By Justin Seward
Well Commentator/Courier readers, another year has come and gone and enjoy reading the year it was. We wish you a happy and prosperous 2018.
The 2017 calendar year began for the Cypress Courier writing about the newly implemented carbon levy. The levy was added to all fuels that will emit greenhouse gases when released at a rate of $20 per tonne and $30 tonne in 2018. However after discussions with the provincial government, it was determined that greenhouse owners would get 80 per cent of the carbon levy over a two-year term.
Alberta Greenhouse Growers Association vice-chair Albert Cramer said at the time that while in discussions with the government that they wanted to follow British Columbia’s rebate model where greenhouse users receive 80 per cent back.
The argument that Cramer put forth was that as a greenhouse owner, they absorb the same carbon that’s emitted and if there was a carbon tax received, they would be charged for something they take in.
“It was a pretty good feeling,” said Cramer.
“Sometimes all you do is lobbying and meetings, and you get nowhere with the government and on this one they seen the argument we made before them.”
Fountain Tire closed its doors in Redcliff after 10 years because they did not want to renew their lease in the town.
Pickleball kicked off its winter sessions at Parkside School after playing outdoors at a local tennis court during the summer. The sport started with six players in the summer and had grown to 20 for the winter.
Later in the month, a fire engulfed the trucks and shop of Sheer Insanity Monster Trucks
“I keep opening my boot room door and there is always a shock there,” said owner Kathy Wills just a day after it happened. “ We’re still numb and absorb the vastness of it.”
Kel-Lee Greenhouse owner Kelly and Shawndell Fischer had gone forth before Cypress County council to ask for a reclassification of their greenhouse from an Agriculture District 3 (A3 Horticulture) to Agricultural District 4 (A4 Greenhouse). The proposal would have allowed for artificial lighting to stimulate crop growth.
However when Cypress County’s municipal planner met with the airport prior to Christmas 2016 they brought up concerns of uncontained lighting coming from greenhouses and becoming a serious hazard for landing flights.
“We did meet with the airport as well and they were unaware of it being a LED project,” said Shawndell at the Jan. 17 regular meeting. “ LEDs don’t have near the light pollution as the high pressured sodium. When he talked to us, his concern was with the high pressure sodium and the fact those pilots are coming from darkness through the cloud cover to land, they’re finding that bright light a bit obstructive at times. It’s made out of blues, greens, reds and purples rather than being that bright intense yellow light that you see from greenhouses south of us.”
Council postpone a decision to a later meeting.
Economic Development Alliance of Southeastern Alberta Theresa Hardiker had made some suggestions to Redcliff town council at the Jan. 23 regular meting as to how to approach the next steps to rebranding the town.
Her focus was to do an environmental scan which would provide the framework for a planning approach and a strategic plan with future prospective and outline for the challenges. Some results came back that the Greenhouse Capital should stay and others felt there needed to be change.
Hidden Valley Ski Resort in Elkwater was on pace to have another record year as it was expected by closing that 20,000 skiers were to have gone through the park which exceeded the 16,000 mark from 2016.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency provided a TB Bovine outbreak update as there hadn’t been any new confirmed cases in the past month. According to CFIA, the agency had completed the depopulation of all mature cattle from the 18 farming operations that were infected and has conducted screening tests on all these animals.
After two plus years of discussions, a packed house of future water co-op members gathered in Cypress County’s council chambers to await council’s decision on assisting with Veinerville’s water vault pump, grant funding assistance and getting water rights to complete the $15 million infrastructure cost in order to complete the Cypress Rural Water Co-op at the Feb. 7 regular meeting.
“If the water co-op doesn’t get grant money, I don’t think the system will be able to go ahead,” said Coun. Garry Lentz, who spoke on behalf of the water co-op chair. If grant funding didn’t come through then each member would’ve had to pay $40,000. Council approved the project and the 319 members who signed will have access to potable water once the project is complete.
Alberta’s Education Minister David Eggen made a visit to Redcliff schools and took a student led tour of the Isabel F. Cox School to see where the school stands in the 2017 budget and the nutrition programs that are available for students.
Deanna Dola’s Grade 6 arts class at Seven Persons School put their creative thinking caps on in an effort to help out their community. The students decided on loom knitting and they received an abundance of baby yarn. A total of 10 touques were knitted. Five of the touques went to the Bow Island Hospital, while five additional toques plus one for every 10 sold went to the Medicine Hat Regional Hospital. The kids also knitted Canada 150 touques to sell and put the money towards the ‘Welcome to Seven Persons’ sign.
Pam Cursons was acclaimed as PRSD’s new Ward 4 councillor ( Redcliff-Ralston-Jenner) after the results came in on Feb. 9.
Medicine Hat and Cypress County received $2.1 million in flood grants. The province will pay $774,000 towards safeguarding the water intake system at the Medicine Hat power plant, and pay $923,000 towards relocating a troublesome water pumping station that serves Veinerville while another $378,000 is dedicated to restoring portions of Seven Persons Creek banks and further improvements to reservoirs in the Milk River Basin as reported by Collin Gallant of the Medicine Hat News.
Redcliff council decided to proceed with a detailed design of a new lift station at Fifth Avenue and Third Street SW at a cost similar to that of the Jesmond lift station of $200,000. A new lift station would divert approximately half of the Jesmond lift station’s catchment area and solve any capacity problems.
During the Redcliff town council meeting on Feb. 27 a topic of discussion was the off leash areas at local dog parks. The town released a survey at the end of February to get input on whether they should have an off leash area after complaints from non-dog owners who felt there were too many of them running freely outside the permitted zone.
The survey received 151 responses in the first weekend.
The Eagle Butte Talons senior girls basketball took league silver after bowing to the powerhouse Monsignor McCoy Colts 70-37 on March 2. Despite the loss, the girls earned a berth in the zones.
The 22 Push ups Challenge made its away to the Saamis Teepee in Medicine Hat on March 10. The event was meant to bring awareness to the 22 Canadian Armed Forces members, veterans and the first responders who commit suicide every day to PTSD.
Perry and Chris Deering were chosen the Medicine Hat College’s Person of the Year award.
The Eagle Butte High School senior girls volleyball team bowed in the bronze medal game of zones.
Prairie Rose School Division released their three-year capital plan from 2018-2021 and Redcliff schools were on the agenda including Parkside School, the Redcliff Mennonite Alternative School (RMAP) and the future Redcliff Middle School.
PRSD treasurer Ryan Boser said there is the concern of programming shortfalls for the Career and Technology Foundations as students are being bussed from other areas for different courses . The hope is with the possibility of a new middle school or the modernization of Parkside School. RMAP is near capacity and the solution would be to move Parkside students into the new middle school and RMAP into the old junior high school. Parkside would need a completed moderation to address deficiencies.
The Irvine Bulldogs peewee tier 3 hockey team swept the league championship with a 4-1 win on home ice over the Medicine Hat Hounds on March 18. The boys’ would later capture the provincial banner in Three Hills.
PRSD announces Roger Clarke as the new superintendent starting in the fall.
The 103-year-old St. Ambrose Anglican Church in Redcliff was in the process of getting a new roof put after 20 years of wears and tears to preserve the building.
Cypress County decided not to extend its fire agreement with the City of Medicine Hat after this year. The decision came after the county had already paid $364, 389.76 to the city for fire services in close proximity communities such as Dunmore and Desert Blume. Once the agreement expires, the county will put in a request for negotiations for a mutual aid agreement as of Jan. 12018.
The Fire Service Board felt that if the agreement ended, the county would be able to provide its own exceptional level of emergency services with its own equipment and trucks.
Mel Spence was named the annual Redcliff Lions Citizen of the Year.
Council was asked at the same April 4 meeting to consider what should be done in conjunction with the City of Medicine Hat in terms of resurfacing South Boundary Road west of South Ridge Drive at Range Road 60.
The city felt the county should contribute 25 per cent , which was the decision by the end of the discussion.
BATUS did a parade to celebrate Vimy Ridge’s 100th anniversary on April 11.
Leanne Dulle was named Cyprees County’s Citizen of the Year at their annual banquet at Desert Blume Golf Course.
The new Schuler School’s outer structure was being put on as the project was near completion with a completion in June.
Redcliff council defeated the proposal for the $ 8,000 electronic voting system for October’s election.
Cypress County council had a debate on their hands as to what to do with fire services to the Dunmore and Desert Blume areas once the fire agreement expires with the City of Medicine Hat come Jan. 1, 2018 at the May 16 regular meeting.
Council discussed the realm of possibilities including buying an existing Dunmore building and converting it into a fire hall, using an existing county building and opening up discussions with the city about a limited fire aid agreement.
Coun. LeRay Pahl put the motions forward to have the county sit down with the city to discuss a limited fire agreement which was passed. The second motion was to have staff comeback with more information on what options will be best suited and brought back to the next council meeting which was voted 6-3 in favour of.
The local media had the opportunity to spend a day at CFB Suffield on the training field in their Prairie Storm 1 live fire series that runs for 30 days and displayed an all manner of combined arms activities, which enabled defensive and offensive actions. The day included air defense missiles being fired, heavy howitzers with 155 mm caliber that were fired fir the first time in a direct role, while there were tanks shooting off live ammunition all across the prairie
Kelly Meyer was named Cypress County’s new fire chief.
The Venturers Society held a grand opening of their new home base to end the month in Elkwater.
Cypress County’s new fire chief Kelly Meyer came before council at the June 6 regular meeting to explain what would be in the best interest for the county in terms of a Dunmore fire station after information was requested in May. Meyer thought the best option would be to build a new fire station. However after a discussion, council voted against the fire chief’s wishes and voted 6-3 in favour of putting a bid in on the old Outlaw Collisions building. Council approved to put $1,325,000 to the 2017 capital budget to purchase and renovate the Outlaws Collision building for new Dunmore Fire Station at the next meeting.
Eagle Butte High School’s cosmetology class invited Medicine Hat Women’s Shelter clients in to get pampered to wrap up their 18th year in a partnership.
Redcliff Mennonite Alternative Program (RMAP) was the successful applicant in conjunction with the Redcliff Library of the Indigo Love for Reading grant of 1,500 books.
Medicine Hat College third-year business student Jordan Pomrenke informed Redcliff council that he was working on a Division of Business Applied Research Project as a part of the rebranding process for the town. He was working on diving into the business community, what the town has to offer, residential living and tourism.
Former and current students of the old Schuler School had the chance to bid a last farewell to old school before moving into the facility.
Cypress County voted 8-1 in favour of receiving for information and rejecting of giving any financial assistance to Jasper Homes for the storm water management facility, but allowed them to build a storm water containment facility at no coat to the developer. The estimated cost was $200,000.
Cypress County council determined the Suffield Waste Management will closd down and weekly door-to door waste services and bi-weekly recycling collection will begin in the new year.
Lt. Col Mike Onieu was introduced as CFB Suffield’s 21st base commander at a change of the command ceremony on July 5.
Cypress County and Medicine Hat has been working very diligently together to work out a resolution for the greenhouse’s illuminating light shining into a pilot’s vision upon take off and landing at the Medicine Hat Airport. Both the county and city’s municipal planning departments and the airport have been meeting since early spring to fix the lighting issues. The option was for the greenhouse owners to put black out curtains on the roof which would screen out the illuminating light going up in the sky.
Both sides were still ironing out details after the county meeting.
Cypress County cowgirls Lacey Padfield was named Medicine Hat Exhibition and Stampede Queen, while Lacey Palichuk was named stampede princess.
Redcliff council defeated a dog bylaw amendment brought forth to council by James Allen on behalf of local dog owners in June where he wanted to see the bylaw go from two to three dogs per house hold. “I was hoping it would be OK,” said then Mayor Ernie Reimer . “I didn’t see a problem with it. There is situations where people move in to town, they have three dogs and they don’t want to part with any of those dogs. They’re personal possessions and now you tell them they can’t have a third dog. That might be a sticky situation.”
Cypress County had passed a motion of Bylaw 2016-45 where there will be land use reclassifications from District 3 Agriculture to Agriculture District 4 greenhouse with the initial intent of an installing an LED type of light to stimulate crop growth and enhance crop production within the existing greenhouse operation at the July 18 meeting.
This came as great news to Kel-Lee greenhouse owners Kelly and Shawndell Fischer who could now light up their greenhouse under strict guidelines where they will have to install artificial lighting as a condition of development approval.
Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes announced he would be backing Jason Kenney in the UCP race at a press conference at the Paradise Valley Golf Course on Aug. 2.
Farmers prepared for an early harvest after a drier conditions in the summer months.
Matt Ward won the seventh annual Mile High Tri in Elkwater and it was his second victory in three years at the event.
Cypress County councillors voted that they would see a raise after October’s election through a remuneration amendment.
Redcliff received a great response from Medicine Hat College business student Jordan Pomrenke research project and it concluded there is more room for tourist opportunities for the town.
PRSD’s new superintendent Roger Clarke was excited to get the school year underway as it will be a great opportunity for learning and enhancing education strategies.
The National Kids Cancer Ride rolled through Seven Persons.
Redcliff hosted it’s first annual Fall Festival and Parade.
The races were declared in Cypress County, Redcliff and PRSD. Cypress County races: Michelle McKenzie and Shirley Roy challenged incumbent Coun. Art Squire for the Ward 1 Hilda-Schuler riding, Robin Kurpjuweit was up against incumbent Coun. Garry Lentz for Ward 4 (Longfellow), incumbent Coun. Richard Oster was challenged by Garry Proctor (Seven Persons North/Desert Blume) and Shane Hok put his name in hat against longtime Coun. LeRay Pahl for Ward 8. Longtime Redcliff Coun. Dwight Kilpatrick declares his spot in the mayoral race against current Mayor Ernie Reimer. Shawna Cockle, Cathy Crozier, Chris Czember, John Gaetan, Larry Leipert, Eric Solberg and Jim Steinke were all vying for a seat on Redcliff council. PRSD had one race with Meredith Conboy putting her name on the ballot against current trustees Arnold Frank and Pam Cursons for the Redcliff-Ralston-Jenner area.
There were 16,000 customers that were left without power after a snow storm swept through the area on Oct. 2. Road closures were issued between Calgary and Bassano and on Highway 3 between Taber and Medicine Hat following multiple collisions. Multiple schools across the rural Prairie Rose School Division were shut down for the day. Some schools were closed early and buses came early to pick up the students.
Power was expected to be restored in some areas while others had to wait overnight before power would be up and running.
Municipal election season was in the air and it was coming down to the last couple of weeks before residents casted their vote.
Redcliff candidates held a forum on Oct. 3 where great vision for the town was discussed.
It was the first time that incumbent Mayor Ernie Reimer and his competition, long time councillor Dwight Kilpatrick, were on the podium together answering questions.
Kilpatrick was asked about what he sees as challenges for the town in the next 10 years.
“Everybody on council is always trying to look forward and plan out as to what our needs are going to be, what our growths is going to be, what our challenges are going to be and most people have always sat down and tried to prioritize and get a grip on the future,” he said. “When I look at Redcliff, we’ve done very well on a lot of small things. Four years ago we had a planning session. We came up with 13 priorities and strategies. Three and a half years later, we did it again. We came up with another dozen priorities, amazingly enough these same priorities came up in the second go- around as the first go around with exception of two, we finally accomplished. I think the biggest challenges we face as a council is getting together on our priorities and making a conservative push to accomplish them one at a time.”
The moderator asked incumbent Mayor Ernie Reimer about accomplishments as mayor in the last four years. He had mentioned the water treatment plant completion and the obtaining the grants to allow for the renovation of the Rec Tangle Arena.
Oct. 17 municipal election saw Kilpatrick become the new mayor of Redcliff after receiving 54. 2 per cent of the votes to Reimer’s 45.8 per cent. Shawna Cockle and Chris Czember were voted in as the new councilors.
Cypress County saw upsets of historic proportions as incumbent Coun. LeRay Pahl was outvoted by Shane Hok, Michelle McKenzie won the Hilda Schuler riding over incumbent Coun. Art Squire to become only the second female on council. and Robin Kurpjuweit took Ward 4 from Garry Lentz and Richard Oster took back his Ward 7 from late candidate Garry Proctor.
Oster was named new reeve at the organizational meeting on Oct. 24.
PRSD saw Redcliff board of trustees Arnold Frank and Pam Cursons be re-elected.
Oct. 18 was a devastating day for the Hilda area as a wildfire ravaged the area stretching to Burstall, SK.
Local fire crews were pressed into action at 1 p.m. to tackle the wildfire that broke out northeast of Hilda and spreading in Burstall.
RCMP shut down Highway 41 in both directions due to poor visibility. Cypress County deputy fire chief said the cause of the blaze was unknown at the time and nobody was hurt while there was believed to be several structures lost.
What made matters worse for the firefighters was the tornado-like winds.
The aftermath of the Hilda Fir only got darker as Cypress County firefighters had to mourn the death of James Hargrave, who was a well known rancher from Walsh. Hargrave was driving home at around 8 p.m. on Oct. 17 after he was done firefighting when his three ton army truck was involved in a collision in poor driving conditions that involved smoke, dust and wind.
A total of 93 deceased cattle were picked up a week after the Hilda wildfire by the Lethbridge-based West Coast Reductions who provided rendering services for cattle pick up and disposal.
The Town of Redcliff escaped that wind storm on Oct. 17 with minor damages including the sewers that were not gravity fed without a lift pump and the water treatment plant running on a back up generator, while seeing trees falling on to people’s yards.
The Parkside Pythons won the league championship over the Medicine Hat Colts on Nov. 7. The snakes would lose in the provincial final to Red Deer’s Notre Dame Cougars 20-12 on Nov. 18.
Hilda held a Fire Recovery Supper on Nov. 9 where locals were allowed to speak with government officials and counseling services about the road going forward.
Redcliff curling duo and best friends Avice DeKelver and Samantha Davies won silver with team Alberta at the Travelers Curling Club Championship in Kingston Ont.
Cypress County voted 5-4 in favour of seeking a per capita call basis with the City of Medicine Hat for 2018 at the Nov. 21 regular meeting.
The Hilda Community Association came before council at the same meeting to discuss how less damage can be done for future fires and communication improvements that can be done. Suggestions included seeing the province match a $100,000 in fire relief, a change to the fire policy and stages to obtain permits and cell service.
Redcliff town council passed their 2018 budget at the Nov. 27 meeting, which included a 2.49 per cent increase in property tax where there will be a 1.83 per cent hike on residential and 0.66 per cent on greenhouse building assessment increase.
Cypress County council approved to lower the speed at the Bull Springs Coulee bridge to 50 Km/hour and to eliminate and a weight restriction of five tonnes initiated in effort to increase its longevity and to maintain traffic safety until it can be replaced at the Dec. 5 regular meeting. Additionally, council made a motion to direct administration to calculate the exact funds from the 2017 municipal taxes for properties that were directly affected by the Hilda Wildfire and bring back to a future meeting.
Cypress County Coun. Alf Belyea showed his leisurely side by participating in a dart tournament on Dec. 4 at the Medicine Hat Lodge with 11 other players.
The annual Seven Persons Fire Department Candy Cane Run collected 1,885 Ibs for the Medicine Hat Food Bank on Dec 10.
Cypress County held their second consultation in Seven Persons on the hamlet’s structural plan on Dec. 14. The plan is to determine the future use of the land whether commercial, residential or public. The study area is focused on agricultural land north of the hamlet in anticipation of future development spurred by the twinning of Highway 3.
Hidden Valley Ski Resort opened up under sunny skies on Dec. 16.