ECA Review Reporter
Terry McMahon, community peace officer, came to visit the Paintearth County council on August 14. With McMahon, council discussed a request that came to McMahon about trucks carrying turbine components for Halkirk parking on county roads, possibly for an extended period of time. The idea was so that they could stage closer to a central point between the sites where the turbine parts are stored and the Halkirk sites instead of at Cactus Corner.
There were a few concerns about the proposal of parking on the roads. Harvest time was the main concern with council thinking about the farmers needing to move equipment down the roads safely. CAO Tarolyn Peach had talked to site construction manager Jay Walker who was surprised to hear of it. Peach reported that Walker “knows what harvest is going to be like” and recognized that the council was “not obligated to shut down roads.”
Council decided that the trucks had other options. One alternative was making a lay down area as was originally agreed upon for the trucks to drop their loads and head out again. This would solve the problem of trucks sitting around for days at Cactus Corner when they could be hauling parts. Reeve George Glazier noted that there is space, they just need to make it.
MP Kevin Sorenson also visited council to talk about the shelterbelt program.
Council had sent a letter about the prairie shelterbelt program, which gave landowners free trees, being discontinued. Sorenson said that every department had been asked to look at a 5 – 10 per cent cut when the budget was being made. He added, “I think the minister there agonized,” in reference to Gerry Ritz, minister of agriculture and agri-food.
The shelterbelt program originated in the early 1900s when homesteads were being settled in order to promote good farming methods and help with wind erosion. The program was pushed harder when the depression hit in the 1930s as a way to help farmers with better farming practices and has continued ever since. Sorenson said he would like to see the trees still available and the science to progress. He added they will watch the prices for seedlings at nurseries to see that they do not skyrocket.
In explanation of why the program was cut, Sorenson said they had to keep their main programs solid, they did not want to cut food safety funding and noted they “don’t have to sell farmers on the idea anymore.” He said farmers now know the importance and questioned the need for the federal government to give away free trees as an incentive for farmers to make shelterbelts.
Councillor Rocky Dahmer said he thought shelterbelts “should still be promoted” and Councillor Tyrill Hewitt noted that trees have cycles and will need to be replaced. Sorenson agreed and said nobody was saying shelterbelts were a bad idea, but they needed to make sure they had enough money for disasters He added that there was a problem with the government giving out trees to one farmer and then the next farmer comes in and bulldozes the whole lot. “It’s all about priorities,” Sorenson said.
Council also talked about RCMP barracks with Sorenson. He said the government has renewed the RCMP contract in Alberta later last year or earlier this year. Before it was renewed there was some discussion as to whether it would be or not, so some projects may have been put on hold because of that. Now, Sorenson made council aware they are on the list for a permanent RCMP barracks. He said “we know Paintearth needs it” and he realizes that sometimes “RCMP officers are at a premium” in the area.
There were a few reasons council brought forward to support the permanent barracks. The biggest push for having the barracks with cells is so the current RCMP officers are not being taken away from other policing duties to provide a taxi service. One idea that came up was about having sheriffs do the transporting, which would allow the RCMP to focus more on policing the area.
Recruiting a doctor for Castor was discussed. It was noted there are a lot of doctors in England, so the possibility of advertising over there came up. As well, there was talk of advertising in Ontario. Council said they will need to work closely with Alberta Health Services as they will have a big influence on who comes over.
Recently, a doctor from Manchester and his wife, who is a nurse practitioner, visited. Council would like to keep communicating with them. Additionally, council noted the idea about how to recruit doctors needs to change. Tarolyn Peach pointed out what was wrong with the mentality towards it, saying the truth is “they’re interviewing us” but many seem to think “we’re interviewing them.”