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  • Vermilion Voice

County Open House

Updated: Mar 10, 2023

From left, Protective Services Administration Assistant Jolene Levesque, and CVR Fire Chief Kirk Hughes. Photo Angela Mouly

Over 100 people attended the County of Vermilion River’s (CVR) Open House at the Kitscoty Community Hall on March 2.

Instead of meeting with each division or being offered a presentation-style delivery with only enough time for a few questions, CAO Alan Parkin said this style of event gave each attending resident the opportunity to ask several questions to council and staff from each department. Residents discussed finance, agriculture, the natural gas utility, planning and community services, public works, and protective services.

“It was good to have feedback (we received both positive and negative), and there were a lot of really great questions. We appreciate our residents taking the time,” said Reeve Stacey Hryciuk. “We are pretty dynamic, and it was really great to showcase each department because public works often take up much of the budget, but this way they could also see what is offered through agriculture or protective services for example. Many concerns for the land use bylaw were spurred from Thorhild County, but are not applicable here. This process will take at least a year to complete and public feedback is welcome throughout. There won’t be any changes made until this fall, and residents can reach out to staff and council with any questions or concerns.”

Councillor Clinton Murray said several of the concerns brought forward regarding the land use bylaw, were from residents thinking that the county may try to develop 15-minute communities.

“It’s not even on the radar; it’s not possible here,” said Murray.

Instead, he said they are trying to eliminate unnecessary information from a 500-600 page document, with the reason that if a company comes seeking to provide economic development, that they aren’t turned away by the thought of too much red tape or too many regulations.

“The bylaw is always going to be development ready, but we want to consider the placement of where businesses in certain industries should go and are updating it to reflect current trends,” said Director of Planning and Community Services Roger Garnett.

Director of Protective Services, Kirk Hughes, said the turnout was fantastic and because he generally sees people in emergencies, he appreciated the opportunity to interact with the public in a calmer environment.

One resident was happy to see there had been more library funding in the past couple of years.

One asked with the existing few of the Grizzly Bear Creek wind turbines that are in the CVR where the power actually goes. Data from the County of Minburn (where the largest portion of the project exists) shows the power will be added to the Alberta grid.

“Power is not local government jurisdiction; it is provincial,” said Murray. “Residents may see more wind turbines in the future north of Clandonald with a larger portion going in the County of St. Paul. We are rich in natural gas so they may also see a natural gas power plant being fed to the ATCO line, and shut off when it’s not needed.”

The agriculture department distributed information on their upcoming grazing workshops, and pest control. Health Canada has phased out Strychnine over the past few years for use on Richardson’s ground squirrels (gophers), so Alberta landowners now (as of March 4, 2023) have to look at the alternatives.

“There are a few different products still registered and less risky. One is readily available in most farm supply stores,” said Director of Agriculture, Cathie Erichsen. “Wild boar is an introduced species that are a declared pest, and the Alberta Government would like to eradicate them. They have been in Alberta for 20 years or more, but the risk of African Swine Fever is new. It moves into domestic pigs and could cause a significant market impact.”

She said there are options for anyone experiencing problems with them. Farmers have the authority to (and in the pest act are required by law to) manage any pest species on their own property. However, they recommend that people report them to their municipality, Alberta Agriculture, or the Invasive Species Council. The Alberta Invasive Species Council she says is promoting and supporting Alberta Agriculture and Alberta Pork who fund trapping of a whole group of wild boars.

“Each sow can produce anywhere up to six offspring at a time, and can have two litters a year. They are very well adapted here. The pigs are incredibly smart, and after one is eradicated they learn to avoid people by going nocturnal, etc. so that is why they are looking at offering whole herd removal. As of last year, wild bore are now covered under the crop insurance program under wildlife damage.”

She’s only had one reported in the CVR, but she said neighbouring counties have larger populations, so she is not going to pretend they don’t exist.

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