Sept. 30, 2020 County Public Engagement Session at the Mulhurst Community Hall during the round table discussions. Photo/ Shaela Dansereau.

Sept. 30, 2020 County Public Engagement Session at the Mulhurst Community Hall during the round table discussions. Photo/ Shaela Dansereau.

County of Wetaskiwin considers public engagement sessions a success

‘There was good conversation around the tables and lots of good questions.’

September 29 and 30, 2020 the County of Wetaskiwin held their Public Engagement Sessions in Mulhurst Bay and Alder Flats. The sessions, which were originally set for the spring but delayed due to COVID-19 concerns, are part of the County’s consistent effort to seek public opinion on potential changes that the County will face in the coming year.

The Public Engagement Sessions were set up to allow County to deliver possible scenarios for budget and service reductions or increases, as well a question period and a round table discussion where residents could speak directly to members of County Council to address their concerns or ask further questions.

The September Public Engagement Sessions focused on the proposed oil and gas assessment model review, changes to the province’s police costing model, roads, and hamlet revitalization.

Changes to the policing model came down from the Government of Alberta in December 2019 resulting in rural and urban municipalities contributing to front-line policing costs which were previously covered by the provincial government.

Before the changes were handed down the County had already been approached by the RCMP to provide additional financial support. Because of this the County began paying for an enhanced RCMP member out of the Breton detachment and Crime Analyst out of Wetaskiwin in January 2019 at a cost of $270, 000.

Coupled with the new model, the County of Wetaskiwin is paying more for policing with no guarantee of increased levels of service and a potential for a decreased level of service.

Under the Police Costing Model the County of Wetaskiwin is unable to invest directly into local policing and the money they pay into policing, a total of $274,800 in 2020 with an increase to $855,012 by 2023, will become a permanent expense in the County’s budget.

At the moment it is still uncertain whether rural residents will see an increased police presence to match the cost and the overall levels of service to County residents.

In July the County received information on the proposed assessment model review for oil and gas wells and pipelines, which comes as a result of the provincial government providing tax breaks to oil and gas companies.

However, the County has made it known that they are very concerned about the potential impacts of these proposed changes and the significant impacts it will have on the sustainability of many rural communities in the County and have even lobbied to the provincial government on behalf of their residents with their concerns.

The proposed changes could result in the County losing anywhere from $1.9 million to $3.78 million in revenue in the first year. Options to handle the revenue loss could include raising residential taxes, raising non-residential taxes, or cutting level of service provided by the County.

One of the main changes to levels of service discussed at the public engagement session was roads and road maintenance.

Included in road and road maintenance is the levels of service for snow removal: sand and truck snow plowing as well as patrol officers—snow plowing, grading of roads, and dust control.

Discussions during the round table session focused on for each of these elements what County residents would prefer or their how they regard the current levels of service and the needs for each one.

“I really appreciated how engaging the people were at our events. There was good conversation around the tables and lots of good questions,” says County of Wetaskiwin Reeve, Terry Van de Kraats. “The participants were very understanding of the situation the County is in and challenges we face moving forward.”

A particular topic of contention during the discussions was regarding the grading of gravel roads, which some residents deemed to be done too infrequently and improperly. Others believed that the County could decrease the level of grading service to make the budget they are working with balance.

Proposed options for the grading of County roads included keeping the level of service at status quo: 12 patrol areas over 160 km which costs the County $1.462 million; decreased level of service: 11 patrol areas over 173 km which would cost $1.34 million; or an increased level of service: 13 patrol areas over 148 km which would cost $1.58 million.

Reeve Van de Kraats believes the Public Engagement Sessions were very successful and, “as we continue through these uncertain times the County will make every effort to do what is best for our residents.”

The County of Wetaskiwin currently has a public engagement survey on their website here where you can submit your opinion on the levels of service for road maintenance in the County.



shaela.dansereau@pipestoneflyer.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

County of Wetaskiwin Reeve Terry Van de Kraats and Deputy Reeve Josh Bishop at the Sept. 30, 2020 Public Engagement Session. Photo/ Shaela Dansereau.

County of Wetaskiwin Reeve Terry Van de Kraats and Deputy Reeve Josh Bishop at the Sept. 30, 2020 Public Engagement Session. Photo/ Shaela Dansereau.

Just Posted

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said on Thursday that the province has seen its first case of the B.1.617 variant. (Photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Red Deer nears record number of active COVID-19 cases

Alberta reports 1,857 new cases of COVID-19, 1,326 new variants

Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer
City of Wetaskiwin releases 50-year Community Vision results

The comprehensive community vision has been divided into five core pillars.

People line up outside an immunization clinic to get their Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Edmonton, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta passes bill to give all workers paid leave to get COVID-19 vaccine shot

Labour Minister Jason Copping says Bill 71 will reduce barriers for Alberta workers to get vaccinated

Alberta completed 18,412 COVID-19 tests, as reported on Wednesday, for a test positivity rate of 9.5 per cent. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Highest daily count of 2021 so far: Alberta reports 1,699 COVID-19 cases

Variants now make up 59 per cent of Alberta’s active cases

Screen grab/ https://www.alberta.ca/stats/covid-19-alberta-statistics.htm#geospatial
COVID-19 cases continue to grow in the Wetaskiwin area

The City of Wetaskiwin currently has 141 active cases.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

A health care worker prepares to test a Coastal GasLink field worker for COVID-19. (Coastal GasLink photo)
Alberta bill would protect health workers, care homes from some COVID-19 lawsuits

The bill proposes exempting a range of workers, including doctors, pharmacists and care-home operators, from being sued over COVID-19 unless it was for gross negligence

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange was in Red Deer on Friday to provide an update on the province's COVID-19 response in schools.
Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Alberta government aiming to boost financial literacy among students

Government providing grants to organizations who will help design financial literacy programming

President Joe Biden holds a virtual bilateral meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
U.S. to help Canada with more COVID-19 vaccine supply, Biden says

The U.S. has already provided Canada with about 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine

In this image from video, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, center, is taken into custody as his attorney, Eric Nelson, left, looks on, after the verdicts were read at Chauvin’s trial for the 2020 death of George Floyd, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Court TV via AP, Pool
George Floyd’s death was ‘wake-up call’ about systemic racism: Trudeau

Derek Chauvin was found guilty Tuesday on all three charges against him

sign
Alberta Biobord Corp. recently hosted a virtual open house from Stettler

The company plans to develop a fuel pellet and medium density fibre board (MDF) plant near the community

Most Read