|Mayor has high hopes for 2013|
|Local Content - Local News|
|Written by Trevor Busch|
|Wednesday, 09 January 2013 21:10|
Looking forward through the crystal ball into 2013, Mayor Ray Bryant anticipates a year of success for Taber and the surrounding region.
Fiscally, Taberites were treated to a 2013 municipal budget which shouldn’t have them howling in too much displeasure, considering the modest tax increase.
“Our budget for 2013 contained a 1.5 per cent tax increase, and again, I’d like to stress that’s the municipal portion only — we have no control over the education portion nor the senior’s requisition,” said Bryant, explaining the community only has control over tax increases in certain areas. “Utility fees are roughly about a three per cent increase, and a zero per cent for recreation user fees. We are well into our recreation sponsorship program, we’ve completed the first phase of the assessment and now we’re into the second phase, where we can actually put some sponsorship to some of the events or buildings. So we’re looking forward to finally starting to generate some payback in regards to moving in that direction.”
A major assessment to be completed in 2013 will help plot the future of garbage disposal and pickup for the community, and whether a move towards rollout tubs as opposed to the current bin system could be an efficacious option.
“We have a couple of assessments that are in our 2013 budget, and one is doing an assessment on our solid waste and recycling program that we have in our community, to find out whether we’re going to stay, or whether we’re going to change and go in some sort of different direction, with solid waste, and that could also have some bearing on recycling as well,” said Bryant. “We have some areas where we don’t have bins, so that might be a good area to start with the tubs, but if we were to go the full gamut, it would be tubs replacing bins. Again, we need to examine our system we have in place today, and find out if that is what we want to have for tomorrow. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done on that.”
In the area of wastewater treatment, Bryant pointed to another study awaiting completion which could help determine if the community should re-invest in an existing disposal method which is in need of upgrades.
“The other study, in regards to our wastewater treatment, we actually have two systems that are in operation. We have our wastewater treatment plant, which deals with our domestic sewage, and then we have our lagoons and our pivot system, that deals with the industrial waste. Before we put money into upgrading the aeration system and various components of that system, we need to decide whether or not, in our new wastewater treatment plant, do both, or do we want to continue with the two streams and make the upgrades to our lagoon system, and still provide water for irrigation. We have five pivots out there — pivots need to be replaced. We need to ensure our blowers and things like that are more energy-efficient. So that’s another important study, because that will determine where we’re going in the future as regards our wastewater. We’ve got a good start on our water treatment plant, and that will probably be completed in late spring of this year. It’s not only our water treatment plant, but we also have some upgrades to our reservoirs, and also some other components, trying to be more efficient,” said Bryant.
Moving forward with rehabilitation of the existing facility or construction of a new bulk water station will be a top agenda point for Bryant in 2013.
“The water loading station, that one we’ve been talking about for the last couple of years, and we need to either provide a new bulk water station somewhere else other than where it is at, or if that’s the location that is to be determined, then we definitely need to make some upgrades. I’m sure there’s a lot of people, particularly the rural people, that are frustrated with the coin and card system, accurate amounts of water, and working and not working. So not only ourselves, but EPCOR, we need to determine which is the best direction to go for that facility. We certainly need to upgrade, or find a new location to provide that service.”
Taber will be hosting the Southern Alberta Summer Games (SASG) again in 2013, and the community is currently in the planning stages for that regional event.
“The (Southern Alberta) Summer Games, it’s the 44th annual, we are slated to be the host this year, from July 3-6. We’re looking forward to that, and we did an awesome job in 2005 and 2008. There was no one that was willing to step up to the plate and host in 2013. We basically have the facilities in place, so we decided that we would fill that gap for 2013, and apparently there are communities that are ready to continue on, and I think the goal is to try to get to 50 years,” said Bryant.
To help accommodate the SASG, a decision will have to be made regarding much-needed repair work to the community pool, which could mean a potential impact on the SASG.
“The Aquafun Centre, and the re-tiling of the lap tank, we have a liner right now that we’re not exactly sure how long it’s going to last, but regardless, we have decide do we shut the facility down and replace it sooner rather than later, or do we wait until it goes?” questioned Bryant. “If it goes, that’s going to shut the lap tank down — we also have the Summer Games that are in July. So do we want to take care of this particular problem sooner? Or do we want to gamble and hope that it will last until after the first week of July? It’s something that’s been on my mind for some time, because I know that liner is on its last legs. When that liner gives way — and I’m told that it has cancer, and the cancer is spreading — we have to be prepared to move forward. It’s going to take a while to re-tile that lap tank.”
Another downtown intersection has been slated for re-design and improvement for 2013, in a similar fashion to other intersections in previous years.
“We’ve got our bi-annual capital works program. This is the year 2013, every other year we do some major projects. As part and parcel of that, we have another intersection that will be done. I stand to be corrected, but I believe it’s the intersection by Taber Small Engine and the Oilman’s (54th Street and 48th Avenue). We’ve got our various upgrades and replacement of equipment and vehicles. We’ll more than likely be looking for a new tandem truck and a garbage truck to replace those that have gone past their lifespan,” said Bryant.
Bryant is hopeful of seeing some action taken in 2013 with regard to the Centre Court for the Performing Arts, with the Arts Council of Taber for the Performing Arts nearing initial fundraising targets.
“The Centre Court for the Arts, we’ve been talking about this project for a number of years. We seem to be moving in the right direction, and I’m hoping that the various grants that this group have applied for, and the various fundraising activities that have gone on, I’m hoping that this project can finally reach the position where they can start utilizing those three facilities to generate some revenue, which I believe will be a huge plus for our community.”
In residential areas of the community currently in a semi-completed state, Bryant is anticipating new project phases in 2013.
“We’re going to see additional phases to Westview and Prairie Lake subdivisions. Those are two residential subdivisions that have room for major expansions, and we’re going to see additional phases moving forward in the spring, and we also have some industrial land that we have that hopefully will be better utilized than what it is at this point in time.”
Wage stability for town employees has also been secured for the time being with the completion and acceptance of various employee contracts.
“We have contract agreements in place for both CUPE, management, and police, and so we won’t have to spend any additional time on those, and it will certainly assist us in terms of budgeting for future years, because of these agreements.”
Considering at least one major emergency situation involving tornadoes and a violent storm system in 2012, Bryant is looking forward to reviewing the role of the town and its employees in these kinds of emergency situations in early 2013.
“We actually have a meeting scheduled for this month, in order to get everyone to the table and talk about that very thing. We need to be prepared within our community, but we are also part of a bigger municipal emergency services picture as well. We need to put some time into that, and be as prepared as best we can for any type of emergency that may come our way. I personally feel that we need to be better prepared, better planned. I feel confident that the people that we have in place would do an excellent job with whatever emergency that we have, but we do need to spend some time on that so that we all know what our role and responsibilities are. So we are going to start working and spending more time on that beginning this month.”
Considering 2013 is now a municipal election year, was Bryant making any predictions as to his own potential candidacy as an incumbent for the position of mayor?
“Municipal elections will be in October 2013. These are now going to be four year terms, and so that will be happening. At this point in time, I’m undecided on whether I’m going to let my name stand for another term. We’re looking forward to 2013 being the best year ever, and ensuring that Taber is a great place to grow, to live, to work, and to visit.”
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