On September 18, members of the M.D. of Taber Council were paid a visit by the Board of Directors of the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA), including Board President Paul McLauchlin, District 1 Director Jason Schneider, and Executive Director Gerald Rhodes.
“These visits serve as opportunities to engage with local communities, understand their current challenges, and provide potential solutions through advocacy efforts,” Reeve Merrill Harris said. “This year, the M.D. of Taber was selected for this purpose.”
Together, they toured the Horsefly Regional Emergency Spillway Project, Nakamura Farms during potato harvest, and had lunch at the Potato Growers of Alberta.
“The tours happened because the RMA conduct visits to member municipalities approximately every three years,” Harris said. “Council chose these specific tours to showcase the Municipal District of Taber to the RMA, providing them with a comprehensive view of our current infrastructure projects, potato farming and our local agricultural industry, and community engagement.”
Harris says that the tour of the Horsefly Regional Emergency Spillway Project involved visiting the ongoing project construction sites. The tour, Harris says, aimed to provide the RMA representatives with insights into infrastructure development and emergency preparedness efforts within the Municipal District of Taber.
Then, Harris says, the tour of Nakamura Farms during potato harvest season aimed to offer a deeper understanding of the potato industry and its significant role in the region.
Finally, Harris says that lunch at the Potato Growers of Alberta (PGA) served as an opportunity for everyone to facilitate further discussions and advocacy efforts for the M.D. of Taber.
“This gathering served as a valuable platform for all parties to engage in an informal dialogue on topics crucial to the MD of Taber, allowing representatives to hear about topics concerning us firsthand and to learn more about the MD, the PGA, and the potato industry in Alberta,” Harris said. “During the tours, everyone had the opportunity to learn and appreciate several key aspects including flood mitigation and infrastructure - the RMA representatives gained valuable insights into the Horsefly Regional Emergency Spillway Project, enhancing their understanding of flood mitigation in our region; agriculture - the visit to Nakamura Farms offered a better understanding of the potato industry in our region; and community engagement - the lunch at the Potato Growers of Alberta allowed for informal discussions and networking, fostering relationships between the two organizations.”
Harris emphasizes that members of the Municipal District of Taber Council actively participated in these tours, playing a vital role in guiding the RMA delegation through the various activities, providing explanations, and sharing insights into local projects, the economic impact of agriculture, and current topics of concern facing our producers, our residents, and the municipality.
“The RMA delegation expressed their appreciation for the informative tours and the hospitality extended to them by the M.D. – including the free sample products generously donated by our very own Lantic (Rogers) Sugar – giving them a true taste of local!” Harris said. “They acknowledged the significance of these visits in enhancing their understanding of rural municipalities like the M.D. and in sharing insights and learning about some of the problems we are facing to help the M.D. achieve strong, effective, local government. The Municipal District of Taber also expressed immense pride in hosting the RMA delegation and in the successful completion of the tours. These visits facilitated knowledge exchange, strengthened relationships, and showcased the municipality’s commitment to enhancing our region.”
Harris says that the key topics discussed during the event included flood mitigation and those discussions centered on the progress and effectiveness of the Horsefly Regional Emergency Spillway Project, a critical infrastructure endeavour. Another discussion, Harris says, was agricultural and economic impacts and included how the tours highlighted the local agricultural sector, particularly during the potato harvest season, as a significant talking point. Harris says that a third discussion touched upon collaboration and advocacy efforts with emphasis being placed on the importance of collaboration between rural municipalities and organizations like the RMA for advocacy efforts, raising awareness of key issues, and fostering community growth.
“As a result of these tours, the next steps include continued collaboration on key topics at the next RMA Conference in November,” Harris said. “These tours play a crucial role in fostering ongoing dialogue and cooperation between independent associations and other levels of government that will ultimately contribute to the well-being of our region.”
Heather Cameron, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Taber Times