The County of Wetaskiwin updated residents on some pressing issues and general operations during an open house held at Angus Ridge Hall Mar. 14.
County reeve Kathy Rooyakkers and all councilors except for Lyle Seely were present, along with acting county CAO Rod Hawkin and deputy CAO Jeff Chipley.
Rooyakkers noted this was the first citizen engagement event of the year, and councilors have agreed to hold one a year in each division. Angus Ridge Hall is located in Division 1, surrounding the south and eats sides of the City of Wetaskiwin, roughly.
Hawkin, looking at the room of attendees, asked where each was from within the county. The vast majority was from Division 1.
Hawkin narrated a PowerPoint presentation called “Key Initiatives 2018,” and discussed a number of county operations.
One of the main projects the county continues to work on are Intermunicipal Development Plans, mandated by the provincial government. Every municipality in Alberta has to have one of these development agreements with every other municipality they touch. Hawken noted the County of Wetaskiwin has to have 13 of them.
Family and Community Support Services programs were described next. These are social programs that receive 80 per cent funding from the provincial government and 20 per cent from the municipality. Hawkin pointed out that FCSS funding has requirements connected to it, and the county must follow those rules. One popular program is the regular bus trip to certain events, another is the mobile computer lab, plus programs intended to keep senior citizens living at home. “All the comments back are really good,” said Hawkin.
He noted FCSS programs benefitted 600 residents last year.
Looking at recreation, Hawkin noted the Winfield arena programs and a popular activity known as “sportball.” Hockey schools were also hosted.
In the community engagement area, Hawkin reported councilors decided not to attend trade shows anymore. Instead, councilors feel holding open houses is more effective when communicating with the public. In a resident survey, social media was also selected as a way to keep in touch.
He also noted residents can go to the county website, http://www.county.wetaskiwin.ab.ca, and register to stay informed.
In the realm of development, Hawkin noted the Dorchester project continues on. He noted it includes a large subdivision, about 400 lots, and the plan calls for the access road to be paved.
The acting CAO said the county continues to watch it’s bridges, 198 structures in total in the municipality. Provincial finding for these, across the entire province, is not huge.
He also discussed the Gwynne slide, a road structure which slid onto a private property. Hawken said the problem “has been a nightmare.” He noted about $500,000 has been spent repairing the road with another $100,000 planned this year and hopefully the road will be paved in 2019.
Looking at agriculture, Hawkin said the municipality is concerned about the pest weed clubroot. He said the county hopes to inspect 100 fields this year, and in the past has discovered 50 fields that have the weed.
Gravel is always a concern for the County of Wetaskiwin, as they have a policy in place to gravel one third of each division’s roads every year. “There’s a lot of gravel that goes on the roads,” said Hawken.
A question and answer session was then held. A number of public works-related questions were asked, but the manager in question was ill and not able to attend the meeting. Rooyakkers said every question would be answered though if residents gave their contact information.
Questions were asked about blading, calcium chloride, availability of county staff, rural crime, county peace officers and a proposed grain elevator.