MD council's final discussion turns to future planning, ongoing issues

·3 min read

There are more than a few outstanding issues expected to outlive the coming municipal election.

MD of Pincher Creek council gathered virtually Sept. 28 to discuss what issues and projects they think could be improved upon with the next group of elected members, and lay groundwork for what’s to come.

The afternoon meeting, one of the last sessions before the election, dealt specifically with projects that received both provincial and municipal support.

Roger Reid, MLA for Livingstone-Macleod, was present to share perspective, and thanked council members for serving their community.

“It’s been a tough haul the last four years to be in leadership of any level, especially the last 18 months,” he said. “As the MLA for this area, I want to thank you as a council for your advocacy for your community and for your constituents. I appreciate that greatly.”

Among the issues mentioned were water allocation, RCMP funding, broadband and assisted-living care.

Troy MacCulloch, chief administrative officer for the MD, said that although progress is being made on the Beaver Mines wastewater project and on Castle coal mine, there are many upcoming initiatives that the next council will have to keep on the radar.

The municipal assessment review, he said, will be important going forward and administrators will have an opportunity to assess new policies. Partnerships between the municipalities, private industry and the province, he added, will ensure broadband is introduced to rural communities.

Reid said there’s still a long way to go on the RCMP funding debate and more discussion is needed in future.

“After two years of looking at concerns over rural crime and the RCMP, one thing I’ve heard consistently is that we need to revisit the compensation for our RCMP, but we need to look at what that means on a practical level for municipalities,” he said.

Coun. Bev Everts addressed the issue of water allocation near Beaver Mines, adding local industry and tourism should not pose a threat to the natural ecosystem. She suggested that Reid investigate a protection policy that would limit boat usage in the area.

“Prairie grass to mountain.… Pristine beautiful mountains with the ag waters. It’s iconic and we can’t put a price tag on how important that is to protect,” she said.

Reeve Brian Hammond said reduction of red tape in assisted-living facilities will be of utmost importance for keeping residents happy and mentally healthy during the pandemic.

The state of Covid legislation in the industry is in “limbo land,” he said, with no clear authority on what council is allowed to do about residents and caregivers who refuse to get vaccinated and put others at risk.

“We’ve heard right from the beginning that these are among our most vulnerable populations and yet they seem to be standing out there as an exception to the rule,” he said.

“When everybody else is making provisions, either in their business or in their institution or whatever it is, to provide for the safety of those folks, we’re being told we can’t do that because that would be in violation of somebody’s human’s rights.”

According to Reid, the issue is even more complex when factoring in quality of life.

“I think we’ve done a disservice to our seniors and our communities if we get to a point where we say you save them from Covid, but they die of loneliness and isolation,” he said.

He recalled a particular case where two of his former teachers, a married couple, were placed in different care homes and were not able to visit the other or spend time with each other during the pandemic.

He called for a more humanitarian approach to Covid restrictions that would factor in both safety and emotional well-being.

Gillian Francis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze

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