Public accessibility to research farm questioned

·3 min read

Town of Beaverlodge

Regular Meeting of Council

June 28, 2021

In Attendance: Mayor Gary Rycroft,

councillors Cyndi Corbett, Terry Dueck, Judy Kokotilo-Bekkerus, Hugh Graw, Gena Jones, Cal Mosher.

Research farm access: Pat Wearmouth, a Beaverlodge resident, presented a letter to council about his concern that the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Research Farm may plan on blocking public access to the site.

Wearmouth noted that the people gate at the top of the laneway north of Old Towne Estates has been blocked off. He noted that a line of flagged steaks runs south from there “presumably for fence posts”. If that’s the case, he said he hopes that a gate will be installed so that walkers may still access the land.

Wearmouth expressed his frustration from the lack of transparency from the research station and hopes the town can come to an agreement with the station.

“Time is of the essence,” he said to council, noting that he realizes it’s a privilege to be able to use the site for walking.

He suggested the town create signs that tell people what they can and cannot do on the land or even make an agreement on area/seasonal restriction or designated routes.

At Monday night’s council meeting, a couple of councillors said one of the issues that could be leading to restricted access are people were quadding there or using it for other recreational pursuits such as archery or even storing equipment.

Council directed that town administration to make contact with the research farm to address the concerns.

Cooling Area: With the historic heat wave impending, Coun. Mosher suggested the town act quickly to create a public cooling area for residents who can’t escape the heat.

Council decided to set up a cooling area for June 29 and go till June 30, Tuesday and Wednesday with the possibility for extension if needed.

Mosher stressed the heatwave was presenting significant challenges on some residents without air conditioning, such as seniors, families with small children and those with health issues.

Council directed administration to create a plan that can be set in place to deploy cooling stations earlier during a heatwave. The cooling centre was set up at the Beaverlodge Community Center, offering chairs in an air-conditioned space and cold water.

Priorities for economic growth survey: Counc. Dueck informed council that the town’s “Priorities for Economic Growth” survey closed on Friday. He said results will be available at the next council meeting. The survey asked residents to outline the type of amenities they feel should be priorities in the Town of Beaverlodge. The survey covered everything from schooling, road works, health care, beautification of the town and much more.

MDP and LUB drafts: Council looked over the 2021 Municipal Development Plan draft and the draft Land Use Bylaw and accepted the drafts for information.

“We will be hosting an open house on July 12 and a public hearing on Aug. 9, with the intent to try to finalize this in September prior to the election,” said CAO Jeff Johnston. The open house will take place on July 12 from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Walker Room at the rec centre.

Junior A Hockey: Council received notice that the Greater Metro Hockey League West (GMHL) Jr. A is looking to set up shop in Beaverlodge. The GMHL is looking for a commitment from the town for ice time. Derek Prue, GMHL West executive director, said the league would bring the talent to Beaverlodge, with about 21 home games in a season.

Council voted for the administration to acquire more information from the league.

Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News

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