Coronation undergoing by-election

Written by ECA Review

The Town of Coronation will hold a by-election on May 2 following the departure of Councillor Dylan Bullick.

The nomination open date began on March 1 and will close on April 4.

No advanced polling will happen.

The election will take place at the town office and lobby of the mall.

An institutional vote will happen at the Coronation Hospital from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on May 2 as well.

Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Quinton Flint and Sandra Kulyk has been selected as returning officer and substitute returning officer respectively.

Library board presentation

Jordan Stonehouse, manager of the Coronation Library, met with council to discuss what has been happening at the community hub over the past two years.

She shared they have ‘done pretty well’ working with the ever-changing restrictions imposed by COVID-19 since March 2020.

For about a year, the library transitioned to curbside pick up before switching to allow a maximum of three people into the public space at a time.

“Typically we tried to keep everything sanitized, everyone masked,” said Stonehouse.

They had 257 active patrons in 2019, 197 in 2020 and 134 in 2021.

“These numbers seem small but in around 2020 the Parkland Regional Library System has us do a large cleanup of unused and expired patrons to clean up the system,” she said.

They called each user to ensure they were still active which actually freed up the system.

As of January 2022, there are 268 total patron adults as well as two students and 122 junior patrons.

Their average spike in usage comes in the summertime around July and in 2020, the library never went below 100 patrons in a month.

The same happened in most of 2021 with the only exception being February when the library had to go back to only three people at a time due to restrictions changing which deterred some patrons from visiting.

“Most of our patrons have been pretty easy going on us,” said Stonehouse.

For internet usage in 2020, the website was viewed 1,081 times and wifi used 11,968 times.

Wifi has always been accessible outside even when the building is closed.

For 2021, the website was viewed 1,254 times and used 17,068 times.

There was also a trend in online usage for e-books and audiobooks as 788 audiobooks had been checked out as well as 71 e-books.

The summer reading program saw some interesting switches between the two summers as 2020 was a ‘tough year as we first transitioned to online’.

Both years were organized by Richen Basig.

Children did not enjoy the online version as much in 2020 but ‘still had fun nonetheless’. The summer program included games, cooking classes, Zumba, Netflix party nights, bingo and snowflake catching through video conferencing.

There was more in-person interactions in 2021 summer program which many of the participants enjoyed.

The program was focused on teaching different careers such as doctors, astronauts, geologists – a focal point on STEM careers – where they utilized the Drop-in Centre and plenty of outdoor activities to conduct science experiments and games.

“I don’t think there was a day where there wasn’t laughter coming from the Drop-In Centre when they were all playing. It was great,” said Stonehouse.

Stonehouse found that even though numbers were generally down from pre-pandemic times, many participants tried their best to make each week as before some would skip some weeks.

A recent online auction raised $3,965 with donations thrown in as well.

The library hopes to continue having groups coming in as long as it is safe to do so such as yarn knitting and Spanish classes.

MSI funding reduced

Coronation administration received a letter from Ric McIver, Minister of Municipal Affairs.

Alberta Budget 2022 has been balanced and will see a 25 per cent cut to municipalities over the coming years.

MSI will remain for the 2022-23 years and be funded as stated in the letter.

“Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) capital funding is averaging $722 million a year for three years, from 2021-2024. We front-loaded MSI funding for 2021-22 to a total of approximately $1.2 billion, to help municipalities recover from the pandemic and provide flexibility to ensure priority capital projects could continue. 

As a result, MSI funding for 2022 and 2023 has been reduced proportionately to $485 million each year. Additionally, municipalities and Metis settlements will continue to receive $30 million under the operating component of the MSI program.”

Local Government Fiscal Framework (LGFF) will be replacing the MSI in 2024-25 and will be funded the same as MSI.

Library Boards will also see a flat line, as they neither increase in funding nor decrease in funding moving forward.

The Minister also pointed out that the “Federal Gas Tax Fund changed its name and is now called the Canada Community-Building Fund (CCBF). 

The level of funding for Alberta has not changed and we anticipate receiving approximately $255 million from this federal fund again this year.”

CAO Flint was given an opportunity to ask the Honourable Minister if there were any additional funding avenues for small rural municipalities to acquire for new arenas and the answer was “no, sorry, we have nothing in place.”

He added, “We can use MSI in advance by using up to seven years. However, it would need to get approval from the minister.”

This year, the municipality will be seeing a 60 per cent cut to MSI funding as it was already partially received early to help with COVID-19 related expenses.

“We are just playing catch up since we got the money in advance,” said Dep. Mayor Mark Stannard.

Council accepted this letter as information.

 

Terri Huxley

ECA Review

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ECA Review