CGF committee members yet to be appointed

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative


Council will be appointing members to the Hinton Grant Funding Advisory Committee for a one-year term inclusive of both 2021 grant funding intakes and the 2020 Fall grant intake.

A list of candidates for the Hinton Grant Funding Advisory Committee will be brought forward to the organizational meeting on Oct. 20.

Council appoints interested members of the public to Boards and Committees during each annual organizational meeting.

The last appointment of the Hinton Grant Funding Advisory Committee occurred in 2018 when council appointed members for a one year term to cover two grant intakes in 2019.

Due to an administrative oversight, Council did not appoint members for the committee at the 2019 organizational meeting.

Since no intake was conducted in the spring of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainty surrounding Town funds, administration did not notice the lack of committee members.

Instead of appointing a second set of members for a one year term to advise on the awarding of the 2021 Community Grant, council decided the newly appointed members would cover three grant intakes.

“I think that it’s reasonable, as long as the group is able to commit. I also know they usually have other people potentially available from the Community Engagement Advisory Committee (CEAC), just in case,” said Coun. Trevor Haas.

To conduct the 2020 fall community grant intake, administration placed a call for applications to the committee, with a submission deadline of Oct. 16.

The 2020 organizational meeting will be held on Oct. 20, followed by training at the end of October and starting November.

Delegations of the committee will begin in mid November, and the grant funds will be awarded in mid to late November.

ATE fine revenue continues to decline in second quarter

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative


The latest quarterly update  on automated traffic enforcement (ATE) activity in the Town of Hinton showed a decline in enforcement time and revenues.

Non-residents made up 97 per cent of all violations this quarter, with three per cent being residents of Hinton.

“Typically when most violations are Non-Residents, these are people coming through our community making it less safe and are speeding through our designated zones,” said Todd Martens, Hinton’s protective services manager.

Martens said that Hinton residents have actually gotten the message regarding traffic laws and have been slowing down in the zones throughout the community, Martens noted. Non-resident speed violations are always higher, and this comparison remains fairly comparable over the years.

When the program started, between February and December of 2007, 24 per cent of violations were residents and 76 per cent were non-residents.

The majority of violations this quarter were made in private vehicles with 103 in July 2020 and only 16 in company vehicles within that same month. In July 2019, 292 were private and 96 were company vehicles.

In total, 189.79 hours were spent monitoring different zones in Hinton that quarter, with the majority of time spent at Hwy. 16 near McArdell Drive. 

Nine of the zones prescribed time were on hold since March 2020 because of school closures due to COVID-19 and there are no approved playground zones in Hinton, according to Martens.

“The approach to working zones is based on the heat trace maps but every zone is hit during the year. We usually have the operators spend a minimum of one hour in a zone when they set up and no more than two hours per zone with 30 minutes to set up,” Martens said.

If operators spend less than an hour in one zone, quite frequently the operator got blocked by a vehicle and was no longer able to shoot or the number of vehicles in that location was low during that time.

COVID-19 caused a decrease in numbers on violation tags due to the low volume of traffic, stated the report. No citizen complaints were received in that quarter.

Twenty-one zones are currently within the program, including nine school zones, six 50km/h zones, two 60km/h zones, two 70km/h zones, and two 80km/h zones and one 100km/h zone that is pending.

Each year since 2015, the total of offences and issued tickets has gradually reduced due to zone and hour reductions.

In 2019, there were 4,197 offences committed totalling 2,203 tickets issued and 947 hours were spent monitoring zones. In 2015, there were 27,223 offences, totalling 22,065 tickets issued and 3,330 hours spent monitoring zones.

In 2015 there were also 2,073 stop sign offences, totalling 1,302 tickets issued, while in 2018 and 2019 this program was dormant.

The Town of Hinton hired Global Traffic Group in July 2006 to provide photo enforcement after receiving citizen complaints and concerns regarding speeding within town limits.

Global Traffic’s contract initially ran out last December but was extended for two years, until December 2022, due to the province’s decision to review the program.

The province also has put a hold on the program meaning no new programs or zones will be approved until all recommendations are flushed out.

Global Traffic Group uses photo laser, and describes the difference between photo laser and photo radar as the difference between a laser pointer and a flashlight, according to the Hinton website.

Automated traffic enforcement is governed in Hinton in part by the Automated Traffic Enforcement Committee, which is made up of the Staff Sgt. of the Hinton RCMP, the protective services manager, and the CAO of the Town of Hinton.

As part of the Town agreement with Global, all individuals who receive a traffic infraction ticket also receive a video clip, illustrating the infraction.

This clip can also help in the case that a resident wishes to make a challenge or request a fine reduction in court.  

CAO Emily Olsen stated in the spring that there were a lot of unpaid fines that had to be written off. Martens explained that outstanding fines first go against a person’s vehicle, and if that goes unpaid, registries won’t issue a renewal.

If for some reason it doesn’t happen through registries, then the unpaid tickets are submitted to fine collections by the Government of Alberta at the five year mark, including Revenue Canada, Martens explained.

“Eventually they end up getting paid. We have spoken to the person who is in charge of this department on several occasions. Although it takes some time eventually collections are made,” he added.

More people are not paying fines, and Martens has heard from the Crown that more people are seeking extensions to pay their fines right now, or a reduction, which affects revenue.

Half of Hinton taxes deferred in 2020

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative


Around 25 per cent of municipal taxes were collected by June 30 this year, when taxes are normally due, as opposed to 60 per cent in 2019.

The remaining 75 per cent of outstanding taxation, which adds up to $11million, were either deferred or part of Hinton’s monthly payment plans.

“From this data we would conclude that a total of 54 per cent of our residents and non-residents chose to defer taxation payments this year,” said Carla Fox, Hinton’s corporate services director.

Some of the outstanding taxes, around 15 per cent, are part of payment plans. Removing the payment plans from the equation means that roughly 60 per cent (or $9,000,000) of the outstanding taxation were deferments.

In addition, roughly three per cent of utility customers deferred payments beyond July 1. Residents who deferred payments were required to pay by Aug. 31.

Beyond Aug. 31, roughly 25 per cent (or $3.6M) of taxation in the Town of Hinton remains collectable. Of that $3.6 million, around 75 per cent ($2.7 million) are on payment plan payments, meaning around $900,000 in taxes were left without payment after Aug. 31.

“So there is an amount expected and planned for through payment plans outstanding, but there is also an outstanding amount not anticipated through payment plans currently – though an owner could speak with us to start a payment plan to make up the amounts and penalties,” explained Josh Yaworski, communications coordinator.

Payment plans are not referred to as deferments, but are still part of the calculation relating to outstanding taxes as they continue to make payments each month of the year until December.

“In 2019, of the $3.4M outstanding after Sept. 1, approximately 83 per cent were anticipated payment plan payments,” said Fox.

This would mean that the number of unpaid taxes increased by approximately eight per cent compared to last year.

Hinton council made the decision to extend the deadline for payment of 2020 property taxes from June 30 to Aug. 31 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The decision to move back the tax deadline was made during a special council meeting on April 7.

Bills were sent out as scheduled, but residents could choose to defer their payments to a later date. Additionally, Town utility payments were deferred for a period of 120 days covering the billings for April, May, June and July 2020 including the cancellation of any associated penalties.

Penalties on outstanding tax and utility amounts will be charged after Aug. 31. 

Normally, a nine per cent penalty is applied to the outstanding balance of the current taxes once the due date has surpassed. 

At a later date, a six per cent penalty is applied, followed by a 15 per cent penalty.

No local application for federal infrastructure grant

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative


Twenty infrastructure projects in Central Alberta were recently approved for funding through the Investing in Canada plan and a few of Hinton’s surrounding communities received funds for big projects.

Hinton wasn’t included on the list, and the Town’s administration explained that while this was discussed at length, and an application was in the works, nothing was submitted to this intake for this grant opportunity. 

“We have several grant applications in the works for other confirmed grant intakes, and they are being followed up on to make sure they are on track,” stated Hinton’s administration.

The Town did not share any of the specifics of these grants prior to the Hinton Voice press deadline, including a timeline or what the grant applications are for.

Joint federal, provincial, and municipal funding through the Investing in Canada plan will support 20 infrastructure projects in Central Alberta.

The Government of Canada is investing over $82.3M in these projects through the Green Infrastructure Stream (GIS), the Community, Culture and Recreation Infrastructure Stream (CCRIS), and the Rural and Northern Communities Infrastructure Stream (RNIS) of the Investing in Canada plan.

The Investing in Canada Plan is providing more than $180 billion over 12 years across the country to provide predictable and sustainable funding for projects that will build modern, resilient, and green communities for Canadians.

Edson received $20M through this plan for construction of a new multi-use recreational facility, which includes two ice arenas, two pools, four sheets of curling, one multi-purpose gymnasium, one walking track, one fitness gym, and spaces for community programming.

Jasper received $3.6M for the rehabilitation of five facilities connected to the recreation centre including the pool, an arena, a curling rink, and activity centre to improve community access to the recreation infrastructure.

Some other projects on the list included lagoon rehabilitations, wastewater facility updates, a water reservoir and treatment plant replacement, and other recreational facilities. 

Funding to be utilized for Robb Road parking

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative


A decision to approve an allocation of $100,000 to be utilized to design and construct additional recreational parking at Robb Road will come back to council at a future regular council meeting.

The $100,000 comes from the Town of Hinton and Trans Mountain Pipeline Memorandum of Understanding.

The Hinton Disc Golf Association (HDGA) and the Hinton Mountain Bike Association (HMBA) have determined the need for additional parking space due to increased usage and safety concerns, explained CAO Emily Olsen at the standing committee meeting on Sept. 8.

Since the Town is the Recreation Lease holder of the land where the disc golf course is located and is the recipient of the Trans Mountain funding, the community project money component totalling $100,000 could be used to assume the lead and execution of a parking expansion project.

The Town became the holder of the Recreation Lease because the HDGA does not have the financial capacity to meet the Provincial requirement to be granted a Rec Lease.

The HDGA has completed much of the preliminary work with a rough construction estimate of approximately $70,000.

The construction of increased parking capacity space would become a capital project funded in part or in whole with the Trans Mountain funds.

Olsen stated that if the estimated cost comes in higher than what expected, additional budget amounts may be required.

“Administration believes at the end of the day that the parking concerns on Robb road are ours to solve,” said Laura Howarth, director of community services. 

Howarth added that due to the current partnership with HMBA, the potential future partnership with HDGA, and the fact that the town endorses their activities, it is the Town’s responsibility to deal with the parking issue.

The groups can also apply for grant funding that the Town doesn’t have access to.

Howarth will confirm this week with Trans Mountain when they will be allocating this funding.

Another project funded through this funding allocation is trail enhancement, she added.

“This is awesome, it solves safety issues, it creates tourism opportunities. I still have heard so many cool visions and ideas for our old landfill site that has now been fully remediated and this actually provides better access to that and could help some of those visions that have been talked about for years come true,” said Coun. Dewly Nelson.

Prior to the discussion around allocating funds for a parking area, council made a direction to move forward with adding the HDGA to the Town’s Parks and Recreation service area portfolio for 2021 and beyond.

“We have infrastructure in our community that we own the lease to, and it should be to me, part of the Parks and Recreation Service,” said Mayor Marcel Michaels.

Adding the HDGA to the portfolio formalizes the partnership between the association and the Town of Hinton.

“Really what this does is, it cements the relationship between the HDGA and the Town of Hinton,” said Coun. Ryan Maguhn.

Nelson requested that the Town of Hinton’s parks and recreation service area portfolio be made available when council votes to add the HDGA to the portfolio at a regular council meeting.

Council also directed administration to bring a proposed partnership agreement to a future meeting for further discussion that will include the details of the partnership.

This proposed partnership for the operation of the disc golf course will be drafted in collaboration with the HDGA.

That agreement may come with an expectation of financial support, stated Olsen.

“Administration will endeavour to provide as much information as early as possible in order to help [council make an informed decision],” said Olsen.

Without having the initial discussion with the HDGA there is no idea of how long this might take to discuss, but council will receive updates as they go. Olsen stated the proposed agreement would be brought to council by late October at the earliest.

Local councillors encourage more women to run

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative


While women have been well represented in Yellowhead County over the past 10 years, Coun. Lavone Olson, hopes more women get involved in municipal politics across the province.

Olson is one of several women on the Yellowhead County council, and she represents Division 8 which covers the region around Hinton, Cadomin, and Robb.

Ever since she joined council in 2007, there has been a good mix of men and women to represent the County, with currently four women and five men.

“I find that a really nice balance, more women would be fine but I find the men always very respectful and willing to hear you out and all that sort of stuff. It works out really well, you really get a broad spectrum on issues and that sort of thing,” Olson said.

It’s important to have a well balanced council, and Olson believes that female point of view has been lacking throughout the last 100 years.

“It’s time, it’s well past time that we are well balanced,” Olson said.

There have been times in the past where she felt she needed to argue her point better or be more forceful than the men, but certainly not with the current council members, she explained.

“I find all of these men very respectful. But over the years, there have certainly been times where you have to be kind of bold and step forward and just start shaking hands. Or the men kind of walk by you like you’re not there,” she said.

Coun. Lavone Olson
Yellowhead – Division 8

Before Olson made the choice to run, she took five years of Toastmasters just to make sure she could voice an opinion well and speak up for herself and for those she would later represent.

Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs, one of which is run locally.

Olson added that it can be difficult for women to get into municipal government due to work and raising a family.

The municipal position doesn’t pay enough for anyone to quit their job and make that a career choice, she added.

Her own children were grown up and out of the house before she became a councillor, which made it easier.

Olson grew up and lives in Brule and became involved in municipal government when she no longer felt they were being represented well.

“It’s one of those beliefs that you have that if someone is not doing a good job you better step up to the plate. So I put my name in the hat,” Olson explained.

Olson first became a councillor in 2007 and ran two terms until she lost out for four years just to return for another four after that. She’s now in her ninth year.

She describes municipal government as a steady interest throughout her life and took a back seat involvement until 2007.

“You always want to be aware of what’s going on so whether it’s municipal or provincial politics, not so much federal but certainly the local politics just to know what’s going on and why decisions are being made. It’s always been an interest of mine for sure,” Olson said.

Olson really enjoys the challenge, the debate, and staying in the know.

For those who are curious about municipal government, her advice is to look into it and find out what their responsibilities are.

Becoming a councillor is a huge commitment and Olson doesn’t think she could explain that commitment to anyone until they are in that position and experience the amount of time and effort that goes into the role.

“You have to be available to talk to people and hear them out and most of the time people just need to be heard,” she added.

The biggest challenge is staying in the game, knowing the issues and doing the job, she said.

Councillors are required to review packages and ensure they have the voices of people behind whatever the issue is. 

With nine councillors, there is a good spectrum of what’s going on and coming up across the county, she said.

“I really wish more women would get involved and I understand the challenges there are but it would be really good,” Olson added, not just about the county, but province-wide.

Coun. JoAnn Race is Hinton’s only female councillor and is currently in her third year of her first term.

While being the only woman can have its own challenges, Race said she’s also older than her fellow councillors.

Coming from a different generation with a lifetime of different experiences allows her to look at issues from a different perspective.

“I’m a grandma, I’m a mother, I’m a working mother, I’m so many more things than they’ve ever been. But one thing I’ve never felt, I never felt any less of a councillor than them. I feel every step of the way I’ve had equal footing as them,” Race said.

It’s all in how she presents her perspective and being prepared to speak up more, she added.

“Another important thing is to be able to be objective, to know it’s okay to change your mind. You may walk in with this thinking but by listening to people talk, it’s okay to change your mind,” Race said.

By attending many council meetings and budget discussions as a citizen, she felt prepared to take on the role as a Hinton councillor, but quickly realized the learning curve was steep.

Race explained that the real challenges come from being a new councillor and learning all the procedural bylaws and council code of conduct.

“There’s not a lot of opportunity afforded to the new council to learn this. You learn it as you go along, I would like to see more training sessions happen early in a term to prepare a new councillor,” Race said.

Administration has been very supportive in helping everyone keep up to speed, she added.

Coun. JoAnn Race
Hinton

One of the most rewarding aspects of being a councillor for Race is talking to citizens and seeing people reach out for help.

Race became involved in municipal government in 2012 when she attended every regular council, standing committee meeting, and budget discussion.

In 2013 she formed a Facebook page where she posted information from the meetings and commentary about the election.

While watching one of the meetings from the gallery, Race noticed herself silently participating in voting and felt it was time to experience voting in a councillors seat.

She ran in the 2017 election and has been voting on town decisions for the past three years.

“You can watch 100 council meetings, but until you are sitting on the other side, you have no idea what happens on the council side,” she added.

For anyone thinking about running in the next election, Race suggests they talk to someone who’s a current councillor.

She also suggested they read through the code of conduct or the council procedural bylaw and become knowledgeable before their campaign starts.

“I know it’s hard for people to get involved because they’re living their life right now, trying to get by and raise their family. But if you have any interest, start showing it now. You have a year to get prepared to do this job. This job is every day,” Race said.

A free three-part online lunch and learn series about women in governance is starting this September with the goal of working towards diverse representation at the municipal level. The second session of the online series on women in municipal government includes a panel discussion, featuring women who are currently holding seats as council members in the region. 

To hear more from local women in municipal government, search Women of the West Yellowhead Panel on Facebook and register for free. The sessions run on Sept. 16, Sept. 23, and Sept. 30. 

Preliminary budget to include maximum four per cent tax rate increase

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative


Report outlines budget schedule and upcoming challenges

The Preliminary Budget Discussion Report confirmed administration will be bringing forth a 2021 budget including no greater than a four per cent tax rate increase for council’s initial look at next year’s budget.

The report that was brought to council during the standing committee meeting on Sept. 8 also outlined the budget schedule and identified challenges and opportunities for budget 2021.

Carla Fox, director of corporate services, stressed the importance of strategic planning and public engagement to ensure council’s priorities are clear as they head into a difficult year like 2021.

Coun. Ryan Maguhn expressed that starting at a four per cent tax rate increase provides a good comfortable starting point for council to work with and figure out the details of the budget from there.

Fox added that if the Town were to deliver the current service levels, the Town starts off with $490,000 short due to the additional taxation that was brought in last year.

In addition to that, there is a union wage increase, inflationary considerations, and a new normal with COVID-19 pandemic costs. 

“When you think about a starting point for us right now, think about those financial considerations that need to be taken into account right off the start. That’s without adding or changing any of our services and without making any reductions,” Fox said.

All those increases need to then be brought into alignment with the four per cent increase, she explained. 

An estimated $570,000 will need to be reduced from the 2021 operational budget to achieve the four per cent tax rate increase target, according to the report.

Based on the status of the 2020-22 budget approved by Council, which required an 8.38 per cent tax rate increase in 2021, administration will bring forward Service Level and Area reductions for Council’s consideration.

“This is where we have to go to administration and say, look, where are the realities, but also what do our service levels look like potentially if this is our goal? Where are our potential savings and efficiencies? We have to dig deep and we have to be realistic in understanding this can affect everything from personnel to service levels,” said Maguhn.

Fox reminded council that water utility revenues and the subsidization of general taxation by the profit made in water revenues need to be taken into consideration this year.

There will be public engagement in the form of a town hall, possibly similar to last year at the Performing Arts Theatre of Hinton (PATH).

Coun. Albert Ostashek and Maguhn both stated that only hosting a virtual town hall would eliminate certain demographics from participating.

Mayor Marcel Michaels noted that nothing is limiting a Town Hall where people can come face to face.

“Unless there’s an influx of people coming to us regarding the budget, we only get about a dozen people per year, if you look at the last six years,” Michaels said. 

Administration plans to bring back various options to council for public engagement.

Administration is in the process of preparing a draft three-year operating and capital budget, stated the report.

The final draft, which will be brought to Council in late October or early November will include inflation impacts, union negotiated wage increases, and any required direction or new initiatives directed by Council through Strategic Planning.

Presentations will be made to Council to provide Council with all relevant organizational information. Council and Senior Leadership will participate in a Level of Service training session.

A Strategic Planning Session has also been included in the schedule at the end of September. 

Once a draft budget is developed, all operational and capital plans are reviewed and approved by Council through the budget adoption process. This process follows a series of public meetings with Council and Administration, which provides Council with an opportunity to request clarification, make changes, and request additional information as required.

Budget deliberations take place in September through December, to approve an Operating and Capital budget for the following year.

The operating budget is made up of the total cost of delivering each service as well as all sources of funding revenues required to pay for those services.

The total of all the operating expenditures required to offer these Services is what determines the amount of taxation required. 

For 2021, a one per cent increase equates to approximately $130,000.

On March 17, 2020 the approved 2020 Operating Budget was $29,137,747, and the approved tax rate decrease for 2020 was 3.2 per cent.

At the March 17, 2020 Regular Council Meeting, Council approved an amended Capital Budget of $10,130,302 and at the July 14, 2020 Regular Meeting of Council, the postponement of a number of capital projects due to the COVID pandemic was approved.

Family violence calls on rise in Hinton: RCMP

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative


Spousal abuse and family violence related calls have increased with Hinton RCMP responding to and investigating 137 incidents between April 1 and July 31.

Hinton RCMP’s quarterly report stated that increase equals approximately 25 per cent. 

Hinton RCMP participate as a member of the Domestic Violence Committee, which is organized by the Hinton Friendship Centre and includes Hinton Victim Support Services.

“Victim Services has also noticed the increase, the majority of our referrals come from the RCMP,” stated Natascha Thoennes, executive director of Hinton’s Victim Support Services (VSU).

All VSU staff are back to working regular hours and are able to provide support and referral assistance to anyone who contacts their office or is referred by the RCMP. 

“A good portion of the increase we have seen has been domestic arguments. Clients are looking for someone to talk and referral agencies/information,” Thoennes said, adding that VSU is making a lot of referrals to counsellors and to programs offered in the community, such as YES for Women. 

“A goal for the Alberta RCMP is to make sure all crime is reported, no matter how small. This provides the most accurate crime data and allows our resources to be deployed appropriately in the areas that need it most,” reads the quarterly report.

Suspicious person and vehicle complaints continue to rise, with 194 suspicious complaints between April 1 and July 31.

Citizens are able to report crimes online, including damage and mischief to property under $5,000, theft of bicycles under $5,000, theft under $5,000, theft from vehicles under $5,000, and lost property.

To be reported online, incidents must have no witnesses or suspects, items lost or stolen must cost less than $5,000, vandalized property will cost less than $5,000 to repair, and no items involving personal identity, firearms, licence plates, or decals.

Statistics from April 1 to July 31, 2020 show a 14 per cent decrease in person’s crime, 17 per cent decrease in property crime, 45 per cent decrease in other criminal code, 59 per cent decrease in break and enters, 18 per cent decrease in theft of motor vehicle, and 21 per cent decrease in theft under $5000.

Hinton RCMP have investigated 17 missing person complaints, all who have been located.

Throughout the pandemic, members of the Hinton RCMP continued to respond to calls while additional measures were implemented.

Hinton RCMP reported a 59 per cent decrease in reported break and enters as of July 31, 2020 compared to the previous year. The quarterly RCMP report to council noted that the initial goal was to reduce break and enters by seven per cent.

The clearance rate of break and enters is at 36 per cent as of June 30, which the report explains that RCMP are solving these crimes and holding individuals accountable.

Other items in the quarterly report include that search warrant training and judicial authorization tracking are ongoing within the detachment and that hot spots continue to be identified on a weekly basis, while foot and bike patrols are occurring in strategic locations.

The report also stated there has been a 33 per cent decrease in traffic collisions, totalling 80 from April 1 to July 31.

All municipal positions at the Hinton RCMP detachment are occupied. A joint mock exercise with Hinton Search & Rescue is being planned for this fall.

To report a crime online, go to ocre-sielc.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/alberta.

Weekly missed calls due to vacant CPO position

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative


Hinton’s third Community Peace Officer (CPO) position remains vacant since June 2020 when it was vacated and will remain vacant pending a decision in the 2021 budget.

This reduced the number of CPOs from three full-time positions to two full-time positions.

To adapt to the CPO vacancy, changes to the level of service, including hours, and reduction in proactive enforcement have taken place. 

Only emergency calls are responded to outside of work hours, stated the Bylaw and Community Peace Officer High Level Service Review Report that was presented to council at the standing committee meeting on Aug. 25.

“This is actually a good opportunity, this could somewhat be treated as a bit of a pilot project to see what our community looks like with two CPO’s on a permanent full time basis. It’s going to give a lot of good relevant background information to council during the 2021 budget discussions if the third CPO position again comes back to us as a highly prioritized item in the budget,” stated Coun. Albert Ostashek.

With only two CPO’s since the end of June, there have been approximately 15 calls per week that could not be immediately responded to as there was no officer on duty. The files get delayed until the next officer is on duty. 

Service level complaints have been received from the public due to the reduction in service.

Protective services manager, Todd Martens, added that they have received roughly five complaints per week about the lower service levels and questions about why certain services aren’t available anymore.

“Nobody can come out and deal with anything on the weekend as well as past 8 pm in the evening,” Martens said about the change of hours with two CPO’s.

Calls for CPO services have increased from 593 in all of 2015 to 2090 in 2020 so far, and last year, there were 2209 calls for service.

Proactive policing and residential patrols have been significantly reduced relying on a complaint-based model rather than a proactive enforcement model. Once the school year begins, the school zone patrols will continue to take place. 

Staffing at this level and the changes to scheduling has removed assistance to public complaints on weekends and evenings, which has resulted in a backlog of work at the beginning of each week. 

The report stated that it is often difficult to follow up on bylaw files, delivering notices, and making contact that cannot be done during regular Monday to Friday office hours when residents are often working.

To manage sick time, vacation, and training, at times over the last two months there have been one, or no CPO on duty. 

Calls for assistance are transferred to the RCMP or complaints followed up on once a CPO is available or on shift.

Collaborative partnerships and working relationships with certain services may also be reduced as needed, including Emergency Management Services (EMS), Automated Traffic Enforcement (ATE),Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Alberta Parks, Fish and Wildlife, Department of Transportation, Sheriffs, and CN police.

“This marks a notable change in service, and one that will be communicated to the public should this vacancy be determined to be permanent through the budget process for 2021,” stated the report.

The Hinton Protective Services department has grown and evolved as the needs of Hinton have changed, stated the report.

The most recent data from 2016, showed Hinton with a stable population of 9,882 and a land area of 33.52 square kilometres and eight patrol zones in the community.

Currently the department has two vehicles for Peace Officers and these vehicles also are used for animal control.

The primary role of the CPO is the ongoing management of the Town of Hinton Municipal Bylaws, but there are numerous other tasks they are responsible for.

The two CPO’s work hours have been revised to morning shifts starting at 7:30 am until 3:30  pm and afternoon shifts starting at 12 pm until 8 pm every Monday to Friday.

This item will come back during the 2021 budget discussions.

Council approves new bins for waste program

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative


Council discussed and approved three action items during the regular council meeting on Sept. 1.

Those items included the bin options for the solid waste management program, the naming policy, and the borrowing bylaw renewal for an ATB line of credit.

Waste program bins approved

Council approved the purchase of new regular toters with a DuraLatch lock for the solid waste management program, which will replace the old bins.

“We’ve discussed this at length, we are in a better position today than we were months ago. This is a better bin for our residents,” stated Mayor Marcel Michaels at the regular council meeting.

He added that many communities have much smaller bins than the 96 gallon bin that will be available in Hinton.

“I really appreciate that citizens are going to have options for different sizes,” added Coun. Dewly Nelson.

Administration will proceed with implementation of the modernized waste collection and retrofit existing Toter bins with the DuraLatch locking system.

The new bins with the simple-to-use latch stand up to rain, wind gusts up to 65 miles per hour, animals, and the day-to-day use of curbside waste collection. 

The gravity-based lock allows the lid to open automatically when the garbage truck tips and empties the cart, and then latches when the cart is set back down.

All bins have a 12-year body warranty and include hot stamping of Town of Hinton logo and shipping. 

The estimated Capital cost of replacing 3000 96-gallon bins for Single Family Households will be $270,000.

The 96-gallon and 64-gallon bins are available for council and the public to look at in the foyer of the Hinton government centre. The  48-gallon bin will be another option for residents.

In the future they will be displayed in other areas in Hinton for the public to look at and decide which size works for their household.

Naming Policy approved

Council approved Naming Policy DR-6105 and rescinded the old naming policy.

The new policy provides a process for the naming of development areas, roads, parks, and public facilities that recognizes and commemorates significant persons, history, heritage, and natural features of the community.

This Policy outlines where authority will be delegated, including Council’s roles and responsibilities. A Naming Procedure and Civic Addressing Procedure was also included in the Naming Policy.

Borrowing Bylaw Renewed

Council gave first, second, and third reading to the Borrowing Line of Credit to Finance Operating Expenditures Bylaw #1149.

This bylaw allows the Town of Hinton to borrow certain sums of money to finance operating expenditures to maintain contingencies required by its bank. 

“In 2020 the passing of this bylaw was not achieved due to changes in Town administration as well as issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to those circumstances [Alberta Treasury Branches (ATB)] has allowed an extension of the bylaw until such time a new bylaw is passed,” said CAO Emily Olsen.

The bylaw was passed in 2018 for the purpose of authorizing a borrowing line of credit to finance operating expenditures within the Town of Hinton.

Over the past three years, the line of credit has not been accessed or utilized, said Carla Fox, director of corporate services.

“There is no need to utilize the line of credit based on the current circumstances for the remainder of the year as far as finances go. We typically rely on our reserve fund balances and we manage funds back and forth as needed through those reserve funds balances,” Fox added.

Most tax payments have come in over the last few days and reserve balances are at a healthy limit. The limited capital projects, gas tax, and MSI is also allowing a good level of cash flow, Fox added.

The tax deadline was Aug. 31, and administration is looking at the numbers to determine the outstanding taxes and utility payments that could create issues next year.

The line of credit from ATB is set up with a limit not to exceed the principal sum of $2,000,000. 

The revolving line of credit includes $1,236,891.40 of credit, a Mastercard limit of $100,000.00 and a letter of Credit in the amount of $663,108.60.

This amount is repayable upon demand at a rate of interest per annum not to exceed the Prime Lending Rate established by ATB, and such interest is calculated daily and due and payable monthly on the last day of each and every month.

The Mayor and the Chief Administrative Officer are authorized on behalf of the Town to apply to the ATB for the loan/line of credit and arrange with the ATB the amount, terms and conditions and security to be given.