By J.W. Schnarr
For the Sunny South News
Highway 3 Twinning
The Town of Coaldale sees value in continued efforts to lobby for the twinning of Highway 3 across southern Alberta, and have squared away their membership fees for the Highway 3 Twinning Development Association for the coming year.
During their regular meeting on Mar. 29, council passed a motion to pay the fees, which amount to around $1,800.
The organization has been lobbying for the highway to be twinned for the past 15 years, and to that end has enlisted the support of most of the municipalities along the length of the highway from Crowsnest Pass to Saskatchewan.
Portions of the highway are already twinned, but there are large, dangerous sections which are not. A number of high profile collisions have occurred on the highway.
Last year, an off-duty sheriff and another person were killed and a man and his son were killed in separate incidents, each time sparking a push from municipalities along the corridor for action from the province.
The association deems the twinning of the highway to be a priority for southern Alberta, noting it will improve highway safety, positively impact the economic vitality of communities along the corridor, and generate an increase in tourism and recreation.
Membership fees for organizations are set at $50, while fees for municipalities are set at $.25 per capita annually. Annual fees start at a minimum of $250 for small communities and a maximum $5,000 for larger communities — 32 municipalities, including the cities of Lethbridge and Medicine Hat, are expected to contribute to the expected $37,537 in acquisition, representing a population of 261,671.
Funds will be used to help pay for activities such as safety studies and cost/benefit analysis. Member groups are also encouraged to participate in the discussion by meeting with their local MLAs and writing letters to the provincial government to ensure the discussion continues.
Coaldale Coun. Bill Chapman is the current chair of the Highway 3 Twinning Development Association.
Gem of the West
The Town of Coaldale has agreed to provide a nearly $40,000 loan in order to help the Gem of the West Museum Society cover the costs of ongoing renovations in their outdoor day-use area.
At a previous council meeting, the society provided council with an update on their project.
During council’s regular meeting on Mar. 29, Community Services Manager Stephanie Wierl presented council with a letter of request from the society containing two requests.
The group requested council’s support on a $30,000 loan to be repaid over three years in order to complete the entire outdoor day-use area in 2016.
The overall costs are estimated to be $75,000, and the society has been able to secure $45,000 already.
The society also requested council considered dropping the annual administrative services payment of $7,500 for 2016. The money would then be used to purchase a commercial barbecue and recognize the town for their contribution.
“The barbecue is the last component to this multi- phase project and is much needed,” indicated society president Duncan Lloyd, in a letter dated Mar. 23.
Wierl told council it was the opinion of administration the barbecue was an important component to the outdoor day-use area along the south side of the museum.
“The barbecue and the general day-use area add an additional, much-needed outdoor rental space in town,” she said.
“We know our Kin shelters are rented quite heavily over the summer, and to have another outdoor space would be lovely.”
In 2014, Phase One of the project was started. It completed the revitalization repair of the front entryway concrete. This was the beginning of an overall landscaping revision for the front entry and south day-use entry. The group has since been working on Phase Two of the project involving a landscaping plan.
During discussion, Coun. Roger Hohm said he was “very supportive” of providing the $30,000 loan to the society and noted the importance of the planned renovations. He expressed concern over the request to forgive the $7,500 administrative services payment, however.
“I’m not quite as supportive of waiving the $7,500 at this time,” he said. “We’re only one year into that agreement. To set a precedent of waiving a fee for a one-off item, I’m a little leery of getting into that at this time.”
“I think it’s something the (society) needs to continue to budget for and take care of.”
Mayor Kim Craig asked about providing a $37,500 loan to the society in order to help them cover their needs without forgiving a scheduled payment. He also said council could increase the term of the loan, so as not to cause a hardship. “It seems like this is almost integral to the project,” he said.
Following discussion, council passed a motion to provide a $37,500 loan to the Gem of the West Society with a term of four years, with the first scheduled repayment to take place in December 2017.
Coun. Jack Van Rijn declared a conflict of interest and abstained from discussion and voting on the issue. Coun. Bill Martens was absent.
Youth hockey program
In an effort to provide local ice to local youth during primetime hours, the Town of Coaldale is seeking a group interested in operating a youth hockey program that would take place during primetime ice hours in Coaldale.
During their regular meeting on Mar. 29, council passed a motion for a Request for Interest from local groups on the recommendation of administration. Community Services Manager Stephanie Wierl told council there has been frustration in the community over lack of ice time for young people.
“Administration has received numerous complaints from Coaldale residents regarding usage and allocation of primetime ice to ice users who do not operate under a non-profit status and have a lot of percentage of resident participants,” she said.
Wierl said the nature of the complaints involved local ice users frequently rent ice outside of Coaldale due to a shortage of weekday and weekend primetime ice (4 p.m. to 10 p.m.).
Local users have faced additional costs and travel time due to these rentals. She noted awareness among local users that there is ice time scarcity in the town, especially as the community continues to grow, but that awareness has not eased the concerns of local users.
“They all share the frustration our kids are travelling, in part, because non-local users are utilizing a portion of Coaldale’s primetime ice,” she said.
The current ice allocation policy does not outline specifics for the allocation procedure regarding the five recognized levels of users. Wierl said the policy, then, does not address conflicts between user groups for levels two through five.
The five levels of ice use are defined as follows:
1. Town of Coaldale community programming;
2. Not-for-profit youth resident organizations;
3. Coaldale junior “B” hockey team;
4. Not-for-profit adult resident organizations; and
5. Commercial private users or non-resident users.
Wierl said community feedback indicates local residents are in favour of access to local youth sport programs, including access to local ice. As such, administration was making their “win-win” recommendation.
The goal would be to find a group interested in operating a non-profit recreational hockey program specifically geared toward Coaldale youth that would operate during the weekly three-hour primetime ice allocation.
It would be an affordable, non-competitive, non-contact league with no travel expectations, providing instead an opportunity for increased puck touches and skill development opportunities. The program would be 60 per cent local youth in year one, 70 per cent in year two, and 80 per cent in year three operation.
The organization would have to be a registered non-profit society with full valid insurance to run the program, and institute a fundraising strategy in order to collect funds for the town’s Friends of the Rink fund for improving the arena.
Coun. Bill Chapman expressed concern about the wording in the release of the RFI, stating he did not want it to appear as though any specific groups were being targeted.
Wierl responded Level 5 user groups would be notified prior to the RFI going out in order to let those groups know there would be changes coming. “All Level 5 users would be notified in writing,” she said. “This is nothing more than we’ve been trying to achieve for a number of years,” said Mayor Kim Craig.