June 26th, 2019

City Notebook: Taking silly to a new level

By COLLIN GALLANT on March 16, 2019.

cgallant@medicinehatnews.com@CollinGallant

They call pre-election periods the silly season, but what in the world would you call what’s happening in Alberta?

There are enough government announcements to use up a forest of newsprint, and enough opposition policy rollouts to break the internet.

You almost need a plumber to figure out how it all fits together.

This week brought party intrigue, more questions about the UCP leadership contest, calls of vote-buying against the NDP and the addition of flood mitigation to the list of election issues.

Federal money will go toward the province’s plan for off-stream reservoir west of Calgary to manage flows on the Bow River.

It’s well out of left-field, and the proposal is about as motherhood and apple pie as you can get, but somehow the two top parties have figured about a way to make hay over it.

Parting words

City utility and energy commissioner Cal Lenz will retire in late May, but had an early going away message for staff and utility customers.

“I’m really proud of all the staff throughout the city – their dedication is something else,” he told the News.

“We’ve come through a very, very cold winter and it’s been lights on heat’s on.”

That extends to crews currently grappling with an “unprecedented” number of frozen water services this month, the sanitation department that rolled out blue cart service last year, a power distribution team that was hit with havoc-causing winds in late 2017, and a huge capital program over Lenz’s time in the position.

“The people here are something else.”

Hemp

If Alberta’s going to be a world leader in growing and processing hemp, it better get on its horse.

The potential for the crop that gets turned into fibre, oil, medicine, cosmetics and food is being heavily promoted in a rapidly developing sector.

But seeding is rapidly approaching this spring, and while Canada is seen as a first mover – having relaxed cannabis and related hemp-growing regulations last fall – the U.S. industry was similarly unchained this winter with changes in the U.S. farm bill.

Since then two new processing facilities in Montana have been announced and the Montana Farmers Union recently stated its estimate that 70,000 acres in the state would be set aside for hemp this summer.

Also note that the annual report of the Eastern Irrigation District, set to be released Monday, counts hemp acres in that area at about 600 in 2018.

In 2017, hemp figures for the St. Mary’s Irrigation District and Bow River Irrigation districts were 12,000 and 6,500 acres, respectively.

Out and about

Still shaking off hibernation from February? Bank account still feeling blue from Christmas?

The fifth annual seed-swap will be held at Police Point Park Nature Centre on Saturday from 1-3 p.m.

Saturday also features an all-ages event that tinged towards financial literacy and to open a new exhibition at the Esplanade titled “decoding e-money.”

Officials with the Bank of Canada will be on hand. Youngsters can design their own currency and a tour of the exhibition “Beaver Pelts to Bitcoin” follows.

A look ahead

A presentation on local tourism statistics and efforts highlights Monday’s council session, which also includes a public hearing on rezoning the Riverside School site.

All eyes will be on the Alberta Legislature on earlier that day when the session opens with a speech from the Throne ahead of a likely election call.

100 years ago

The federal government took control of the Grand Pacific Trunk Railway after several years of rumours about the flagging fortunes of the Company, the News reported in early March, 1919. On the same page, local officials expressed their confidence that a rush to complete the Canadian Northern railway line from Hanna to the Hat would continue.

A local editorial called on the governments of North America to provide protection for migratory birds.

An interprovincial labour congress in Calgary set the date of June 1 for a vote on general strike seeking a six-day work week, an end to wartime censorship and other demands.

Meanwhile in Lethbridge, a permanent irrigation development society was formed by 500 farmers with the goal of securing $15 million from governments. The goal was to bring water to 500,000 acres within 75 miles of that city.

Collin Gallant covers city politics and a variety of topics for the News. Reach him at 403-528-5664 or via email at cgallant@medicinehatnews.com

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