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Picture Butte looking to go beyond net zero

Posted on November 24, 2022 by Sunny South News

By Kenyon Stronski
Sunny South News

It was a busy summer for Cardston-Siksika MLA Joseph Schow, and it may prove to become an even busier end to the year with his new appointment as House Leader for the United Conservative Caucus. At the Nov. 14 regular meeting of Picture Butte council, Schow appeared by zoom to give an update, and to discuss his role moving forward.

“So, a lot has happened in the past six to 10 months, and of course, we have a new premier now. Premier Danielle Smith won her by-election last week and she has appointed some new members and shuffled the cabinet around and I was honoured to be put into that as the House Leader. My new role effectively is making sure we work with her and other cabinet ministers on registration going to the chamber. I’m very honoured, prior to being appointed to that I was the Deputy House Leader so it’s not a role I’m unfamiliar with, but certainly now as the House Leader, it carries new responsibilities. I had a wonderful summer, running around and I literally mean running. All the parades, and I did about 10 or 11 of them, threw out all kinds of candy and I trained all winter and spring for that event so I was in shape to get through them. I often finished sweating and gassed but I had a great time with that.”

While it is now done, Schow mentioned the construction on 4th Street did throw him for a bit of a loop as far as the parade path went, chuckling as he said he didn’t correctly conserve his energy for the path.

“I had a ton of fun, it was an incredible showing and there were a lot of great people I recognized. That’s kind of the update here, aside from that issues that are most pressing to Albertans is affordability and access to healthcare. It’s a tough world out there right now and people are struggling to make ends meet. I don’t think anyone is immune to that and I think it’s on us as Albertans to help out and do what we can to make life affordable. As we go into the legislative agenda in the fall, we’ll see some measures to help with that.”

With his update finished, Mayor Cathy Moore thanked him for showing up to the parade, commenting that it’s always nice to have their MLA in town before they moved on to questions. Deputy Mayor Henry de Kok was first up to bat, and he also appeared on zoom from Toronto.

“A couple of weeks ago I sent you an email that your staff took care of quite promptly and it was nice. The one question that you’re going to have to bring forward, and I think it would be good to do for our small town is to allow towns to make money off of renewable energy. Currently, the government does not allow any town to be more than net-zero, however, we had a huge opportunity to build a little bit larger of a solar or wind facility and we could have produced some operational funds for the town to operate and do more services for our residents.”

De Kok believes it’s a piece of red tape that could be easily removed, pointing out that Medicine Hat is able to make money off of their renewable energy programs because they had everything in place before the legislation was passed.

“One Village set up a private company that the Village owns and that’s how they got around it but I don’t think we should have to do that to make some extra money if we consider putting up some solar panels.”

Schow replied it isn’t the first time he’s heard of the suggestion, saying another municipality within the constituency had mentioned it before.

“I know there are some regulatory barriers and issues and Medicine Hat goes back quite a ways. I don’t know a lot about it and energy policy is quite complex but I’d be more than happy to do some research and follow up with you on that.”

For more context, de Kok mentioned sitting on the board at SouthGrow, and how they’re throwing up a $6 million project that will provide them with $500,000 a year to put towards other programs.

“In the Town of Picture Butte, if we could do the same thing, we’d be net zero and that’s an astronomical boost to our budget and capital and right now we can’t do that. The government’s been trimming funds to us every year and not giving us new abilities to generate extra funds and this would be a great way of doing it at no cost to yourselves.”

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