be with our great pleasure if you would be kind enough to sponsor the first level of the Lodge for us. We would dedicate a spot to your organization and its contribution.  We've got to step up to the table and start looking after our seniors. I know what we're doing now on other levels we are helping a lot, like the Parkland Lodge Auxiliary," said Strang. "Please give this some consideration." Currently, the Lodge has raised five to six thousand dollars said Strang.
In an interview with Don McCullough after the AGM he said that the foundation was considering a rescind motion for $200,000 reserved for the long awaited cataract unit at the Edson Hospital, and allocating funds for Parkland Lodge's furnishing needs.
However, Tracey Correia had given them indications that the foundation should hold on to those earmarked funds for the time being. "I understand 10 years is a long time to wait. But if you did step away I do not think there would be any opportunity to bring this [cataract unit] program."

News: June 12, 2017

Two accused in Whidden murder sentenced

The two accused in the murder of 25 year old Patrick Whidden have been sentenced.
Whidden was reported missing on December 7, 2014 and later found in a field near Peers on December 14, 2014.
Robert Parkin and Santiago Patterson were later charged with first degree murder and indignity to a body.
Both were remanded in custody without bail. 
On May 8, Parkin plead guilty to manslaughter, use of a firearm, and interfering with a dead body.  He has been sentenced to 13 years for the manslaughter and firearm charges and an additional three years to be served consecutively for the interference of a dead body charge.  Parkin was credited with 51 months for time served and will serve out the remaining 8 years and 9 months.
On April 4 Santiago Patterson also plead guilty to manslaughter and use of a firearm.  He was sentenced to 8 years.  Patterson received a three year six month credit for pretrial custody and will serve a total remaining sentence of four years and six months.  The charge of interference of a dead body was withdrawn.
Whidden, who was born and raised in Nova Scotia, moved to Alberta in 2009 and Whitecourt in 2012.

News: June 5, 2017

Edson RCMP investigate deceased man found in structure fire

On Wednesday, May 31, 2017 at approximately 5:43 a.m., Edson RCMP responded to a report of two vehicles and a house trailer on fire in the rural area north of Edson.  After the fire department extinguished the fires they found human remains inside the residence.
The RCMP Major Crimes Unit (MCU), in cooperation with members from the Edson RCMP Detachment and the provincial Fire Investigator, have determined that the death of the adult male was non-criminal and that foul play is not suspected regarding the cause of the fires.  No one else was harmed in the fire and there is no risk to the public.  Police are not looking for anyone else in relation to this investigation.
The name of the deceased person is not being released by the RCMP given that the death was deemed not to be the result of criminal activities nor suspicious in nature.