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Reviewing 2023 through Vauxhall and area stories – August to December

Posted on January 11, 2024 by Vauxhall Advance

August

Vauxhall’s first annual Cowboy Days Western Festival will take place on August 5-6 at the Vauxhall Rodeo Grounds.

“It’s been a while since the community of Vauxhall has come together to hold a western event of this scale,” Rugged Rodeo Inc., the organization who is bringing this event to Vauxhall, stated on their Facebook page about the festival. “This community has a long and storied western heritage, and we think it’s time we embrace that history.”

The Horsefly Spillway Project is currently in Phase 1 of its development.

“The Horsefly Regional Emergency Spillway is a flood mitigation infrastructure project located within the Municipal District of Taber (MDT),” Arlos Crofts, Chief Administrative Officer for the M.D. of Taber, said. “The MDT is the managing partner for the project on behalf of the South Regional Storm water Drainage Committee (SRSDC).  Its primary purpose is to serve as an emergency release, allowing excess water to be carried away from the Main SMRID Canal all the way to the Oldman River using existing irrigation infrastructure during periods of heavy rainfall or flooding, helping to mitigate the risk of floods and protect the surrounding areas and communities.”

Sugar beets which were seeded directly into barley stubble have proven to be a successful venture for one farmer in Lethbridge County. 

Gary Vucurevich farms in Lethbridge County and shared his findings on a no-till sugar beet trial, presented on July 27 as part of Farming Smarter’s Rolling Innovation Tour, a bus tour which transports participants from site to site, providing direct access to various agricultural experts and producers in the Lethbridge County region. 

During the August 15 M.D. of Taber Council Meeting, Richard Phillips, general manager for the Bow River Irrigation District, gave a presentation to Council on the Eyremore Dam Project.

“It would be a new onstream dam on the Bow River, roughly 43 kilometres downstream of the Bassano Dam roughly east of Lake Newell and Brooks,” Phillips said. “The real reason for this project is right now, there’s no provincially-owned and operated storage on the Bow River. And that is a real weakness with the entire Bow River system. Of course, the Bow River is the sole water source for the BRID. The majority of our irrigated acres, of course, lie within the M.D. of Taber. And this would be a big project that would have a big benefit for the entire province in terms of water management.”

The following are selected briefs from the M.D. of Taber Council Meeting from August 15, 2023.

Reeve Harris Report

Reeve Merrill Harris reported to Council that he attended the tour MLA Grant Hunter attended for Simplot executives. Harris stated that it was nice to be invited along on that tour to show Simplot executives what the M.D. is doing with irrigation and potato farming. 

Reeve Harris also stated that he attended staff barbecues, the Inter-Municipal Development Meeting, the Taber’s Table Dinner event, two firefighter barbecues, and the Airport Committee.

September

It is that time of the year again – applications to the Community Priorities and the Henry S. Varley Fund for Rural Life grants programs are being accepted by the Community Foundation of Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta.

Executive Director Charleen Davidson said in a release Aug. 23 that this is their second and final call for funding this year.

Fall is in the air and the Vauxhall Academy of Baseball Jets are back in town to get their fall season started. After players reported to the team in late August, the team got into its first game action this past weekend as they hit the highway to Lethbridge to take on the Prairie Baseball Academy and Parkland Academy. 

Game 1 saw the Jets take to the field to take on Parkland Academy. In their first action of the fall, the Jets were unable to muster any sustained offence as they fell 5-1. Brett Getz, Rory MacDonald, and Aaron Fuzesy all found their way to the mound for the Jets. 

The following are selected briefs from the Town of Vauxhall Council meeting that took place on Sept. 11.

Agreement with Town of Raymond for Financial Services

Clark Holt, Chief Financial Officer for the Town of Raymond, met with Council regarding providing financial services to the Town of Vauxhall for a period of one year per a contract they entered into together. Holt said he spends half his time providing financial services for the Town of Raymond and half his time providing financial services to other communities with the assistance of Kim Coppieters. Holt said he addresses financial details such as budgeting, big picture financial statement prep, tax rate bylaws while Coppieters handles detail including most of the day-to-day such as payable and bookkeeping reconciliations. During his visit with Council, Holt outlined the Town of Vauxhall’s operating budget and also explained that the province has a new formula this year to calculate MSI operating for communities. Holt also stated that the Town of Vauxhall is in good shape revenue-wise and is expected to break even operationally.

Kodiaks soccer continues to dominate in the Athletic Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC). Both teams are still undefeated going into week four of the season and continue to climb the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) rankings.

Rae Vanden Dungen (fifth year, Early Childhood Education, Vauxhall) was outstanding in leading the Kodiaks this weekend, accumulating three goals, one assist, and 14 shots on net against the Medicine Hat Rattlers. The women’s team has now moved up to the number five spot in the CCAA rankings.

October

Continued efforts and funding into rural and Indigenous tourist destinations and experiences continue to be a prioritize for the Minister of Tourism and Sport, Joseph Schow.

In a recent release recognizing World Tourism Day on Sept. 27, Minister Schow said rural and Indigenous destinations will continue to play a critical role in building the tourism industry, and continues to be a key focus of Travel Alberta’s in distributing funding supports to build capacity in those areas.

With the Canadian House of Commons reconvened, MP for Bow River Martin Shields did not hesitate to rise in the House on Sept. 26 to discuss some issues that was brought to his attention during the parliamentary break.

“It is good to see you back and good to see my colleague on the opposite side. We have had many conversations over the years, and I appreciate the opportunity to have that discussion again tonight,” said Shields. “One of the things that happened in this particular summer was a tour. There were ag journalists from all over the world at a conference in Alberta. One of the options they had was to tour around to different places. One of the tours was in my riding, looking at irrigation and ag producers. It was a privilege to be invited along with this busload of journalists from around the world, and I was sitting beside one from Montreal, one from Iowa in the U.S. corn belt, and another one from Brazil. We talked about agriculture. Of course, because I am from the government, the journalists asked me about the policies of how it works.”

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.

The following are selected briefs from the M.D. of Taber Council Meeting that took place on October 10, 2023.

Upcoming Events

Council discussed the following upcoming events: the ASB South Regional Conference on Wednesday, October 18 2023 at Royal Canadian Legion Branch 208 in Oyen, Alberta; the organizational meeting on October 24, 2023; the poppy ceremony at the Town of Taber Administration Building on October 27, 2023 at 10:55 a.m.; the RMA Conference on November 6, 2023; M.D. of Taber Fall Safety Day at 9 a.m. on November 22, 2023; the Ag Connections Conference on November 22, 2023 in Medicine Hat; and the M.D. of Taber staff Christmas party on December, 8, 2023.

November

During the Vauxhall Town Council Meeting on October 23, Councillor Margaret Plumtree announced her resignation from Council.

“I resigned from my position on the council after a decade of service for a combination of reasons,” Plumtree stated. “First and foremost, I observed a stagnation of forward thinking in our decision-making processes. While we had achieved remarkable milestones during my tenure, such as the construction of the new pool, the beautiful library, the revival of the once-condemned barbershop, unforgettable centennial celebrations, and the restoration of our beloved mascots Sammy and Samantha, I felt that there was still more that we could do to further the progress of our community. I, however, began to sense a lack of momentum and action on critical matters that could have a significant impact on our community’s future.”

On Oct. 1, Vauxhall’s Royal Canadian Legion Branch 193 officially closed the doors of its building and Legion Hall.

“It was an enjoyable, very, very enjoyable place, but times have changed, our veterans have passed away,” Barb Bell, Secretary and Treasurer of the Vauxhall Legion organization said. “People have moved for health reasons. You know, it’s just the younger generation doesn’t understand near as much. So we are just one of the many that are having a terrible time. There’s no participation. The bills are too high. Laws have changed.”

In her first interview with the Advance as Vauxhall’s new mayor, Kim Cawley shared her perspective on the recent resignation of a long-time council member and her hopes for the upcoming by-election.

Born and raised on a farm just north of Vauxhall, Cawley has lived in the area her whole life. When she got married she moved into town with her husband and they’ve lived here since 2001. Her husband has worked in the Town’s Public Works Department, and by way of proximity Cawley got to learn about the operational side of the Town. Nine years ago she was approached and asked if she would be interested in running for town council, she thought, “Hey, why not?” As a stay-at-home mom who was working part-time, she thought it would be a nice way to add value to her time and simultaneously give something back to her community. She ran for council and was elected.

The Vauxhall Queens clinched a spot in the high-school volleyball provincials, and head north this week in search of a crown. The zone tournament was in Claresholm this past weekend, and the Queens played in five matches. 

“We won the three in our round-robin,” said Scott Reiling, vice-principal and volleyball coach at Vauxhall HS. “We beat Fort Mcleod, J.T. Foster, and Kate Andrews, so we finished first in our pool. Then we played the hosts, Willow Creek, in the semi-finals. It was a really good match, a close match between them. Then we beat Immanuel Christian in the finals.” The victories secured their spot in the provincials, coming up this weekend in Whitecourt.

At the Nov. 20 Vauxhall council meeting, Ryan Vogt of Benchmark Assessment Consultants explained how he, as the Town’s property assessor, evaluates the property taxes that represent a major source of revenue for local governments.

A property assessor is employed by the municipality, and in the case of Vauxhall, the Town contracts an assessor rather than having one on staff. It’s a more cost-effective way of deriving values for all the properties in the municipality. “Property assessment is essentially the cornerstone of municipal financing,” he said. “Our mandate is to apply a market value within a reasonable range for every property within the municipality.”

December

Council passed the following resolution at the Nov. 7 regular Council meeting:

RES: 23:207 MOVED by Councillor Deleeuw that the Town of Vauxhall Municipal by-election be held on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024. The polls open at 10:00 a.m. and close at 8:00 p.m. located in the Vauxhall Administrative Office, 223 5th St N.

The Town has one vacancy for the role of councillor. The notice of nomination day is Jan. 15, 2024, and there is a form that must be submitted by that date. Municipal by-elections are held in accordance with the Municipal Government Act (MGA) and Local Authorities Election Act (LAEA).

Martin Shields, MP for Bow River, spoke in the House of Commons on Dec. 7 when discussion turned to the business of supply. He specifically spoke on behalf of irrigation farmers whom he said are heavily burdened by the toll of the carbon tax. 

“When I last spoke about this, I had examples of many of the irrigating farmers paying more than $100,000 in carbon taxes a year, and there are thousands of them in my riding because of irrigation,” he said.

Protocol items and announcements

Councilor Clawson congratulated Rob and Shannon Mossey for winning the achievement of Vauxhall Ag Volunteer of the year and they also congratulated Haven Agencies for winning Vauxhall Chamber Business of the Year and thanked them both for their dedication to the community of Vauxhall.

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