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Last updateTue, 18 Jun 2024 12pm

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.”


Town amends land use bylaw

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Drumheller Town Council passed its Land Use Amending Bylaw, making important changes to the document to keep updated.
Council passed the third reading of the bylaw at the June 2 regular council meeting. The Land Use bylaw is to regulate the use and development of land and buildings in the Town of Drumheller. This Bylaw is designed for sustainable development and all planning applications, including land use, subdivision, and development permit applications will be evaluated using the principles of the Municipal Development Plan.
On Tuesday, May 7, the Town hosted an Open House at the Badlands Community Facility (BCF) to gather feedback from residents on the proposed amendments to the Land Use Bylaw. Furthermore, a Public Hearing was conducted during the Regular Council Meeting on May 21, 2024, to ensure comprehensive community involvement.
The Land Use Amending Bylaw 12.24 encompasses numerous changes aimed at enhancing the usability of the document for both residents and the development authority. The main amendments include:
- Clerical Updates: Numerous clerical changes, such as capitalization, punctuation, numbering, font, and formatting, have been implemented to improve the readability of the document.
- Alignment with Strategic Plans: Significant amendments have been made to align the Land Use Bylaw with the Town of Drumheller’s Municipal Development Plan (MDP) and the Drumheller Valley Housing Strategy (DVHS).
These changes are primarily focused on: Increasing residential density; Enhancing development opportunities; and, Simplifying the permitting process by reducing bureaucratic hurdles.
A comprehensive list of the amendments is detailed in the Land Use Amending Bylaw 12.24. Additionally, a consolidated version of the Land Use Bylaw, including these amendments, will be available on the Town of Drumheller website.
For any inquiries regarding the changes, please contact the Development Officer, Hassan Saeed, at development@drumheller.ca or 403-823-1310.

Starland passes operating, capital budgets

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Starland County residents are looking at a 2 per cent increase in their taxes.
Starland County passed its operating and capital budget at its regular meeting on Wednesday, May 22. The operating budget was approved as $16,580,724 and the capital budget was approved as $3,511,705. Capital budget amount includes capital project funding, funding for the gravel crush, as well as cash required to finance capital debt.
Reeve Steve Wannstrom tells the Mail they passed a balanced budget and their tax rate bylaw with a 2 per cent increase in property tax across all assessments on the municipal portion. When adding in requisitions, the residential tax rate increased by 2.46 per cent with a tax rate of 8.5932. The commercial and linear rate, including requisitions, decreased by 1.75, and farmland increased by 2.15 percent.
He is content with the budget because they were able to keep the increase to a minimum despite pressures from inflation. He adds the county’s assessment increased substantially which helped them meet its budget needs.
He adds they were able to deliver this balanced budget without having to dip into reserves.
Corporate services director Judy Fazekas explains one of the pressures on the budget was the continuing issues with tax collections from the oil and gas sector. In 2023, one of its larger oil and gas ratepayers defaulted on their tax payment agreement, and another one is likely insolvent, requiring the County to record $1.445M in bad debt expense (which was close to $1M over budget). For 2024, $1.2 million is budgeted for bad debt expense which is a large portion of our budgeted revenues.
“However, I would like to note that the majority of our oil and gas ratepayers are very good corporate citizens who pay their taxes on time and in full,” said Fazekas.
Wannstrom says it is a business-as-usual budget with not many major projects coming up.
“We’ll be doing a little bit of road work and some gravel crushing, and we’ll be fixing up some of our recreation areas,” said Wannstrom.
Other projects the County is planning include replacing one bridge culvert this summer and to prep, strip, and mine a new county-owned gravel pit in the Hand Hills. Total budgeted costs for these two projects are $1.225 million. Some smaller projects planned include an expansion and upgrades to the Morrin cemetery and dirt work and landscaping at the old Rumsey School site.
The county is continuing to work on its business park development it announced in December of last year. A contracted engineering firm is currently working on the area structure plan for the Morrin Corner Business Park which is expected to be completed sometime in the spring of 2025. Half of the funding for this portion of the project is coming from a Northern and Regional Economic Development grant through the Government of Alberta. The remaining funding is coming from general revenue.


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