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Cypress County declares Agricultural state of disaster, calls for Elkwater evacuation plan at meeting

Posted on July 13, 2023 by Ryan Dahlman

By Anna Smith

While the beginning of the seasons showed promise, Cypress County is looking to get out ahead of the hot, dry weather, and has declared a local agricultural state of disaster at their July 5th Council meeting.

This is the third year in a row where conditions have been poor for producers, with a lack of rain and high temperatures resulting in poor soil quality, as well as contributing to a high survival rate of grasshopper nymphs to adulthood.

Estimated soil moisture in Cypress County compared to the long term normal is rated anywhere from moderately low to as low as it’s been in 50-plus years, according to the Alberta Crop Report. The county had already issued a fire ban in response to conditions, but is now issuing the state of disaster in hopes of creating awareness, both among locals and among government.

During councillors’ reports, it was noted that the issue of fire was on the minds of the Elkwater Community Association, which prompted discussion regarding the evacuation plan for the park, which was noted to be outdated.

Council stated that they would like the park to update the evacuation plan in the near future, as an outdated plan could pose risk to those who live or own cabins in the area as well as guests to the popular summer tourism destination, and that they “have to do it sooner rather than later,” said Councillor Shane Hok, expressing a desire to have something in place before an incident that would require it.

A motion was also passed to grant an annual $5,000 to the Community Foundation of Southeastern Alberta’s Cypress County Community Fund for the next five years. The rural endowment fund will specifically target projects and nonprofits within the region.

Council directed administration to apply for the Economic Development Microgrant and Labour Market Partnerships Grant.

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