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Last updateFri, 21 Jun 2024 5pm

Wheatland County passes budgets

Wheatland Logo 2021 copy

Wheatland County residents are looking at a potential 3 per cent municipal tax increase.
Wheatland County passed its 2024 Capital and Operating budget at the April 2 Wheatland County Council meeting, which includes a 3 per cent increase in its tax-supported portion of the operating budget.
“Wheatland County Council is pleased to announce the approval of the Operating and Capital Budgets for the 2024 fiscal year. Council and Administration have meticulously reviewed the budget to ensure its alignment with Wheatland County’s Strategic Plan,” said Reeve Amber Link. “Wheatland County strives to maintain a balanced approach to spending, ensuring effective management of assets and strategic investment in infrastructure to facilitate growth while safeguarding financial stability. Overall, the budgets prioritize fiscal responsibility and strategic investment, aiming to deliver quality services to both residents and businesses within the County.”
One budget pressure is an obligation to pay approximately $900,000 for RCMP policing costs, paid to the province.
One note in a press release is that despite challenges posed by inflation, they are committed to affordability and fostering economic growth to keep taxes to a minimum.
“In 2023, the average residential property paid $1,354 in taxes. Due to growth and development in the County’s non-residential tax base, the average residential property is expected to pay $30.39 more in 2024, representing only a 2.2% increase,” it notes.
The operating budget is approximately $69.7 Million. Of this, $41.8 million is tax-supported and about $16.4 million is drawn from reserves.
The 3 per cent tax increase does not include requisitions for education. In 2024, Wheatland County is required to collect $10.8 million towards its Education Requisition through property tax billing. This is an amount that will be collected and directly remitted to the province.
The council is looking at $8.4 million toward the raw water supply and several infrastructure projects including road work and bridgework.
The council also passed its 2024 capital budget of approximately $39.9 million. A large portion of the capital budget is dedicated to water projects ($11.9 million), equipment ($6.5 million) and Public Works ($16.6 million ) for road maintenance, construction and bridges.
The Tax Rate Bylaw has not been passed.


Three more charged following drone drug trafficking investigation

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In May of 2023, a prison drug trafficking operation was dismantled following a complex investigation led by Drumheller RCMP General Investigative Services (GIS). Several drones and a large amount of cocaine, methamphetamine, and fentanyl were seized, and two suspects were charged, including one inmate.
The investigation continued and RCMP identified a suspect and a suspect inmate who were facilitating the introduction of drugs and phones into the Drumheller Institution via illicit drone flights. On March 15, 2024, police executed a search warrant at a residence in Eckville, Alta. As a result of the search warrant, the following was seized:

1.3 Kilograms of Cocaine
2.2 Kilograms of Methamphetamine;
2.1 grams of Fentanyl
Canadian Currency and a money counter
Two Prohibited Weapons
Two drones
Cell Phones
A loaded shotgun
Break in instruments
A 2020 Dodge Ram 2500 a 2018 GMC Yukon.

Throughout the investigation, multiple RCMP Support Units were engaged including Sylvan Lake General Duty officers, Sylvan Lake GIS, Blackfalds GIS, Digital Forensic Services Unit; Forensic Identification Section (FIS), Special Operations, and more. Also engaged were key partners including Edmonton ALERT Auto Crimes Unit and Drumheller Institution.
As a result of this operation, RCMP have laid numerous charges:
Ashley Maki (39), a resident of Eckville, and John Andrews (32), from Drumheller Institution, have jointly been charged with:

Conspiracy to Commit an indictable offence
Possession of Proceeds of Crime

In addition, Ashley Maki is jointly charged with Dayton Chassie (19), a resident of Eckville, with:

Possession of Methamphetamine for the Purpose of Trafficking
Possession of Cocaine for the Purpose of Trafficking Possession of Proceeds of Crime
Possession of a Prohibited Weapon
Possession of a Prohibited Weapon
Unsafe Storage of a Firearm
Possession of Break in Instruments

Maki was released on an undertaking and is scheduled to appear in the Alberta Court of Justice in Red Deer on June 17, 2024 to answer to the charges. A warrant of arrest has been issued for Chassie whom remains at large. Andrews remains incarcerated and awaits Judicial Process/court date to answer to the charges.

Drumheller RCMP and partners continue to investigate this matter and additional charges are pending.

Staff Sergeant Robert HARMS of Drumheller RCMP stated, “This was a lengthy and meticulous investigation resulting in the removal of illicit and harmful drugs and weapons from our communities. This is yet another example of numerous RCMP Units and our valued partners working together to ensure safe and secure communities.”

If you have any information regarding these matters, please contact Drumheller RCMP at 403.823.7590 or contact your local Police Service. If you wish to remain anonymous, you can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), online at www.P3Tips.com or by using the "P3 Tips" app available through the Apple App or Google Play Store.

Kneehill residents petition against wind factory

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At an open-house held in Torrington by Capstone Infrastructures last October, the vast majority of people in attendance were very upset about an industrial wind project being constructed by the company.

At the Kneehill County Tuesday, March 26, 2024, Council Meeting, council members were presented with a delegation by Kelly Tainsh about the Wind Factory concerns for residents in the County.

Residents Jenna Grawley and Mary Clarkson started a petition against the project, which a number of people have signed, leading to more residents joining forces and creating a plan to canvas for more signatures. The Industrial Wind Factory’s Notification Zone, mapped out by Capstone, shows houses to be one mile from the nearest wind turbines. All of these homes were canvassed, along with houses up to two miles outside of the Notification Zone.

Of the 77 households petitioned within the zone, nine have signed on to have the wind factory. 63 of the remaining 68 households are against the project and five are undecided. Outside of the zone, 97 households were petitioned. 70 of the 75 households that were contacted are against the project, and 22 more homeowners have yet to share their stance.

The land use for wind turbines is approximately three quarters of an acre per megawatt. That times a 7.5 mega watt turbine would require 5.63 acres. Multiply that by 60 turbines, the land required would be 337.5 acres. There would also be much needed land for the access roads, concrete tower pads, power substations and transmission lines.

The main areas of concern for residents regarding the factory is that there will be soil degradation of Agricultural Land, the impact it will have on protected areas and wildlife, the effects it could have to the health and well-being of residents and what it could do to property values. As well as concerns of what the massive turbines will do to the landowners' viewscapes.

“Thanks for being here today. You have to know that this council has been paying attention to these specific concerns for quite some time,” says Reeve Ken King. “We recognize that we have limitations to what we can do, but that doesn’t mean we won’t speak to the issue.

Council made a presentation at a Moratorium Hearing held by the Alberta Utilities Commission to address the concerns on behalf of the residents.


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