Big Valley Whistle newsletter needs second look

Written by Stu Salkeld

The Big Valley village council decided at their July 14 regular meeting their recent tinkering with the popular community newsletter needed a second look.

At previous meetings village council discussed tweaking how the Big Valley Whistle is made available to the community as they felt post office delivery was too expensive; they previously decided having a box of newsletters available to the public near the post office was the way to go.

However, Mayor Dan Houle asked that the subject be placed on the agenda for more discussion.

Houle stated he felt council needed to take a deeper look at the issue of mailing the newsletter versus not mailing it. Houle stated that recent interactions with Big Valley residents suggests people don’t know what’s going on in the community and the fact The Whistle is no longer mailed to residents has played a role in that problem.

Houle suggested putting The Whistle delivery back to the way it was, inserted by Canada Post into mailboxes, and try to find savings in other village departments instead.

The mayor added that relying on social media isn’t solving the problem, “…because not everybody is on facebook,” he said.

Coun. Gail Knudson wondered if people will pick up the newsletter if it’s in a public box. She also wondered if the box would be vulnerable to vandalism, for example.

Houle stated he was confident people would pick it up but also repeated he felt that not having the newsletter in mailboxes was negatively affecting the community.

Knudson noted she’d also heard negative feedback in the community regarding changes to The Whistle delivery and added that it was done in the spirit of cost savings.

Coun. Amber Hoogenberg suggested trying the pick-up box for a while and see if the community embraces it; Hoogenberg added it would be pretty easy to tell if people liked the idea because the newsletters would be gone.

Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Elaine Macdonad noted the village can’t place the newsletter box on Canada Post property, but other options were available nearby.

Hoogenberg added that if the village was getting that many complaints about changes to The Whistle, then something has got to be done.

Councillors unanimously decided to try the public box for the rest of summer to see if it’s popular and discuss the issue again at the September council meeting.

Coincidentally, later in the agenda councillors read a letter from local residents concerned about changes to The Whistle.

“Why can’t we have our Whistle paper put in our mailboxes?” asked the letter signed by members of the Annable family.

“You said the cost is around $3,500. I’m quite sure that money can be saved from somewhere else as The Whistle is our information as to what is going on in the village. Could make it twice a month.

“Not everyone goes to the hotel or little store but we do go to the post office.”

Stu Salkeld
Local Journalism initiative reporter
ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.