By Cal Braid
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Tamara Miyanaga is well into her second term on council at the M.D. of Taber. After six years of service, she entered her seventh as Reeve of the district–and had positive reports to share. In the municipality, seven councillors are elected by the public and the reeve is then selected by council as a whole. Miyanaga reflected on the forward progress that she saw in 2023, and detailed many projects that will remain ongoing throughout this new year.
“In Taber, we have a project called RenuWell. It’s involved with the Municipal Climate Change Action Center (MCCAC) to convert abandoned well sites and to transform orphan oil and gas brownfields into active solar. That project came to a conclusion and is generating power. With the RenuWell team and St. Mary River Irrigation District, besides the success of the project, they’ve also received a Brownie award from the MCCAC for the work they did in conserving high-value land and generating cost savings through the use of brownfields,” she said. A brownfield is a contaminated, under-utilized and undeveloped site that has been reclaimed to become a productive residential and commercial project. “It’s quite an accomplishment. Not only is the project a success, but already we’re seeing interest throughout the province from other companies who want to replicate the model because of the success RenuWell had. That’s a huge accomplishment for the M.D. of Taber and RenuWell in 2023.”
She turned her focus to the regional fire service, which continues to be very active. The service has 75 volunteer firefighters and in December, council made a motion with the support of the firefighters to assume an additional role providing emergency medical response. “In certain circumstances, they would be able to help with a medical response as they wait for the ambulance to arrive,” Miyanaga said. “It doesn’t take away from the ambulance services, it’s just an enhancement.” Many fire departments have already done this and the M.D.’s department had been doing it but it hadn’t yet been formalized. They’ve now formalized the role with Alberta Health Services in order to assist in an EMR capacity, “which is very important for the safety and well-being of our residents,” she said.
“On that note, in 2023 the M.D. has really been doing advocacy work with AHS and the town of Vauxhall, because we needed to find a solution for ambulance coverage for residents who live north of the river. Now, south of the river is just as important, and we’ve affirmed to AHS that each resident, whether they’re at the far north or the far south, should have access to reliable and well-trained ambulance services. At this point, AHS is working with us and we look forward to having a full coverage in 2024. We will continue to press on that.”
Finally, she talked about water health and security, an ever-present topic of interest in the region. “Phase one of the southern Alberta drainage project is near completion. We’re looking at finalizing the budget and engineering for phase two and three. The most important part of this is to ensure that overland flooding ensures the security of our irrigation infrastructure, but also our drinking water. As we continue through these phases, it creates safety for our residents and for our neighbours.”