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Last updateFri, 14 Jun 2024 6pm

DARTS cut ribbon on new bottle depot

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A project that took about 10 years from identifying the need, designing, fundraising and finally construction, the new DARTS Bottle Depot held its grand opening on Monday, June 3.
Members of DARTS staff and executive, as well as board members, project partners and the business community, gathered at the new facility on 7th Avenue South East to cut the ribbon on the new facility.
Executive Director Lorelei Martin was elated to see the project come to fruition.
“We are excited to share the new depot with you all. It has been a really long journey,” said Martin.
“At times, it has been difficult, it has not been easy, but it has been worth it. It truly has been an opportunity to benefit our community, the people we support, and our environment.”
She explained that about 10 years ago the former building was at the end of its usable life, and needed replacement. Dave Greene of Greene Construction committed to building a new facility or retrofitting an existing building.
They put together a working group and did a visioning exercise to explore what the best solution would be. They explored the possibility of building new, renovating another facility and even looking for vacant property, but came up with one solution.
“We ended up landing here in our parking lot with our new building,” said Martin.
The new facility is a modern, durable, and right-sized bottle depot, with more usable space to operate and better serve the customers. There is air conditioning, washrooms and wash stations, an express lane, a large load drop-off area, a new electric forklift, and soon, a new electric van for pick-up services.
DARTS was active in fundraising for the new facility and received provincial grants, as well as the Drumheller and District Chamber of Commerce Dinosaur Legacy Fund grant. It also raised funds through casinos, various fundraisers and many private donations.
“The part that stands out the most for me is the Drumheller community,” said Martin. “The donations from the local businesses and our friends and families. We had people donate their time and their labour, their talent, use of the land next door and use of equipment. We had cash donations. The list just goes on and on … So many put so much effort into this building, the community has been so generous.”
She adds, many local trades took part in the construction. “The local talent in the valley is amazing, and local talent built this from the ground up.”


Drumheller’s Tax Assessments raises some eyebrows

 

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Many Town of Drumheller (TOD) residents have concerns about the Tax Rate increase that their tax assessments reflect in which the Town is expected to collect just over $14 million in property taxes from this year.

Many residents are upset and confused by the amounts seemingly increasing by more than the four percent Tax Rate increase that Council approved in May. One resident stated on social media that their assessment went up $700 due to the fact that they’re in a flood zone and others stated that their assessments show they have done “Improvements” to their properties when they say they have not.

In 2023, the average assessment for a single family home was $234,000 and the property tax was $2,123. “An assessed home at $234,000 will see about an $82 change (0.22/day) on that,” stated Councillor Tony Lacher at the Monday, May 13, Committee of the Whole Meeting.

The Mail reached out to TOD Administrators to see where the confusion lies for the residents, and in an email response from Communications Liason Kathryn Kolaczek she explains that when calculating how much property tax is owed the Tax Assessment takes several factors into account.

The main factor is the Market Value of the property and how much it would sell for in the current market. The amount of sales in the area and how much the homes sold for play a big role in determining this.

Property Features such as the size of the land and home, its age and condition, and whatever garages and sheds there are, are all defined as “Improvements” by the Municipal Government Act. They are structures and therefore an “Improvement” to bare land.

“Every house in Drumheller has an “Improvement” on the land,” states Kolaczek in the email. “It does not mean only new “Improvements” in the year, but any existing structures at the time of assessment.”

Some reasons why an assessment could increase more than the four percent Council approved is because of any market changes, property improvements (if renovations were done). The school and seniors foundations can also play a part in a potential increase. The Alberta School Foundation and Drumheller and District Seniors Foundation will receive almost $3.5 million of the $14 million in taxes collected.

“The TOD has neither control, nor influence, on both provincial requisitions. The Town is responsible for the collection from the property owners and remit these funds to the Province,” it states in the email. “The increases for the education and seniors foundations are not decided by the town.”

If a home was assessed at $200,000 last year, with a one percent Tax Rate, the property tax would be $2,000.

If the assessed value of the property went up ten percent this year, the home would be assessed at $220,0400 with the four percent increase, the property tax would be $2,288.

“One other thing to consider is that the tax assessors are very approachable, if anyone has questions, they are welcome to reach out.”

High fluoride levels in Wimborne’s drinking water

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Kneehill County has completed a water study in Wimborne with CIMA+ a Canadian engineering company, to test the fluoride levels in the hamlet's drinking water.

At the Tuesday, May 28, Regular Council Meeting, council members were presented with a Request for Decision from Manager of Environmental Services John McKiernan, to accept the Hamlet of Wimborne Fluoride Reduction Study as information.

The Hamlet, which is about 40 km northwest of Three Hills, has always had high levels of naturally occurring fluoride. The test results from the study indicate that an average of 2.00mg/L of fluoride is in the reservoir. The Maximum Allowable Concentration (MAC) is 1.50mg/L of fluoride.

Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) removed an exemption put in place for the naturally occurring fluoride in places exceeding the MAC in groundwater. The AEP communicated to the County to complete the study and determine the options and costs to treat the fluoride.

Based on the review from CIMA+ there are more than a few options for fluoride reduction in the reservoir. The first would be to spend an estimated $654,000 on upgrades to the current pump house and adding Reverse Osmosis (RO), which is effective in removing minerals and elements. The water then, lacking the micro elements, would be treated by blending the water with untreated water that has not been through RO. This would be a safe and the most cost effective solution.

The other options would be to install a Point of Use treatment system in each household, have potable water delivered at a cost of $150,000 per year, or to build a $2.5 million water extension line from Torrington to the pump house/reservoir in Wimborne.

McKiernan is looking for feedback from Council about his feasibility study and would look into grant opportunities to secure funding if council wishes to move ahead with any of the proposed solutions.

“We have had conversations about what is the long term plan that Kneehill County has for the future of Wimborne, and what that looks like in terms of development and opportunities,” states Reeve Ken King at the meeting. “I think we might need to have a conversation prior to making any major commitments.”


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