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Last updateFri, 20 Jul 2018 1pm

Hussar residents ponder future

tim frank

    The long and thorough process of assessing the viability of the Village of Hussar has taken the next step and is now in the Minister of Municipal Affairs’ hands as to whether the residents of Hussar will vote to remain a village or become part of Wheatland County.
    In the fall of 2014, the Village requested the Ministry undertake a Viability Study, and in June of 2015, it began in earnest. A Viability Review Team was struck. Its goals are to evaluate the strengths of the Village, develop a viability plan for Hussar, engage residents, property owners and stakeholders and provide feedback to Municipal Affairs.
    The team completed its report and last month presented it to Village residents. It lays out options faced by Hussar if it were to remain a village and options if it were to dissolve and become a part of Wheatland County.
     Mayor of Hussar Tim Frank says it is a very positive report.
        “I am pretty confident that everything will work out okay,’ said Frank. “Our people had questions, so we chose to go through the study to address those questions and put it to bed finally.”
    He explains that Municipal Affairs will be taking comments from residents of Hussar and stakeholders until July 19. After that, the Minister will decide whether there should be a vote for dissolution.
  “The Minister could just say, ‘with 190 residents, we just can’t make it,’ and if he does that, then it would go to a vote. I am really confident that if it does go to a vote that most people will say ‘stay the way you are.’”
     The report lays out key indicators of viability including accumulated deficit,  ratio of assets to liabilities and overall it shows positive numbers including growth in population and a strong non-residential assessment base.
        “Our total debt for the village is only about $54,000, that is like a small car,” said Frank.
    One positive outcome already since the ordering of the study is the Village was able to secure a grant to assess the village’s entire infrastructure and develop a 10-year plan to address emergent infrastructure needs.
    “Now we know every inch of every pipe and we have a plan to fix it all, and a plan that probably won’t involve taking out any debentures whatsoever,” said Frank. “We probably addressed three-quarters of the issues the infrastructure group flagged as they were happening. We were super proactive.”
    He is cautiously confident.
    “People want to remain a village, they want control, they want someone they can flag down on the street to talk to,” he said.

Flood hazard study underway

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    A comprehensive flood hazard study will assess river flows and flood risks in over 50 kilometres of the Red Deer River, providing Drumheller with valuable information for emergency response and long-term planning.
    The study is part of the province’s Flood Hazard Identification Program to enhance public safety and reduce future flood damages and covers 30 communities and 1,300 kilometres of river across the province.
    Project manager Peter Bezeau of Alberta Environment and Parks says the study is in part a response to the significant flooding across the province in 2013.
    “The first step in having a good risk management approach to flooding is to have a good understanding of the hazards, like what types of floods and how big they will be, and that’s what this study offers,” he said.
    Studies will include a hydrology assessment which estimates river flows for possible floods, flood hazard mapping to show where flooding is deepest and most destructive, and flood inundation mapping to be used for emergency response planning, among other things.
    Bezeau says after 2013 the province initially focused on rivers in urban centres but have transitioned into studied river hazards in longer, rural stretches. Studies will also be conducted on smaller stretches of Kneehill Creek, Michichi Creek, Rosebud River, and Willow Creek.
    He says the study is expected to be complete by 2020 with results and information provided to municipalities some time after.
    “We will need to make sure that local government understands and are on top of the information that’s in it,” says Bezeau.
    Costs are split in half between the province and federal government as part of Canada’s National Disaster Mitigation Program.

Spray park closed for maintenance

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The Rotary Spray Park is currently closed and expected to re-open around 4 p.m. this afternoon, Wednesday, July 18.
This is to allow town crews to undertake preventative maintenance to the splash pad.
“The Spray Park is being re-caulked to prevent water from getting under the pad causing damage,” says Reg Bennett, manager of Technical Service for the Town of Drumheller.

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