It was a special year across the country as Canada celebrated its 150th birthday, and Drumheller did it in style. The Heritage Arts and Culture Committee of the Town of Drumheller took the lead and planning shifted into top gear.
The first major event staged was a Picnic in the Park on May 30. The park beside the Badlands Community Facility was transformed into a good old-fashioned family picnic with a tug-o-war, slacklining, hopscotch, music and a barbecue hosted by the Family Fun Committee. There was also the quintessential Canadian snack, Nanaimo bars.
Canada Day followed shortly after and the theme of the annual parade was Canada 150 and residents and businesses showed their spirit. The celebration was all that Canada Day promises and more, including a special powwow.
Throughout the year the Canada 150 ParticipACTION playlist committee was busy getting the community active, planning and executing about 40 events where residents could come out and try a typical Canadian physical activity. This ranged from curling to belly dancing.
On September 30 the Heritage and Arts Committee buried a time capsule to mark Canada’s 150th birthday, and it included items from the community including a copy of The Drumheller Mail as well as this year’s craze, a fidget spinner.
The Canada 150 year concluded with an exceptionally planned and executed Festival of Lights in Downtown Drumheller. The core was transformed into a family-friendly winter wonderland.
Munson resident charged with murder
On October 16, at about 8 a.m. the Morrin Fire Department responded to a vehicle fire. They attended and discovered human remains. The Drumheller RCMP and the RCMP’s Major Crime Unit were called in and were assisted by the forensic identification section and the Auto Theft Unit. About 10 days later Dylan Howard, 20, of Munson, was arrested in Airdrie and charged with one count of first-degree murder in the death of Calgary man, Fazal Rehman.
The announcement came as a shock to the close-knit community. Howard, who grew up in the area is currently being held at the Calgary Remand Centre and will be appearing in provincial court in Drumheller on January 19.
2017 was a municipal election year and there was a large slate of candidates to select from. In fact, there were 17 on the ballot for Drumheller council alone with two running for mayor.
After a heated campaign, Heather Colberg won the mayor’s seat over long time town Councillor Sharel Shoff. The new council includes Fred Makowecki, Tony Lacher, Kristyne DeMott, Lisa Hansen Zacharuk, Jay Garbutt and Tom Zariski. Incumbents Tara McMillan and Patrick Kolafa were not reelected.
There were some surprising results in other jurisdictions, including former Reeve of Kneehill Bob Long losing his seat, as well as former Starland Reeve Barrie Hoover.
It seems almost every year, the weather can be one of the biggest newsmakers, but Mother Nature can’t be contained.
In March about seven homes and two businesses along the Rosebud River in near Rosedale were flooded due to rising water and ice jams. Public infrastructure was also damaged. The Town of Drumheller worked with residents and the province to recover from the event, and in November, by an Order in Council, the Minister of Municipal Affairs “Declares the extraordinary losses, damages and emergency response costs resulting from overland flooding caused by the ice jam experienced in the Town of Drumheller on March 18, 2017, to be a disaster in accordance with section 7 of the Fiscal Planning and Transparency Act.”
A few days later, the Treasury Board approved funding for those affected. There were plans for caseworkers from the province to be dispatched to work with residents.
This fall, it wasn’t water, but rather the lack of it, combined with strong winds that put emergency responders on alert. Drumheller along with surrounding counties declared fire bans throughout the summer and fall, but it came to a head in Special Areas where wildfires broke out, sparked by activities on CFB Suffield.
About a month later, a local State of Emergency was declared in Wheatland County on October 17. Areas near Siksika and Gleichen were evacuated as the fire spread in heavy winds.
In between these two events on October 2, a heavy snow event hit, making roads treacherous and shutting down highways. In Rockyford and Carseland Emergency Reception Centres were set up and Rockyford housed about 25 people through the night who were stranded by the storm.
You never know what the future will hold, because it is guaranteed, Mother Nature won’t tell us.
Tony Kollman named
hall of famer
He entertained a generation of Drumheller hockey fans, and now he has one more accolade tied to his name. Tony Kollman is a Drumheller Miner hockey legend playing on the historical 1966 Allan Cup-winning team. This year he was inducted into the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame. His career started in Saskatchewan and moved to Hanna before his 11-year tenure with the Miners. They won not only Allan Cup. But four Alberta Senior Hockey Championships and was part of a trip to Europe with the Miners who are believed to be the first free world hockey team to play East Germany during the Cold War.
Along the way, he played in many Alberta communities and even played five games for the Salt Lake Golden Eagles in 1970-71.
He was inducted in a ceremony in Canmore on July 23, along with this year’s entries Glen Sather and the Sutter Family. In September, he was honoured locally with a special dinner that benefited Drumheller and Hanna Minor Hockey.
What’s a bitcoin?
The end of 2017 found the world obsessed with bitcoin. Half are still wondering what it is, and the other half is ruing the day five years ago when they let it slip away. In the Drumheller area, residents this year saw the development of a Bitfury facility at the top of the north hill, twining with one in the Three Hills area. The company worked closely with the Town of Drumheller Economic Development department for about a year to help find a location. As well, they assisted the company with support services to help them get up and going. The facility is nearly complete and should be up and running in the new year. It is expected to employ about 25-30 people and has also provided employment during its construction.
The Town of Drumheller was in the international spotlight this year as the Royal Tyrrell Museum unveiled a new exhibit featuring a special find. The Nodosaur was discovered at the Suncor Millennium Mine, north of Fort McMurray in 2011 by a heavy equipment operator. Not only was this a new species, but also the best-preserved armoured Dinosaur ever found.
The opening coincided with a feature in National Geographic magazine. The Nodosaur, along with the new exhibit called Grounds for Discovery, which displays finds that were discovered through industrial work, help lead the Tyrrell into another record-breaking year.
The future looks bright for the Tyrrell as it embarks on an approximately $9 million expansion.
50 years ago, the Drumheller Institution opened its doors to its first serving inmates, but for the community, it opened a new era of the Town of Drumheller. The Institution came at a time when Drumheller was classified as an economically depressed region following the closure of the coal industry.
A firm lobbying effort brought the Institution to Drumheller, providing good jobs to generations over the last five decades.
This anniversary was celebrated in September and included a special Freedom of the Town procession and then a gala dinner.
While much of this drama took place on the provincial stage, it has ramifications for the valley and the rest of the province, as the countdown continues to the next provincial election.
The valley saw a lot of Jason Kenney this year; first as a candidate for the Progressive Conservative Party, and then to unite his party with the Wild Rose Party, and finally on the campaign trail.
Pulling off a political three-peat, the former federal cabinet minister is now the leader of the opposition and polls are indicating that there is a good chance he will be the next Premier of Alberta. Local MLA Rick Strankman endorsed Kenney throughout his bid for leadership, now the stage is set for a political showdown
Big changes at
There were big changes this year at the Drumheller Co-op. The cooperative has been operating in the valley for more than 5 decades, serving resident’s needs. Throughout its history, the Co-op has seen many changes in its services and offerings. Early this year the Drumheller Co-op made the difficult decision to close its grocery operations. This was a blow to the community as for many it was their first choice for grocery shopping. It was also a blow to its loyal employee base.
This fall the Co-op made another bold move and the membership voted in favour of amalgamating with the Westview Co-op, which serves the Olds, Sundre, and Carstairs area. Members can now shop at 12 locations in six communities. Locally the Co-op operates its home and agro centre as well as its gas bar, cardlock, and bulk petroleum.