Main content of the website

Reeve's Reflections

Merrill Harris

June 2022

This spring has been unusually cold and windy. We saw many days with high winds and skies darkened by blowing dirt. I don’t think anyone likes to see topsoil blowing away – especially those impacted by yards and homes filling with dirt. Your Agriculture Service Board and Council have updated the Soil Conservation Bylaw. However, what we need more than anything right now is a good soaking rain and for the winds to quit. When it is this dry, road maintenance and removing washboarding from roads is difficult. Our grader operators are doing their best to keep our roads in drivable condition.

The MD held their Annual General Meeting on April 27th at the Grassy Lake Community Hall. A quick thank you to all who attended, for the questions asked, and for the input given to Council. Council and Administration also spent a few days in Strategic Planning, envisioning where to spend scarce resources that move the Municipality forward in the right direction in the coming years.

A hearty welcome to two new employees who have recently joined the MD since the last newsletter. First Brandon Bougie joins us as the new Deputy Regional Fire Chief and Deputy Director of Emergency Management. Brandon recently relocated from 100 Mile House, British Columbia and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the MDT Regional Fires Services. Jill Livingstone joins us once again as our new Financial Coordinator, who previously filled a temporary full-time position with the MD back in 2019. We welcome them both and congratulate Jill Speer for assuming the position as our new Planning and Economic Development Officer at the MD.

Work continues on the Southern Regional Storm Water Drainage projects, such as the Horsefly Emergency Spillway Drainage Project. The design of Phase 1 is nearing completion and will be put forward to tender in late summer, with construction expected to start later this fall. This is for the construction of new canals and spillway structures starting from the north end of Taber Lake to the Oldman River. Design and engineering have begun for Phases 2 and 3, with tendering and construction to begin hopefully in 2023. The total estimated cost of this project is $49,000,000. We have secured grants from the federal and provincial governments to cover $39,000,000 for this project. The remainder will be funded by our municipal partners. The overall drainage project includes other projects such as the Sauder Reservoir Spillway west of Medicine Hat, recently completed by SMRID, and the expansion of Chin Reservoir that is expected to be completed in 2029 by SMRID. That leaves four other identified projects, which include pumping stations along the length of the SMRID Main Canal — the purpose of which is to drain water off lands along the canal that typically flood during heavy rain and snowmelt events — the expansion of the Sherburne Reservoir south of Grassy Lake, the expansion of the Murray Reservoir south of Seven Persons, and the creation of the Paradise Creek Reservoir south of Medicine Hat to help decrease overland flooding during heavy rain or snowmelt events. It truly is a regional partnership that includes counties, MDs, towns and cities from Lethbridge to Medicine Hat.

The new Property Tax Penalty Bylaw No 1985 was given third reading on March 8th to move the Property Tax Collection due date forward 45 days. Beginning in 2023, municipal property taxes will be due on September 30th, instead of November 15th. Tax penalties will also change with this new deadline. A penalty of 3% will be applied on October 1st, 2023 for any outstanding balance owing, a penalty of 3% will be applied on December 1st, 2023 for current taxes owing, and a 12% penalty will be applied on February 1st, 2024 for current taxes owing.

As mentioned previously, Council has been working towards developing more residential lots in both Grassy Lake and Enchant. The Enchant Subdivision has received approval from the Subdivision and Development Authority and was recently put forward to tender. We are awaiting approval from Alberta Environment for a setback variance for the proposed lots in Grassy Lake. As soon as we receive approval, the subdivision will move forward. It is good to see interest in living and building homes in our hamlets.

It has been 18 years since the Land-Use Bylaw was reviewed in its entirety. Council, with the help of Administration and the expertise of the Oldman River Regional Services Commission, will begin the job of reviewing and updating the bylaw to reflect the best land-use practices. There will be an opportunity for all residents to have input into the re-writing of the bylaw.

As mentioned previously, many roads are receiving major fixes this summer. A sand seal treatment will be applied to the entire route of Highway 513 which will extend its life significantly. Township Road 15-0 and Range Road 18-3 are scheduled to receive significant rebuild work to facilitate the movement of feed, cattle and manure from the new feedlots north of Enchant. Both Chin Road and Purple Oil are scheduled for asphalt repair work, and Township Road 9-5a will be receiving a soil-cement treatment. We will be continuing with shoulder pulling and gravel recovery on many roads this summer.

As usual, if you have questions about what is happening or why things are happening, call your Councillor or Administration. On behalf of Council, I hope you have an excellent growing season and find time to enjoy our Municipality. It truly is a great place to call home.