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Last updateWed, 29 Mar 2023 10am

Minister Horner clarifies crop insurance premiums increase

Copy of MLA Nate Horner 2

Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation Nate Horner and Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC) Vice President of Innovation Emmet Hanrahan held a virtual media roundtable on Thursday, March 9 following claims crop insurance premiums would be increasing by 60 per cent.
Although farmers and producers will see an increase to crop insurance premiums, Minister Horner shared the average increase is about 22 per cent over 2022 premiums.
“Crop insurance premiums will see a rise, and it’s almost entirely due to specific crop commodity change, year over year,” Minister Horner explained during opening remarks at the roundtable.
Minister Horner pointed out, over the last two years, AFSC has paid out some $4 billion due to unprecedented challenges faced by farmers.
This includes the one in 80 year drought which wreaked havoc across the province and other prairie provinces in 2021; there were also some $1.3 billion in payouts in 2022 which were attributed to continued drought in parts of the province, along with hail damage.
He noted some of the confusion and misunderstanding may be due to the fact premium rates have increased by 60 per cent over the last two years, with a 38 per cent increase over 2021 premiums seen in 2022. However, Minister Horner added commodity prices have also increased by 57 per cent over the same period.
“One of the mitigating factors to large swings (in premium rates) is there’s a year-to-year cap of 10 per cent on the premium,” explained Minister Horner. “That 10 per cent on premium rate is a growth driver when the fund is below what actuaries would deem as stable that can grow year over year--everything else is related to crop and elected coverage.”
Minister Horner and Mr. Hanrahan noted the AFSC crop insurance program is a non-profit insurance program which is subsidized by both provincial and federal government levels. As such, it is able to recover losses due to these large payouts in 2021 and 2022 over a much longer 25-year period when setting premium rates.
It is anticipated premiums will increase by some 12 per cent for canola, nine per cent for feed barley, and two per cent for yellow field peas.
The 2023 provincial budget also includes a provision of $61.4 million to ensure the AFSC program has “appropriate funding to support producers during challenging times.”

Curling Club continues efforts for new facility

Future Curling Rink Location

A proposed location for the new Drumheller Curling Club facility, not far from the facility’s current location, was outlined on a diagram outlining berm designs for the Centennial Park area during the Thursday, February 9 Drumheller Resiliency and Flood Mitigation Office (DRFMO) open house.
The diagrams showed an area east of the Aquaplex, and slightly north of the Drumheller Memorial Arena, noted as the future location of the Drumheller Curling Club; with a location in mind, the club is now working to raise the necessary funds to make the new facility a reality before the lease on their current facility expires in 2024.
“This (location) has been earmarked for a potential curling rink site for some time with our collaboration discussions with the Town,” says Drumheller Curling Club President Debra Walker. “The Town has committed land for the rink, and the current location or this alternative location has been earmarked.”
The need for a new facility was announced by the club in March 2022. At the time the lease for the current facility, which is owned by the Town, was set to expire at the end of June 2022 and, due to several health risks and infrastructure repairs needed to bring the facility up to code, the Town was not looking to renew the lease at that time.
Following the announcement, the Town and Curling Club held a meeting and were able to come to an agreement which would allow the club to continue leasing the facility until June 2024, at which point the club would need a new facility; some minor repair work was also to be completed to help extend the life of the existing facility. So far, some assessments and inspections have been completed, with some work started on some of the required repairs.
Drumheller Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Darryl Drohomerski tells the Mail when discussions were held about a possible future location, it was discussed there may be some limitations to where the new facility could be located due to berm construction in the Centennial Park area. He explains the club could also build the new facility either perpendicular to the arena, which would allow the existing facility to continue operations during construction, or parallel to the arena which would necessitate the club to pause operations to allow for the demolition of the existing facility prior to construction.
Designs for a new facility were previously brought before council in 2018; at the time, it was estimated a new facility would cost between $5.6 million and $8.4 million.
“Our estimates were well pre-COVID, so some time ago,” Ms. Walker says. “Since then, lumber has increased significantly, inflation has hit Alberta hard, there has been supply issues all over the world, and those factors will have any materials and labour costs increase substantially.”
Ms. Walker shares the club is potentially looking at a different type of structure, known as a “Sprung structure.” This is a high performance tensioned membrane structure, which requires minimal build time, and is a structure commonly used for other curling rinks. However, although the club has not received a quote at this time, they estimate the Sprung structure could still cost upwards of $4 million to $5 million to complete.
The club continues to fundraise, through hosting Family Fun events and 50/50 raffles, including an online 50/50 cash raffle on, and is looking at grants or other funding opportunities to help cover the cost of a new facility. Ms. Walker says these events, unfortunately, have not been “near large enough or fruitful enough” to help the club to raise the money necessary.
There are also grants and other funding opportunities the club is pursuing, but as many of these are matching grants the club is currently unable to access this funding as it does not have the “dollars to match” at this time.
Operating costs for the club have increased, including costs for the ice power plant, and some of the fundraising the club has done has had to cover these expenses.
“We are a small volunteer board, many of us have other jobs in addition to working to save the club. You can appreciate that manpower and financial resources are a challenge,” Ms. Walker says.

Flags at half mast to honour fallen Edmonton police officers

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The Town of Drumheller announces that flags will be flown at half-mast in honour of two Edmonton police officers who were killed in the line of duty on March 16, 2023. Constable Travis Jordan and Constable Brett Ryan lost their lives while serving their community, and their sacrifice will be remembered by all Drumheller citizens.
As a sign of respect and mourning, the flags in Drumheller will be lowered to half-mast immediately and will remain that way until the date of the funeral(s). This is a solemn tribute to two brave officers who gave their lives while protecting others.
The Town of Drumheller asks that all citizens join us in honouring these officers and their families. We express our deepest sympathies and offer our support to their loved ones during this difficult time.
Let us remember the sacrifice made by Constable Travis Jordan and Constable Brett Ryan, and let us honour their service and dedication to the people of Edmonton and to our province.


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