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08142020Fri
Last updateThu, 13 Aug 2020 12pm

Kneehill County speaks up in oil and gas assessment changes

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Kneehill County has been notified of changes proposed by the Province of Alberta that would reduce property taxes for some oil and gas companies through changes to the way their assessment is conducted. These proposed changes would have severe impacts on both the County and our residents—resulting in an increase in property tax, a reduction in services, or a combination of both to make up for the lost revenue.
The intent of this decision is to increase the competitiveness of oil and gas companies while maintaining municipal sustainability, however, the proposed changes will greatly benefit large oil and gas companies while actually harming smaller local firms, local businesses, and municipalities. The proposed changes include no regulations to ensure the money saved from the reduction in taxes will be channeled back into Alberta to help the local oil and gas sector. Overall, there seem to be few benefits to this decision that would outweigh the detrimental impacts that the County and our residents would face as a result. The main result would be a large shift in tax burden from industry to residents and other businesses.
Four possible scenarios are currently being presented by the Province. Based on the information provided through the Province, in the “best” proposed scenario Kneehill County would experience a revenue loss of $3,509,439. In the worst case scenario, the loss would be $7,068,244. Revenues are expected to be further decreased in future years as facilities artificially depreciate. For perspective, in 2020 all residential and farm taxpayers in the County will pay just over $2.8 Million in combined municipal taxes. Even following drastic cuts to services, extreme tax increases and service fee escalations would likely still be required. While the revenue loss to the County represents 22% of total revenues or $7.1 Million, a 100% increase in residential and farmland taxes would only generate another $2.8 Million. If these changes are adopted, they are expected to be implemented for 2021. Kneehill County does not want to see any of these proposals adopted as they negatively impact residents and will not meet the Province’s stated outcomes.
If this proposed change is passed Kneehill County ratepayers and residents WILL BE IMPACTED – either financially through property taxes, in a potential loss of service from Kneehill County, or both.
Many services provided by the County would have to be cut or eliminated. County support of other municipalities and organizations will have to be decreased or eliminated, and there would certainly be an increase in property taxes for residents and businesses in the County. With the additional changes to the Police Funding Model imposed on the County by the Province, on top of historical unpaid taxes from oil & gas, County residential taxpayers will see significant property tax increases in the coming years and receive fewer services for those tax dollars if the Province’s proposed changes go through.
What can you do?
Please let your MLA know your thoughts on this issue.
MLA Nathan Cooper Phone: 403.556.3132
780.427.2464
Email: OldsDidsbury.ThreeHills@assembly.ab.ca
The final decision on this proposal is expected by mid to late August. Please act now, and take part during this crucial consultation period. Kneehill County Councillors will be engaging the Province and working with the RMA (Rural Municipalities of Alberta) to advocate on your behalf as well.
More information on this issue can be found at www.kneehillcounty.com.


Hussar holds virtual council meeting, discusses RemedX proposal

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A proposed waste management facility was a topic of discussion at the July 9 virtual council meeting for the Village of Hussar.
RemedX Remediation Services Inc, a Calgary-based remediation and waste management company, is eyeing an area of Wheatland County east of Hussar for its proposed Class II Landfill facility. If approved the facility would be located approximately 1.6 kilometers east of the village and would accept non-hazardous industrial and oilfield waste.
Mayor Corey Fisher said during the meeting, “As of right now there is nothing there that stands out glaring that would cause me any concern.”
RemedX opened a similar facility, near the town of Breton approximately 100 kilometers southwest of Edmonton, which has been in operation since April 2018.
Lorilee Dundas, a Hussar resident, said at the meeting she spoke with friends living near the Breton facility. The residents Dundas spoke with had no concerns regarding the facility itself, stating, “You wouldn’t even know it’s there.”
The only concern brought up during Dundas’ discussion was the use of heavy vehicles in the area.
Currently, Wheatland County does not have a land use bylaw to include landfill use.
“This means a developer could not submit a development permit application for one,” said Megan Williams with Wheatland County’s Planning and Development department. “(RemedX) opted to apply for their own land use, a direct control, with regulations therein very specific to their parcels and proposed development.”
A first reading to amend the land use bylaw was passed by Wheatland County council during their June 16 meeting.
The next step towards the bylaw change will be a public hearing in Hussar. Williams said, once the public hearing is closed, “Everything is considered equally; no more weight is given to a comment given by a resident in Hussar than a resident in Wheatland.”
Williams added, even if the third reading is granted and redesignation of the land is approved, RemedX would still need to apply for development permits--which are not guaranteed approval--along with other necessary permits through Alberta Transportation and licenses from Alberta Environment and Parks.
A public hearing regarding the proposed RemedX facility will be held August 18 in Hussar. Time and location of the meeting will be announced at a later date.

Young filmmaker up for international award

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    A 15-year-old filmmaker from Rosebud has the industry paying attention.
    Weston Snider’s short film Dichrome, which premiered last November at the Napier Theatre has been receiving accolades and awards at a number of festivals. Its most prestigious achievement came from being selected as one of the finalists in the high school film competition for the third annual Shorts International Film Festival, presented by Heartland Films.
    Weston, a student at St. Anthony’s School, was selected as part of the festival’s High School Film Competition. There were 12 films selected to compete for the $2,000 Summer White Lynch Memorial grand prize.
    “It has been really cool to see that short film I made, for me it feels like a long time ago last summer, which I have since grown from, is still having quite a decent amount success on the film festival circuit,” he said.
    As a youngster, he dabbled with making films with friends, but when he was about 13 he decided to make something a little more involved.
    “It took us a year and a half to do but we made a 15-minute space film,” Weston tells the Mail.
    “That was kind of the moment when I realized I was good at this to the degree that I could make films possibly at a high level in the future when I am older. I took from this that I could be a filmmaker and devote my life to it hopefully.”
    In some ways, Dichrome is his second major project and shows a sophistication beyond his years.
    Growing up in Rosebud he has been around the performing arts all his life. This has shaped his ability to make stories on film and also provided him the opportunity to pursue it in a supportive atmosphere.
    “There have been so many people who have been able to help in little ways. The fact it is more of an arts town, I think if I grew up somewhere else I wouldn’t have had the courage or ever really want to make a film,” he said.
    Dichrome centres around the relationship between two very different teens, as one “tried to close his eyes to the problems of his life encounters a person who can see things that others can’t.”
    The films featured Edmonton film student Tom Kassian, as well as Snider. The rest of the roles in front of the camera and behind, featured local Rosebud talent contributing to the work, including his older brother Donovan who provides an evocative soundtrack.
    When he completed the film he entered it into as many film festivals as he could and it qualified for many. He has won best international film at the Central Film Festival, 3rd Place in the best international film as a part of the Fresh International Film Festival, a special mention award at the New York World Film Festival, and film of the year at the Stardance Youth Film Festival.   This week he learned he won the Swindon International Film Festival’s award for “Best Youth Film” and received second place in the UFA Youth Short Film Festival which had over 3,000 submissions.
    The Indy Shorts International Film Festival runs virtually July 21-26. It is an Academy Award-Qualifying festival and will be showcasing 128 films. For more information go to  https://indyshortsfilmfestival20.eventive.org/welcome


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