Rod Schaff, on behalf of Central Alberta Raceways (CARS), attended the May 24 Ponoka County council meeting to update council on the previous year’s activities.
Schaff reported CARS had a prosperous 2021 with only minor issues such as trying to park all of the spectator vehicles that had attended the events.
They were experiencing supply issues as was every other business. The oval parking lot had been redone and sponsor buildings are being prepared.
The Town of Rimbey had received complaints about noise from the raceway after 10 p.m. CARS was to meet with the Town of Rimbey to discuss this issue.
The Rimbey Kinsmen have paid off the skate park debt utilizing funds received from CARS events. They are working with the Ag Society for use of the bleachers.
The 2022 season is completely booked.
It was noted that the police service budget line was over-expended by $80,000. The budget had been based on previous requisitions to the enhanced police service.
Coun. Nancy Hartford noted that the Rimbey Family and Community Support Services had passed their accreditation with some minor areas to work on.
They hosted a 40th anniversary tea on June 3.
FCSS was attempting to hire an office manager and program coordinator. Currently those positions were being covered by temporary employees.
Reeve Paul McLauchlin had been acclaimed as the representative for rural municipalities at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities meeting.
Unpaid oil/gas taxes
McLauchlin updated council on the unpaid oil/gas tax situation and the actions recently taken. Several municipalities were providing a notice of action against Alphabow. The shortlist created of companies with unpaid taxes in multiple municipalities lists 25 companies.
CFOs adjacent to lakes
Council discussed confined feeding operations (CFO) adjacent to lakes. The CFO at Pigeon Lake had been approved by the Natural Resources Conservation Board and would be appealed by the adjacent landowners.
As Wetaskiwin County does not have a setback from watersheds, the appeal was likely to be dismissed.
Ponoka County’s exclusion zone was precedent setting but had not been adopted by other municipalities yet.
RMA member visit
Gerald Rhodes, executive director of the Rural Municipalities of Alberta; Amber Link, District 2 director and Warren Noga, policy advisor, addressed council. They questioned what Ponoka County saw as priorities for advocacy by the RMA as there were unique challenges and diverse perspectives in each municipality they visited.
Rural crime and emergency response
Chief administrative officer Charlie Cutforth advised that rural crime and emergency response were huge issues. The county could lose volunteer fire fighters if they are required to be emergency medical technicians due to the lack of ambulance services in rural areas.
Alberta Health Services needs to revisit the ambulance services plan and completely revamp it, he said.
Provincial police force
Assistant chief administrative officer Peter Hall suggested that recruitment and retention of an Alberta Police Force would be more difficult as the rural and urban areas of Ponoka County were not considered prime locations for officers to come to.
The provincial police matter could become a plebiscite issue at the next provincial election.
It was discussed that the majority of municipalities supported keeping the RCMP with changes. General opinion was response times and follow up for rural areas could be improved.
Coun. Bryce Liddle advised that the life lease units at Rimoka are almost all being utilized again. They were being encouraged to seek additional board members.
He addressed the changing regulations on homecare and suggested that Rimoka isn’t interested in participating since all staff would need to follow AHS protocols. This work was already being done by the local FCSS branches.
Bobtail Bridge deflection
Council voted unanimously to proceed with paving over the Bobtail bridge as soon as possible at a cost of $37,000. Paving over the bridge is to alleviate the deflection concerns.