Push for change of mobile home tenancy act

Masha Scheele

Hinton council is pushing for a review of the Mobile Home Sites Tenancies Act in order to improve the quality of life and safety of mobile home tenants in Alberta.

A resolution was submitted to the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) calling for a review in order to put pressure on the Government of Alberta to address issues with the act.

Coun. Ryan Maguhn spoke passionately about the resolution, stating it was near and dear to his heart during the regular council meeting on May 21.

“This is an issue that as a councillor I have really tried to advocate for, for the better part of almost eight years now. It’s frustrating, and I absolutely see the frustration in the communities faces, fellow councillors faces. We’ve been trying to move this issue forward, trying to get some traction. We worked hard advocating with the past provincial government to make some really positive changes that would benefit our citizens and their safety of the community. I see this as the next step to get some widespread support,” added Maguhn.

Other councilors echoed his sentiment.

AUMA represents urban municipalities, advocating the interests of members to the provincial and federal orders of government and other stakeholders.

Resolutions adopted by members of AUMA are grouped by topic and submitted to the relevant ministry or organization after the Annual AUMA Convention in September.

The resolution requests a review by AUMA to develop tools and legislative recommendations to the government of Alberta that address the quality of life and safety of mobile home park tenants, and allow for increased municipal autonomy in effectively creating or obtaining solutions for local mobile home site issues on behalf of those tenants.

“The way the mobile home tenancy act is structured, municipalities have very limited tools in dealing with park owners who don’t treat their residents fairly. Because that’s structured the way it is, it’s the government’s responsibility to try and make sure that those citizens are taken care of. But by the nature of the act the provincial government is abdicating that responsibility and it leaves those residents with nobody that they can rely on and force the owners to play fairly with them,” stated Coun. Albert Ostashek.

“This is one of the best tools that we have to draw recognition to that fact and to try and put some pressure on the provincial government to either change the act to give municipalities some tools that they can use to enforce compliance with owners or take it upon themselves to empower their own departments to take those actions.”

The town of Okotoks submitted a resolution in 2016 regarding an amendment to the Mobile Home Sites Tenancies Act to offer residential tenancies disputes resolution services (RTDRS) to mobile home park residents, according to the AUMA website.

The resolution by Okotoks was passed, but saw a limited response from the Government of Alberta over the last three years, according to administrations notes.

Many residents of mobile home parks are at higher risk with limited or no ability to move or leave and have no other option but to pursue an action through the courts which is time consuming and costly, stated the Okotoks resolution.

“As a municipality we only have so many tools in our box in order to achieve things on a larger scale that are beyond the role of the municipality and to me this is the right way of doing it,” said Coun. Dewly Nelson.

Administration noted that the act is in need of a substantial review or revision to allow for increased autonomy and local decision- making by municipalities.

Municipalities don’t have authority to enforce solutions to disputes through the act even though it does allow them to create advisory boards to educate and advise both landlords and tenants.

“[The issue] lies within the mobile home sites tenancy act, we would be just as guilty if we don’t pursue this and push this further to a provincial level. If we’re going to point the finger to some extent, this is an action we can take to say ‘okay, we’ll do our part,’” said Mayor Marcel Michaels.

CEAC streamlines work with council and public

Masha Scheele

After reflection and re-evaluation of the Community Engagement and Advisory Committee (CEAC) a new Terms of Reference and work plan for 2019 was formed, including limiting the number of public members from nine to seven.

CEAC also stated their new objective is to facilitate the process of council making informed decisions through the provision of stakeholders’ input and feedback as collected and reported.

CEAC is a group of citizen volunteers empowered by council to act as additional eyes and ears within the community to help the flow of feedback from residents to council, and information from council to residents on different issues, explained Garth Griffiths and Jailin Bertolin to council during the May 21 regular council meeting.

The two amendments in the draft CEAC terms of reference were the composition of the committee and to remove the budget consultation portion, which was later amended to bring CEAC in to one budget information session annually.

Currently, the committee is made up of nine people, one council representative, seven citizen representations, and one town admin.

“They work well together as a group of six, so they still have that one vacant position left over and they saw it as not needed to go up to ten members. They suggested to allow it up to eight,” said Hans van Klaveren, interim director of community services.

Information collected by CEAC is based on the five pillars of culture: recreation, education and wellness, local economy, and natural and built environments.

“The committee is basically based on five pillars of the community, those five pillars are part of the community sustainability plan. Those are represented already inside the membership of seven members,” added van Klaveren.

Coun. JoAnn Race stated that in a town of over 9,000 people, it would be better to have more CEAC members and she was not in favour of taking the members down to seven.

“Really the synergy of having ten people around the table, some committees it’s good if you’re leading with different tasks. But with everyone having the same task, I think the idea is ten people conversing in a 90-minute meeting, you don’t get an opportunity to speak,” countered Mayor Marcel Michaels.

When it came to removing the budget portion from the terms of reference, Coun. Albert Ostashek felt some sort of participation from CEAC in the budget process was important, “as a councilor, when we get the formal budget presented to us it helps so much in understanding how the budget works and I think having another group in the room even if there is no formal report back to council regarding that, I think it would help CEAC to be much more informed about the budget when they’re discussing it with members of the public.”

Mayor Marcel Michaels explained that taking this portion out was only to streamline work done and that CEAC would still be involved in the budget if requested.

Council then moved to amend the terms of engagement to add CEAC participation in one annual budget session.

Budget session was added in the definitions as an annual roundtable discussion between council and CEAC.

Community engagement by CEAC is done through day to day interactions, the Facebook CEAC page, surveys, open house sessions, and the town’s ‘My Hinton’ smartphone app, according to the presentation by CEAC.

After collecting information from the public, CEAC then advises town council through council attendance at CEAC meetings, sharing information through councillor briefing sections of council meetings, CEAC minutes shared with council, delegations in front of council, special meetings with council, and presentations to council of community feedback summary in November.

Griffiths went on to say that CEAC is conducting a survey of the community during the month of May, asking what the top three concerns of citizens are that the community should focus on to improve the quality of life in Hinton.

“I’m very optimistic. You have 225 inputs, or comments and thoughts,” said Mayor Marcel Michaels, adding that this was without the upcoming open house or the Facebook page and that they would shatter the goal of having 300 responses to the survey.

Surveys will be done through day to day interactions, paper surveys at various locations, facebook, phone, and an open house at the Parks West Mall on May 30, from Noon to 9:00.

To take the survey online, head to surveymonkey.com/r/7V22TN3.

Mountain View preps for a musical adventure

Masha Scheele Photo

Masha Scheele

Wild animals have been roaming around École Mountain View School preparing for their big stage debut in June.

Music and drama teacher Jessica Smeall has been working with students from grade four to seven since December on the junior play, ‘Madagascar – A Musical Adventure.’

Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Gloria the Hippo, Melman the Giraffe, Lemur King Julien, and the penguins make up some of the characters in the play that’s based on the movie, Madagascar.

Students chose the one-hour long play in September from Musical Theatre International.

“In this play you’ve got the cute and cuddly penguins that have kind of a sinister side, but then there’s also the main characters like Melman the giraffe who has this social anxiety and phobia of everything to Alex the Lion who is front and centre all day and that’s their gig. And the way that the students characterize that is probably my favourite part,” said Smeall.

The story starts at the New York Central Park Zoo and follows main character, Marty the Zebra, who wants to go to the wild after seeing it on a mural.

Thirty-five students take up various roles, including a chorus, solo speakers, and the main cast who have solo speaking and singing parts.

Hannah Jespersen, who is part of the school play for her third time, said her favourite part is playing Melman the giraffe.

“Melman is kind of scared of everything. He’s not sure he wants to be there and then in the end he’s like ‘oh this is fun,” she said.
“I thought it was going to be hard remembering all my dialogue but surprisingly it has been pretty easy,” commented Jespersen.

Masha Scheele Photo

After auditions in the fall, Smeall gave each student their part and rehearsals were held during recess twice per week.

“I’ve had students in Grade 4 have main roles, I’ve had students in Grade 7 with that main role. Sometimes it’s their first time, sometimes it’s their third or fourth time,” said Smeall.

Some of the students with the main roles this year are also part of other music theatre groups in Hinton like Break-A-Leg Theatre Arts Society and have performed at The West Fraser Guild: Home of the Performing Arts Theatre of Hinton (PATH).

“Seeing students in grades four til seven, from different grades, different backgrounds, different socioeconomic statuses come together and enjoy the same thing and perform as a group.

That sense of that community that comes from theatre and music is really heart-warming, because I see these same students out on the playground talking to each other or interacting in the community environments where maybe before they wouldn’t have had that opportunity,” said Smeall.

Leading up to the performance date, students also have four after- school rehearsals, and a stage practice.

“I’ve seen huge growth in the last month of recess practices, I hope they’re enjoying it. I’ve seen lots of smiles, I think they’re realizing that they’re good,” stated Smeall, who has organized the play for the past five years with productions like Seussical, Alice in Wonderland, Annie, and the Little Mermaid.

“I’ve put my own spin on different parts of the music program, but I think that the drama program has pretty much stayed the same. The previous teacher who is now retired had a really strong music and theatre program as well, so I had big shoes to fill and I hope I’ve done it justice,” said Smeall.

Smeall calls herself a jock and a band geek, as she focused on music theatre, and arts, but also physical education throughout her time as a grade school student.

“Those two things really brought me joy, so in high school I was in choirs, I was in bands, I did musical theatre, I loved drama. Then in university I got into some local orchestral groups, so I played in bands and orchestras, different varieties of music,” she said.

Her goal at Mountain View is to enable the students to enjoy those things as well.

Masha Scheele Photo

“My [favourite part] is working with Miss Smeall and all the other cast members and being King Julien. I mean, I’m the party king,” said Paige Taylor, another student who has been part of the play for multiple years.

The production will run three times this year, first in the morning on June 4 for the other students at École Mountain View, then a mini performance of a few songs for the pre-school and in the afternoon, students from Crescent Valley come to enjoy the second full show.

The third show and finale takes place on Thursday evening, June 6 for the public. Smeall said that all they ask is to bring a donation for the food bank if you can.

Wild Mountain Mash Up returns with two categories

File Photo
Edmonton-area band Alleviate rocked the stage at the 2018 Wild Mountain Music Mash Up event.

Tyler Waugh

Emerging performers will have a chance to earn a shot on the Wild Mountain Music Festival main stage in 2020 as the Mash Up returns on June 1 at Masters.

This year two spots in the 2020 festival will be up for grabs as organizers have decided to split the competition into a category for bands and a separate one for singer/ songwriters.

Jason Williams, music director for Wild Mountain, said the creation of two categories is to reflect the realities of two different sounds.

“It’s hard for a singer/songwriter to create that same sort of sound and impact that a full band can have. It’s about fairness and it’s about acknowledging that you can’t compare apples and oranges,” said Williams, though he conceded that singer-songwriters like Jake Buckley had won in the past.

“But that’s a rare talent, a rare occasion with guys like Buckley. We wanted to give more of an opportunity for singer/songwriters to be showcased.”

When organization of the 2019 Wild Mountain Music Festival was initiated there was some

uncertainty whether there would be the necessary time or resources to commit to a Mash Up this year. However, the group got some help to pull it off. Questions or submissions can be directed to Bob Roach at bobroach@telus.net.

“When people get in touch we can provide some more info and let anybody know about the application process,” Williams said.

Besides stage time at the 2020 Wild Mountain, one winner will also receive eight hours recording time at Blue Diamond Studios.

The Mash Up performances are free to attend and enjoy with a tentative start time of 7 pm.

“Some of that will depend on how many performers end up booking. I think right now there’s room for maybe one more band and a couple singer/songwriters,” Williams said.

Wild Mountain is set for July 19 – 21 at Entrance Ranch with a lineup highlighted by performers like Colin James, Shred Kelly and Five Alarm Funk.

More information on the lineup and site amenities can be found at www.wildmtnmusic.ca.

Early bird ticket deals end June 1 and can be purchased online at http://www.wildmtnmusic.ca/ tickets.

Locals invited to discover their river

Tyler Waugh

The Hinton area has seen a lot of developments over the past number of years to help connect residents with its signature waterway.

The establishment of the Athabasca Riverfront Park in Hinton has been followed by creation of a new staging area at Solomon Creek near Brule. Paddling enthusiast Rick Zroback says that the result is a safe and reliable access to the river that will be showcased with a June 8 event called Discover Your River.

“Let me tell you, we have come a long way and it’s time to show people what’s there and what we have access to now,” said Zroback, who’s been integral in past river events like the 2011 and 2017 voyageur canoe brigades.

“The Athabasca is a big part of our history … it was our first super highway before we had highways.”

The paddle from the Solomon Creek launch to the riverfront park is around 17 kilometres and will take around two hours, says Zroback.

It is a family oriented, non- mechanized event that is putting a premium on safe participation, with an 18-point list of guidelines. Zroback said there will also be an orientation session and a waiver to sign ahead of time.

“It’s not a highly technical river, but we are going to be watching water conditions leading up to the event to make sure it is safe for everyone,” Zroback said.

“We are hoping to have out some people who are new to paddling and new to the river and we want to make sure that we have fun and feels safe.”

Zroback says people are invited to use their own suitable watercraft like kayaks and canoes, but at least one person in each craft should have some experience in moving water.

Zroback says there are also some limited spaces available in some rafts and voyageur canoes.

The event is being organized by a group of volunteers that includes Zroback with some support from both the Town of Hinton and Yellowhead County.

“Both municipalities have been great. We have a really energetic group,” said Zroback.

The paddle itself will be followed by a celebration at Athabasca Riverfront Park that will include food and entertainment and hopefully introduce new people to the park itself.

“You don’t need to be registered to come to the park afterward,” said Zroback.

“We want to remind people about what we have and we don’t want to show it off just for the paddlers!”

Registration is recommended prior to the paddle. People looking for a link to the registration page, or who want to learn more about the event can visit www.facebook.com/ AlbertaAthabascaRiver/.

HCHS girls rugby turning heads

Tyler Waugh Photo

Tyler Waugh

The Harry Collinge Rockies senior girls 7s rugby squad may be few in numbers, but they’re wracking up some impressive results as they build towards a potential run at the zone championships next week.

Coach Rebecca Turnbull says the zones, tentatively slated for May 27 in either Drayton Valley or Thorsby, marks the first time that 7s rugby has had an Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association (ASAA) championship.

“We’ve had a very successful season so far, and we’re looking forward to zones in a little over a week,” said Turnbull on May 15.

“The team that wins that championship has a berth in the ASAA provincial championship for the sport!”

Turnbull said the senior girls team is full of veterans with few new players. The roster consists of Myya Ammann, Alissa Belcourt, Kara Danis, Kaity Fofonoff, Karissa Lee, Kayla Norris-Gauthier, Shelby Poppe, Micah Scott and Lila Underwood.

“Despite the small numbers – there are only nine girls on the team out of a possible 15 – their experience means that they perform very well under pressure,” said Turnbull. “Their fitness levels allow them to play most of the game without needing to be subbed off, which is absolutely necessary, since we only have two sub players.”

The squad’s first tournament May 3 in Jasper saw them place second overall after losing a hard- fought final against a team from Chestermere that was decided by a late score.

“They lost based on conversions after the try, so it was a very close game,” Turnbull said.

Hinton traveled to Drayton Valley the following weekend and opened with a rough start against the hosts.

“That game was a lopsided loss for the girls, and we spent the short break we had between games working out some of the reasons for the loss and how to do better next game,” Turnbull said.

The talk seemed to work as the squad won its next two games against John Maland High School and Spruce Grove Composite High School. As a result of these wins, they got to play in the first place final where they met the same Frank Maddock team from their first game of the day.

The Rockies were down 10-0 at the half, but they were committed to keeping it together and putting up a fight. Kara Danis scored a try with a successful conversion about four minutes into the seven-minute half.

Turnbull said the team had to fight hard to get the ball back, but they managed to win the ball back and Karissa Lee scored the winning try with a successful conversion as the last play of the game.

“The girls were elated with the victory, as it marks the first time that the Rockies have ever won against a Frank Maddock Sr. team,” Turnbull said of the win.

The squad’s performance earned players a little outside attention as well as a representative from Rugby Alberta after the game to make sure we were aware of the tryout process for the Edmonton Gold team, which is the first step in moving up to play with more advanced teams.

“They had identified a few of our players who were of interest but indicated that the whole team should apply if they wish,” Turnbull said. “I think it’s a great sign that Rugby Alberta is being proactive about making sure they see some of the small communities play as well as the larger cities, as there is a lot of talent in the province outside of the city limits.”

A closer look at Queen Myrt of Maxwell Lake

Photo provided by Meghan Beale
Meghan Beale (left) check’s Myrt’s vital signs while Samantha Widmeyer (right) takes hair, blood and whisker samples.

Masha Scheele

Her name is Myrt, she loves long strolls in the woods, her favourite food is venison, she weighs in at 105 lbs, and is thought to be around four years old.

She calls the Maxwell Lake area her home and because an unspayed female cat is called a queen, let’s just call her Queen Myrt of Maxwell.

This queen is of the cougar variety, and has a home range that spans around 150 square kilometres that includes the wilderness around Maxwell Lake, according to information gathered through the collar put on her in January 2018.

Technically, her name is F5, but her researchers, Meghan Beale and Samantha Widmeyer, master’s students at the University of Alberta, nicknamed her Myrt. Beale and Widmeyer studied cougar behaviour and ecology focusing on their predation on bighorns, in conjunction with the University of Alberta. Beale’s focus was on cougar habitat selection, while Widmeyer focused on cougar diet, and whether or not cougars specialized in certain prey.

“I was looking at how the landscape configuration affects their predation habits and their resource use,” said Beale, who now works as a wildlife biologist.

According to the study’s findings, Myrt consumes mostly deer and didn’t consume a single bighorn sheep while she was being studied.

“Generally cougars aren’t seeking humans or dogs or anything like that to eat them, the cougars that are involved in conflict are usually young males. They’re often starving, they’ve just left their mothers and are out on their own for the first time,” said Beale.

Myrt also had a litter of three or four kittens in the summer of 2018, but it’s unknown how many of her kittens survived or if they are still travelling with her, stated Beale.

“We know that F5 had kittens because her movements changed. Normally she moves from place to place but does not come back to the same location. When a female has kittens, she has great fidelity to a particular location (i.e. the den where she hides the kittens). Normally, the female will remain in the area for a couple of days after giving birth to nurse the kittens,” stated Beale.

Data from her collar showed that Myrt left her den once or twice per day in order to hunt nearby and then return as the kittens nurse for the first four to six weeks.

“The movement patterns on our map will look like a flower, with the den at the center of the flower and movements extending away from the den, then back again. Eventually, the kittens can begin travelling with their mother, after about seven to eight weeks. If it’s winter, you can often see tracks in the snow from kittens travelling with their mothers, which was how we estimated how many she had,” added Beale.

Normally, kittens stay with their mothers for one and a half to two years.

Females generally have a core area that they use, but one female may overlap in space with three of four other cougars, said Beale.

This means that Myrt may share certain portions of the area behind Maxwell Lake, but not likely at the same time. Based on the findings, cougars usually use different habitats within the same general territory.

“We have data where three or four females are close together but one might be using a particular area in May and then move out of that area and then a couple of weeks later another female may come and move into that same area where their home ranges overlap. Generally, they are not there in the same time and space,” said Beale.

Ranges for females are relatively close together, while males can range up to 900 kilometers squared in order to overlap many different females. Throughout their study, seven different cougars were collared, ranging as far east as Obed, north of the Athabasca river, south by the mines near Coalspur, and west into Jasper National Park.

Samantha Widmeyer preparing to release two hounds on a fresh cougar track, just north of Hinton, AB.
Photo provided by Meghan Beale

To collar and track Myrt, Beale and Widmeyer looked for fresh cougar tracks in the winter and hired houndsmen with their trained dogs to follow the tracks.

“It’s similar if you were to go hunt a cougar, the way we capture them is basically you set the hounds on fresh cougar tracks in the snow and the hounds have a GPS collar. The hounds will follow the track and then they will tree the cat,” said Beale.

After they received GPS confirmation that Myrt had been treed, Beale and Widmeyer hiked out with their equipment to immobilize her using a dart rifle and processed her on the ground before

Through tracking each of their collared cougars movements, the team visited 89 potential cougar kill sites from the beginning of their study in 2017 until January 2018.

The kill sites included deer, bighorn sheep, beavers, coyotes, elk, rabbits, and a marmot.

“I think that people should be aware and they should know how to recreate safely in the back country or even in their backyard or when they’re out hiking. So that they know the things to do so they can reduce conflicts with cougars,” said Beale.

Removing individual cougars from an area, could create a larger problem as it leaves room for a new individual to come and make a home range in that same area.

“Cougars reproduce any time of the year, they’re doing fairly well in Alberta. There’s always going to be another cougar to come into the range,” concluded Beale.

The Alberta Government website suggests people carry bear spray, keep children close, and walk your dog on a leash as a precaution in the back country.

In case of a cougar encounter, do not run or turn your back, do not play dead, bring your children and pets in close and show the cougar that you are not easy prey by making yourself look big and speaking loudly.

According to the Alberta government website, it is important to teach your children not to scream in fear or run away and instead stay near people.

If the cougar makes contact, fight back and don’t give up, using all means to hit the cougar in the face with rocks, sticks or your fists.

If the cougar appears to be unaware of your presence, gather children and pets in close, slowly and cautiously back away and leave the area.

If you spot a cougar, call the Fish and Wildlife office at (780) 865-8264.

Hinton hosting regionals as Envirothon grows

Masha Scheele photo
Masha Scheele

Teams from Hinton and Edson were the only competitors in the Envirothon during the past two years, but they’re about to get a lot more competition with three more teams joining in 2019.

Up to 15 teams of high school students have competed in the environmental education competition in the past from Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the North West Territories, but this changed when there wasn’t an official provincial board to run the event.

Originally, the Alberta government took part in organizing the event, but after some internal changes organizers didn’t have the capacity to host the event anymore, according to Chantelle Bambrick, who joined the Envirothon board in January of 2018 and is now the president.

“The board was left with key positions being vacant and nobody really to take that workload. The board sat and did what they could to support Edson holding the regional event,” explained Bambrick.

Schools in Alberta were open to host regional events but only Edson organized an Envirothon in 2017 and 2018, said Bambrick.

“Parkland High School has a really good person there who really loves this program and really works towards this program and so she wanted to keep it alive. It has kind of fallen away and so she didn’t know how to keep it alive other than try to get people that she knew around her to compete,” said Jennifer Wotton, science teacher at Harry Collinge High School.

Without any teams for Edson to compete against Wotton was asked if she could put in a team.

“Envirothon used to be actually quite large and huge and Hinton never ever competed and I don’t know why,” said Wotton.

This year, Wotton registered her team for the third year in a row. The provincial board gathered together in 2018 for a strategic workshop in an attempt to get more people involved in the board and manage the workload.

“We were very successful. We have a really good core group of 12 to 14 board members over the last year planning this event. And that’s why we were able to host the event in Hinton again,” Bambrick said.

Teams from Edson, Hinton, Morinville, Whitecourt, and Grand Prairie will all take part of this year’s Envirothon, said Bambrick.

Competitors are judged in two separate challenges; a presentation on a given scenario using science and research to solve environmental issues and; field exams based on five core topics. Teams of five students are led by a teacher advisor or volunteer and meet throughout the school year to learn about soils and land-use, aquatics, forestry, wildlife and a the current theme, which is Agriculture and the Environment: Knowledge & Technology to Feed the World.

“We’ve been going out with people from West Fraser. They’ve been coming out with us after school and teaching us forestry,” said Wotton.

Students were given the scenario in March, which they must research and prepare an oral presentation on.

“It’s pretty intense for these five high school kids to be standing in front of adults who are all professionals of a particular thing they are

presenting on. There’s a forestry professional, there’s an aquatics professional all sitting there,” said Wotton.

The top three teams win cash prizes and individual trophies, and the winning team is eligible to compete at the North American Envirothon finals, being held in North Carolina this year.

“I feel like we are better prepared this year. We actually went out and did more stuff like measuring the height of a tree and going out looking at plants, where previously we hadn’t had the chance to do that beforehand,” said Grade 12 student, Shané Pretorius of her third time participating in the Envirothon.

Pretorius and Jamie Rahn are returning members to the Hinton Envirothon team, while three students are new this year: Ronan Tew, Colton Rowley, and Ethan Jahnke.

“I think this [uses] a lot of problem solving skills, you get a scenario and you don’t get a lot of background information. So you have to figure out how to solve these problems in a short amount of time, which is I think a helpful skill to use in the future,” added Pretorius.

Bambrick hopes that the competition pushes more students to seek out further environmental education.

“I hope that we get some kids who are really passionate in caring for the environment and learning how things kind of all work together so that we can have more kids going off to school to become foresters, or wildlife biologists or whatever it is. I think it can really spark a career interest in kids,” said Bambrick.

Alberta’s Envirothon was established in 1997 as an annual provincial competition, aiming to increase students’ knowledge of environmental science and natural resource management.

The symposium and competition takes place at the Hinton Training Centre (HTC) on May 23 and 24.

Learn more about the competition on albertaenvirothon.org.

Council pushes to form Beaver Boardwalk committee

Gabe Roberts Photo

Masha Scheele

Terms of reference on a Beaver Boardwalk committee will come back to council no later than June 18, in order for select council members to work with boardwalk users, Alberta Environment & Parks (AEP), and administration and bring more information back to council to make better informed decisions.

A decision to go ahead with a committee was made at the standing committee meeting on May 14, along with a decision to focus existing budgeted maintenance dollars on sections that are currently open.

Regarding the separate issue of a bridge access solution, council did not reach a long- term decision, prompting administration to go ahead with stairs to the bridge as a temporary solution.

Permanent solutions suggested by administration were AEP approved gravel ramps with a comprehensive landscape restoration plan, or boardwalk style ramps sized based on emergency support vehicle access or pedestrian access only.

“In that meeting with AEP where they indicated that a first strategy, gravel could in fact be part of the overall plan again provided we go through the appropriate process and that it’s approved,” said Coun. Ryan Maguhn.

Council also requested a report detailing wetland replacement based on the Maxwell Lake area, including the boardwalk and bridge.

“One of the missing pieces through this whole process has been, the wetland value. We recently learned what the relative value is, it’s a class A wetland, which has a pretty significant impact on the decisions that we make. It also affects the costs if we want to go down the path of replacement or offsets, which is something that is within legislation and something we really haven’t discussed,” said Coun. Dewly Nelson.

Council, administration, Alberta Environment & Parks (AEP) representatives and ISL Engineering representatives sat down on Wednesday April 24 to discuss regulatory requirements and learned that a wetland replacement fee based on wetland value is required for the permanent loss of wetland area and relative wetland value, which is what council will see come back in a report regarding the Maxwell Lake area, including the boardwalk and bridge.

For maintenance and reparations of the boardwalk, the town requires and is applying for a Water Act approval, council directed this work to focus only on sections that are currently open.

The current structure is not in compliance with the Alberta Building code, is not accessible for wheelchairs, has a heightened liability risk, and a higher repetitive annual cost and short life cycle factor, stated Hans van Klaveren, interim director of community services.

Photo provided by Town of Hinton

The warping, slumping, and heaving boardwalk in various locations forced administration to close certain sections last month, and van Klaveren presented which sections could potentially be shut down or removed moving forward.

“I don’t see any problem in eliminating certain sections where it’s duplicating access to a certain area, and they can be eliminated without seriously affecting the functionality and the enjoyment visitors have when using the Beaver Boardwalk. Some of the sections Mr. van Klaveren pointed out earlier in the meeting are in disrepair are just as easily accessed from other sections of boardwalk,” said Coun. Albert Ostashek.

Council agreed that they would need more information, such as a look at cost of removing sections compared to remediating sections, before making a decision.

Administration stated that one time repairs are not adequate to maintain the boardwalk for public use, and added that reserve funds used for annual repairs could be better utilized as the current $60,000 per annum is not sufficient to manage active deficiencies.

Various environmental implications come along with maintaining the current structure, such as additional vegetation damage, potential wildlife avoidance during construction, and a repetitive regulatory approval process for access and repairs being required on a constant basis.

In the past twelve years, maintenance work has been done without approval from AEP, including replacing deck boards, lifting sections to place supporting blocks beneath, or cutting off posts that have pushed out.

“The approval has to be put in right now, we are doing that right now. Chances [are] that we don’t get a ‘yay’ on that approval even in this year, the likelihood is that we don’t get that this year. For basic maintenance we need a full Water Act approval,” said van Klaveren.

Council did not decide to go ahead with the Remediation Pilot Project that administration presented, which would include replacing the support structure with screw plies and the existing or a new and wider decking in both a complicated and not complicated section allowing administration to gather real life data to decide if complete remediation is a viable option.

The pilot project would cost approximately $50,000 for the studies, workplan, submission, engineering, and detailed design which are necessary for AEP approval, furthermore the construction work would cost between $100,000 and $350,000, according to administration.

This project would have to avoid the migratory bird nesting window, which runs from mid-April to late August, and winter removal may be difficult or impossible at times as sections of the boardwalk are currently submerged in water.

The ISL memorandum stated that AEP may not allow Water Act approvals for a structure that was constructed without approvals in the past and AEP will not retroactively approve a project.

The existing Beaver Boardwalk in Hinton was constructed by community volunteers, user groups, and sponsors from the local business community in 2006, without AEP approvals.

A public open house will be held on May 23 from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm to share your feedback on the Maxwell Lake Recreation Area Plan. A feedback tool for the area plan will launch on the Town of Hinton website on May 17.

Archer Josh Litke has been chosen for the World Open NASP shoot in Tennessee this July

Masha Scheele Photo

Tyler Waugh

Gerard Redmond has qualified an archer for the NASP (National Archery in Schools Program) All-Star Shoot for the third-straight year with Josh Litke earning the honour in 2019.

Gerard Redmond has qualified an archer for the NASP (National Archery in Schools Program) All-Star Shoot for the third-straight year with Josh Litke earning the honour in 2019.

Litke holds a third-place ranking out of the 24 archers on the 2019 NASP World All-Star List from across Canada and earned a chance to compete at the World Open NASP tournament in Nashville TN on July 25-27.

“It’s incredible. It’s a credit to the hard work he puts in, with his team and also the time he puts in out at the range,” said Gerard Redmond archery coach Chris Storozhenko, adding that Litke follows in the footsteps of former Raiders archers Sydney Savela and Mason Meunier.

Litke, a 16-year-old Grade 11 student, earned his third ranking based on a career high 290 score at the provincial shoot held March 14 in Edmonton, finishing first overall out of 859 male competitors.

Litke was razor sharp early on at provincials – notching 14-straight perfect 10 arrows to open the shoot among 23 scores of 10. He only had one score below nine – a six he scored on his final arrow.

He notched a 283 score at the start of May at the nationals in Regina, finishing second out of 164 high school boy competitors, and third out of 501 boy competitors overall.

“The score was a bit of a step back from provincials, but I was happy,” said Litke, who had fewer 10s at nationals, but had only one score lower than nine, an eight on the first arrow.

Archers get one kick at the can at a competition. They shoot 30 scoring arrows in succession after a round of practice arrows – three rounds of five arrows at a range of 10m and then another three rounds of five arrows at 15m. The pressure builds as they wait in queue to shoot, but staying in the right head space is important to success because they only get one sequence and a few bad arrows early can kill a score.

“There is a lot of pressure, and you feel it. This year it changed for me was that I didn’t feel the pressure as much anymore. Instead of fear adrenaline the adrenaline kind of sharpened me,” Litke said, adding that he’s been taught not to let a bad shot rattle him.

“Archery is all routine. You want to do the same thing every time so that every arrow is the same.”

Litke said that it was actually a movie that got him interested in archery, citing the first time he watched Lord of The Rings – Two Towers as catching his imagination.

“When Legolas takes down the oliphaunt,” he said, adding that he began shooting when he was

12. “After that there was a summer camp out at the archery range where we got to go shoot and there were some animal targets.”

Litke was joined at nationals by sister Annelise, who is a year younger and began in archery after she saw how much fun Josh was having. She earned her own career high at the 2019 provincials with a score of 264 and since the nationals were an open competition she decided to go to Regina with Josh.

“It’s lower than I had been shooting in practice in weeks prior, so I was a little disappointed, but happy overall. At nationals I didn’t shoot as well, a lot lower than I was hoping for, but it was a great learning experience and I got to shoot in a different environment,” she said.

The two archers drove the 10-hour trip with their dad and felt that having each other was a steadying factor while getting ready to compete in a new place and surrounded by new faces.

“We ended up shooting right beside each other, so it was kind of nice. One time I got really angry because one of my arrows did something really weird but Josh was right behind me and just told me to take a deep breath and calm down and think about the next arrow,” Annelise said.

Josh said the advice he gave was just a variation on a mantra that Coach Storozhenko had told him repeatedly.

“Whenever I was shooting bad he would say something like each arrow is a new arrow, so just focus on this arrow … something along those lines,” Josh said.

“(Coach Storozhenko) is a great influence, he always wants best for you. He’s done a great job building the program.”