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Last updateThu, 07 Dec 2023 4pm

Bo the Bison finds new home at Blackfoot Crossing

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After more than six decades, Bo the Bison, which has been prominently displayed at the Badlands Historical Centre, is heading to a new home.
Bo’s official name is Bison antiquus occidentalis. His partial skeleton was discovered in an abandoned strip mine near Taber, Alberta, in May of 1957. After it was excavated it came to Drumheller.
Louise Henrickson, chair of Badlands Historical Museum, said the board has been actively looking for a more suitable home for the bison.
At the time of discovery in the 1950s, the Badlands Historical Museum was only dinosaur museum in Alberta.
The board reached out to Taber because it was discovered in that area. However, they found a more suitable home at Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park in Siksika Nation.
Last Wednesday, a crew from Blackfoot Crossing came and picked up the specimen. This was the first time, since it was originally displayed, that its case had been opened.
“Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park has the capability to store the items, and eventually we will put it on display. We have a whole exhibit dedicated to the bison,” said museum manager Sasheen Wright.
Blackfoot Crossing is the historic site of the signing of Treaty No. 7, and is a world-renowned cultural, educational and entertainment centre built for the promotion and preservation of the Siksika Nation peoples' language, culture and traditions.
It has an impressive collection, including Chief Crowfoot's regalia, which was repatriated from the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery in Exeter, England where it has been since 1878.
Bo may be the oldest artifact it has in its collection.
According to a paper prepared by Frank Hadfield of Dinosaur Valley Studios, the find could be the earliest known evidence for man in Alberta.
According to the account by Hadfield, it was excavated by L.A. Blaycock and J.F. Jones, who were geologists from the Alberta Research Council. It was found in alluvium (sand and clay of river origin) deposited in an oxbow lake of the ancestral Oldman River.
Bo is a mature male, and wood fragments in the same sands show it to be 10,000 to 11,000 years old. Alberta contemporaries, at that time, include the woolly mammoth, dire wolves and prehistoric equine.
It is most likely the ancestor of the Plains Buffalo. According to his research, it evolved in North America, probably from an isolated population of Bison antiquus that had its range restricted by the end of the ice age. As there was general continental warming and drying, the Bison antiquus became extinct, leaving the Bison antiquus occidentalis.
As the climate became cooler, Bison antiquus occidentalis became extinct.
What the find also cements, according to Hadfield, was evidence of early man. A stone artifact was found embedded in the braincase of the specimen. The stone shows evidence of use for battering. Because it was found where it could not have been deposited by a natural process, led him to conclude it is an artifact and indicates the animal could have been killed by man.

Government invests in affordable housing upgrades

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Alberta’s government is investing $16 million to upgrade 400 affordable housing units across the province, and some of this funding is earmarked for Drumheller institutions.
The provincial budget has $94 million over three years for capital maintenance and renewal funding. Through an additional $16 million in capital maintenance and renewal funding, 100 units will reopen, and another 300 will continue to be available for use while undergoing preventative maintenance.
“This investment will support housing providers to keep affordable housing online across our province. We will continue to partner with these organizations to ensure we maintain and grow our affordable housing infrastructure across Alberta,” said Jason Nixon, Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services.
The Drumheller and District Seniors Foundation (DDSF) was included in this announcement, and it will be receiving $250,000 for renewal. DDSF Chief Administrative Officer Glenda Youngberg tells the Mail these funds will be used for the provincially owned Senior Manors.
“They have allotted us $250,000 for their owned self-contained units, which means Manor One, Manor Two and the villas here in Drumheller. This is for capital maintenance, so we have to come up with a list of things we need to do in these units,” she said.
The Drumheller Housing Administration (DHA) also benefited from this injection of funding. It was allotted $200,000 for capital maintenance.
The administration is planning on using funds to install roofing on a unit, as well as install basement sump pumps and replace flooring. The bulk of the funds will be for concrete work, installing concrete patios on 26 units, to provide positive slope for runoff away from foundations.
"We are grateful for the commitment from Minister Nixon’s office to support Drumheller Housing to ensure we are providing safe and affordable housing for Albertans," said DHA chair Crystal Sereda.

Drumheller council considers cap on Short Term Rentals

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Town of Drumheller continues to work on regulations on Short Term Rentals (STRs) as part of its proposed Business License Bylaw, and during the Tuesday, November 14 Committee of the Whole meeting administration was directed to implement an annual cap on the number of STR licenses, and introduce a differential rate for principal and non-principal residences.
Council previously gave second reading of the Business License Bylaw in October of this year, and made some recommendations to Economic Development manager Reg Johnston to further investigate STR regulation in other municipalities, including how these units are taxed to align with commercial taxation, insurance requirements, and any caps on the number of licenses permitted per year.
It was proposed to implement a differential rate for STR business licenses of $245 for principal residences in which the property owner also resides, and $810 for non-principal residences, also considered investment properties. This would reflect an estimated $55,000 annually, which would help offset administrative costs.
Along with researching business licensing fees, Mr. Johnston also investigated how municipalities tax these properties. Following discussions with Wildrose Assessment and Corporate Services, it was determined other municipalities such as the Town of Canmore had implemented a new municipal tax rate for these properties which sees STRs charged 3.28 times higher than other residential properties.
A new residential subclass would allow for STRs to be taxed at a higher rate to better align with commercial tax rates. However, it was noted this would not be able to be implemented until 2025 due to information required. Another consideration into STRs was whether to limit the number of business licenses approved annually.
With the ongoing housing shortage in Drumheller, it was recommended council implement a cap of 120 STR business licenses per year; there are currently about 104 STRs operating within the Drumheller Valley.
While there were some concerns that limitation could pose some additional challenges, such as reducing competition and increasing administrative work, this could also help to alleviate strain on the local housing market. It could also help to encourage growth within certain sectors of the housing market such as secondary suites, while reducing the number of investment properties which were seen as “primary contributors” to reduced housing stock.
There were also recommendations regarding the insurance coverage required to be held on these properties by the property owner, mandating proof of liability insurance during the business licensing process, requirements to be outlined regarding guest health and safety such as an Emergency Evacuation Plan, and safety measures including fire extinguishers and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors within the property.
It is expected the Business License Bylaw will be brought back to council for third reading consideration in the new year.


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