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Last updateFri, 19 Apr 2024 5pm

Phase One of Kneehill’s Economic Outlook series approved by council

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Kneehill County has developed an Economic Outlook series that will focus on different initiatives to help identify and understand the County’s economic challenges.

At the Tuesday, April 9 Council Meeting, Economic and Development officer, Jenna Kester, presented council members with a Request for Decision to discuss the first phase of the series. The whole concept of which is to create a working group to discuss the economic challenges the County might face, how the residents can adapt to any future changes and how Council can support the future of Kneehill County through the changes expected to happen.

“I bring to you today a new series of initiatives that the Economic Development Department is working on and are focusing on different sectors of industry in our region,” explains Kester.

The first initiative will focus on Agriculture, split into Grain and Livestock, with research and discussion happening around what is needed to prepare for the future of the industry. Other industries, such as Oil and Gas, and Tourism, will be part of other initiatives focused on at a later date.

The County is looking to create a Working Group, recruiting group members via social media, to work alongside industry specialists on these projects. The first working group will consist of two council members and three to four members that are landowners in the agricultural industry within Kneehill. The time commitment for those involved will be four meetings per year, with members receiving a per diem and mileage. The budget that council approved for the first phase of the Economic Outlook plan is $7,200.

Within the current state of agriculture in the County, they will look at the industry and the possible opportunities and investment strategies, finding ways to better enhance the local economy. By looking at sustainability, the burdens farmers face, and at different marketing opportunities, they hope to improve their environmental footprint while creating an environment within Kneehill’s Agricultural Industry that is adaptable to change. The group's findings will be outlined and reported to Council upon completion of the phase.

There will be qualified industry representatives that will be booked as guest speakers to assist the Working Group.

“We have been in contact with a few industry reps, who are still yet to be determined. As we know our dates and who is available, we can then book for those meetings,” confirms Kester.

Phase One, which will begin this coming fall, will focus on environmental factors, equipment, industry regulations and succession planning. Phase Two, involving livestock, will begin in Spring 2025.


Rails to Trails fundraising tops $550K

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Members of Drumheller Town Council, and representatives from the Town’s Public Works and Administrative departments officially cut the ribbon on what would be- come the Rails to Trails project to convert former CN Rail right of way throughout the community into walking trails in July 2022. Since then, the Rails to Trails Fundraising Task Force has managed to raise more than $550,000 towards the project.

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Drumheller’s Rails to Trails fundraising campaign has wrapped up having raised just over a half million dollars.

In April 2022, the Town secured a 25 year lease, at a cost of one dollar per year, from CN Rail to convert the railway bed into an active transportation system throughout the Valley for residents and visitors.

The 12 kilometre trail will have stops and stations along the way, all railway-themed, these will be equipped with benches picnic areas shade structures and bike stations.

The work first started with connecting downtown to 19 Street East, near the Walmart. Crews are now working on the train bridge that connects Newcastle to Midland. The concrete blocks used to stabilize the bridge at times of high water have recently been removed and the work on restoring the deck has begun.

“The Town secured the line but there is a contingency that CN has the opportunity to take the line back and use it for rail if they need to, but the odds of that happening are pretty slim,” Chairman of the project,, Jason Blanke tells the Mail. “We have raised over $557,000 for the project through sponsorship of bridges, stations and stops along the line. It was way more than we expected to receive. We are so happy and thankful to the community for stepping up to help out.”

Alongside Blanke, there has been a task force of a number of people involved in the project. Mayor Heather Colberg, Councillors Crystal Sereda and Patrick Kolafa, Lana Phillips, Courtney Bell, Barb Lubinski, Becky Kowalchuk, Tyler Eddy, Josh Bhikoo and Madison Colberg, have all worked effortlessly together to bring this project to fruition.

“Thank you to the committee and the community for being a part of this great contribution towards active living,” Councillor Sereda, and the Treasurer/Secretary of the Committee expresses. “This is really going to connect the Drumheller Valley!”

During this summer and fall, people will see a lot of change happening along the railway. There is no timeline set but the work is hoped to be completed this year to at least make it usable from the Royal Tyrrell Museum to Rosedale, there the network will connect to pathways to the Swinging Bridge and east to the Hoodoos.

Environment Canada issues warning to Big Valley concerning wastewater

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The Village of Big Valley has received a warning form Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Fisheries Act for contraventions within the Village’s Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations pertaining to the issues within their lagoon.

At the Monday, March 18, Village Council Meeting, Chief Administrative Officer, Colleen Mayne, presented Council with an informative Request for Decision concerning the contraventions and to create a lagoon repair Action Plan to address the issues outlined under the Fisheries Act.

Under inspection, the Big Valley Lagoon was found to exceed the average concentration of suspended solid limit allowed and failed to submit annual monitoring reports, complete with proper test findings. There are also concerns around a crack located along the top of the berm potentially causing leakage of treated wastewater into the surrounding environment.

The Warning states that it is “intended to bring this matter to your attention in order for you to take the necessary corrective action to ensure compliance with the Fisheries Act. This document is not a finding of guilt or civil liability, and is not an administrative adjudication."


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