Pincher Creek orthophotography fails to get off the ground

·3 min read

The current economic challenges are forcing Albertans across the province to reconsider their finances. The provincial government itself has also indicated cuts will be coming to funding opportunities, along with offloading particular costs to towns and cities to deal with provincial deficits.

The move is requiring municipal governments to adjust previous plans and projects, which is the position Pincher Creek town council found itself in during the April 12 regular meeting.

Word had been received from local partners in the Oldman River Regional Services Commission that Alberta Municipal Affairs had turned down the group’s application for an Alberta Community Partnership grant.

The project was planned for this spring and would have seen photographs taken from an airplane to update the town’s geographic information system, helping provide accurate mapping and land descriptions.

With the grant no longer an option, council members debated whether the town should pay for the project to go forward. Though final pricing depends on how many other municipalities decide to continue with the project, administration estimated the contribution required from the town would fall between $7,000 and $9,500.

Chief administrative officer Laurie Wilgosh said the denied grant was unfortunate but not devastating to the town’s functions.

“It’s good to have up-to-date information in our GIS system, and certainly we depend on that on a daily basis, so not having the up-to-date photos puts us a little bit at a disadvantage,” CAO Wilgosh said. “But if we have to wait until the next funding program becomes available, then that’s what we do.”

While the last orthophotography project was completed in 2019, director of operations Al Roth said that doesn’t mean the pictures currently available represent information from that year.

“There’s always a delay in the amount of time when we get these orthophotos; they average anywhere from three to four years,” Mr. Roth said. “If we wait one more year, I don’t think it’s going to be earth-shattering, but we will lose some vital information in regards to the ortho-view that you would get.”

Such information is particularly useful for land development planning, Mr. Roth continued, and developers from across Western Canada regularly contact the town office requesting information. The view provided by the orthophotos helps developers understand from an engineering perspective information, such as water line locations, that affects their development plans.

“The geographic look of the ortho-view is very helpful in regards to not only my group but also the development of our community and future development,” Mr. Roth added.

Coun. Scott Korbett supported going ahead with the project, as the information provided to the GIS is valuable for many local businesses.

“I actually do appreciate having the orthophotography on a daily basis for my work, and I’m not the only one in this particular job in the community,” he said. “I would actually like to see this updated more frequently because it does have relevance in a lot of different professions.”

Though beneficial, other members of council decided to forgo paying for the project because it wasn’t essential to have the pictures taken this year.

“We can try for a grant next year,” said Mayor Don Anderberg. “If we can’t get the grant, then we may have to pay for it next year.”

The next regular council meeting will be held Monday, May 10, at 6 p.m. Online council agendas and the link to attend virtually are available at www.pinchercreek.ca.

Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze