Hinton’s official first case of COVID-19 related to travel

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative


Hinton learned about its first local case of COVID-19 this week from Alberta’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw.

The case in Hinton is believed to be related to travel at this time, stated Tom McMillan, communications assistant director of Alberta Health in an email.

While McMillan did not specify if the person was hospitalized or if there was any risk of spread from the case, Hinton Mayor Marcel Michaels did state in a Facebook update that the person is currently in self-isolation at home.

“We cannot provide other specific information due to patient confidentiality,” McMillan added.

Local Dr. Noel Corser stated that documented cases in Hinton lag behind actual cases by 1 to 3 weeks.

In other words, the numbers seen on the Alberta government website several weeks from now are the current number of infected Hintonites.

This is because the incubation period (from infection to symptoms) is two to 14 days, plus symptom to onset to swab is one to two days at the very best, and swab turn- around time is three to four days, which equals to anywhere between six to 20 days between infections and swab-positive numbers on the website, Corser explained.

“Now is the only time we have to reduce future cases, before we get
swamped.”

He also noted that if left to its own devices, Covid has a 30 to 70 per cent infectivity rate.

If 5000 Hintonites get infected and 20 per cent require hospitalization, of which up to a quarter need ICU, that is 1000 hospitalizations for a 21- bed hospital in Hinton.

“If that’s not a sobering thought, I’m not sure what is. People need to be aware that it’s critically important to get that infectivity rate down,” Corser said.

Premiere Jason Kenney announced on March 25 that law enforcement agencies have been granted full authority to enforce public health orders and issue fines.

It is now mandatory for travellers returning from outside of Canada to self-isolate as well as close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases, and any individual with symptoms.

Community peace officers and police can now issue tickets to enforce COVID-19 public health orders from up to $100 per day to a prescribed fine of $1,000 per occurrence.

Courts will also have increased powers to administer fines of up to $100,000 for a first offence and up to $500,000 for a subsequent offence for more serious violations.

On Monday, March 23, the Town of Hinton closed all community playgrounds and structures, but not the parks themselves.

The individuals using parks are still asked to continue to use physical distancing to inhibit potential spread.

School children in Hinton will have the opportunity to continue their studies.

The Alberta Government announced that school authorities will offer at-home learning opportunities for all Kindergarten to Grade 12.

Online tools or accommodations like course packages and telephone check-ins will be available to them.

Teachers will determine what content to cover based on remaining curricular outcomes and plan tasks that are reasonable to do from home.

The province also stated that school authorities will continue to be funded for the rest of the 2019/20 school year to help deliver at-home learning to their students.

Each student will get final grades and a report card appropriate to their grade level, according to the province.

Teachers will assess progress of students and assign a final grade.

Principals have the ability to award up to 15 credits to students in Grade 12 if they were negatively impacted by class cancellations.

At this point there has been no impact to essential or critical services from the municipality.

Some buildings are closed, and many municipal staff members continue to work in alternate capacities, stated an update from the town.

Waste, water, roads, maintenance, emergency and protective services are all continuing.

Rowan Street Recycling and the West Yellowhead Regional Landfill are still open.

Community Futures West Yellowhead is available to help and assist local businesses and self employed individuals wanting to learn more about employment insurance, records of employment, and other self employed matters.

Hinton’s Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) reminded residents last week that they can call or text 211 to speak with a person who can assist in finding a wide array of social supports and referrals.

Mental Health referrals and support to cope with the current situation is available in Hinton 24 hours per day throughout the week.

Further updates will be provided via web and Facebook from the Town of Hinton.

Contact Community Futures West Yellowhead at (780) 865-1224.

The Town of Hinton has an online directory with contact information for resources and businesses available to the public.

Hinton courthouse operating on a reduced scale

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative


Access to the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, the Provincial Court of Alberta and the Alberta Court of Appeal has been limited to essential services only due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The number of provincial courthouses and courtrooms that are operational have been limited, but Hinton is considered a base court location and is operating on a  reduced scale.

All jury trials between March 16 and May 31 have been suspended in Alberta’s Court of Queen’s Bench (QB), though jury trials that started before March 16 are proceeding. 

Hearings in QB are limited to emergency and urgent matters only in which serious consequences to persons or harm to property could arise if the hearing does not proceed, or if there is any risk of loss of jurisdiction or expiration of an existing protection or restraining order.

Alberta courts will only be dealing with urgent criminal matters, involving someone detained and in-custody, urgent family matters, or child protection matters.

Other family, civil, criminal court or provincial offences and traffic court appearances have not been held since March 17. 

Public members are not allowed into courthouses across Alberta unless they are required for court matters. The Provincial Court of Alberta website urges the public not to come into a courthouse if they have been advised to self-isolate by public health officials, a doctor or the Alberta Health Services website; or if self-isolating as a result of travel or contact with individuals with COVID-19. 

Non urgent cases or anyone not in custody with a criminal court appearance in the Alberta Provincial Court between March 17 and May 22 will be rescheduled and posted online. Cases will be scheduled for 10 weeks from the original scheduled date or the next available court date after that.

In-custody matters such as bail hearings, sentencings with a priority given to those facing a time served situation, preliminary inquiries and trials, and youth criminal sentence reviews will still continue.

Provincial Court civil matters, including trials, chambers list applications and pretrial conferences scheduled to be heard prior to May 22 are adjourned indefinitely, while matters to be heard after May 22 remain as scheduled. 

Non-urgent family matters scheduled between March 16 and May 22 are also adjourned for ten weeks from the scheduled court date or to the next closest court date after that.

Any cases that deal with statutory limitations or deadlines, risk of violence or immediate harm, risk of removal of a child, apprehension orders, initial custody hearings, first appearance after apprehension, and mandatory reviews or show causes under the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act, Protection of Children Abusing Drugs Act, Protection of Sexually Exploited Children Act, Mandatory Drug Testing and Disclosure Act, and Mental Health Act, as well as warrants, and emergency protection orders will continue.

Family pre-trial conferences and child protection case management meetings will be conducted by telephone unless adjourned, and child protection hearing where the parties have consented to a return, supervision order, temporary guardianship order or permanent guardianship order will also be dealt with.

All Traffic Courts in Alberta were closed on March 17.

Those with an appearance, trial, or application during that closure can contact the court handling the matter by phone, email, or fax.

Traffic matters still have to be dealt with and fines need to be paid before the scheduled appearance, otherwise the court can still convict that person and issue an arrest warrant. Filing deadlines in Alberta’s court of appeal have not changed and requests for extensions, fiats and other administrative directions will be considered.

Mental health resources ramp up for COVID

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative


Social isolation has become a common phrase over the past few weeks in the wake of COVID-19, and there are plenty of resources to cope with the effects of this isolation.

Trevor Haas, a mental health promotion facilitator for Alberta Health Services (AHS) in Hinton, says the current situation with COVID-19 is nothing they’ve ever faced and an important step for mental health is limiting the intake of information.

Focus on the direct daily updates on the situation from the Chief Medical Officer and the AHS website, he said. Helplessness and powerlessness are common feelings that people have very little control over, Haas explained.

People should focus on what can be controlled, and that is staying home and self-isolating.

“Feeling isolated, of course, and isolation is a difficult thing to cope with, we are social people.  So we need to rely on other sources, phone, Facetime, Skype, etc,” he stated.

To curb stress and anxiety levels, Haas encourages people to distract themselves. Focusing on in-house projects or taking the opportunity to tackle projects that have been put off due to outside factors can help as well.

“Daily exercise is very important to mental health and coping with anxiety. Youtube programs, develop this into your routine. Try new recipes we have not tried because we are too busy.  Think of all the things you wanted to do but did not have the time to do them, well now you have the time, take advantage of it,” he added.

Haas touched on a topic that may be difficult to cope with; grief. Acknowledging grief, accepting it, and using available support systems is the best way to deal with this emotion right now, he said.

“The issue right now is we just do not know what the future holds, how long are things going to change for us, are things going to be the same. There are a lot of ‘What if’s’, but best to focus on today and not tomorrow and accept tomorrow might be different [and deal] with it when tomorrow comes,” he stated.

Hinton’s Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) is also available as a contact to support the public. A member from the local FCSS shared a document from Harvard University on managing fears and anxiety around COVID-19.

It stated that while keeping up to date with official information, taking a break from watching the news and focusing on positive things is important as well.

Anxiety is an emotion that tends to seek out confirmation, it reads, leaving individuals helpless and overwhelmed. 

“Acknowledge your emotion with understanding, and then turn your mind to other things,” it states.

Focus on asking “what now” rather than “why,” the document said in another recommendation.

For more information on this and tips on managing fear and anxiety, reach out to FCSS.

Residents are advised to stay home, self-isolate if sick, and reach out to ask for help when needed.

“And know you are not alone, everyone is going through a lot right now. Believe it or not, there is comfort knowing you are not alone in this struggle,” Haas added.

Self-help options to understand and learn about coping strategies to deal with stress and anxiety can be found online.

An Alberta-based innovation, Text4Hope is an evidence-based tool that helps people identify and adjust the negative thoughts, feelings and behaviours a pandemic might be expected to provoke, Haas explained.

Text4Hope sends out a set of daily messages with advice and encouragement that are helpful in developing healthy personal coping skills and resiliency.

Text COVID19HOPE to 393939 to subscribe for free and receive ongoing supportive content.

The public can contact 211 for various needs where they will be redirected to someone who is best equipped to help with specific needs. Mental Health Intake can connect individuals with a therapist through the phone, call 1-844-817-5009. For those who have access to an Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP) can also reach out to that resource. 

The AHS website is updating everyday with resources and supports during this time.

Home Routes brings music to the people

Carly Dow is next up as concert series shifts to online performances

Tyler Waugh
news@hintonvoice.ca


The people can’t come to the music, so the music is coming to them over the next little while.

COVID-19 has forced the cancellation of upcoming live performances, including the Home Routes presentation of Sherry Ryan on April 6 at Pine Valley Lodge.

But Home Routes is keeping the music alive by presenting the Season 13 concerts online, via Facebook live and YouTube, in place of the previously scheduled tours.

“Who would have ever thought of online concerts?” said Lois Carnell, Home Routes coordinator in Hinton.

“Home Routes will keep us posted of the upcoming shows and we will network this information to everyone. With support now these musicians will be around when this crisis is over.”

Having to cancel the balance of Season 13 left artists, hosts and patrons wondering what could be done to continue to support and entertain, so Home Routes decided to bring the artists digitally to patrons and to an even larger audience.

“To support artists and bring fresh entertainment to folks during this time was an obvious win/win, and doing live streaming concerts has been something we have been talking about for a while, so we decided that this was the perfect time to launch it,” says artistic director Tim Osmond.

The online shows kicked off March 21 with Rick Fines, followed by Casati on March 22, Sherry Ryan on March 23 and Sherman Downey on March 24.

Next up is Manitoba performer Carly Dow on March 26, James Gordon on March 27, Willi Carlisle on March 28, Ganspil on March 29, The Schotts on March 31 and Annie Avery of Two Piano Tornado and Sarah Hamilton on April 1.

Additional programming is being confirmed to continue these shows beyond the Apr 1 date, and will be announced as schedules are finalized.

Carnell said that the online concerts are an important way to support these artists.

“The touring musicians that I know have no other income. No RRSP’s to draw upon, No collateral for loans. Without support they are in dire straights. Touring musicians need our support more than ever right now,” Carnell said.

“However, realizing that most people are in the same situation of insecure incomes, they are asking only for what you can afford – $5, $10, what ever will be gratefully accepted.”

For financial support in these difficult times, our performers will be sharing a ‘tip jar” during their live concert, so viewers can “pay what they want.” By adding this virtual tip jar it will be easy for anyone to support.

All shows are at 7 pm Alberta time.

“So gather your family, your pizza, your storm chips and get ready to enjoy an evening of Canadian Folk music and stories, from our home, to yours,” said Osmond.

For more information about on how you can support or on any Home Routes performer, including live performance videos, please visit homeroutes.ca

Stream Season 13 Home Routes performers via this Spotify playlist: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1KDbku6iQFQ9bHiiK1lotS.

Home Routes has been pairing artists with rural and urban hosts in Canada for more than a decade, presenting more than 7,000 performances at nearly 1,500 locations before 207,000 fans to date, generating more than $4 million in artist revenue and royalties since beginning in 2007.

Sweet Surrender

Former Hinton resident publishes her first book ‘Healed By Cancer’

Photo submitted by Jayka Duncan
Duncan during her 15 months of travelling, shown here in Malaysia.

Masha Scheele
reporter@hintonvoice.ca


March 8 is a date that holds a lot of prominence for Jayka Duncan.

It is International Women’s Day, for starters, it marks her immigration anniversary, and most lately it was the release of Duncan’s first book, Healed By Cancer.

The book is not only about Duncan’s journey with cancer but about practicing the surrender method she believes healed her and changed her life.

Duncan continues to practice this method of meditation and now also teaches others how to do the same.

The inner peace she gained from this helps her in every aspect of her life, even during the current global pandemic, she said.

Duncan is at peace and doesn’t feel fear of the unknown that comes with COVID-19.

Although she’s washing her hands and practicing social distancing, she’s not stressed or worried.

“We didn’t buy a thousand toilet paper rolls or anything like that and this whole journey I’m on wasn’t about cancer. It was really about letting go of all the emotional baggage I had held onto since childhood,” she explained.

Duncan spoke to The Voice from Vancouver Island where she’s currently house sitting, as her and husband Ian sold their property in Hinton to travel the world.

Mid conversation, her husband walked into the house carrying a box of her books they had ordered.

The book follows Duncan’s journey from the time she lived in Hinton in 2007 and was diagnosed with breast cancer.

The diagnosis led her down a path of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.

Less than 10 years later, her cancer returned in 2016 and she decided to take a different path of healing.

Duncan tried everything to heal her body holistically, but nothing worked.

When she found out the cancer had metastasized to her uterus and cervix, she was at a loss on how to continue her battle.

Duncan had long practiced meditation, a place where she would eventually find healing, and the first place she believes she started to surrender.

“In meditation, I was like, ‘show me, I don’t know what to do anymore.’ Essentially that was the beginning of my healing journey in October 2018, when I finally got out of my own way,” she said.

Up until that point she had tried everything under the sun, but she realized it all came with a desperate energy, she explained.

“Desperation is a pretty low vibration and it’s not a healing vibration. When I finally got out of my own way I realized I needed to focus on my state of being and my vibration and I realized there was so much anger and fear and frustration and desperation I was hanging on to, I started to surrender,” she explained.

Through meditation she allowed herself to feel the emotions that she believes had festered in her body and created cancer. For weeks she allowed herself to be with the anger she had about having cancer twice before the age of 50.

“Why did I have cancer twice before the age of 50 when I was living in such a health conscious way? I wasn’t overweight, I wasn’t a smoker. I was an exerciser and I ate really healthy. I was doing everything “right” but I still ended up with cancer twice,” she said.

After feeling the anger, she felt the fear of dying, and continued through other emotions to allow them to leave her body.

Through this process she felt a weight being lifted off her shoulders and she could finally relax. She spent time visualizing herself being vibrantly healthy and feeling emotions as if she was already healthy.

“Feeling the gratitude, feeling the freedom, feeling the love for life, the zest for life and I did this day in, day out, about three hours per day in meditation,” she said.

All this happened while Duncan and her husband were travelling the world, fulfilling a lifelong dream.

They had sold their house in Hinton, determined to not let cancer stop them from living their lives.

Four months after she began surrendering, she got some tests done in Thailand, and the results came back showing that there was no active cancer in her body.

“We travelled for 15 months, it was a beautiful spiritual journey for me that was the best of times and the worst of times as well because the surrender practice I did was not easy,” she said.

Within four months she went from stage four cancer to being healthy, and she believed this all happened through the power of meditation and surrendering.

“Not only did I heal my body of cancer I also started to feel such incredible tenderness and love for myself and I had an inner peace. That’s such a beautiful place to be,” she said.

The book talks about her immigration to Canada as a teenager, the effects of being raised by a narcissistic father, and other issues that she feels added to the state of her health.

She believes all disease starts at an emotional level, which creates dis-ease in the body.

“This book is really about me figuring out what made me tick and getting to the root cause of the cancer and letting that go. And lo and behold I end up with a vibrantly healthy body and an inner peace that was literally the side effect of the surrendering,” Duncan said.

She remembered the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation as horrific, which is completely opposite of how she feels now.

Since regaining her health, she took part in multiple motivational speaking opportunities.

Together with the Yellowhead Emergency Shelter for Women she planned to present at The Old Grind on April 17, which has now been postponed.

She continues her podcasts and blogging online with a mission to help teach people to surrender.

“There’s so many unknowns, so many people are stressing out in the world because of the unknowns and I’m feeling so peaceful and grateful because I figured out this key to freedom that this peace gives me,” she said.

“Because of that I’m pretty grateful for the cancer, if it hadn’t been for cancer I would not have created this practice, this surrender practice.”

KEEPING AFLOAT

Canadian Federation of Independent Business says as many as one third of small businesses may close in a month.
Local businesses adapting to COVID-19 as best they can, but agree help is needed

Tyler Waugh
news@hintonvoice.ca


The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) worries about the viability of small businesses in the wake of COVID, saying as many as one third of them may close inside a month without additional government help.

A CFIB survey indicated only five per cent of business owners in Alberta feel they are doing well, as opposed to 60 per cent who responded they are doing poorly.

Local businesses are doing what they can to adapt services and stay afloat until they get a better understanding of how and when government measures will kick in.

Jessica Agunias, operations manager for Canadian Steakout restaurant, said their sales have gone down drastically and that COVID has forced some big changes in staffing, inventory and services in a short amount of time.

“However, we need to adapt – we started doing delivery and a lot of people appreciated what we did. We’d rather have customers pick up their food or order for delivery than coming in the restaurant. So far, the delivery is doing well and all our staff feels more secured and safe in this way,” she said, adding that Steakout has also since closed off its dining area.

“If we have to shut down completely, we would not regret doing so, as we believe it is for the better being of the Hinton community.”

The Wild Orchid Liquor Company remains open with regular hours, and has provided the option to call an order in for delivery without charge, or picked up at the curb.

She says that business has still be good and they had good
response to a virtual wine tasting on March 18, an
online spin to an event they would otherwise
host in house.

“We were even able to get people from Edmonton and Calgary to join and I think everyone had fun,” she said.

The Old Grind made the decision to close its café, but continues to plan and fulfill catering orders and is available via phone and email.

“We know that many of you don’t feel like this virus is a big deal, but we do, and we don’t want to put the health of our staff or our customers at risk. The threat is real. We need to come together as a community and put up a solid wall to stop it from entering our sacred spaces,” notes a posting on The Old Grind entrance.

Nancy Robbins, executive director of Community Futures West Yellowhead (CFWY), said a lot of business owners in the region are scared, and she is reminding them not to panic, and to be sure to apply for whatever emergency provisions are made available.

“Make sure to read the eligibility requirements closely and to be patient with the process and to remembers we are only in Week 2 and there will hopefully be more programs coming for specific sectors in the near future,” said Robbins.

“The longer this goes on, the more things that are going to be pushed that way.”

Canada’s latest measure the Canada Emergency Response Benefit – was announced March 25 to support workers and help businesses keep their employees.

CERB is a taxable benefit that would provide $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

CERB would cover Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures.

CERB would apply to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI).

The portal for accessing the CERB would be available in early April.

EI eligible Canadians who have lost their job can continue to apply for EI here, as can Canadians applying for other EI benefits.

Canadians would begin to receive CERB payments within 10 days of application and it would be paid every four weeks and be available March 15 until Oct. 3.

CERB comes on the heels of previously announced federal measures like a 10 per cent wage subsidy.

The CFIB believes that 10 per cent is not enough and that something closer to a 75 per cent wage subsidy is required to keep Canadians in jobs and small businesses viable.

“Businesses are looking for ways to keep their staff employed but reduce their operating costs so they can weather the massive disruption,” read a March 24 release from CFIB.

Sheppard, who is also president of the Hinton and District Chamber of Commerce, said the organization has received several calls from concerned members.

“From people who have had to shut down their business altogether or those that are struggling to stay open with limited staff and resources,” Sheppard said.

“People are scared and without knowing what is going to happen or how hard we will be hit, I don’t blame them. Honestly, it is the waiting and wondering that is the most nerve wracking.”

The province has also announced several measures to help lessen the burden on small businesses.

With all of the announcements, Robbins said she continues to receive a lot of calls asking for details about some of the programs.

Agunias said there are a lot of gray areas on how announced measures will be implemented and actually help small business owners.

“We have a lot of questions, but I think this is not the right time yet as we want our government to focus on our frontliners, the hospital, doctors, nurses, getting enough PPE and testing kits,” she said.

Robbins said people have to be patient because, while these program have been announced, many of them won’t be available until April.

She said that CFWY and organizations like Alberta Labour and Immigration and the chamber are in discussions with the Town of Hinton about collaborating on efforts to educate people on available programs.

Peter Vana, who served as the interim CAO for the Town of Hinton at the March 24 standing committee meeting, indicated that the collaboration may include some webinars.

Robbins said she will continue to field calls and help business owners navigate this new reality.

She can be reached by phone at (780) 740-3409 or via email at nrobbins@albertacf.com.

Sheppard said that she is scared for what this crisis will mean but holds out hope that everyone will come through it together.

“The ripple effect of this is so far out of our realm that we cannot possibly prepare for it. That said, I have faith in humanity and my community that we are resilient and will come together to come out of this and be better for it. There will be businesses that do not survive this but I have already seen people live outside their norm to help stimulate our economy. I have to believe in that,” she concluded.

Canada Post continues nation-wide services

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative


Despite some restrictions, businesses and services in Alberta are able to continue operating.

Restrictions include all events with over 50 attendees to be cancelled, closing recreation and private entertainment facilities, and decreasing capacity of sit-down restaurants and others.

The Canada-wide service offered by Canada Post is also continuing.

Canada Post is practicing their due diligence to keep employees and customers safe while offices remain open and operating during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Canada Post website did state that some post offices may temporarily close due to a number of factors, such as temporary building closures, or staffing reasons.

While Hinton’s Post Office is still open at this time, customers will be advised through door signage at any affected locations and through other public notifications.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) have stated it is safe to handle mail, according to Canada Post.

On March 9, WHO stated on their website, “The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.”

Canada Post’s website added that according to the PHAC, there is no known risk of coronaviruses entering Canada on parcels or packages, because of poor survivability of coronaviruses on surfaces.

Safety measures imposed by Canada Post to minimize points of close contact include some changes to door-to-door delivery.

Signatures for any deliveries to the door will no longer be requested.

Instead, delivery agents will apply the safe drop process by leaving items in a mailbox or outside the door if it’s safe to do so.

Delivery agent will leave a notice card indicating the post office to pick up any items by showing proof of identity, if safe drop isn’t possible.

When a signature is required for a number of different reasons, the notice card will indicate the post office where the customer can sign for the item.

Other arrangements can be made for those sick or self-isolating.

Any employees asked to go into quarantine or tested positive with COVID-19 are offered special leave to continue being paid, stated the website.

Go to canadapost.ca for up to date information.

Hinton to become ‘one-stop-shop’

Council discusses four action items during Standing Committee

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative


Despite the current global situation, councillors held their standing committee meeting via zoom call to allow for self-isolation and social distancing on March 24.

Four action items were addressed at the meeting, including amendments to the business license bylaw no. 1126, rescinding several development services policies, an amendment to the asset management policy PD-6100, and the safety codes services delivery model.

Safety codes services delivery

Committee recommended Council approve the Town of Hinton (TOH) becoming an accredited Municipality for Safety Codes Services, as well as proceeding with implementing Safety Codes Service Delivery Model one.

Model one will establish the Town of Hinton as an administrative function for permit sales and file management with all inspections in all disciplines performed through a contract with an accredited agency.

Peter Vana, director of development services, explained the town had reviewed the department and found room for improvement in offering safety codes.

The town hired a company to look at the different options to offer safety code inspections and permits.

Currently the town is a licensed discipline under fire through emergency services.

Building, electrical, plumbing, gas, and sewage disposal would be added through a contracted service provider if the town adopts the suggested model.

Administration for the safety codes would be taken on by existing TOH staff and become a ‘one- stop-shop’ for development in the community, Vana explained.

The contracted agency would review building plans and inspect the property before signing off on permits.

Revenue from the permit itself would pay for the agency and additional money would go back to the municipality, Vana explained.

Coun. Dewly Nelson questioned if additional revenue would be charging the end user more or force the contractor to take a lower margin.

Vana explained that the province currently takes a share of the permit costs, instead of the province, the municipality would receive that revenue.

“I don’t want to do anything as a municipality that increases any costs for business currently,” Nelson said.

Vana explained that it is not about any additional costs but the efficiency of having the services in one spot, council will have control over setting the fees and charges.

Asset management policy

Committee recommended Council approve the amended Asset Management Policy PD-6100 as presented.

An asset management policy was adopted last year by council.

“The next phase is before you today, we have completed the asset management strategy. The asset management strategy is a component that really outlines how administration through the direction of the CAO is going to implement council’s policy on asset management,” Vana explained.

Two amendments to the policy were proposed from the strategy.

First, adding a community service focus based on defining levels of service that support the communities needs, and secondly, is documentation and knowledge sharing, Vana stated.

“Both of these items really derive from when we look at what the federation of Canadian municipalities has put forward as best practice,” Vana said.

The second amendment also acknowledges there is an asset management coordinator, which is not a new position but an added responsibility, Vana added.

Vana walked through the powerpoint with council that was included in the meeting agenda.

Development services policies

Administration asked council to rescind a number of policies during the meeting.

Vana explained that council created a reference manual in 2018, which set out policies and procedures.

Planning and development services is in the process of bringing a number of policy amendments to council, but found there are five policies that are either irrelevant or out of date.

Policies rescinded were No. 046, development deposit; No. 049, residential land development tax credit; No. 06, building permit plans; No. 091, municipality in land development; and No. 094, waiver of development permit application fees.

Business license bylaw

The business license bylaw amendment addressed some issues around the requirements for a new Cannabis-Related Business application.

Changes were made to definitions and regulations, reflective of bylaw services, explained Vana.

One question asked referenced the removal of a requirement for retail cannabis to have two employees present on the premises.

Vana explained that business owners stated they don’t always have two employees available to be on the premises, it can be difficult for the town to monitor, and there is no provincial stipulation on this.

Committee recommended council refer the business license bylaw amendment 11261-1 for first reading at next regular meeting.

The town of Hinton has cancelled both the April 7 Regular Meeting and the April 14 Standing Committee Meeting due to COVID-19 concerns.

Go to hinton.ca for more up to date information.