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Government change top of mind at Town Hall

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While a federal election is not expected for more than a year, it was on the top of mind for area residents when meeting with MP for Battle River-Crowfoot Damien Kurek.

Kurek hosted an open house at Drumheller Town Hall on Wednesday, January 17, and more than a dozen residents came out to get an update on his work in Ottawa. At the top of minds of residents was frustration about the federal government.

As one resident asked what is keeping Trudeau sitting in that chair?

“Weak liberal and NDP backbenchers is truly what the simple answer is,” Kurek told the people gathered. “We gave the Liberal and NDP backbench 130 chances in the second week of December. We proposed 130 confidence votes and we were the only party that voted against, that voted non-confidence was the Conservative Party.”

This came after the House of Commons sat for 24 hours in December as the Conservatives delayed the government’s agenda in opposition to the carbon tax.

Kurek said he feels that he is seeing the tides changing, as Conservative leader Pierre Polievre gains momentum.

“You are seeing now an uprising of Canadians from across the country, not just in conservative areas. Look, rural Alberta has been conservative for a lot longer than I have been alive. We didn’t have to be convinced that Justin Trudeau 2.0 was a bad idea. What has been quite astounding is how we are seeing across the country people are getting frustrated, seeing how the Liberals are not serving their best interests,” he said.

He refers to a rally in Windsor, not typically a Conservative stronghold, where more than a thousand people came out to a rally.

“We are seeing people that are just fed up with the Liberals and are ready for change, so the hope is to be able to make sure we translate that into telling the Liberals and the people that are propping up this very corrupt government.”

Immigration and housing also came up in the discussion. Kurek said he believes that the need for immigration has to be tied to our capacities.

“We have a history of immigration as a country but it has always matched what our country can handle,” he said. “When Stephen Harper was Prime Minster he made sure immigration matched, so when somebody would come to Canada was because there was a house, there was a job and there was ability to become a part of our community.”

“The frustrating thing about this is it could have easily been avoided if we simply ensured our immigration matched our national capacity, which includes things like housing and healthcare. The Liberals like to brag about healthcare investments, but one of the big frustrations is that it’s not the federal government’s responsibility to deliver healthcare, including to new Canadians.”

Kurek also received praise for calling out the Prime Minister during Question Period last December, the Mail reported in its December 13 edition that Kurek was ejected from the House after accusing the Prime Minister of lying.

Kurek appreciated
holding town halls.

“One of the challenges of representing sixty municipalities is being present, but there is something that is special about being able to attend a town hall, where the sole focus is having a conversation with people I have the honour of representing,” he said.

“The goal is to listen to the people I represent, hear their concerns and have that chance to dialogue with them about the things that are important. Not just the things I hear about in Ottawa, so I can assure I am taking the concern of the people of Battle River-Crowfoot to our nations’ capital.”


$2 parking for tourists coming in spring

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The Town of Drumheller (TOD) is going to have paid parking for tourists starting this spring. From May to October, the town proposes there will be paid parking on town-owned lots. Municipal parking lots, the Aquaplex and the Badlands Community Facility will be the main focus. Downtown and personal properties will not be included. However, The Rosedale Suspension Bridge and HooDoos along highway 101 will be a part of the paid parking program.
The town ran a pilot project in October, 2023 for 31 days to introduce residents to the program. There is a user-friendly app, Hotspot, that 305 residents downloaded as of November 1st, to register for the trial. “People were unsure about it,” explains Drumheller Mayor Heather Colberg, “the more they learned, though, they understood. This is a way, because of our tourism, to gain money from visitors. We have to continue to educate our residents so they understand we are looking for ways to offset the cost of tourism to our taxpayers.”
The pilot project has been a great way to find loopholes and to create a way to explain and educate residents about it. It will be free to park for residents that register on Hotspot for a maximum of 4 vehicles per household, possibly more. Mayor Colberg is hoping that the town will garner “Parking Angels” by early February to assist with helping people register that may need it. “Council is working with administration to set up a list of locations for residents that need help registering,” says Mayor Colberg.
People living out of town, but working in Drumheller are eligible for exemption. Town Council is still in discussions with the Reeves of each County to find a solution that would offset the costs of others who live out of town but use the Auqaplex and Badlands Community Facility regularly.
The costs to tourists will be $2.00/hr in Parking lots, $2.50/hr for street parking and $20.00/day.

Short-term Rentals Bylaw passed by Drumheller town council

Drumheller’s town council has passed a bylaw to implement business licensing fees for short-term rentals (STRs) that includes Airbnb’s. There will be home-sharing rules and insurance directives included, that home owners will have to abide by under the new Bylaw.

“There has to be a safety plan that needs to be included with the license and emergency contacts have to be posted for the renters,” says Drumheller town councilor Crystal Sereda, “Our community is very visitor-driven, especially in the summer months, so we have to secure long-term rentals. We have to ensure that when visitors come they are having a good experience. If they are not having a good experience then they need to have contact with someone.”
If the owner lives in the home and is renting out a room or basement suite for short periods of time (less than 28 days) the annual business license fee will be $245. If the owner lives in town and rents out another home they do not reside in, the annual fee is $810. If a home is being rented out, and the owner lives outside of the Town of Drumheller (TOD), the fee will be $1010 annually.
There will be a cap for short-term rentals, set at 120 for a given year. The TOD will provide the current holders of the license first opportunity to register for renewal in following years. This cap will not apply to newly built homes and will be reviewed annually.
The Council mandates that applicants provide proof of home-sharing/STR insurance during the application process and principal residences will be given priority.
“We value the short-term rentals in our community. They provide a unique accommodation so we’re willing to work with them,” says Sereda.
Applications can be filled out for principal residents (those who currently operate an Airbnb) on Thursday February 1, 2024. Those who want to start home-sharing can apply for the business license as of Friday, March 1, 2024.


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