Many topics covered in public open house

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Over 20 people came out to participate in a public open house on June 12, facilitated by the Hardisty Town Council.
The Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Mayor and other council members were eager to hear contributions and input on some of the key issues they have been working on.
CAO Sandy Otto welcomed the public, introduced the councillors and admin staff and public works employee who were present and gave a detailed report on how budget items are divided up.
General Government, Protective Services, Transportation Services, Environmental Services, Public Health and Welfare, Planning and Development, Recreation and Culture and Revenue are all included in the expenditures.
CAO Otto explained some of the specifics behind why they choose certain capital projects to be completed.
The Water Treatment Plant Upgrades which account for $156,000 out of the $345,00 in capital projects are deemed of utmost important as safe, reliable and sustainable water is what all communities strive for and must maintain.
During Deputy Mayor Dean Lane’s talk on water and garbage services, recycling questions arose as to why the county can’t provide them with the blue and brown bins like other communities have.
“We are going to be in a bit of a learning curve over the next couple of years as to what happens with that stuff,” Lane stated when addressing the issues communities are having with recycling regarding China’s implementation of a 0.5 per cent contamination rate amongst imported recyclables and rejecting certain recyclables that were accepted before.
Lane mentioned a new recycling program may be coming out in the next few months.
Councilor Penny Wurz described the new Public Participation Policy that has come out and urged the public to fill out the survey they were given asking questions about quality of services for water, waste water, garbage, roads , how and what the public wants to be notified on and ways the citizens can voice their concerns.
She stressed that public input does influence projects and bylaws, so involvement is important.
Cannabis culture was discussed by Coun. Connie Beringer. Beringer provided the results of the survey given to the public in March asking how the community felt about decriminalizing marijuana.
Many of the responses on the survey indicated that the community was not in favour of decriminalization and Beringer explained that is why it is important to set up bylaws on retail and consumption locations that will protect the Town of Hardisty.
Coun. Roger Gaetzman gave an update on the proposed plan to have Regional Emergency Services. The new name would be Flagstaff Regional Emergency Society and there would be four service districts, and each would have a fire chief with two to three fire departments in each district.
The Society has received approval from most of the municipal councils regarding the five-year capital and operating budget, however Flagstaff County is requesting a further review as they have reservations about the sustainability of the financial plan, number of firehalls and equipment, number of board members, lack of funding for occupational health and safety plan and administrative support.
“Is everybody happy or are we seeing some challenges?” Gatezman asked the public.
The general feeling from the crowd was that there already is a mutual agreement between the towns and the county to help when emergency situations occur and the system currently in place seems efficient.
Concerns were whether they can still expect the same level of service.
CAO Otto reminded people that this is just a proposed plan and while it looks good in theory, there are still lots of issues to iron out.
Mayor Doug Irving closed the evening by asking the public if they were interested in a regional community.
He has been attending FIagstaff Intermunicipal Partnership meetings and the plan is to have a regional government model that breaks the county in to four wards with two representatives from each ward and one mayor at large.
A suggestion was to divide the county into three wards instead of four and have the focus around the hospitals as health care is the most important.
Killam, Daysland and Hardisty are the three towns that have a hospital in their community.

Lisa Bye
ECA Review

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