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News: January 22, 2018

MP Eglinski says 'flaws' in marijuana legislation

by Adrienne Tait
West Yellowhead Member of Parliament Jim Eglinski attended the Town Council meeting on January 16 to connect with council as well as provide an update from Ottawa.
MP Eglinkski will soon head to Victoria for the Conservative’s national caucus meeting at which time the party will set their priorities and “plan of attack” as the official opposition for the upcoming sitting of the legislature.   Eglinski said the party will continue to challenge the tax reforms as well as the finance minister regarding tax benefit schemes and pension concerns.  “We believe Canadians want to see more.  There is clear evidence that there was some impropriety taking place,” said Eglinski.
The marijuana bill was passed and is set to come out July 1st.  Eglinski told council, “There are a lot of flaws in that bill. There are a lot of flaws with regards to the impaired driving laws” most notably a lack of scientific evidence for what levels would be considered impaired with marijuana.
Eglinski said, “The legislation is very loose.”  One concern is that it will be legal to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana but a person will not be charged until 50 grams, “Why have two different amounts?” questioned Eglinski.  Another concern is the impact to municipalities and provinces with regards to policing requirements which Eglinski believes we not are prepared for.
Councillor Gean Chouinard asked if there is any update or word of federal support for battling the mountain pine beetle.  MP Eglinski said that he has been advocating on the riding’s behalf and seeking increased financial support.  “The federal government says its responsibility with regards to the issue is science and technology.  We have the science already.  It is time for action,” said the MP.
Mayor Zahara inquired about the continued concerns with the CN railroad crossing delays.  Eglinski said he can accept that CN cannot break the trains but he cannot accept 15, 20,30 or 45 minute crossing delays.  Prior to the winter break Eglinski filed letters with both the president of CN Rail and the Minister of Transportation along with the complaints he has received from the riding.  “The problem with CN is it has gotten too big for its britches,” said Eglinkski.
On January 15 Eglinski announced he would not be seeking re-election in 2019.  “It was a tough decision but it was the right decision,” he said.  The decision came after consultation with his wife, children, friends and extended family members.  “I think this is if not the greatest then one of the greatest ridings in the country,” said MP Eglinski, “I want to make sure the person that follows me has my support.  I will still be around and fighting for the riding for the next two or three years depending on when Mr. Trudeau calls the election.”

News: January 15, 2018

Rural policing and challenges discussed at County Council

by Dana McArthur
During the January 9 Yellowhead County Council meeting Hinton RCMP Staff Sergeant Chris Murphy of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police gave an update to council on rural policing.
The Sergeant's briefing took place in council chambers after an in-camera session was held with RCMP representatives in relation to a confidential matter. The closed meeting was held in accordance with the Municipal Government Act, and Privacy Act (20).
Council then received a presentation from Staff Sergeant Murphy, who reviewed crime trends, and RCMP priorities and objectives,"Break and enters in rural locations have been an issue and we've had some success in dealing with that by increasing visibility and getting out into the rural areas."
"Property crimes continue to be a concern with town and rural residents," Sergeant Murphy noted, and that the RCMP is increasingly dealing with citizens having mental health and addiction issues. "We try to get to the underlying causes of why that person is repeatedly committing crimes."
"A lot of the people we deal with are repeat, habitual offenders. We are utilizing the Habitual Offender Management program. Basically it states a small amount of people cause us the most amount of work," explained the Sergeant.
"We work as a team to identify these individuals and work with other agencies to provide that person with as many supports as possible to keep them from reoffending," said Murphy.
"For those who choose to continue to offend we can show the Courts that we have brought in all these resources:probation, addiction, mental health —to try to assist this person. Hopefully when the judge considers this, a sentence will be handed down accordingly," said the Staff Sergeant.
"Addictions are playing a factor with repeat offenders, in order to further their addiction. It poses a challenge because we are dealing with people under the influence of chemicals that are powerful and relatively new. We do not know the vast number of negative affects these can have," stated Murphy. "These are very time consuming and complicated investigations when we start adding mental health and addictions to the equation."
Councillor Shawn Berry asked, "In regard to the mental health issues you mentioned, do you see this as age related?" Staff Sergeant Murphy replied, "It's right across the whole board from youth to seniors."
Councillor Sandra Cherniawsky asked, "With marijuana legalization, how is that going to affect your numbers and patrolling?" Murphy responded, "There's a lot happening at a higher level, but we are receiving some information. The focus now is on training of members. We need "X" number of offices trained by a certain date, and I am not sure we will make it. But we do recognize that we need to be prepared as July is coming very quickly."

News: January 8, 2018

Edson RCMP investigating early morning assault on woman

Police in Edson are investigating an assault on a woman that occurred outside her residence in the early morning.
The incident occurred on December 28th, 2017 between the hours of 12:30 AM and 2:00 AM in the 900 block of 52nd Street when the victim went out to her vehicle. The victim is believed to have been attacked from behind by one or two persons who then dragged her a short distance to a secluded area where the attack continued until she was unconscious.
Edson RCMP are investigating with the assistance of the Forensic Identification Section (FIS) and Police Dog Services (PDS). At this time the motive for the attack is unknown. The victim received minor injuries and was treated at hospital before being released later this morning.
“We are following up on the evidence and leads we have obtained thus far,” states Constable Chad Hollinger of the Edson RCMP Detachment. “However, we are hopeful that someone may have witnessed activity in the area that may provide another clue in identifying those responsible for this attack.”
Edson RCMP are continuing to investigate and are requesting anyone with knowledge of this occurrence to contact Edson RCMP at (780) 723-8800, or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477 or online at http://www.crimestoppers.ab.ca/edmonton/.

News: December 25, 2017

New tower brings cellphone coverage to Cadomin

   In partnership with Telus, the County's new communications tower will provide Cadomin’s residents with cellphone coverage in the Hamlet and surrounding area.
Yellowhead County is pleased to announce that Cadomin received an early Christmas present this past week. The new communications tower within the Hamlet of Cadomin will provide Protective Services with communications in case of emergency and all county workers with reliable communication within the county.
Moreover, in partnership with Telus, the new tower will provide Cadomin’s residents with cellphone coverage in the Hamlet and surrounding area—a first for Cadomin! Residents will now have access to emergency and any other services requiring reliable communication.
This tower is one of many built and slated-to-be built by council since their 2013 initiative focused on upgrading communications in Yellowhead County. The county’s first communications towers were built between 2014 and 2015, bringing similar services and coverage to the communities of Obed and Wildwood.
Council continues to strive in improving communication within the county—to better serve the needs of residents and protective services. Two more towers are slated to be built in future.

News: December 18, 2017

Curbside recycling debated at Town Council

by Dana McArthur

   Information on the possibility and feasibility of curbside recycling was presented at Town Council's Committee of the Whole meeting held December 12.
The Town of Edson is moving towards curbside, automated garbage and organic waste collection for residential properties in 2018 and the possibility of curbside recycling has been brought forward.
  Before the presentation by Darin Borysko, the Town's Director of Operations, got underway Councillor Janet Wilkinson asked, "When we had our discussions last year we were discussing garbage pickup and organic pickup and were not going into recycling. And now I see here we have quotes for curbside recycling. Why are we having this presentation?"
  CAO Mike Derricott replied, "This is only informational and any action or outcome would be directed by council."
  Borysko began the presentation, "Currently we are collecting curbside garbage by hand. Looking at other options, we looked at automated collection which brings some operational and cost advantages."
  "We did some surveying and 80% of the municipalities also had some type of curbside recycling. 60% provide organic collection and 90% utilized a third party provider," said Borysko. "With the curbside garbage and compost collection planned for May of 2018 we have the opportunity to look at curbside blue bag collection at the same time."
  "What that could look like is unlimited blue bags place on curbsides for collection every two weeks," said Borysko. Recycling in the blue bags would be co-mingled with cardboard, paper, plastics all in one bag. "The preliminary cost we are looking at would be $2.05 per household per month."
  Benefits to curbside recycling include outperforming alternative collection methods for participation, increased returns, and user convenience, explained Borysko.
Anne Auriat with the Edson and District Recycling Depot will be coming to Council to give a presentation on the effects on the existing recycling model and what the change would look like.
  Derricott, added, "The biggest change at the recycling centre would be the volume of material going through that facility. Anne Auriat will explain how this will impact the centre's operation and give some feedback."
  If plans for curbside recycling move ahead then public consultations through various media would begin, and the findings would be brought back to council.
  Mayor Zahara said, "I'm 115% behind the idea of curbside recycling. However, I have some questions on the costs, it sounds too good to be true. I think we should hear from the Recycling Society first and get the pros and cons. I think we are a little ahead of ourselves and I'd like to hear more before going to a public consultation."
Councillor Trevor Bevan had some operational concerns with the proposed contractor and expressed he would like to see quotes from other providers if the idea moved forward.
  Councillor Jacqui Currie asked if there was an opt out to the cubside recycle pickup. Derricott replied, "Generally speaking these systems do not have an opt out. The system begins to break down if three houses on the block opt out, the costs go way up. The systems are voluntary and you don't have to participate. But like garbage pickup, it's charged to you even if you do not use the service. Otherwise it becomes difficult to provide the service at all."
  Councillor Troy Sorensen said he supports curbside recycling but wanted more information from Ann Auriat with the Recycling Depot.
Mayor Zahara said, "The people I talked to are very excited about this possibility. It's a convenience factor and I think it makes Edson look more attractive if you are looking at moving here."
  Councillor Krystal Baier, who chaired the meeting, said, "I am in support of curbside recycling and it's something I was asked about on the campaign trail with people wondering when it was going to happen. But I think hearing both sides of the discussion is appropriate before we ask the public, so they have the opportunity to see both sides."

News: December 11, 2017

Parkland Lodge Annual Christmas Tea, Bazaar and Bake sale

by Deanna Mitchener
    Parkland Lodge Auxiliary held their annual Christmas Tea, Bazaar and Bake sale on December 2.
Although this is an annual event, the location changed this year due to their recent move into the old hospital. But the event was a great success regardless, thanks to the many wonderful volunteers and for those that came out to shop.
   Ivan Strang the President of the Auxiliary, said, "We had a larger than expected group that came out to the event and I had to set up some extra tables for the tea."
"A big plus was we had four students from Vanier Catholic School helping out. I told the students I could maybe retire now, with all the great work they have been doing to help us out. It was so nice to have our youth out in support and helping with our seniors," said Ivan.
   "It just blew me away, we had five tables of baking and everything sold. We had five tables set up with silent auction items, and we are very pleased with all the support from volunteers and the community for attending our annual event," said Ivan.
"Altogether we got just over $1,600 from the sales. The lodge now has 67 seniors living there. We were a little worried we may not have many show up as the lodge moved and less parking was available. But they sure supported this event and we are very thankful to everyone," said Ivan.
   The Auxiliary tries to give each resident $100 for Christmas, so just at Christmas, it will cost the Auxiliary $6,700. Community support is very much needed and appreciated.    

News: December 4, 2017

8th Annual Feel the Spirit Community Christmas Dinner

by Deanna Mitchener
  Christmas is a beautiful time of year, and you can feel the spirit of giving each year as Chef Ramzi Fakhreddine and Tammy Flander host their annual Feel the Spirit Christmas Dinner.
This is their 8th annual event for the community to enjoy a delicious meal free of charge. The Olive Tree Restaurant and Lounge is in partnership with the Town of Edson and the Edson Golf Club for the second year in a row.
The event will be held at the Edson and District Recreation Complex on December 17, from 12 p.m. until 7 p.m. allowing plenty of time for families to come out and take part in not only the free meal but some great activities as well.
Besides a great turkey meal, there will be family fun and holiday crafts, sleigh rides from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and a visit from Santa. Santa is planning on arriving from the North Pole to visit from 4:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. He is a very busy man this time of year but knows how much this community events means to everyone.
Tammy Flander says, "Everyone is welcome and the Town has arranged for free transportation to and from the complex with the Daycare bus for anyone that may need a ride. The (ESTS) Edson Seniors Transportation Society Bus is there for the seniors and those with accessibility needs. This really helps get folks back and fourth so they can enjoy the event as well."
"We are hoping for an even bigger turnout this year. The event has grown so much over the years. When we first came to Edson we started the event on main street and were serving around 1,200 people. Then from the Olive Tree we were serving over 2,000 people. Then moving it out to the Complex we were serving 3,300 meals in that seven hour span. The community has been so supportive in helping to make it grow. Families have been bringing in non-perishable foods, or making a cash donations that go to the Food Bank, so we are happy that this event has branched out even further and helping others," says Tammy.
"We usually have a few volunteers who will help deliver meals out in the community for those who are unable to attend the festivities. Many groups and individuals like to volunteer the day of the event as well, more and more are feeling the spirit to give of themselves," says Flander.
Be sure to tell all your family and friends to attend, as this will be the biggest and best event yet. All festivities and activities are free.   

News: November 27, 2017

Agriculture and Forestry Minister updates County

by Dana McArthur
During the November 21 council meeting, the NDP Agriculture and Forestry Minister and MLA for Whitecourt/St.Anne, Oneil Carlier, gave an update to Yellowhead County Council.
"When I took on the role I didn't know much about forestry and I thought it was going to be complicated. But honestly agriculture is complicated, there are so many balls in the air," said Carlier. "Agriculture this past year, I think we missed a bullet a bit. There was a lot of late seeding but there is 99% of the crops in. We've had a pretty good average year."
"In forestry OSB has tripled in price this year. In softwood lumber, it looks like we are in for a fight, but we will be victorious in the end, and the lawyers will get rich," said Carlier. "With NAFTA it's anyone's guess. The biggest point is Chapter 19 the dispute resolution mechanism. Just having it up to the Americans to decide what is right or wrong is not going to be acceptable."
"I remain optimistic that both industries are more than sustainable. The number of young farmers has been on the increase. For the most part farming is a pretty good business," said Carlier. "In agriculture we are so integrated with the Americans I don't NAFTA changes will have much effect. I'm a little worried about dairy."
The MLA also spoke about the impending electoral boundary changes in the province. "I am not necessarily happy with the proposed changes. The district of Yellowhead would increase dramatically, and my riding would shift east," said Carlier. He compared the population discrepancies between city and rural ridings.
Mayor Gerald Soroka commented, "When you are dealing with a 12 square block radius of one city riding, how much different are their concerns? But when you're dealing with your area the concerns can be vastly different from one side to the other. Population representation alone, does not necessarily work."
Councillor Shawn Berry expressed concerns with burning on the Eastern Slopes, "The government mandates the forestry industry to burn their waste in the bush. This creates a lot of smoke that causes people, many with asthma, a lot of distress. Why burn this material instead of hauling it to Drayton Valley, for example, where they want the fibre?"
Carlier responded, "I think this fibre will start to become a commodity, it's happening already. It's going to be commercially viable and that's going to be a good thing."
Mayor Soroka inquired on the local Mt. Pine Beetle issue. Carlier stated, "Hinton is a disaster. I am really frustrated, as an Albertan, that Jasper National Park is now a park full of dead trees. They did not allow mechanical control and it's now estimated Hinton has 500,000 dead or dying trees."
"My understanding is we are now going to allow very extensive harvesting of those trees to control the situation," said Carlier.
Other issues raised went from livestock producers and veterinary care medicines to opening European markets to Canadian goods.
The Mayor also raised concerns about the lack of definite plans from the province for the proposed Niton interchange. "Without a firm plan from the province we can't move ahead with our long range area structural plan for the Niton area," said County CAO Jack Ramme. The MLA promised to look into the situation.