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Reeve's Reflections

Merrill Harris

This winter has been relatively mild, except for the strong wind storms that brought down numerous irrigation systems and caused other damage across the MD. This recent cold snap broke many long-held records for the coldest temps on February 10th. Council recently received an update on the ReNu Well project which is expected to break ground this spring on an abandoned oil site southeast of Barnwell and one north of Fincastle. These oil well sites will be transformed into smaller-scale solar developments.  Existing roads and infrastructure will be used so there will be minimal new disturbance to the sites. Each site could produce enough electricity to power up to 50 irrigations pivots for a season. Opportunities may exist ahead for local farmers to purchase this power for their farm operations. Future plans include using some abandoned oil sites on MD owned land for the same purpose, to generate electricity as well as clean up some of these abandoned sites.

We are excited for the twinning of Highway 3 east of Taber to the Burdett area. I have heard that the land acquisition process and project engineering is underway. Shovels should hit the ground sometime in 2022. Safety for the travelling public was a high priority for Council as we did what we could to lobby for this project. The volume of traffic on this road is constantly increasing due to the steady surge of agriculture-related products transported over this stretch of highway.

We are also very excited about the Horsefly Regional Emergency Spillway project receiving funding from both the Provincial and Federal Governments. The engineering services for this project has been awarded to MPE Engineering Ltd and Stantec Inc. The first phase of the project is to create a spillway from Taber Lake to the Oldman River north of Taber. Shovels on this project should be in the ground in 2022 also. Following this, Phase 2 and Phase 3 work will begin. Phase 2 is expanding the canal from Horsefly Lake to Taber Lake, and Phase 3 is the expansion of the canal from the SMRID Main Canal to Horsefly Lake.  The total estimated cost of the project is $47 million. This project will add another layer of protection for the SMRID Main Canal and the water flow we all rely on for industry, raw water source for many communities as well as the irrigation water needed for the value-added crops grown in southern Alberta.

On Feb 23rd a joint Public Hearing was held with the Town of Taber on the Inter-Municipal Development Plan and has since been adopted by both municipalities. 

One thing we have all learned as a result of the coronavirus pandemic is that good rural internet service is almost as essential as running water and electricity. As a municipality, we are working towards ensuring that our residents and business owners have access to affordable and adequate upload and download speeds throughout the municipality. The MD continues to work with private industry and other levels of government to ensure our goals are met as it relates to complete coverage, adequate speeds, and affordability. When we talk of getting good internet within the MD, we are trying to ensure that those who are a long distance from the urban centres are included in the plans for better internet. 

2021 is a municipal election year. If you are at all interested in municipal government this year the Election will be held on October 18th. Nomination forms and packages, Council division boundaries, and Council Boards and Committee information is posted on the MD website. Nomination deadline is September 20, 2021.

In closing, on behalf of Council, we want to acknowledge our volunteer firefighters throughout the municipality and their employers. We have approximately 90 volunteers in six fire stations throughout the MD. They are dedicated to learning and upgrading their skills and being available at any time to run to our rescue. We also want to acknowledge their employers, who so graciously allow them to leave work and come to our assistance when it is needed. This great fire service would not function without the employers and the employees/ firefighters. 

Wishing you all the best in the coming season.


Merrill Harris
Municipal District of Taber