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News: February 19, 2018

 Western Provinces Hockey Assoc. may be headed for Edson

There has been some talk within the Edson community regarding the potential of Junior level hockey coming to town.
The Town of Edson has been approached by the Western Provinces Hockey Association (WPHA), a division of the Western States Hockey League, about Edson being a potential site for a team in this new league. Administration is currently in discussions with the league to see what this would mean for our community/facility.
The WPHA issued a press release following their recent conference:
The Western Provinces Hockey Association (WPHA) Announced Six Prairie Municipalities Ready to Bring Junior ‘A’ Hockey Teams to Their Towns and Cities...
Western States Hockey League (WSHL) Commissioner Ron White attended Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada on February 8 to announce the new Canadian locations joining the 25 year old USA Junior hockey league.
A press conference was hosted by Cold Lake, Alberta on February 8, 2018 to announce “shortlisted” teams ready to start operations in the 2018-2019 hockey season. Ron White, WPHA International Expansion Representative -Derek Prue and Seattle Totems owner (a US divisional team in the WSHL) - Gordon Whitaker all attended. The WSHL’s main priority, as stated by the League and Divisional Representatives- is to develop players and get them to the next stage in their hockey and/or academic career. “We wanted to improve our league’s level of play and compete for college spots, so we made our own rules. Last year on my team in Long Beach, we had five Canadian 20-year-olds that were aged out and wanted to keep playing. All five continue to play hockey for the University of Arkansas,” explained White. (Ron White, Cold Lake, Alberta February 8, 2018)
At the WSHL’s December 2017 College Showcase, held annually in Las Vegas and growing larger every year – 111 college scouts attended and handed out 160 college or professional commitments out of 250 eligible players.
The six municipalities announced as shortlisted to start teams in 2018 are Edson, Hinton, Meadow Lake, Slave Lake, Morinville, and Cold Lake. Season ticket drives will begin in these communities in the near future, and equity positions have been arranged for local community and business leaders. There are four more markets that are interested in joining the WPHA, but not as far along in planning and facility auditing."
The league website is still in the works, but contact information can be found at https://wpha.ca/


News: February 12, 2018


Town and County budget to start site selection for a new multiplex
The Town of Edson and Yellowhead County councils have taken another step forward in their partnership.
On February 6 the two Councils met to discuss the potential of constructing a new multi-use facility in Edson.
Both Councils agree on the importance of this project and will be working on a Memorandum of Understanding to show their support and willingness to work together towards this common goal.
“Edson Council is pleased with how the meeting went, and look forward to working closely with Yellowhead County on this, and other initiatives, that support our region as a whole,” said Edson Mayor Kevin Zahara.
“Our Council realizes that many of the services offered in Edson directly benefit residents in the surrounding area,” said Yellowhead County Mayor Gerald Soroka. “We will continue to support future and existing services and projects that make sense financially and strategically.”
The Town and County have budgeted to start a site selection process for a new multiplex in 2018.

News: February 5, 2018

Edson Rotary steps up for August long weekend slo-pitch tournament

by Deanna Mitchener
Die hard slo-pitch players, start gathering your team members and passing the word, Edson will once again be on the map August long weekend for a spectacular slo-pitch tournament.
The Edson Rotary Club has stepped forward to run the large ball tournament that fell short last summer. During the Rotary meeting on January 23, Rotarian Neil Rieger said, "We have secured the facility [Kinsmen Park] for the August long weekend ball tournament."
"Plans are in the works with the Town of Edson to do some upgrading at Vision Park, so that is exciting news. We talked about possibly changing the date in August but have decided to stay with the August long weekend. Many teams are already familiar with Edson on that weekend, so the dates will remain the same," said Rieger
Edson's Mayor Kevin Zahara, commented, "I think this is fantastic news for our community.  Vision Park is a great venue in our community and it will be nice to see slo-pitch return August Long Weekend."
The Rotary Club has also been approached to help run another ball tournament in July. "We have been approached by an organization that holds Indigenous Ball Tournaments. They initially asked if we would be interested in looking after the campground. Then through discussions with them, we found out they may possibly want to partner with Rotary," said Rieger. "The Indigenous Ball Tournament organizer is looking at between 80 and 100 teams to take part over the July long weekend."
"This group that's organizing the Indigenous Ball Tournament is a large organization that does these ball tournaments in the U.S. How this came about was when they were at a tournament in Vegas back in November, people from that tournament mentioned they would like to see a tournament held here in Canada. They heard about Edson and the facilities we have and would like Edson to be the arm of the association for Canadian Ball Tournaments —if it all comes together," said Rieger.
"For the July ball tournament, we would only be looking after the camping and beer gardens. The one in August, Rotary will be looking after all aspects of the tournament," said Reiger. "Rotary will need a lot of manpower to look after both tournaments and we are hoping plenty of volunteers will come forward and commit to helping out at either one—or both."
Mayor Zahara said, "I commend all the volunteers and sponsors that will make this event happen.  This tournament along with all the other events and activities that take place in Edson throughout the year make our community a wonderful place to live, work and play."
So, it has been confirmed that Edson will once again be on the map for an August long weekend ball tournament. And money raised from these tournaments go right back into supporting Edson and surrounding area with many different charities and organizations.

News: January 29, 2018

County asks for Moratorium on sale of Rec. Complex

by Dana McArthur
During the Yellowhead County Council meeting held January 23, Council was presented with a 'Request for Decision' regarding whether to send a letter to the Town of Edson requesting a Moratorium be placed on the divestiture of the Edson and District Recreation Complex.
During their January 16 meeting, Edson Town Council voted 4 to 3 in favour of continuing with the Request for Proposal (RFP) process for the Rec. Complex, choosing to divest the asset in the interest of optimizing and centralizing its recreation and cultural facilities, in keeping with multiple strategic planning studies. The RFP was to be underway on January 17 with a Proponent Selection and Notification taking place on March 7, 2018.
The County would ask that the Moratorium remain in place until the Town and County agree on a go-forward plan on regional recreation facilities.
The Town of Edson assumed ownership of the facility in 2016 when the non-profit Recreation Society disbanded and turned over the property. The Yellowhead County has a cost-sharing agreement in place for the Rec. Complex.
"Just prior to the municipal elections, the town embarked on a path to divest itself from the Edson and District Recreation Complex. While the title to the facility is held by the town, the County has contributed to capital improvements to the facility and the road network, and pays a percentage of operating expenses," said County CAO Jack Ramme, reading from the Request for Decision report.
"Since the election, the town has changed direction relative to the divestiture of this property, from working with the Golf Club, to now seeking open proposals [RFP] that may or may not have the communities' best interests at heart," stated Ramme to County Council members.
"County Council has expressed concern about the revised process, and the impacts a hasty decision may have on the community. Without having a generally agreed to go-forward plan relative to recreational facilities between the two municipalities, highlights the need to stop this process to see how this facility may or may not be required by the community going forward," said Ramme.
The Town's RFP states that "the successful proposal will be one which offers a well-defined, feasible, and attractive plan for the property, in which the Proponent has fully demonstrated its ability to provide sustainable long-term value to Edson area residents".
Other concerns expressed by County include legal access to the golf course, hampering the plans of the golf course with respect to a land base for a club house if required, selling this community asset at below market value, and over time having it removed from the public domain and turned into some non-community use venue.
"As the County has not been privy to perhaps all the background information surrounding this initiative, it would be prudent for the Town to stand down on this issue while the partners explore what a new facility may look like, put timelines and costs to same, to ensure the community is truly on side prior to divesting other assets," stated Ramme. "Rushing this initiative may not be in the best interests of either municipality, particularly considering it is being offered at less than market value."
The Town's RFP states the value of the property (land and improvements) in 2016 was assessed at $3,444,840, although a subsequent condition-sensitive evaluation reduced that figure to $1.99 million.
"Council may wish to advise the Town of its desire to have them put this initiative aside until such a time as the two municipalities can agree as to what new recreation facilities may be built in the future and if there is a re-purposed need for this facility," said Ramme.
County Council unanimously agreed to send a letter to the Town asking for a moratorium on selling this facility until the two municipalities agree upon a go-forward recreation facility plan.
Upon notice of the forthcoming letter from County, Edson Mayor Kevin Zahara stated, “We appreciate the feedback from Yellowhead County and look forward to discussing it with them at our joint meeting on February 6. Our Council will meet that evening and will decide on how to move forward at that time.”

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."