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Current issueOctober 17, 2016


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NEWS: October 17, 2016

Rural Homelessness Coalition beginning

by Deanna Mitchener

We know it is there. People are homeless and many are at risk of becoming homeless and do not have the means to access daily essentials to live in dignity.
A Rural Homelessness and Housing Coalition is starting throughout Alberta. Kristie Gomuwka at the Edson Friendship Centre, said, "I'm pretty excited about it. I think it is a wonderful. There will be a lot of opportunity for smaller rural communities to work together and see what we can do to advocate for some of these smaller communities addressing homelessness in different ways."
"We'll look at best practices in the province and maybe get some leveraging. It is so hard with seven cities getting all 76 million dollars and the rural areas get nothing," said Gomuwka.
"We need to get our visibility out there and work together. More people are loosing their homes and can't afford the essentials of day to day living. I am surprised at the cost of rent. I was expecting that people would have to start lowering the rent, it is just too expensive to keep places vacant for long periods of time. It doesn't look like that is happening. They may have come down a little bit but not enough to make a difference," said Gomuwka.
"Our local food bank is dipping into rainy day funds. I don't mind being vocal to say in times like this people really need to focus on putting our efforts to fundraisers that are really important," said Gomuwka.
"The money is not like it used to be. The secondary fundraisers are important, yes, but not essential. Maybe they could take a back seat for a bit. I know we are not doing any fundraising this year," said Gomuwka.
"We have access to government grants and to other funds, not to say we are not struggling, as we are. But if it comes down to will I buy a $10 ticket for a new vehicle or would I put $50 towards the food bank, I'm going to pick the food bank.," said Gomuwka.
"I think the messaging is kind of important to get out into the community. I believe there are lots of people that really do need help right now and I have had plenty of conversations with people. I don't think they recognize this is a different world we are living in now. Money is not free flowing any more and we need to kind of pick and choose what we want to get behind," said Gomuwka.
If you have any ideas, suggestions, or would like to become involved with the homelessness project please send your email to Pavan Sonpar-Pahwa at edsonhomeless@shaw.ca

NEWS: October 10, 2016

Gigantic Electronic School Challenge

Everyone can get involved by bringing unwanted electronics to Recycling Depot
by Deanna Mitchener
It's going down in history, West Yellowhead Gigantic Electronics School Challenge.
 The best part is everyone can get involved in the challenge. You do not need to have a child going to school. The challenge runs from October 17 until October 28.
All you have to do is bring in any of your unwanted electronics to the Edson Recycling Depot and mention what school you would like to have it go towards. This helps with the gigantic challenge as well as helps that school win big money.
Schools throughout Yellowhead County are participating by collecting as much electronic waste as they can in order to raise money. The school with the most E-Waste assigned to their school wins the challenge.
Alberta Recycling Management Authority is donating per capita for all eligible E-Waste collected by schools during this challenge. West Yellowhead Recycles is also joining in for the contest. They too will be donating not only a per capita amount but also providing a prize for the school that collects the most E-Waste per student.
Anne Auriat, Edson Depot Manager, said, "We will start adding any electronic waste deposits to your favorite school right away, all you need to do is tell us the school name and you have helped that school out." 
Help your school raise money and to be named the West Yellowhead Gigantic Electronics School Challenge Champions. School fundraising couldn't get any easier.
"We are very excited about the challenge as it runs from Niton all the way to Jasper. Janai Redman has been extremely busy with advertisements, talking to all the schools, creating posters, newsletters for schools, how-to guides to be followed, getting letters from school divisions and having everything ready to go and in place for this regional program.  It ties in nicely with waste reduction week from October 23 to 28. This is a chance for each school to highlight waste reduction week," said Auriat.
Redman said, "We are hoping to do better per capita than any other school division. Each school gets so much per T.V or computer and the Recycle Depot will match it." Each school should most likely raise close to $1,000 depending on how involved they get.
"Businesses can get involved if they are thinking about cleaning out their electronics. Do it now and put in a school's name. We want everyone in the community to get on board with the school challenge," said Redman.
Schools taking part so far are the A.H. Dakin School, Ecole Pine Grove Middle School, Ecole Westhaven School, Evergreen School, Parkland Composite High School, Vanier Community Catholic School, Holy Redeemer High School, Yellowhead Koinonia Christian School Fulhum School and Niton Central School, and the Hinton and Jasper Schools.

NEWS: October 3, 2016

Caribou plans raise concerns for local forestry

Plans to "pool" timber resources may mean "expropriation" and job losses
by Adrienne Tait
Representatives from West Fraser Hal Jackson, Rob Baron, and Albert Oliveira brought forth a presentation which addressed key concerns the local forest industry, and West Fraser in particular, face regarding the provincial caribou recovery plan.
Jackson said that overall West Fraser is supportive of the development of a strategic plan to maintain and enhance the caribou population.  “We are pleased they have the plan for the area,” said Jackson, “We are glad the government is recognizing the importance of balance and sustaining jobs within the region.  This is a difficult balance but we believe it is attainable.”
Jackson told county council that West Fraser intends to participate in the recovery process and has made “deliberate and concise” decisions with regards to the allotment of their timber supply in anticipation of the provincial protection plan.
Jackson told council that over the years West Fraser has made significant investments based on fibre supply and needs “every cubic meter of timber we have rights to in order to maintain the capacity of our current manufacturing facilities and employment levels.”
The proposed provincial recovery plan calls for “Timber pooling” and the reallocation of resources between the companies affected by the range plan.  Jackson told council they view “timber pooling” as “timber expropriation.”
West Fraser contends it is likely the company most negatively affected by the plan which impacts their Hinton, Edson, Blue Ridge, and Whitecourt facilities.  The caribou range covers 63,019 hectares on the Hinton forestry management area.
“We are not supportive of the recommendation to share the current timber resource with other companies,” said Jackson, “We urge the government to respect current forest tenure agreements and not pursue the timber pooling concept.  Any reallocation of timber from West Fraser will result in job losses.”
Another concern raised was the lack of direction or information following the five year plan.  “The draft plan provides some clear direction on timber harvest for the first five years, but there is no indication of what level of harvest may occur after that,” said Jackson.
Councillor Jack Williams commented on the presentation and said, “We have known about the caribou situation for years.  West Fraser has done remarkable work.”  Williams said that despite Jasper National Park only holding natural predator threats to the caribou, he has seen more caribou near Grande Cache and outside of the park.
“Alberta ships wolves to the States and to Yellowstone National Park.  The north has an abundance of caribou why can’t they be relocated here?” said Williams.
Councillor Russell questioned whether the province had factored in the impact of the mountain pine beetle in their recovery plans.

NEWS: September 26, 2016

Speed decrease for Bickerdike Road

by Dana McArthur

A speed reduction for Bickerdike Road was the topic of debate at the Yellowhead County Committee of the Whole meeting held in Wildwood on September 19.
Councillor Dawn Mitchell made a request to Council for a policy exemption so a portion of Bickerdike Road could be reduced to 60 kph from the standard 80 kph limit.
Administration has reviewed the road and noted that it is properly signed for all the curves and enforcement services supports leaving the speed limit as signed.
"All of Bickerdike Road should be considered for a speed reduction but the straight stretch is a hazard for the children living along the road," said Mitchell, indicating a blind hill along that section.
Chief Administrative Officer Jack Ramme said, "For Administration, we are comfortable the way it is. It has all the precautionary signs in place for the corners."
Councillor Anthony Giezen said, "I wouldn't like to see a reduction. I think people driving that road need to drive for the conditions."
Mitchell agreed with Giezen but added, "I think you have to trust the people living on the road that someone's going to get hurt and if all it takes is a sign then that's the responsible thing to do."
Mayor Gerald Soroko cautioned that speed reduction exemptions have been tired in the County. "People soon realize that it takes a lot longer to travel the road. And when the peace officers enforce it it's the local residents living on the road getting the tickets and calling their Councillor to complain."
Ramme added that it is also speed inconsistencies that cause a lot of feedback from residents.
Giezen asked, "Is there a possibility for added enforcement to keep people to the 80 kph limit?" Mitchell replied, "I am telling you 80 kph on that road is not safe at all."
Councillor Shawn Berry said, "Why anyone would speed through that area is beyond me. I agree a reduced speed could help but I don't think it will help because these are reckless drivers. We have to change habits, not speed."
Councillor Fred Priestly-Wright said, "I don't know how you could cover this with a policy that will make everyone happy."
Council David Russell said, "Put the limit to 60 kph and try it for a year. If it brings too many complaints then change it back."
Council asked Administration to bring back a bylaw change for 60 kph along the road for review.

NEWS: September 19, 2016

County approves joint purchase of

plow/sweeper for Edson Airport

  During the Yellowhead County Council meeting on September 13 council discussed the approval of an unbudgeted capital expenditure for the Edson Airport.
The Town and County are 50/50 partners in the operation and maintenance of the facility.
Chief Administrative Officer Jack Ramme said that he had recently taken a tour of the Edson Airport and was given an overview of the state of repair of the current maintenance equipment in use. "The equipment is very old and parts have become difficult to find. It is the joint opinion of both administrations that this equipment should be replaced as soon as possible."
The proposed machine, a Schmidt Compact Jet Sweeper is a plow, sweeper, and blower combination. As a demo machine the price of $504,162.00 was well below the list price of a new machine. County's share would be $252,081.00.
"This is a non-budgeted item and should it be approved it will need to come from our general capital reserve fund," said Ramme.
Council Dawn Mitchell made the motion asking council to support the purchase as described.
Councilor Fred Priestley-Wright asked if there was any other equipment that would have to be replaced in the near future. The only thing being looked at was a pickup truck that may need replacing in a year or two stated Ramme.
Councilor Jack Williams asked, "Wouldn't it be advantageous to have this equipment on a lifecycle so we can budget for it?" Ramme answered, "I agree. With their new operations manager they are trying to look ahead. On a go forward basis I think you will see they will have a plan put in place."
Mayor Gerald Soroka asked how many hours were on the machine as it is a demo unit. Ramme stated there was about 500 hours. "Typically this machine is in the million dollar range," said Ramme. The typical lifespan of this type of machine would exceed 7,500 hours council heard.
The motion to move ahead with the purchase was carried.

NEWS: September 12, 2016

Help name Edson’s new School

Trustees discussed the naming process for the new K to 5 replacement school that is currently under construction in Edson.
Names for the new school will be forwarded to a School Naming Committee with members including school representatives, local trustees, administration and school council representatives who will forward three names in order of preference to the Board for their consideration.
The selection of the final name will be approved by the Board at the Public Board Meeting on December 14, 2016. More information on how to submit a name will be available by September 26 and the deadline for name submissions is Monday, October 31.
“We are looking forward to engaging with the Edson community on selecting a name for our new elementary school and hope that the Naming Committee receives a large number of submissions for them to review,” commented Vice-Chair and local Edson Trustee Joan Zaporosky. “This is a wonderful opportunity for community members to have an active role in recognizing local history with others in nominating a name for a facility that future generations will enjoy.”

NEWS: September 5, 2016

They're Back.... Editorial Comment

by Dana McArthur

With school supplies loaded into backpacks kids from all around the area will be riding, bussing, or hiking their way back to school, and marking end of summer vacation.
What also will come to an end, hopefully, is our summer habit of driving faster through school zones.
The Town of Edson puts the 30 km/h zone around schools into effect continuously from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on all school days.
Yellowhead County school zones run continuously from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on all school days. Zones include Niton School, Wildwood School, and the two schools in Evansburg.
When hundreds of students, vehicles, and various kid-powered transports converge onto one building, traffic can be a nightmare. And the risk to kids is increased exponentially.
Separating vehicles and children can be a real challenge for schools. The 30 km/h zones are a big part of getting kids to school safely. But they are not the only part.
According to safety experts, many of the traffic problems around schools are caused by us parents.
Sometimes we ignore safe pick-up zones, double-park, or block buses. One of the most dangerous practices is dropping children off on the wrong side of the street leaving them to jaywalk.
Traffic congestion usually gets worse in bad weather with more parents drive kids to school.
Young kids are unpredictable around traffic. They have not developed the skills to estimate how fast a vehicle is going and whether there's enough time to cross.
We all need to get somewhere, but planning for a few extra minutes is a small price to pay to keep kids safe.