Outrage and frustration regarding the project costs for the Senior Amenity Zone project arose during the July 7 Hanna council information meeting.
The $492,000 plan consists of a walking trail on Palliser Trail, sidewalk replacements and bump-outs on 5th Avenue and widening pathways in Hunter-king Hector Park.
The $369,000 from Prairies Can and the Western Economic Development (WED) through the Canada Community Revitalization Fund would fund part of the project which requires Hanna to pay the rest.
Although applications for tender started in June, the project failed to garner the interest of contractors.
The project timeline and funding concerned Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Kim Neill since the funding deadline is March 31, 2023.
Neill mentioned that for a contractor, design company 818 Studios Ltd. contacted four contractors who expressed interest in the project. One, in particular, sent a tender for $1.7 million.
With the project being significantly over budget, CAO Neill contacted WED and Prairies Can to see if an extension is possible.
Planning with 818 Studios to reduce the scope of work to meet the funding requirements was made on the condition that the contractor Urban Life Solutions agrees to the project.
Administration and Urban Life Solutions will review the tender and focus on priority areas with revised quotes.
Coun. Sandra Murphee questioned how 818 Studio Ltd. managed to have the pricing significantly off target.
“If I did that as a business, I wouldn’t be in business,” says Murphee.
“That’s crazy. So either 818 should give us a discount on what they gave us, or we wasted our time on things we can never afford because they told us it was affordable.”
Coun. Murphee expressed frustration on the scaling back of the project and the impact it would have had on the community.
“This was exciting. We were going to make the town look like we are investing in our young people,” says Murphee.
CAO Neill responded that if certain parts of the project could be salvaged, with the town picking up some of the cost, the project could be worthwhile.
Mayor Danny Povaschuk suggested an option to save the funds for the future rather than pursue this project.
A discussion regarding the listed costs made council question the prices provided on the tender.
Council will make the final decision on the amenity zone project at the regular council meeting in August.
Sgt. Robert Welsman of the Hanna RCMP detachment appeared before council to give an update regarding activity and statistics.
Sgt. Welsman provided an update on the new victim services program by the RCMP, the Hanna Learning Centre and the office of the Justice Solicitor General.
The new program will shift to a regional model that allows Alberta to take responsibility for victim services instead of having individual offices funded through grants.
As preparation for the new model will take time, an interim solution will be in place for victim services.
“As the arrangement’s set up, our detachment still has a responsibility to advise victims of crime of what their rights are,” says Sgt. Welsman.
The RCMP looks forward to the victim services program as it will help assist victims through the court process.
Coun. Sandra Beaudoin asked if provincial elections affect the program, but Sgt. Welsman couldn’t provide an answer. He hopes that bureaucracy will not interfere with the program.
Coun. Angie Warwick outlined that politicians need to be accountable for their actions if it influences the outcome.
Statistics for crime in Hanna and the surrounding area showed no drastic changes compared to the same quarter of previous years.
According to Sgt. Welsman, property crime and copper wire theft are still common crimes, in addition to domestic violence.
Education on fraud issues is also a priority for the RCMP as it is a commonly reported crime.
Coun. Beaudoin brought concerns of a resident about suspected drug trafficking in the community.
The resident is a single mother concerned about her children becoming clients for a possible dealer who cuts through their property.
She also mentioned to Coun. Beaudoin that the mother of the suspected dealer provides sandwiches to children in the community to garner false trust.
Coun. Beaudoin outlined that this is not the image Hanna should portray and asked Sgt. Welsman if there is any targeting for drug crimes in the town.
Sgt. Welsman outlined that drugs are a prevalent problem in every community but guarantees that the RCMP is aware of individuals involved in the drug trade and will continue to investigate when possible.
Coun. Murphee noted a leap in reports regarding mental health. Sgt. Welsman stated that the number stems from individuals with mental health concerns who make reports with the RCMP.
“I will say that we do deal with mental health issues on a regular basis at the detachment,” says Sgt. Welsman. “I don’t think that’s different anywhere else, but we will certainly keep our eye out for an increase.”
He outlines that the RCMP works hard to ensure to help those individuals connect with the proper medical professionals.
Hanna Learning Centre
Doray Veno, Executive Director of the Hanna Learning Centre (HLC), provided an activity update to council.
The HLC, a registered non-profit serving the community since 1976, consists of four departments; Learning and Literacy, Career and Employment Services, Connecting Community and Business Services.
A recent program called ‘come for lunch, stay for conversation’ was made to address food security concerns in Hanna.
Every Wednesday, HLC provides pre-packaged meals in the lobby of the Provincial Building. Since last March, it has given 530 meals to the community.
HLC freezes remaining meals for a grab-and-go program offered once every month to prevent food waste. On occasion, individuals receive meals outside of these days.
Meals are made off-site by Karen Miller, a local caterer, where they are brought in and served. Every meal comes individually packaged and provides proper nutrition.
Veno also mentioned an amalgamation of the HLC and Hanna Volunteer Association that started in 2021.
A new organization will launch before the end of this year with new branding but will continue to offer the same services. Rather than operating two organizations, it will unify them both.
A challenge that Veno and the HLC face is the uncertainty with the facility.
Policy from Alberta Infrastructure will make users of their space pay full cost recovery.
It will cost the HLC $60,000 per year. Before the policy change, HLC used the facility over the last 20 years at zero cost.
Although grant funding for the upcoming year is secured, the HLC will look for a new facility to base its operations.
Shacker Crescent Alley
Sgt. Welsman gave suggestions for the speeding concern presented by a resident living near Shacker Crescent alley to council.
Council first discussed the topic during the June council information meeting and the July regular meeting.
Correspondence from Ashlee Maetche asked council to implement seasonal speed bumps to deter vehicles from speeding in the alley during the school year since children pass through it to go to school.
Radar monitoring by Sgt. Welsman did not show any consistent high rates of speed from vehicles travelling through the alley.
He also noted that the detachment did not receive many complaints regarding speed in the alley.
Sgt. Welman suggested if a complainant knows who is responsible for speeding in the alley or can get the license plate of speeding vehicles the RCMP could approach the owners directly to discuss their driving behaviour with the possibility of enforcement action.
In terms of infrastructure changes, he leaves the decision of implementing temporary speed bumps to council.
Coun. Fred Crowle agreed with the suggestion by Sgt. Welman. Mayor Povaschuk also agreed and mentioned that it would add to the workload of Public Works.
A device from the Special Areas Board installed in the alley will monitor the speeds of vehicles in the area. Peace Officer Erikson will show the results at the next meeting.