County of Wetaskiwin councilors had plenty to chat about at their October 4 regular meeting.
Councilors usually begin their meeting with individual updates on what each councilor has been working on. At the Oct. 4 meeting, most councilors had a lot to say.
Councilor Krahn began by telling is peers he’d spent much time since the last council session meeting with ratepayers about various issues.
Also, he noted he attended the Wetaskiwin Transit meeting and explained to council that the organization is actually run by a society. He also explained societies can enjoy certain benefits that municipalities cannot.
Terry Van de Kraats
Van de Kraats noted he was at a meeting where the subject quickly turned to rural high-speed internet service. He noted some rural municipalities are moving ahead with their own projects because years of waiting for the provincial government has netted zero results. Van de Kraats noted another central Alberta rural municipality is moving ahead with its own high-speed internet project.
Reeve Kathy Rooyakkers interjected by saying some villages and hamlets cannot grow because residents want high speed internet that is not affordable or available in small rural centers.
County CAO Rod Hawken said the Central Alberta Economic Partnership is aware of these issues and the County of Wetaskiwin is working with CAEP to develop a study to look at options that may include county funding.
Van de Kraats noted he attended an Ashoro Friendship Society event where students from Wetaskiwin’s twin Japanese city were here. Van de Kraats noted the town of Ashoro saw a declining population but came up with an idea: attend Ashoro’s high school and enjoy a trip to Wetaskiwin, Alberta Canada. He said the idea seems to be working.
The councilor noted he also attended a STARS open house where he heard that the air ambulance enjoys 30 per cent provincial funding, while the rest is fundraised. He also learned that while the STARS society works to be cost effective, there is also a move to eliminate old helicopters and cut down to a fleet of nine choppers.
Rooyakkers noted the County of Wetaskiwin funds STARS annually based on a per capita model.
Councilor Woitt reported on the Wetaskiwin chamber of Commerce’s “Meet in the Millet” event in September, where councils and chambers from across the region gathered at the Millet Agriplex for a large luncheon.
Woitt said he also enjoyed the recent meet and greet held with City of Wetaskiwin council, and suggested another be held in the New Year.
Bishop also attend Meet in the Millet and said MP Mike Lake’s comments that crime does not appear to be abating struck a chord with him. He noted Lake asked those in the room to raise their hands if crime had recently affected them, and almost everyone in the room raised their hands.
Councilor Lyle Seely interjected, and said he’s heard about an uptick in crime in the western part of the county.
Bishop also reported on a community meeting held at the Pipestone Hall Sept. 16 to discuss the county’s program to remove certain speed curves. He said there were 34 residents present, and 33 wanted the county to halt removal.
The councilor said he attended the City of Wetaskiwin’s open house on cannabis legalization, and found it very interesting.
He’s also heard a number of complaints about roads.
Councilor Adair said he had a busy month attending the Lakedell parade, working on the STARS award nominee project, a community meeting for Wizard Heights, the community meeting about speed curves, the city meet and greet and the Friends of the Ram organization.
The reeve noted she was in on meetings with the City of Wetaskiwin, MP Mike Lake and Fortis.
Councilor Van de Kraats noted the county has been waiting on some projects involving Fortis and the county to speak with the company to see when these can be discussed.
Councilor Seely mentioned the Hemp alliance group, and the discussions around how to support a central Alberta hemp farming industry. He said a co-op model has been suggested as equipment is rather expensive, but questions surrounding how the system would work have not been answered.
Rooyakkers asked who is developing rules. Seely answered the group accepts requests to join, but he said the entire project is suffering from a lack of leadership.
Seely said he also enjoyed Meet in the Millet and the city meet and greet. He also met with Buck Lake folks over an environmental reserve issue.
Councilors passed a motion to accept the reports as information.