Poly Ag Recycling Ltd., a startup plastic grain bag recycling company has officially made Bashaw home.
To start, Dan Zembal and Damian Flegel, business partners, came to council to introduce themselves and their business and create a line of communication.
This new company takes plastic grain bags from Saskatchewan and Alberta.
They are beginning with grain bags with the possibility of expanding into other areas of agriculture plastics in the future like super sacs and twine.
With China no longer accepting unprocessed waste plastics, Canada is looking inward in attempting to tackle the growing plastic waste problem.
Alberta is mirroring a similar recycling program in Saskatchewan for the collection and disposal of these grain bags by providing a Canadian solution to this problem.
It will operate four days a week with the hopes of moving to seven days a week.
The reason for this is to ensure maintenance is performed and it allows the machinery a chance to cool down.
Between six to 10 locals are expected to be hired.
After making the tough decision on where to locate, stakeholders decided on the little town of Bashaw for a number of reasons like its’ proximity to Saskatchewan and welcoming atmosphere.
Bashaw lies in the middle of the ‘Golden Zone’ which starts in the south at Cardston and ends in the north at High Level.
“It ticked every box for us. We looked at every other option but we kept coming back to Bashaw,” said Zembal.
The company has an aggressive timeline with a possible completion date of mid November to have the system fully operational.
How it works: Used product is transported from collection sites across the two prairie provinces to the operation.
Once there, the product is shredded and granulated into half-inch flakes, washed and turned into a final product like a pellet.
This process is the first of its kind in Alberta.
The pair expects approximately 150 tonnes of grain bags coming to the recycling plant each month with 130 tonnes leaving.
As volumes grow and the operation moves to seven days a week, as much as 4,000 tonnes a year may be moving through the facility.
The remaining waste product like dirt or whatever was left on the bags are sent to a landfill.
“We have been having tremendous support from industry and government.
They are onside with us so it’s easy for us to move forward,” said Zembal.
Selecting future fire chiefs
With the recent change in fire chiefs, the town has decided to look at a new way of implementing the process when selecting a new fire chief.
In the past, an election was called amongst the fire department members.
Sometimes if a person was selected for the job, it led to bad blood which council felt prudent to avoid.
Council adopted the change to having a hiring process with more administration involvement rather than an election process.
The new chief will submit an application and be interviewed by the current chief and administration with a possible aptitude test, interview with council, fitness test, and on-scene assessment.
If a chief is not satisfactory for members or staff, they will deal with it as a performance issue prior to renewal of their term and can choose not to rehire them.
Police costing model
The provincial government is proposing a new way of solving the policing cost model by redefining it.
It has been asked that municipalities with a population under 5,000 help pay for policing services.
Some municipalities such as Alix pay for enhanced enforcement already.
Council found this proposition to be a large concern financially with Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) funding shrinking and revenue sources stabilizing or falling.
Council was recently given an opportunity to participate in a webinar and survey to provide stakeholder engagement surrounding this new model.
If approved, the new funding model would result in Bashaw paying for policing costs based on assessment.
At 15 per cent, the town would pay $17,964 or as high as 70 per cent at $82,540.
Currently, populations under the 5k mark do not pay for this policing. The survey is designed to ask stakeholders individually rather than as one voice through council
“The feeling from RMA (Rural Municipality Association) and AUMA (Alberta Urban Municipality Association) is that it was not enough time for input from anyone council so they suggested that we say that in our response and that we would want more time and more people at the table,” said Mayor Penny Schantz.
Council directed administration to invite back Camrose MLA Jackie Lovely to talk about this issue directly as well as have council meet again to come up with a cohesive answer to the survey.
“Considering at our last meeting she assured us that they were not going to balance the budget on the backs of small towns and then this happens,” said Coun. Rob McDonald.