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Cypress County council juggles full docket

Posted on February 9, 2016 by 40 Mile Commentator

By Tim Kalinowski
Fire a hot topic at Cypress County
Cypress County council was officially apprised of the most recent fire hall election results at last Tuesday’s meeting. Schuler Volunteer Fire Department elected Bryce Jans as District Fire Chief. Council also confirmed Gerritt Jans and Trevor Warburton as District Deputy Chiefs for Schuler. Box Springs Fire Department in Redcliff elected John McBain as District Fire Chief  and Wade Gleisner as Deputy District Chief.
Council also approved a $104,000 expenditure to pay for 50 per cent of new Jenner Fire Hall. The other 50 per cent will be covered by the Special Areas. The Jenner Fire Department frequently responds to calls in both territories.
An interesting interchange took place between Cypress County CAO Doug Henderson and elected councillors as Henderson sponsored a motion to dissolve the County’s Fire Services Board. The board currently consists of three elected councillors as well as staff members. Henderson suggested that the Fire Services Board was undertaking responsibilities that properly belong within the purview of County staff and not elected councillors. Council disagreed and the motion did not get past first reading.

County going to the dogs
Cypress County council voted to strip the Medicine Hat SPCA of $11,736 in annual funding after the SPCA recently told County officials it would not be extending pound services  to the animal control officer anymore. Most councillors agreed that the other services the SPCA offers to county residents was minimal, and did not warrant an ongoing contribution without pound services in the equation. Council voted 7-1 in favour of stripping the funding. Coun. Richard Oster was the sole vote opposed. He felt some kind of lesser contribution was still warranted as the SPCA would still be accepting unwanted animals for county residents as part of its mandate.
Cypress County has made alternative arrangements with another organization which is offering pound services for dogs, but not as yet for cats or other animals. Councillors were told the county does have a stray cat problem, and it was hoped pound services would soon be available to help deal with it. Arrangements, however, were still being negotiated.
Councillors also voted to approve the use of a body camera, (purchased last year), for the County’s animal control officer. From now on all exchanges between the animal control officer and individuals in violation of County bylaws will be recorded.

MSI grants approved
Council received confirmation that the provincial government would pay $69,000 to support the Shortgrass Library System, $62,913 for County computer hardware and software upgrades and $35,000 to help support the Medicine Hat & District Food Bank through the MSI fund. The funds were already spent in 2015 so the confirmation was very welcome.

Graburn pipeline approved
The Graburn Raw Water Pipeline Society, represented by Keith and Shane Reesor at last Tuesday’s meeting, was granted permission from Cypress County council to pull 50 acre feet of water from Walsh Raw Water Pipeline out of the County’s 295 acre feet water licence on that line.
The decision was made to grant the water licence to the Society because water flowing through that pipeline heads into closed reservoir system on one fork and into Saskatchewan on the other. Therefore the County cannot transfer any part of the water currently flowing through the Walsh Raw Water Pipeline upstream to other areas in need. The law states you can only transfer water rights downstream not up.
Council felt issuing the requested allotment to the Graburn Raw Water Pipeline Society represented an efficient use of the existing capacity within the line. As part of the transfer agreement the Graburn Raw Water Pipeline Society assumes responsibility for the upkeep of existing water lines and future tie-ins to its members. They also have to sign an easement covering any damage done to County roads as a result of pipeline expansion or repair.
The County retains responsibility for the obsolete slow sands filtration reservoir at the end of the pipeline on the Alberta side.

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