2016 in Review
It has certainly been an interesting few months in the political realm provincially, nationally and internationally.
Winston Churchill may have said it best when he said that “Democracy is the worst form of government – except for all the others”. While we all have strong opinions on recent local, national and provincial issues I certainly hope that we as an organization and indeed as a society continue to exhibit a high level of decorum and simple courtesy even when we disagree.
There is one certain truth that I can say after nearly 20 years of public service – individuals and organizations will always act in their own best self- interest. The responsibility for making the final decision falls to the elected official - as democratically elected by the people in their division, province or country - to weigh the facts and make a decision. Fortunately in the case of the MD of Taber there are 7 elected officials who represent the citizens in their division who make the final decision on any matter before Council. 7 heads are always better than 1. Having spent over 3 years in a room making decisions with this Council I am satisfied that the decisions that have been made have been sound – especially the difficult ones.
The MD of Taber Council has been actively involved in lobbying for issues related to transportation within the municipality. These issues include the slump area on highway 36 at Chin Lake – after 5 years of bringing this to the department’s attention the work has now been completed. In addition the municipality is actively working on issues related to highway 3 twinning, a truck turnout area on highway 36 at Vauxhall, local road and bridge funding and a long term solution to the highway 521 road maintenance issue.
The M.D. of Taber Council has been engaged in the development of the 2017 municipal budget. Our focus continues to remain on improving the transportation network within the municipality. In 2016 our municipal construction forces completed the following:
■ rehabilitation of 60 km of roadway
■ completed the development of lots at the MD airport in Taber
■ completed the MD of Taber sport shooting complex
■ crushed near 250,000 cubic yards of gravel for use on our road network
■ hauled and applied to municipal roads 160,000 cubic yards of rock over 640 kilometers of road- way
■ the municipalities 12 district road graders spent near 14,000 hours maintaining roads
■ over 75 drainage culverts replaced or installed within the road allowances
■ 2 major road culverts replaced
Currently the MD of Taber transportation / public works budget accounts for 65% of the municipal budget. This work to build, reconstruct, replace and modernize our transportation network will continue.
To support the municipal maintenance and construction forces the Council has approved the construction of a new Maintenance and Operations building on property which was purchased west of Taber in January. We believed that tendering the project at a time when many organizations are holding off building new facilities would result in significant savings. It appears as if this was the correct decision as the building tender came in 15% under engineering estimates. The facility will be constructed by general contractor Dawson Wallace for $6.8 million.
The precast concrete facility will feature 5 maintenance bays equipped with lifts and over- head cranes sufficient to undertake heavy equipment maintenance associated with operating a large construction company – which is what the municipality in effect is. Further the facility features a welding / fabrication bay for maintenance purposes as well as an office facility for the Agricultural Service Board and Public Works including offices, meeting rooms, change and lunch facilities.
One of the significant items of note with regards to the decision to construct the shop facility will be that MD of Taber staff and equipment will construct the civil portions of the project including site grading, stormwater retention ponds, buried utilities and roads. This work is valued at $1.8 million and forms part of our annual construction operating budget. When asked if we will have local people working on the project I can say with certainty that the answer is yes – we’ll have the best municipal staff in the province working on the project.
The municipality intends to fund the project from reserves which have been earmarked for this purpose as well as through the Municipal Sustainability Initiative grant program and through our annual operating budget. No debt will be taken on to undertake this project.
The Municipal Campus site will include the Maintenance and Operations Building, and in time equipment storage facilities, a chemical shed / equipment storage shed for the Agricultural Service Board, a road sand storage facility and fuel storage will be constructed.
There is no immediate plan to construct an administration building on this site. Since 2004 the MD of Taber has continually upgraded the existing administration building including interior renovations in 2004, a new roof and HVAC in 2008 and new windows in 2010. This past year the former sugar beet grower’s office was renovated into a new council chamber – the updated facility and location should provide a meeting area which is more convenient for access by the public and one which demonstrates our continued openness and transparency. In undertaking continual planned maintenance of the administration building over time we have extended the useful life of the building for the future at a cost far below what a new building would be. Although constructed in 1967 it was built right – concrete and brick - and it will last a long time yet.
The decision to construct a new maintenance shop was not taken lightly. A review of the existing facilities which were constructed in the 1950’s and 60’s and renovated and expanded in the 1970s were determined to be insufficient for the size of our current machines and the extent of our municipal organization. The location of the facilities within the Town of Taber is limited to 10 acres in size which seems large enough except when you consider the size of the current equipment. The new 40 acre location will ensure that the facility will meet the municipality’s needs for the future and provide unrestricted access to the site for our heavy equipment.
I invite you to visit the MD webpage and social media sites to view frequently updated photos of the construction of the facility over the next year and a half.
On behalf of municipal council and staff I would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.