Boardwalk committee terms set

Photo provided by Town of Hinton

Masha Scheele
reporter@hintonvoice.ca


The purpose of a Beaver Boardwalk Committee (BBC) is to gather, study and discuss all relevant information regarding the Beaver Boardwalk condition and rehabilitation project in order to provide Council recommendations. 

Councillors discussed the details around the BBC’s terms of reference during the standing committee meeting on June 18.

The terms of reference state that the BBC is to be comprised of up to six members, including three appointed Town of Hinton Council representatives and three Town of Hinton administration representatives, which will be appointed by council.

The terms of reference were amended to name the mayor and two appointed town of Hinton council representatives to the Beaver Boardwalk instead of three council representatives and the mayor as ex officio.

“Where I think we have a challenge is if essentially we have quorum at a sub committee level, whatever they recommend essentially becomes an automatic vote in this room and to me, I don’t think that’s the best way of going about it. I think you want to stay under quorum in any of these smaller committees that we do so there is still a true and real opportunity for council to be part of that decision making process,” said Coun. Dewly Nelson.

Members of the committee will be responsible for obtaining, considering and presenting the input of stakeholders, incorporating all legislative laws, codes and other applicable best practices in the reports and recommendations, and attending scheduled meetings.

Coun. JoAnn Race urged council to consider incorporating two citizens-at-large into the core group of committee members.

“I really think it’s a missed opportunity if we don’t utilise the people that we have in our community. So many of us have jobs, work full time, these are people that are out walking the boardwalk, interacting with people every single day. To me, it’s a missed opportunity,” said Race.

Coun. Ryan Maguhn agreed with Race and stated that including citizens in the committee would help fight misperceptions in the community.

“One of the biggest things that we’ve dealt with when it comes to the beaver boardwalk and also the recreational area at large, are some of the dynamics and some of the pieces of complex information that citizens aren’t aware of and how it comes into play. I think this is actually a really good opportunity to engage some highly attuned citizens, so that they know the same sort of information council is getting and also consider it,” said Maguhn.

Not everybody agreed with Race and Maguhn, stating that while they see the value of citizens within the committee, the time it would take to nominate those individuals could take too long.

Coun. Dewly Nelson mentioned that the committee is only expected to be intact for six months with the possibility of putting some type of advisory board together in the future.

“The more pressing concern is in order to appoint citizens to one of these committees we have to go through nominating advertising, nomination process, and that likely means we are in September with the amount of regular council meetings before this committee can actually get to work and engage with stakeholders,” said Nelson.

Coun. Trevor Haas, Coun. Tyler Waugh, and Coun. Albert Ostashek echoed his concern and would like to see the committee get started on putting together recommendations for the future of the boardwalk.

“I would see the committee reaching out to community members if shown a lot of interest, we’re already aware of those community members. I would see that this committee sitting down and getting that feedback from the community members without having them sit at the committee table, it would also then not keep it to two members. It would be a variety of different community members, whether its groups like the Whiskey Jacks or other groups. I don’t want to isolate two individuals,” said Coun. Trevor Haas.

The committee will meet monthly and report to council at least twice.

Once in September to present a recommended vision and progress report and once in November to present a final report with recommendations for approval.

Another motion amended the Beaver Boardwalk Committee Terms of Reference to include a vision to be presented to and adopted by council prior to the proposed Beaver Boardwalk Committee’s third meeting.

Hinton homeless need HELP

Masha Scheele
reporter@hintonvoice.ca


Hinton should be concerned about homelessness in the community according to the newly released Homelessness Estimation report conducted through Hinton Employment & Learning Place (HELP).

A grant from the Alberta Rural Development Network (ARDN) allowed HELP to collaborate with community partners and put together the homelessness estimation count.

The study was conducted through surveys in 2018 between Sept 17 until Oct 18 and received 160 responses from vulnerable citizens. 

The first question of the survey asked participants if they felt their housing was unstable, to which 121 responded they felt it was unstable and 25 per cent of those people stated that the main reason was low income; while 18 per cent said it was due to not being able to pay their rent or mortgage.

“My next question, which is not in the estimation [survey] is if you had to choose between food and paying your rent, would your housing be insecure?” said Candace Pambrun, homelessness coordinator at HELP during the presentation of the report to council at the regular council meeting on June 11. “Sometimes we don’t ask the right questions. Or sometimes we are scared to ask those questions.”

She added that the questions asked in the survey will be reviewed and that it is recommended to gather estimation reports every two years.

The majority of participants said they were staying at a house, apartment, or friend’s place but 22 per cent stated that in the previous week they either camped, stayed in their vehicle, sidewalks, parks, or other makeshift shelters. When asked where they would be staying the following week, 24 per cent were unsure.

Basic needs like food, shelter, medical, showers, or laundry is what 78 per cent of the participants were looking for in the organizations involved in collecting the data for the report, while other needs included support services, financial support, health and wellness, transportation needs, or legal help. Seventy-seven per cent were unemployed and while most were receiving income support in other ways like AISH, 23 per cent had no income whatsoever. 

“There’s a thought that getting a job would change it all, but when you don’t have ID, and you don’t have a social insurance number, and you don’t know where you lived last to call Service Canada to get that information, it all becomes very difficult,” said Pambrun.

“As far away as we are from affordable housing, for some people we’re as far away from employment.” Of the employed group, most people worked in hospitality, or food and beverage.

“There’s a lot of people who are at risk of becoming homeless and a lot of people who are homeless right now,” said Deena Fuller, Executive Director at HELP. “We’ve been successful in securing grants from the provincial government and the Town of Hinton to employ a full time homelessness coordinator, which is great. She’s been working very hard with our clients to get their basic needs met.”

The homelessness coordinator position will be funded until June 2020. Mayor Marcel Michaels asked whether the Town of Hinton should be supporting HELP’s homelessness coordinator position and getting FCSS involved.

“There has to be some kind of funding by 2020. I don’t know what would happen to these people, but the ripple effect is that you will surely see crime increasing, you will surely see problems with health care, you will surely see our police services become drained, you will surely see an increase in mental health, it will be very visible I believe,” responded Pambrun.

On top of securing money for the homelessness coordinator position and HELP’s Freddy’s room for the homeless, HELP is also seeking funding to get a mat program off the ground.

The Lutheran Church in Hinton has committed to allow HELP to organize a mat program in their church basement. Currently in the very first development stages, they hope the mat program can open the doors in October until April providing overnight shelter for those in need. “I closely follow what Drayton Valley has done with their program, they have been very generous and gifted us all of their protocols, their policies, all of how they’ve done it from the ground up. And we hope to mimic that,” said Pamburn. 

Pambrun stressed that the gap between affordable housing and homelessness is incredible due to barriers like identification, access to a mailbox, lack of bank accounts, no references, no availability for a single bedroom in Hinton, apartment buildings turning into Air BnB’s, and more. Coun. Trevor Haas brought up the fact that Air BnB’s in Hinton aren’t being taxed as businesses, pocketing the money, and taking away housing from people in Hinton who may need it.

“I’m hoping that council and administration can work together on this and do what other communities have done and eliminated Air BnB’s and have a significant penalty if they have that,” said Haas. A motion was later put forth to bring a report back to council with options on regulating Air BnB’s in Hinton.

Surveys for the report were collected through BRIDGES, Yellowhead Emergency Shelter, HELP, Food Bank, Friendship Centre, Alberta Supports and others.

Maxwell Lake bridge going somewhere soon

Maxwell Lake bridge

Masha Scheele
reporter@hintonvoice.ca


Hinton residents could be getting some usage from the bridge in Maxwell Lake this summer as conversations between ISL Engineering and Alberta Environment & Parks (AEP) continue.

AEP communicated to ISL that temporary stairs for the bridge are an appropriate solution under the code of practice application. 

According to administration, the application for the temporary solution was handed over to AEP, and currently the town sits within the two week waiting period where AEP can raise any issues with the application.

“In that timeline that means one week after AEP responds or no response we should see some action of building the temporary steps in the first week of July,” said Hans van Klaveren, interim director of community services during the regular council meeting on June 11.

ISL confirmed with administration in an email that they are financially responsible for providing the service of the design, the application process, the construction and the installment of those temporary steps.

Coun. Ryan Maguhn noted, “One of the main reasons I supported the bridge installations in the first place was access for first response and fire protection and those sort of things. So the stairs are for me and the folks I’ve been talking to a very temporary but not a solution that’s ideal in any way shape or form.”

A different approval process is needed for the permanent ramps for vehicle access and isn’t expected to come back from AEP before 2020.

“AEP has confirmed to ISL in conversations that they had so far that gravel would not be an option to bring back anymore as a ramp construction. We are waiting for ISL to come give us that written confirmation that AEP will not approve gravel to come back as a solution for bridge access,” said van Klaveren.

A schematic design has been done and covered financially by ISL including a Class D, which is a high level class estimate for the construction cost.

That design was sent to AEP and before a detailed design is done AEP will discuss the options with ISL.

“The bridge project is running out of funds after the installation, that means we will need additional funds for an additional project to bring in ramps,” said van Klaveren to council.

Associated Engineering is working with administration and AEP on the proper water act approval in order to continue maintenance on the Beaver Boardwalk. 

“We obtained Associated Engineering and they did a site visit and in the meantime they will help us with all the required applications part of the process, that might be a full wetland assessment again,” added van Klaveren.

The timeline on getting approval for further maintenance would also be closer to 2020, explained van Klaveren.

“The payment for that comes out of the 60,000 dollars for maintenance because this is part of maintenance budget that was already approved by council last year, this year and next year,” he said.

A terms of reference for a boardwalk committee will come back to the standing committee meeting on June 18.

The committee will bring forward recommendations to council for further decisions for the total rehabilitation project of the boardwalk.

Push for change of mobile home tenancy act

Masha Scheele
reporter@hintonvoice.ca


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
reporter@hintonvoice.ca


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.

Council pushes to form Beaver Boardwalk committee

Gabe Roberts Photo

Masha Scheele
reporter@hintonvoice.ca


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.

Council approves POST Master Plan

Masha Scheele
reporter@hintonvoice.ca


The Parks, Open Spaces & Trails (POST) Master Plan is the foundation for site-specific outline plans and supports the ongoing maintenance and new projects that enhance the POST experience in Hinton.

During the regular council meeting on May 7, council approved the POST Master Plan, replacing the 2.0 Parks Master Plan from 2003.

According to administration’s notes on the master plan, all outline plans and projects within the master plan will be drafted and follow a process that includes community engagement and council discussion and approval.

“This is another plan I know that certain councilors had concerns with certain areas of the plan but again overall if we can consider it in terms of understanding that council is still the gatekeeper of funds, and that if there is any particular part of the plan that causes concerns in terms of finance and capital investing, again budget is an effective tool to sort of look at and discuss those particular item issues,” stated Coun. Ryan Maguhn.

Previously, the POST Master Plan was presented and discussed in March 2019, after which changes were made and incorporated.

Coun. Dewly Nelson and Coun. Albert Ostashek both voted against approving the document, stating they could not support it unless further amendments were made to issues around future growth.

The POST master plan states that currently, POST provision within the municipality is 37.44 ha of parks and open space per 1,000 residents which is expected to increase to 52.89 ha per 1,000 residents by 2045 based on approved east and west area structure plans (ASPs).

“We’re looking at moving our open space per 1,000 residents from 37. ha to 53. ha and we’re already triple to any comparative size and I don’t think that’s a sustainable method of managing our open space and it scares me, the cost that will come with increasing our open spaces by 50 per cent. And we’re already not able to maintain the space that we have,” stated Nelson.

Ostashek added, “we’ve already got more per capita area devoted to parks and open spaces and trails in Hinton than all our municipal comparatives. I have real concerns too about our ability to maintain it and especially if that ratio is increased.”

The approved POST Master Plan incorporates input from the community, stakeholders and the direction from council to support the creation of a guide that provides Hinton the best service delivery

and future of POST, according to administration.

The document will ensure plans, projects and processes are consistent and in-line with other guiding documents; current POST facilities are managed efficiently and economically; POST assets deliver a high level of service; new POST assets are efficiently managed; opportunities for collaboration or grant funding for POST projects are successful due to planning; and long term planning can be realistically determined and create desirable outcomes for the future.

“I do feel there was a lot of progress that was made in this from the first time we saw this. I think this is a more palatable, obviously we live in a bureaucratic system that we’re never going to be perfect, I always try to get as close to reality,” stated Mayor Marcel Michaels.

“The challenges at budget time will be far less now than they were before.”

There is no direct financial impact to the current operational budget in working with the document.

Any future outline plans, projects, management processes and adjustments of budgets that require council’s approval will come before council for discussion and decision before they are implemented.

Drop in photo radar affects non profits

Masha Scheele
reporter@hintonvoice.ca


Thirteen applications for the community grant program (CGP) requested a total of $82,017 this year, but only $27,025 was available during the first of two annual intakes.

All of the CGP funds come out of the Automated Traffic Enforcement (ATE) program, and this year a total of $54,050 is available.

That number is down from $119,047 in 2018, and $243,181 in 2016; the largest allocation to CGP.

“I would like to express my concern for the sudden and extreme downward revision of the amount of money available this time for the community grant fund,” said Kathy Rees, lead of Hinton’s Grant Funding Advisory Committee (HGFAC) during their presentation at the regular council meeting on May 7.

Rees felt it is unfortunate that the smallest sum of money in many years is made available to the CGP, during one of the largest total requests; reflecting the struggle non profits are experiencing as they attempt to fund their programs.

The reason behind the reduction in available funding is due to net revenues from the 2018 ATE program coming in significantly lower than budgeted, according to Todd Martens, fire chief and protective services manager, who added that ATE reduced their active zones and council previously cancelled the stop sign program.

Up to 30 per cent or a maximum of $120,000 can be allocated annually to the CGP from the ATE reserve as per Town policy #078.

HGFAC members individually, and then collectively, evaluated each of the applications according to predetermined council-approved eligibility requirements, criteria, and weighting guidelines.

HGFAC recommended awarding the full amount requested by the Hinton Firefighters Association of $2,702 to buy rescue dummies; a training tool to assist in learning rescue operations.

Before approving the recommendations, council

requested the $2,702 for the Hinton Firefighters Association be removed and the funds be made available for the October 2019 community grant funding intake.

“I realize that the Hinton firefighters Association is not the Hinton Fire Department, it’s the social services aspect,” stated Coun. Albert Ostashek. “So to me, applying to get funding to purchase training equipment for the fire department to use, makes me question if that’s really appropriate in the spirit of the community grant fund, even if technically they can apply for it.”

CAO Martin Taylor assured council that funds for this equipment would be found in budget as it is a legal requirement for the fire department to obtain these dummies.

Taking this item out allows funds to go to other non profits in the community this fall, stated Coun. Ostashek.

Four organizations were denied funding, including Cows & Fish for the 2019 Envirothon, Edson & District Recycle Society for their summer environment celebration, Wild Mountain Music Festival, and the Rotary Movie Presentation Society for their movie program.

“Envirothon will happen with or without funding from the Town of Hinton community grant. We purposely planned a condensed event this year knowing we had many new board members and hadn’t secured a lot of funding. In the past, our event has ranged between two to four days depending on the venue, sponsors, support and team registrations,” said Chantelle Bambrick, board member of Cows & Fish.

Hinton Adult Learning Society was awarded $7,000 of the $10,000 requested to support the Freddy’s Homelessness Resource Room through the HELP Homeless Initiative.

“We are absolutely dependant on this money. Freddy’s homeless resource room is not funded by any entity, and we fundraise and seek donations annually to continue operating,” stated Candace Pambrun, homelessness coordinator at HELP in an email to the Voice.

Hinton’s Run In The Rockies requested $5,350 and received $2,500, The Share Shop requested $10,000 and received $5,000 for the upgrade of the shop, Athabasca River Voyageur Canoe Brigade Society requested $1,500 and received $1,000, Bridges requested $10,000 and received $5,823 for their recreation exploration program, Hinton Mountain Bike Association requested $10,000 and received $1,000 for the Big Horn trail project, Hinton and District SPCA requested $2,051 and received $1,000 for the cat microchip program, and the Hinton Boxing Club requested $2,465 and received $1,000 for equipment.

Rees stated that when non profit organizations were asked if their projects were dependant on this particular funding, one group said yes, and without the grant money they could not offer their particular service.

“Several said no, since they have secured some other money as their matching funds, but it would mean there would be cuts made to the work and it would be difficult to complete as planned. As well as needing to put yet more resources into looking elsewhere to make up for the shortfall,” added Rees.

Council also questioned funding the share shop upgrade as it is a town owned building, but Carla Fox stated, “I have been informed by the Director of Infrastructure Services that this was a discussion that they had. It is a request of the Share Shop to do renovations to the older side of the building. It is within their agreement that they do the renovations within that building and it is not money that the town is putting into it.”

Recommendations made by HGFAC members are based on a 100-point rating system set out by council.

“I think the most important thing council can do if we don’t agree with what we’re seeing in terms of the matrix results and we think it’s way off base. Then what we have to do is get our hands dirty and dig into the matrix, and dig into the policy itself. And then at that point turn it over to the people who are volunteering their time to get us those recommendations”, said Coun. Ryan Maguhn.

The CGP funds one time projects, operating expenses during developmental stages and events for the general public that attract visitors, contributes to the local economy and promotes volunteerism.

According to administration, the Community Grant Program continues to be a very popular program, and since 1999, the Town of Hinton has provided over $1.58 million in funding to various non- profit groups under the Quality of Life/Community Grant Program.

AEP review prompts gravel removal

Masha Scheele
reporter@hintonvoice.ca


Gravel was hauled out of the area near Maxwell Lake on March 20 and 21 after The Town of Hinton received a request from Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) to remove additional gravel from the trail on both sides of the new bridge.

After work was completed for the pedestrian bridge earlier this year, AEP visited the site to review the project and while the bridge was approved, confusion around the amount of gravel used prompted the request for removal, according to Hinton administration.

AEP could not comment on the specific matter as it is under investigation stated John Muir, Director of Communications at AEP through email.

Initially, a Qualified Aquatic Environmental Specialists (QAES) document was submitted to AEP in May 2018 in order to receive the code of practice for watercourse crossings form needed to approve the project.

“The QAES included the drawings and description of the project, and any other applicable information,” stated Hinton Communications and Strategic Advisor, Emily Olsen in an email.

The Hinton Voice has requested the QAES in order to see the description of the approved bridge and ramps, but administration had not made this public before Voice press deadline.

Along with the code of practice, a geotechnical study was sent to AEP, done by Hoggan Engineering & Testing in 2018 outlining the general soil conditions and geotechnical recommendations for a wooden pedestrian bridge replacement.

According to Muir from AEP, under the Water (Ministerial) Regulation, an activity doesn’t require approval for placing, constructing, installing, maintaining, replacing or removing of a watercourse crossing if the activity is commenced, continued and carried out in accordance with the Code of Practice for Watercourse Crossings.

The code of practice indicates requirements that must be adhered to, including reporting of contraventions, restricted activity periods and notices where works is not completed within time periods, stated Muir.

Olsen stated in an email that the project followed the process requirements that AEP set out, but again AEP could not comment on the matter.

Muir stated that a project owner is required under the Code of Practice to notify the director in writing at least 14 days prior to the commencement, and once that condition is met, the activity may be carried out as proposed and no written approval is required for the project.

According to administration, AEP did not contact the town within that 14-day waiting period and thus the project was permitted to move forward.

The bridge was approved by council as a one-time operating cost in the 2018 budget, but didn’t move forward until approval from AEP was obtained.

A second code of practice extended the date in which the project could be carried out.

“The bridge itself was confirmed to be acceptable and can be left as is,” stated Olsen about the review by AEP.

Professor of Conservation Biology, Lee Foote from the University of Alberta said in a phone call that the concern with gravel is largely due to drainage issues, as erosion could carry the gravel into the wetland.

He added that gravel can chemically alter water quality if unwashed, fill the wetland by reducing water volume or flows, alter the ecological attributes or wetland function by covering wetland soils with a different substrate and affecting plant communities, insect use, and fisheries use.

“If it is a small amount and washes in over time, it may be a very minor effect,” he stated.

“The Town is working on a temporary solution to provide safe public access to the Maxwell Lake Pedestrian Bridge. Design for a permanent ramp is also being considered at this time, however the timeline for completion has not been determined yet,” stated Martin Taylor, CAO Town of Hinton