By Heather Cameron
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The following are selected briefs from the October 10, 2023 meeting of Vauxhall Council Meeting.
Rogers Telecommunication Proposal
Justin Rockafellow, Director of Cypress Land Services, and Kristina Bell, Land Use Planner from Cypress Land Services, presented a letter of concurrence to proceed with construction on a proposed installation of a 52-meter self-supporting wireless telecommunication tower and their equipment shelter on block 27, plan 1476 E.
Bell said the tower, if approved for construction, would provide a coverage for both cellular and mobility services. Bell added Rogers specifically has one tower currently about six and a half km to the northeast and one further south. According to Bell, Cypress, has undergone public consultation and consultation with the Town of Vauxhall. The Town’s Municipal Planning Commission, Bell said, saw the application and made recommendations based on the submission. Bell explained the OTA initially had concerns about ensuring that the tower would not be detrimental to crop sprayers in the area. Bell said there was also a request from the M.D. of Taber that the tower be lit. Rockafellow stated that one of the challenges delaying the tower is that the tower would’ve had to have been lit with a white strobe light, which is a bit intrusive, especially given the tower’s proximity to the residential development. Therefore the light was recirculated to the end of the tower. Bell stated that the letter before Council was draft integration for a letter of concurrence subject to conditions that the applicant obtain all technical safety codes which permit the applicant contact utility safety partners to locate existing utility lines that the applicant comply with permits like federal regulations, approvals, and authorizations.
To address municipality concerns regarding air traffic safety, Bell said, the tower will be painted alternating stripes of red and white in accordance with Transport Canada and similar standards. The perimeter of the facility, Bell said, will be secured, put within a high chain-link security fence, and the applicant is responsible for reporting the location of the communication tower to the Alberta Aerial Applicator’s Association. It was also stiplated that all development, including driveways and accesses, shall be located outside of the Town of Vauxhall’s Right of Flight Plan 7410715, which is registered along the eastern boundary of the property. Lastly, the applicant landowner is to be responsible for determining the location of all easements and or utility and ensuring that the development is not approached upon those and that they comply with any of those agreements.
In addition to details about the tower, Rockafellow also provided Council with details about the telecommunication public consultation processes. Cypress Land Services, Rockafellow said, did send direct mail outs with all information about the tower, as well as background information on its location and also issued an advertisement in the local newspaper. No comments were received, Rockafellow said, despite the fact that it is typical for such a project to receive comments ranging from a visual aspect, as well as lots of questions about health and safety.
A motion was made to authorize issuance of the letter of concurrence of a 52-meter self-supporting wireless telecommunication tower. The motion was approved unanimously.
Alberta Advantage Immigration Program
Amy Allred, the Economic Development Manager for the Town of Taber, spoke about the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program to Council. Allred stated that from all the participating communities around the region that the program has been able to collaborate with, she is sure that many have seen the labour shortages firsthand and that the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program aims to alleviate the issue and give a hand-up to employers.
The program, Allred says, allows businesses to offer full-time year-round jobs to foreign workers who have experience in that specific job position. Allred says that candidates for the program have a number of qualifications to meet before they are approved to move forward, including a certain level of English language testing, which varies based on the job they’re applying for, but they must have at least their high school equivalency, along with settlement funds if they’re not here working already; and they have to have at least 12 months experience in the last 18 months of that specific position to be able to qualify for the program. The benefit to the candidate, Allred says, is once they get here, they can apply for their permanent residency and hopefully they’ll stay in rural areas, so they can be in Canada or abroad.
Candidates are interviewed by the team, and following the meeting, all eligible candidates go to an approval committee, which is made up of settlement services, employers, and the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program Team. The committee, Allred says, is open to anybody that would like to participate, and they go through the applications to ensure the candidate is a good fit for the community. Allred says that the actual program team has three members, including herself.
When the program was first implemented last year, Allred says, the team discovered that it was laborious, and to mitigate the amount of work, hired two Economic Development Assistants over the past year. The program has also since welcomed the communities of Coaldale, Picture Butte, Lethbridge County, Milk River, Cardston, and Raymond to participate in the “complex program.
“Being able to run it regionally with such staff has been really successful,” Allred added.
To date, 127 candidates have been approved for the program for full-time employment, and approximately 56 businesses currently employing workers in the region.
Council, however raised concerns as to where workers would reside. Allred stated the program communicates with involved employers from the beginning regarding that issue and they ensure that the employers are involved in making sure all their employees within the program have a place to live. A lot of the candidates, Allred says, have things through their employers they’re a family member or lots of employers have even bought houses to rent back to their employees. Allred even stated that Taber is looking at housing options including a secondary suite residential tax rate or a new build residential tax incentive as well to try and get things moving.
Council also expressed upset about the fact that they are having trouble finding places for their own employees to live and stated that it’s concerning that newcomers would be brought to Canada with no appropriate accommodation available for them. On top of those concerns, Council stated to Allred that it was troublesome that she mentioned that businesses in Vauxhall were hiring employees through the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program Team, yet there has not been visible evidence of those businesses been advertising their need for employees within the community despite people already within the community needing work. Allred firmly reassured Council that according to program regulations, it is a requirement for employers to advertise within their community before they hire an external candidate, but said employers have all provided evidence of both online and offline advertising in the community or what they have done to try and fill the jobs. Allred also said that the program team could definitely talk to those employers about how they’re advertising in Vauxhall and see if there’s different methods than just online.
A motion was made to receive Allred’s presentation for information and that motion was carried unanimously.