News | DrumhellerMail - Page #3245
Last updateWed, 14 Feb 2024 9am

Policing committee helping steer direction of law enforcement

    Local police councils are helping to shape the future of Alberta policing.
    Last weekend Fred Makowecki, chair of the Drumheller Policing Committee and committee member George Kallay were at the Alberta Association of Police Governance (AAPG) Conference in Calgary.
    The AAPG is an association of police commissions and RCMP committees that support civilian governance of police services in Alberta. Once a year the membership, including Drumheller, comes together with stakeholders to share information and ideas on best practices in police governance and oversight.
    In Drumheller, a policing committee was formed in 2008 as a civilian body to act as a liaison between the police, the town and the community. It operates to open communication and has a mechanism for residents to voice concerns over issues with the police.
    Makowecki said the conference was packed with information, and delegates were able to look at a draft of the Alberta Law Enforcement Framework, which is hoped to be approved in the near future.
    This framework is designed to address some of the challenges of modern police work and is proposing changes in the areas of service delivery, public accountability and funding.
    “It is a positive change for the people of Alberta. We have always had some of the best policing in the country, and listening to statistics, the best in the world,” he said. “It is taking it to the next step, looking at accountability and civilian oversight, which is what we do as a committee in Drumheller.”
    The committee is appointed by town council to work with the RCMP and has within its committee, a public complaints director.
    “That comes through a number of incidents across the country, of course the first that comes to mind is (Robert) Dziekanski, but there has been many across Canada. It is making the complaints process more accountable and quicker,” he said, adding in Drumheller in the Policing Committee’s short history has had very few complaints to deal with.
    Makowecki will be heading to Red Deer this weekend as chair for the Policing Committee for stakeholders meeting to ask questions and provide feedback.
    “It’s exciting to be at the ground floor looking at the way the government is looking to ask stakeholders and developing policy,” he said.
    “There are some really neat initiatives and how they are being molded together across the province in a common framework,” he said. “Anyone in the province can expect a level of policing within those standards.”
    He said locally the committee has worked with the Town of Drumheller and the RCMP in developing enforcement priorities, and wants to look to the community for its input.
    “We see policing as community driven, it’s a huge change from past years,” said Makowecki.

Carbon community concerned by potential high school closure


    The Carbon Parents Advisory Council (PAC) held a community meeting on Friday, April 30 to discuss concerns brought by the Golden Hills School Division (GHSD).
    At their board meeting, held on April 13, the GHSD discussed the constraints of the provincial education funding announcements for 2010-11, and noted a growing gap between revenue and expenditures, and how declining enrolment, particularly for schools in rural areas, impacted funding negatively as it is enrolment-driven.
    As a result, the board is assessing two schools with low enrolments; Carbon High School, with 26 students projected to enrol for next year, and Hussar Junior High School, with four students projected.
    Alternative programs are being considered: triple grading, distance learning and virtual programming, to address low enrolment challenges.         However, the board said the programming and delivery methods for students would be restricted and may not provide the best learning opportunities for all students.
    To discuss this, the board of trustees are inviting parents of Grades 9-11 students in Carbon to discuss this on May 6.
    Parents of students in other grades are concerned with the proposals and arranged the meeting on April 30 inviting teachers, the school principal and GHSD board member, division contact, Shirley Buyer, to attend and answer questions the community had.
    Neither school staff nor Buyer attended the community meeting.
    Carbon School principal, Dave Stewart, told The Mail on Friday, “At this point, I would prefer not to go [to the community meeting]. I want to be a source of information, and if parents want to come to talk to me about school programs, I’d certainly sit down and talk to them. I think it would be the most beneficial use of my time so they know and understand what is happening here.”
    Stewart also confirmed he had been having discussions with school council president, Danny Clow, who was attending the community meeting, and gave him information about the proposals.
    Ron Kenworthy, chair of the GHSD, told The Mail on Monday, “It was a school council meeting and as far as I can determine, the school board was never invited so they had their meeting.”
    He added “Shirley Buyer may have been invited, but not the school board. I talked to Shirley and she made it plain to them that she wasn’t going to attend. I think she felt it might be an awkward situation for her to attend that meeting and because we are going to consult individually with the parents on Thursday, we will be getting the information directly from the parents involved.”
    Jeannette Giesbrecht is a concerned Carbon resident who has one child graduating this year and one going into Grade 11. She also has two grandsons in Kindergarten and Grade 1.
    Giesbrecht told The Mail the community meeting was attended by over 130 students, parents and community members voicing their concerns.
    During the meeting, she said they discussed whether the enrolment decline had been a signicant one as, reviewing the figures, they only saw a slight decrease over the last 10 years.
    They also discussed funding for the school and whether they were getting the appropriate grants.
    They reviewed where further savings could be made, for example by shortening the school year, as done at a school in Kamloops, BC, saving them a substantial amount of money.
    Another point which was brought up was according to the GHSD website, 32 students from the Carbon area were currently being bussed to other schools in the GHSD. This raised the question of the cost implications and whether this should be permitted when there was a fully sustainable school in town.
    Parents and community members were asked to work together to find answers to the questions raised during the meeting.
    Speaking on behalf of the attendees, Giesbrecht concluded, “The general consensus is that we as a community will stand united against the GHSD on any closures. We want to keep our school K-12. We want our children to be able to continue to receive a quality education in a small school environment.
    The school board needs to look a little closer at the long-term effects of their decisions. You are putting entire small communities in jeopardy of closure, not only the schools. Your decisions are affecting the lives of families, business owners, property owners and most of all our children.”
    Also affected by enrolment decline and the 2010-11 budget, Hussar Junior High is looking for an interim solution, currently to send students to Strathmore and Drumheller schools, while supporting an East Wheatland stand-alone school grouping students from Hussar, Standard and Central Bow Valley in Gleichen.

MS Walk attracts 135 walkers


    “These are promising times,” for those with MS, president of the Alberta / NWT Region of the MS Society of Canada, Neil Pierce told a motivated crowd ready to take the route at the Enerflex MS Walk on Sunday afternoon, May 2.
     About 135 walkers took part in the annual event to raise awareness and funds for the MS Society of Canada. Pierce told The Mail, half of the funds raised at the walk stays in the community to support those with MS, while the rest goes toward research.
    Alberta has become a research centre with great work being done at the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta.
    There are 12 walks and four bike ride events in Alberta that account for 92 per cent of the MS Society’s funding.
    Pierce said there is some positive news coming from the research front. There has been much recent media about Dr. Zamboni’s liberation procedure, where an angioplasty is performed to clear blockages of veins draining blood from the brain. The theory is a build up of iron caused by these blockages causes the neurological symptoms of MS. Pierce said there will be a funding announcement in June regarding researching Dr. Zamboni’s procedure.
     On this day, local walk coordinator Dave Watson said about $27,000 came in. Despite being down by about 22 walkers over last year’s event, Watson indicates the walk is on track to meet last year’s total of $47,000.
     A representative of Enerflex, the naming sponsor of the event, was on hand to present Enerflex’s commitment of $137,000 to the Alberta walks.
    Enerflex has been involved with the walk since 1997 when a team was formed in support of a co-worker. Since then, they have had a team every year, and starting last season, every walk in Alberta has an Enerflex team walking. The company has made a five-year commitment to the walk as naming sponsor.
    "We’re very proud to be here,” Curtis Philippon of Enerflex told those gathered for the walk.
    Of the donation from Enerflex, about $2,800 will stay in Drumheller. This is the largest percentage allocation, based on community size.
    Those still collecting pledges, or those who want to make a donation can come by O’Shea’s, on May 12, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. for drop off night.


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