By Stan Ashbee
Sunny South News
Lethbridge County update
At a Coaldale and District Chamber of Commerce meeting held Feb. 10, Deputy Reeve Henry Doeve presented a Lethbridge County update to chamber members.
Doeve noted county council recently attended a strategic planning session.
“One of the key things that came out of that was to continue and enhance relations with others. For the county, that’s quite important,” he noted. Coaldale is one of many municipalities within the county’s borders.
To carry on these relationships with these other jurisdictions, Doeve added, that’s a key initiative for the county and it’s important to keep those relationships active.
“With Coaldale, it’s been a good relationship. The emergency services agreement is ready to be signed,” he noted, adding the county and the Town of Coaldale are good for another five years, in that respect, as joint fire, first response and emergency services.
Broxburn Park, Doeve explained, is virtually full and it continues to have some building going on. “The lights are getting ready to get stoked up. There was a bit of a delay, so my apologies for anyone going to be somewhat longer to work in the morning but, for the most part, it will be safer on that road — especially those coming from the side with these big trucks taking a lot of chances,” he said.
The county, Doeve said, had to implement road bans earlier than normal this year because of the warm weather. “We don’t anticipate they will be on as long, simply because it wasn’t that cold, so the frost didn’t move in that deep.”
Doeve said the need for the county to find infrastructure solutions is imperative as the county continues to find ways to secure infrastructure funding to repair bridges and roads. “There’s a huge shortfall there. We’ve had to close one bridge and we’ve got three or four bridges right now on the verge, if we don’t do something. They may need to be closed, or something may need to happen there,” said Doeve.
Town of Coaldale report
Coun. Jack Van Rijn presented a report from the Town of Coaldale during the recent chamber meeting held Feb. 10.
According to Van Rijn, the tender has gone out to rebuild including paving of 20 Avenue eastbound. “That’s from 8 Street, past the Owl’s Nest Campground to the east side of Parkside. This cost is a shared project with the developers of Parkside and the Town of Coaldale. We should see new pavement there this spring,” noted Van Rijn.
The contract has been awarded for the design of the new RCMP detachment building to be constructed on the east side of Coaldale, Van Rijn said. “The project is anticipated to begin in 2017. That’s going to be exciting for Coaldale.”
Council, Van Rijn added, is also working on the budget process for the upcoming fiscal year. “We hope to have that done within the next few weeks,” he said.
Photo radar, Van Rijn, said will be up and running in town this month. “They’re out and about right now. If you see them, they’re kind of calibrating their equipment and we have three operators training on it,” Van Rijn said.
The town and Lethbridge County joined intermunicipal planning committee is working collaboratively on annexation plans for the Town of Coaldale. “This process is being completed, as part of a rural study plan adopted by town council in May of last year,” he said. As per the study, population projects for Coaldale, with a modest one per cent growth, will put the growing community at 10,000 residents by the year 2041.
Tenders went out for Phases 3B and 3C for the Coaldale industrial park.
Spencer Croil, the town’s director of planning and development, discussed an issue in regards to parking downtown near the temporary RCMP detachment office, located at the town office building. “We’ve looked at ways of trying to get a few more stalls in front of the RCMP building. With the geometry of that street, even if we make the entire north side of the main street for that block angle parking, which would really narrow out the driving lanes and make driving through the area somewhat uncomfortable, we only gain two stalls total by doing that for the whole block. Trying to find more stalls on that street is somewhat impractical,” Croil said.
As an alternative, Croil added — after speaking with other town representatives, what could be offered, at least on a temporary basis until the new RCMP building is up and running — is the gravel parking lot just north of the town office building could be opened up for parking of single vehicles only. “That would be gravelled and signed and opened up for parking for any of the downtown businesses to take advantage of,” he explained.
Coun. Van Rijn noted the RCMP need the spaces up front of the detachment for residents to report accidents and other issues and for residents needing to get criminal record checks.
One of the other reasons the RCMP would like to continue to park their vehicles up front on the main street is for police presence in the community, said town Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Kalen Hastings.
“They want people in the downtown core to see there is a police presence, as a correlation of crime prevention and let’s people know they’re here,” said Hastings.
Federal requirements for police detachments are also at play in regards to the parking issue, Hastings added. “They do need x number of stalls for visitor parking. What we’re trying to is work with them on areas they’re able to be flexible, so it also accommodates the surrounding business owners. It’s not just a matter of the town giving up its own property. It’s trying to work within their security requirements for a police detachment,” he said. Hastings noted the local detachment has completed over 100 background checks within the first month of operations. “It is being utilized by the community for various reasons,” he said.
Highway 3 Twinning Association update
As president of the Highway 3 Economic Development Association Bill Chapman thanked the chamber for the organization’s support for the vision of Highway 3 and advocacy for the twinning. Chapman, also a Town of Coaldale councillor, said at the association’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) held recently, the association decided on a name change to the Highway 3 Twinning Association. One of the reasons for the change is because there are already a number of advocates in the region for economic development in southern Alberta. “There’s a number of economic groups out there. People just sort of thought, we were duplicating, so we went onto a twinning concept, what really is what the vision is for Highway 3.” Chapman noted.
Chapman explained there’s 324 kilometres of highway from the Crowsnest Pass border to Medicine Hat. “Of course, one-third of it is twinned and the other two-thirds is not. There’s still about 220 kilometres yet. Those are possibly the most dangerous parts of Highway 3 now, with the amount of increased traffic both in truck traffic, automobile and recreational traffic,” he said. Looking back at five years of records, Chapman said, on the same stretch of highway between Grassy Lake and Bow Island there was 47 incidences with seven fatalities.
“That’s part of the advocacy we’re working on.”
According to a keynote speaker from Alberta Transportation at the association’s recent AGM, if Highway 3 were approved today for twinning, it would still take up to five to seven years for actual ground work to take place and for development to occur.
“We feel we are shovel ready. We just need this further year to really improve on our studies to make sure we have those details for the Alberta government. If the government could even let us start 10 kilometres at a time and start growing from there, that would really be an advantage. We see the Crowsnest Pass as really the busiest part of Highway 3 in Alberta, where’s there’s a lot of entrance and exit out of Alberta into British Columbia or going down to the United States,” Chapman added.