Kneehill County backs physician recruitment group

Written by Stu Salkeld

Kneehill County council reaffirmed its support of the current regional approach to physician recruitment during its regular council meeting June 22.

On the agenda was the issue of “Doctor recruitment and retention task force terms of reference,” including a questionnaire. 

“The attached questionnaire represents the partnership’s second round of member consultation,” stated a staff memo on the subject. 

“The answers included are based on the discussion that occurred at the June 15, 2021 Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting.”

It was noted the proposed per capita funding formula, if adopted, meant Kneehill ratepayers would pay $10,000 to the task force.

Coun. Glen Keiver asked how he could gauge the task force’s success. Keiver stated it’s been operating for a number of years and the task force has never landed a full slate of doctors for the area. 

Keiver asked how councillors could tell if the partnership is operating the way they want it to.

Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Mike Haugen stated there has never been a guarantee that the community will have a full slate of doctors.

Reeve Jerry Wittstock stated there are “always new doctors coming in,” so the task force appears to be working.

Haugen added that there appears to be more successes on the horizon for the task force, so he believes it’s functioning.

Coun. Faye McGhee stated, as a board member, seeing members re-commit to the task force shows that it’s effective. 

Councillors unanimously agreed to send Kneehill’s questionnaire responses back to the task force.

County crossings

Council approved $40,000 from the bridge reserve fund for an extra steel girder to be placed on bridge file 2432 located on 33-4, east of Range Rd 25-4.

“BF2432 was reconstructed back in March 2020, for a cost of $654,74.38, at that time the contractor had felt the extra depth of the girder sitting lower into the stream bed would be sufficient,” stated a staff memo. 

“After the spring melt and other weather activities relating to the water flow, administration questioned if the girder sitting lower into the stream bed would be effective. The contractor is willing at no cost to the municipality to come back and raise the structure an additional two feet.” 

The memo noted the county still had to pay for the extra girder.

Councillors approved the expense.

They also approved $100,000 for the Hesketh Bridge replacement, as deeper piles meant more money according to a staff memo. 

“On Sept. 8, 2020, Deputy Reeve McGhee moved that council authorizes a budget amendment in the amount of $1,300,000 to replace bridge file 8856 (Hesketh Bridge); to be funded through provincial Municipal Stimulus Program (MSP) grant of $594,464, with the county’s share in the amount of $705,536 being funded from the bridge reserve.

“Kneehill County awarded the tender to Formula Alberta Ltd. for the replacement of BF8856 (Hesketh Bridge). 

“After a geo technical investigation, it was noted that the bridge structure would need longer pile depths. 

“Increasing the pile depths was not accounted for in the original budget of $1,300,000.” 

It was noted the county’s bridge reserve account has over $1 million in it.

Councillors approved the $100,000 for the Hesketh Bridge project.

COVID update

CAO Haugen updated council on pandemic rules. “It’s been challenging in many cases,” said Haugen, referring to the desire to meet face-to-face with the public during the pandemic.

Haugen went on to state in his written report, “Overall, the organization has been able to maintain service levels. Health and safety protocols, as well as staff commitment, have kept the impacts have been able to minimize the impact of COVID.

“In addition to maintaining support for council and virtual meetings, 49,961 documents have been entered into Laserfiche (the county’s electronic filing system) since March 2020. 

The number of pages contained in these entries is 697,342 [and comes in handy] for FOIP requests and standard Statistics Canada and Canada Revenue Agency requests. Various information and historical requests have also been processed.”

Haugen noted that in accordance with the provincial government lifting all pandemic rules July 1, the county office would be back to normal operations July 2. 

Councillors accepted the report as information.

New name

Councillors approved the naming of a road according to the county’s policy on such activity. 

“We received a request to name a service road by one of the residents in the Twin Creek Estates country residential development,” stated the staff memo.

“In order to ensure consistency with these requests, the County has drafted and approved the Naming of County Roads Policy on March 23, 2021. 

Council is the approving authority for any proposed road names. This road is not part of the township/range road grid and is currently unnamed.

“Currently there is some confusion regarding these lots since they are accessed by an unnamed service road but their current address notes Highway 806. It has been difficult for some services and parcels to find them.”

Councillors unanimously agreed to name the road Twin Creek Close.


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.