I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate and thank all of the staff of the Town of Hanna. During our recent move from the old town office to the new facility, all of the departments pitched in to help make the transition as painless as possible. The Grand Opening was a huge success largely due to the Town Office staff who spent a lot of hours preparing the new space for the November 5th event. I was very pleased to see the number of residents and guests who came to celebrate this momentous occasion with us. For those of you who may have missed it, you can pop by the new building and I'm sure one of our staff members would gladly take you on a tour. The new facility at 302 2nd Avenue West will meet our needs for many years to come and the former office building at 202 1st Street West will offer more space to the Municipal Library.
Your council and administration have been working very hard on our three year budget. Over the last couple of years it was decided to look more closely at our infrastructure, particularly the unseen (pipes under our roads). This past summer we hired a company to come in and run cameras through some of our main sewer lines. We knew that our pipes are aging but the results showed that some of the infrastructure is in worse shape than anticipated. This makes our jobs substantially easier in the fact that we know where to best spend our tax dollars – the difficulty is in paying for the necessary repairs. The cost of pipe is relatively inexpensive, the problem is that to get to the pipes you need to tear up the roads and that's when it gets expensive. So we will be putting together 3 very tough years of budgeting. In our engineer’s words "These are things which won't necessarily get you re-elected." With an election two years away, I'm sure that none of your council has decided whether they will seek re-election. It is our duty as elected officials to diligently seek the best ways to spend our tax dollars through the budgeting procedure. This is why we plan major capital projects every other year so we can do a larger project which gives us more value for the dollar. As an example, this year we completed paving on Fox Lake Trail east from Argue Drive to Pioneer Trail. We were able to do some other patches and repairs which ended up coming in at just over $1,000,000. Setting the budget is possibly the most difficult process presented to your elected officials but most certainly one that is very necessary.
Future of coal fired generating plants
Another item that has recently been in the forefront for council and administration is the future of coal fired generating plants. With the election of the NDP Government in May of this year, Council has been interested to see their plan to move forward with their election platform to eliminate the use of coal in the generation of electricity. Obviously with the Sheerness Generating Station and Westmoreland Coal being large employers in the region and a majority of their employees living in the Town of Hanna it causes great concern to Council. Council has been pro-active; working with representatives of ATCO Power, TransAlta (50% owner of the Sheerness Generating Station) and other municipalities in Alberta who will be similarly affected to present our concerns to the Government. We want to enforce our concerns for a properly planned, phased in approach to the elimination of coal, keeping the best interests of the communities affected in mind. The Town will attempt to keep residents informed as we become informed.