October 24th, 2020

City Notebook: As fall looms, activity at city hall will increase

By COLLIN GALLANT on September 19, 2020.

cgallant@medicinehatnews.com@CollinGallant

Cue the spooky music – it’s the first day of autumn on Monday.

And while how-I-spent-my-summer-vacation essays are still due, here’s a look at some of the overlooked and upcoming items at city hall.

– Municipal Stimulus Projects, which have been debated openly by just about every city, town and county council in Alberta, apparently won’t be publicly known in Medicine Hat until grant money’s in hand.

Cypress County hopes to fix roads near the Empress straddle plant complex, and Bow Island might buy a hot tub, among other projects paid for out of a per-capita grant to bolster construction activity.

Medicine Hat’s share would be about $7.5 million, the News was first to report a month ago, but what’s on the project list, submitted months ago, is locked deep in a vault.

One recalls a proposal to get a three-way funding agreement for a new water treatment plant built in 2022.

The city also has general plans in the background to build a serviced industrial park in the north end that could tick a lot of boxes on the economic development checklist.

– Council gave general direction to budget planners ahead of council’s last open meeting on Sept. 8, with Mayor Ted Clugston telegraphing to reporters that he expects some large changes in the yearly budget update and adjustment due in late December.

Good or bad, Clugston didn’t say, but he has a sly way of teasing out news he thinks taxpayers will appreciate.

– Council and administrators agreed two years ago that a review and updated protocol for council pay would be in place by late October 2020, one year ahead of the next municipal election.

– The city still has to hash out a way forward to take over, and likely rebuild, the River Ridge sewage lift station. It landed back with the city after the Supreme Court refused to hear the city’s appeal in February.

College board

Not in a municipal vein, but of local interest and coming due, is the the potential for roster shuffling on the Medicine Hat College board of governors.

Graham Kelly’s first term as chair officially ends Oct. 17, and whether the United Conservatives will give him another doesn’t look good based on recent history.

They’ve turned over almost the entire board since coming to power 18 months ago.

Most recently in May they added Shelley Beck, a former business instructor at the college who most recently was a longtime constituency office assistant for Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes.

Other new members were local investment group head Kent Smith, and Yusuf Mohammed, who is the HR head for EIWM Holdings, the firm that operates 10 Tim Hortons franchises in the city and Redcliff.

That followed a pair of new appointments, local lawyer Luke Day, then-outgoing Chamber of Commerce president Sarah Mackenzie.

That’s essentially ushered out five NDP-era appointees, with only Kelly and Brooks immigration worker Mohammed Idriss remaining.

A look ahead

All eyes on Ottawa this week where parliament resumes with a speech from the throne, though at press time the entire Bloc caucus as well as new Conservative leader Erin O’Toole were isolating after recent potential exposure to the coronavirus. Bloc leader Yves-Francois Blanchet has tested positive.

City council sits Monday to peruse a light agenda and hear a presentation about the new “on-demand” transit pilot project. The meeting is again in the Esplanade Theatre, but can also be viewed online and on Shaw-TV (Cable 10).

100 years ago

The budget of a single working woman living in safety was $18.94 per week, local labour officials told an Alberta legislative committee hearing into potential minimum wage laws for minors and women, the News reported in September 1920.

That required an annual wage of $1,000 per year, said Percy Currie, head of the municipal workers union and local trades council.

Several employers testified that inexperienced workers in dressmaking and millinery should be subject to lower, probationary wages.

An irrigation canal extending from Calgary to Medicine Hat would be the “greatest ditch on the continent” promoters told Montreal Investors.

The British-led Canadian Land and Irrigation Co. was attempting to recapitalize the project begun 10 years earlier.

Medicine Hat was listed as an emergency landing spot on a proposed Trans-national flight, with the first planned for October.

Billy Lauder, former Canadian lightweight champ, was offering private boxing lessons. Apply at his gym at First Street and Altawana, or phone 3952.

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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