Freedom Express transfer halted

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative

Evergreens Foundation will not be taking over the accessible transportation service from the Town of Hinton after a formal process identified issues with the transfer.

Unifor Local 855, the union that represents many Town employees, initiated a formal process to identify concerns and issue complaints with the transfer of service on Sept. 15.

The Union filed a Labour Board Complaint under Section 46 and 47 of the labour relations code, which relates to the transfer of a business and operations being carried out under common control or through more than one organization.

A complaint submitted by the union under successorship stated that the Evergreens Foundation is the successor employer to the Town and has acquired the collective bargaining obligations of the Town.

Under the article of common employer, the union stated that the Town and the Evergreens Foundation are jointly running the service and therefore the position should remain unionized.

Due to uncertainty posed by this new development, Evergreens will not be moving ahead with the agreement and continuation of services under their management.

The Town is determining the necessary next steps to provide for those in the community who rely on accessible transportation services.

The process of transferring the service was completed on Aug. 24, following notification steps to the community and stakeholders. 

Council eliminated the Town-provided Freedom Express service during a regular council meeting on Aug. 18. 

This decision was made in combination with entering into an agreement with the Evergreens Foundation to assume accessible transportation service in Hinton.

“Through the transfer of service, the Town eliminated the Freedom Express service, as Evergreens Foundation provides a similar service with their own infrastructure to assume this ridership,” said Caryn Bouchard, Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) manager.

The motion to transfer and then eliminate the service was the result of a process within the Town’s FCSS department to find Council-directed cost reductions, identify internal efficiencies, and ensure services meet community needs. 

With the direction to reduce the budget and the overall FCSS review, a cost-reducing restructure was developed, including the transfer of Freedom Express Services to an external agency, the restructure of the Core FCSS Team from four to three positions, and the development of the Hinton Family Resource Centre.

A statement from FCSS in August explained that transferring the accessible transportation service was identified as a key cost-reducing measure because it presented a strong community partnership opportunity with an established community agency and maintained a high level of service for new and existing clients.

An agreement was established to transfer this service to the Evergreens Foundation that ensured service levels and eligibility criteria remained consistent and costs remained affordable.

“Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Freedom Express service was experiencing lower service request volume for a sustained period of time,” stated Bouchard.

In response, hours had been reduced and the pandemic made safe delivery for this service difficult.

Regular requests for service to community programming were not seen as programs were on hiatus through COVID-19, and as a result, the Freedom Express Service was also put on hiatus, according to Bouchard.

More information on next steps will be shared as the situation is better understood, stated Bouchard.

Customers of the accessible transportation service are encouraged to contact Caryn Bouchard, FCSS Manager at 780-865-6031 if transportation is required.

Town pursues multiple grant streams

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative

The Town of Hinton requested to transfer $251,143 of federal funding that is available through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) Public Transit Stream to the COVID Resilience Stream. 

Alberta Transportation is allowing municipalities to determine whether they want to use federal infrastructure funding for eligible projects under the Public Transit Stream or for projects under the new COVID-19 Resilience Stream. 

In a letter from Alberta’s Minister of Transportation, Ric McIver, he stated this would provide flexibility for municipal infrastructure and provide a swift response to the impacts of COVID-19.

Under the new Resilience Stream, the federal government will fund up to 80 per cent of eligible costs for projects under $10M that will be completed by December 2021. 

Those projects submitted are larger projects identified in Hinton’s five year Capital Plan, such as the Firehall Chiller, Switzer Drive rehabilitation, and radio upgrades to the Town fleet.

Radio upgrades are necessary as more staff are working alone or remotely throughout the pandemic, explained CAO Emily Olsen.

“Building off of the Municipal Stimulus Program application where the Town requested funds for Beaver Boardwalk maintenance work, an additional inclusion is the Maxwell Lake bridge and surrounding area, which is one of the next [Alberta Environment and Parks] AEP approvals the Town will be seeking,” said Olsen.

The Town submitted a number of options through this intake, to communicate choices for smaller-scale priority projects to the Province who choose what will ultimately be submitted to access the federal funding.

The provincial government will endorse the decisions and projects of municipalities and will work with municipal administration to secure federal funding for those identified projects.

Unused funds may be returned to the Province in order to be used for provincial infrastructure priorities.

The letter from Alberta Transportation stated that the province is not required to provide a matching funding contribution for the COVID-19 Resilience Stream and has fulfilled its contribution to the Public Transit Stream.

Municipalities can refine the scope of previously identified public transit infrastructure under the existing Public Transit Stream or identify new projects that meet the COVID-19 Resilience Stream eligibility criteria.

Under the Transit Stream, the federal government would have funded 40 per cent to 50 per cent of eligible project costs dependent on the criteria outlined in the Canada Alberta Integrated Bilateral Agreement.

Additionally, The Town recently submitted an application to the Province for the Municipal Stimulus Program (MSP) to access $1.1M in funding available to Hinton. 

Projects included the Switzer Drive Rehabilitation capital project, and the recently approved Beaver Boardwalk maintenance work.

“Both of these grant intakes had ceilings for the funding that is available to Hinton, so larger projects were not included, as these are opportunities to fund projects included in our capital plan, and emerging projects in the community,” Olsen stated.

Another new grant opportunity the Town is reviewing is Municipal Operating Support Transfer (MOST).

MOST delivers funding to municipalities as part of the Canada-Alberta Safe Restart Agreement.

For more information about the new ICIP COVID Resilience Stream, visit infrastructure.gc.calplan/covid-19-resilienceeng.html

No movies ‘for many more months’

Masha Scheele

Hinton’s movie enthusiasts and cinephiles may be disappointed to hear that Hinton Movies announced this week its continued suspension of big screen movie delivery in Hinton.

The suspension will be revisited once the Performing Arts Theatre in Hinton (PATH) building can safely host at least 100 patrons while following pandemic-related safety regulations.

“Clearly, there are a number of factors which led to our continuation of the suspension which will be for many more months at least,” said Bernie Kreiner, president of the Rotary Movie Presentation Society (Hinton Movies).

Those factors include not only the limited occupancy limits that are required for a safe environment for both staff and customers, but also the fact that very few new movies are coming out right now.

Currently, provincial social distancing rules limit the auditorium capacity to about 40 people, and this does not allow Hinton Movies to be financially viable with the costs  related to rent, movie distribution fees, and staff.

Movie delivery by the not-for-profit enterprise has been suspended since mid-March when the PATH closed its doors due to the pandemic.

Since then, the PATH has become available again under certain limitations, but Hinton Movies stated it isn’t viable for them to show movies and run their operation.

Kreiner mentioned the two big movies that came out recently, Spongebob and Tenet, which had two very different audience responses.

One had a great response, and the second one did poorly in markets where cinemas are operating again since nobody showed up, he said.

Articles written about the future of the movie industry are divided about how it will be impacted by this pandemic.

Kreiner added that there is a concern about losing the movie theatre experience and audiences, but that it’s too early to speculate.

Until people feel safe to go out again, they won’t come out anyway, he said. The question will remain where families will go for their entertainment and if couples will return to the theatre on dates.

The media release from Hinton Movies recognized that some other cinemas are operating in this environment, but that most are part of networked cinema chains with deeper pockets while Hinton Movies is an independent non-for-profit enterprise.

One full time and five part time staff members employed by Hinton Movies also had to be considered in this decision, Kreiner added.

Hinton Movies plans to be open again when it is viable to do so, and movie vouchers will be honoured at that time.

The organization thanked it’s landlord, Home for Fine Arts Society of Hinton (ASH), for the flexible rent terms and conditions during these unusual times. 

For further information, reach out to Hinton Movies at (780) 817-6340 or via email at

Caputo wins Baker Legacy Award for public education

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative

Shirley Caputo was completely surprised when the board chair of Grande Yellowhead Public School Division (GYPSD) stood up during their last board meeting to announce Caputo had won the Dick Baker Legacy Award.

“I started to cry,” Caputo said, who has been a local public school trustee for 19 years. “When you’re hearing somebody talk about you, you’re kind of thinking, ‘is that me they’re talking about?’”

Normally, the recipient of the award knows they’ve won the award prior to a banquet in the spring where they give a speech, she explained. Without a banquet this year due to the pandemic, she had no idea it was coming.

“What a surprise, it was. I do what I do because I’ve been in this community going on 31 years now and it’s my community,” Caputo said. She added that it was an honour and a privilege to receive such a prestigious award.

Integrity, compassion, respect, and wisdom are the foundation of Dick Baker’s legacy to Public Education and the award is presented annually to one public school trustee who models those values. Dick Baker was a dedicated advocate for public education in Alberta, placing children first and modelling respect for the stewardship of public trust.

“I knew about Dick Baker, he was such a wise man, he was such a wise and scholarly gentleman. He always had a smile on his face and I’d always see him at the public school board when we had meetings or conferences,” Caputo said.

When accepting the award, Caputo talked about running into Dick Baker at her cousin’s wedding in Edmonton. She remembered that his wife was a teacher at the same school as her cousin, and it was interesting to see each other out of the context of the school division.

Her speech was recorded and she was told it would be played at the division’s virtual fall general meeting.

Shirley Caputo receives the Dick Baker Legacy Award, presented by Gerry Steinke, first vice president of the Public School Boards’ Association of Alberta.

Caputo has served as one of the two school board trustees elected in the Hinton Ward of GYPSD since 2001.

She first sat on the school council of Roche Miette school when her son attended the school, and with the encouragement of retiring board members and her late husband, Gino, she ran as school board trustee in 2001.

“My husband said at the time, ‘You’re always so involved with the school and everything’, he said, ‘Yes, try’. And so I thought, ‘Alright, I’ll try’. And here I am, I’m still a trustee. Still learning and my focus is always on what’s best for the students,” Caputo said.

Caputo grew up in Vegreville, and has lived in the Town of Hinton for nearly 31 years. 

After leaving behind her 18-year-long career in the financial banking industry, Caputo received a certificate in early child development and became a trustee.

She often visits the schools to chat with staff and students, and likes to build a report with them.

When she sees students that have graduated, they still stop to chat and share what they’re up to since graduation.

Visiting schools has become more difficult due to the pandemic, but she managed to visit each school when they first opened with her mask on and hand sanitizer close by.

A lot of the younger kids were eager to get back to school and see their friends, she noticed.

“Of course my responsibility is being an advocate for the students that come walking through the school doors,” Caputo said.

She helps direct people with issues to the right person or resource and she follows up to make sure everyone’s issues have been dealt with.

Caputo is now in her sixth term as school board trustee, and plans to run again during the next election.

Terms for trustees used to be only three years, but have since aligned with the municipal elections to run for four years.

“Now you can learn in your first year and your second and third you can really dive into the work and then in your fourth year you can decide if you want to run for trustee again,” she said.

She added that she still has time and continues learning in her position. Looking back at her 19 years of being a trustee, she remembers some big changes and key moments.

One big change included the rebrand of the Grande Yellowhead Regional Division to the Grande Yellowhead Public School Division, putting public school in their identity.

“We went through the entire rebranding process, we spoke to people and community members,” Caputo said.

Another significant moment for Caputo happened in her second year as a trustee, when she was asked to speak during a Canadian citizenship ceremony at Ecole Mountain View.

After her speech, the judge came up to Caputo to tell her that she wrote a wonderful speech and if he could have a signed copy.

Caputo has also received recognition for her work in the past, including last year, when she received Hinton’s volunteer of the year award.

“I’m encouraging youth also about the importance of volunteering. I say to them that you’re giving to your community and it also looks very good on a resume,” Caputo said.

Caputo volunteers at the share shop, the food bank, helping people do their income tax, the Hinton Adult Learning Society (HALS), and recently became a rotary club member.

She added that many locals have stopped to congratulate her on being the recipient of the Dick Baker Legacy Award and she feels honoured to be recognized like this.

Maintenance shuts down water plant on Sunday

Tyler Waugh

The Town stated in a Sept. 30 release that as part of required maintenance and services activities, the water treatment plant will be shut down between 7 am on Sunday Oct. 4 and 10 am on Oct.5. 

In the days preceding this event, the Town and Aquatera will be working to ensure that the Town of Hinton’s potable water storage reservoirs are full going into the shutdown.

The Town has estimated that under normal conditions there is sufficient storage capacity within our reservoirs to supply water to our residents and businesses for the planned period of the shutdown.  

As a precautionary measure to extend the stored water and to mitigate the risk from any unforeseen conditions, the Town will take a number of measures between 7 am on Oct. 4 and 10 pm on Oct. 5.

These include closing the truck fill station, and postponing all water flushing and routine maintenance activities within the water supply system.

All Fire training withdrawing water from distribution system will be postponed unless emergency.

“To conserve water during the shutdown of the water treatment plant, the Town of Hinton also requests that residents and business do not undertake any of the following activities between 5 pm on Saturday October 3, 2020 and 10:00 pm on Monday October 5, 2020,” reads the Town release.

Those activities include watering lawns, gardens and trees; washing of driveways and sidewalks; filling of pools and fountains; vehicle washing and other non-essential use.

The Town of Hinton asks that their residents and businesses limit their water use to drinking, cooking and hygienic use only.  

This request extends to minimizing the use of laundry and cleaning activities during the above period.

Local artist featured at Joggins Fossil Institute

Image from Andrew Godsalve
Godsalve working on images from his Sigillaria project done at the Joggins Fossil Cliffs this fall.

Masha Scheele

A visual artist originally from Hinton is taking part in the artist-in-residence program at the Joggins Fossil Institute in Nova Scotia, this fall.

Andrew Godsalve is using his residency to work with photographic photomontages to show the geological structures and processes of the Joggins Fossil Cliffs of the area.

Godsalve initially found an interest in mixing geology and art through photography when he was studying for his undergrad in fine arts in Victoria.

“I just decided to go to the beach and photograph the rocks there, just taking these detailed images of the rock material, just pure geology. I found those photographs really exciting. Something about them really struck me and stuck with me,” Godsalve explained.

He worked with those images in digital software to transform them and connect art and geology.

While studying for his masters of fine arts at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) University, he developed the idea of connecting fossils and photographs.

“I had a few residencies on the Bay of Fundy before, in 2015, and in those sites I was able to work with outdoor photo installations,” he said.

He made photomontages on weather resistant print material that was able to be placed outside in areas where fossils would normally be found.

In each of his residencies, Godsalve responds to the environment through his art, and at Joggins, he is responding to the geological and paleontological history of the Joggins Fossil Cliffs.

“My work is all about geology and the past and connecting fossils to photography and the exploration of that,” Godsalve said.

He explained that most of the earth’s coal reserves come from the carboniferous period, a geologic period that spans 60 million years, starting 358.9 million years ago.

This period saw the appearance of the first extensive forests on Earth, and one of the key fossils at Joggins is the “Lycopod tree”, as Godsalve explained.

In the carboniferous period, these trees grew to be about 30 metres tall and today their living relatives are tiny club mosses.

These ancient giant trees would grow in dense swamp forests and when they died, a rotting hollow stump would be left over, Godsalve explained.

“The first reptile in the fossil record, that we know of, was found inside one of these stumps. So, that’s a really interesting history there that I wanted to respond to with photography and photomontage,” he said.

To do this, Godsalve photographed clubmosses, the living relatives of these ancient “lycopod trees.” 

He then manipulated and transformed the images in ways that are influenced by the geological structures and patterns of the Joggins Fossil Cliffs.

“Hopefully allowing people to see the fossils in a different way, not just rock. They can see the story the rock contains,” Godsalve said.

The photos he took of the club mosses were taken while he travelled from Hinton to Joggins.

“The way I’m kind of transforming the photographs is related to how the fossils are formed and look and the fossil forms you would find at Joggins,” he said.

Diagenesis study no.1: Carbonization – digital photomontage by Andrew Godsalve
This work is part of Godsalve’s Camera Sigillaria project done at the Joggins Fossil Cliffs and Parrsboro’s Main & Station in fall 2020.

One key area Godsalve wanted to explore was the connection between fossils and photographs and how they both capture evidence of past life.

“I’m interested in these hollow tree trunks as being kind of analogous to the camera lens, how a camera kind of fossilizes a slice of time by taking a photo, the way that actual fossils are formed,” Godsalve added. 

The public will be able to view his work while it is still in progress during an open studio day on Oct. 10. The main feature of the open studio is a photomontage series of large prints he developed that shows the process of coal formation.

There will be other pieces to see in the studio that are still a work in-progress.

“I will have prints that I’m starting to cut into into new shapes that will be going out onto the beach later in October,” he said.

On Oct. 24, Godsalve will lead a beach tour at low tide and show his audience the work that will be installed there.

That work will consist of photomontage prints lying among the beach, rocks, and sand, just as any other fossil would be found.

After his residency comes to an end at Joggins Fossil Institute, Godsalve will continue this project into November through his residency at the Main and Station Nonesuch Kickshaws Art Gallery in Parrsboro, also located along the Bay of Fundy with the same geologic history.

To follow along, find his instagram at @andrewgodsalve or view his website at

Godsalve obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Victoria in 2012 and a Master of Fine Arts from NSCAD University in 2018. 

While at NSCAD, Godsalve developed his Master’s thesis project studying the common geological origins of rocks in Newfoundland and Scotland, and the interbedding of human and geologic agency within and across both regions, according to his website.