I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year, and all the best for 2018.
Many of you have probably noticed the large structure being built on the east end of town behind the fire hall. This building is a training / burn tower; it is a facility that will be used to train, not only Hanna firefighters, but many firefighters from around the region. This is a “state of the art” structure that was initiated by Hanna’s volunteer fire department. To date this project has been funded by a Provincial Grant and a significant donation from the Hanna Firefighters Association. The first phase of this project is the tower itself, followed by the installation of burn props. These burn props allow instructors to simulate various scenarios using live fire, giving firefighters and trainees an authentic experience in order to work as safely and effectively as possible in any given situation. The burn props are very expensive at an estimated cost of approximately $250,000 for each prop. The proposal is to have four burn props installed in the training tower. Another grant application has been submitted for assistance to fund the cost of the burn props. Council has allocated $100,000 toward this project in the 2018 budget, which will be the first funding provided by the municipality for this facility. The funding plan includes surrounding municipalities contributing funds in 2018 as they will also be utilizing the facility for their own fire departments. This is a great project that will ensure the safety for our volunteer fire departments for many years to come.
Your council recognized through an infrastructure study that our sidewalks throughout town are in need of our attention. Over the last several years we have significantly increased our budget for sidewalk replacement. Our goal is to catch up on the infrastructure deficit which we currently have. One of the difficulties is identifying and prioritizing the sidewalks that are in need of replacing. If you feel that your sidewalk is in poor shape and in need of replacing please don’t hesitate to contact the town office and we will have a look at it and put it into the queue.
Chris Warwick, Mayor
Goodbye to previous council and hello to new!
November 8, 2017
I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the previous council and the great work that they accomplished during the last term. Councillors Gerald Campion, Jerry Kruse, Richard Preston, Jason Smith, Larry Stickel, and Cathy Watts were a dedicated group of elected officials who worked well together, always with the best interests of our community in mind. Although we didn’t always agree on everything they were very supportive of all decisions made by council. Some of our accomplishments were; completing an infrastructure study which would provide a roadmap for not only the council of the day, but also for future councils. This process has made our budget meetings much simpler. Through this study it was identified that our storm sewer was in need of an upgrade to alleviate some of the localized flooding that we experienced during heavy rainfalls. As a result, Council approved the 3rd Street upgrade which was completed in September at a cost of $1.1 million. Another deficiency that was identified was the condition of the sidewalks in our community, since that study your council has budgeted a significant increase to sidewalk replacement and I hope that your new Council will continue to support this as we are still not where we would like to be on that front. I am also very proud that through their fiscal responsibility, the Town of Hanna does not have any long term debt. This is definitely not the situation in most rural municipalities in Alberta. I have to say that the last four years working with this council certainly made my position as Mayor very easy and for that I thank you.
I would also like to thank all of the candidates for putting their names forward during the last election. This is never an easy thing to do as you are really putting yourself out there. You should all be proud and hold your heads high. I would also like to congratulate the successful candidates, Sandra Beaudoin, Connie Deadlock, Melanie Jensen, Kyle Olsen and incumbents Gerald Campion and Larry Stickel on running successful campaigns. I look forward to working with you over the next four years to make the best decisions for this great community that we call home.
Together we will make Hanna truly “Worth The Drive!”.
Chris Warwick, Mayor
"Thank you to the residents of Hanna"
September 15, 2017
Well this is my final Mayor’s Message of this elected term and I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on the last four years as your Mayor.
It has been my absolute honour to have served as the Mayor of Hanna for the last four years. Through the last two years of this term, since the Government of Alberta’s announcement of their Climate Leadership Plan, I have spent a significant amount of time advocating for the Town of Hanna and the Special Areas. This time has been spent conducting media interviews, travelling to meetings with different ministries within the government, and meeting locally as a Task Force trying to ensure that we achieve the best outcome for our amazing Town and region. There is still a lot of work to be done but I am confident that the Town of Hanna will prosper in the future.
Over the last four years this Council has only had one tax increase, and I am pleased to say that the Town still does not have any long term debt. I would like to thank administration for doing a great job managing their respective departments.
I would like to acknowledge the 6 members of Council whom you elected almost 4 years ago. Gerald Campion, Jerry Kruse, Richard Preston, Jason Smith, Larry Stickel, and Cathy Watts have been a very engaged Council, bringing your concerns forward in a timely manner. Although we didn’t always agree on some of the issues, this Council had one goal and that was to make the best decisions for the Town of Hanna. I personally thank this Council for their dedication to the Town of Hanna over the last four years.
Whatever the outcome is in the October election, if our next Council is as dedicated a Council as the last four years, the Town of Hanna will be in very capable hands. Thank you to the residents of Hanna for your support during this term. Although it has been challenging at times it has also been very rewarding to have been your Mayor .
Chris Warwick, Mayor
Happy 150 Canada!
July 13, 2017
Canada Day Celebrations
I would like to start this message by acknowledging the Town of Hanna staff on the excellent job they did for the Canada 150 celebration. The event was very successful, and the weather, for the most part, cooperated. I would also like to thank the residents of Hanna for joining in on the celebration and I hope everyone had a great time.
Grand Opening of the Library
Congratulations to the Hanna Municipal Library on their Grand Opening! I was honoured to be able to say a few words of congratulations at the event. The design and workmanship on the renovation and expansion is impeccable. This new facility will meet their needs and the needs of the region for many years to come. I would be very remiss if I did not mention the significant donation from the Mary Bye estate, which truly got the ball rolling on the necessary renovations. Please take some time to drop by and see the amazing work that has been done.
On the Coal transition front, it has been very quiet. Jay Slemp, Jordon Christianson and myself were fortunate to set up a meeting with Minister of Municipal Affairs, Shaye Anderson, and representatives from Environment, Energy and Economic Development and Trade in late May. Discussion centered on some of the challenges we have been faced with and asked for their assistance to move forward with attracting business and industry to our region. Since this meeting, we have not heard back from government regarding our concerns. While I realize this time of year is very busy for everyone, I am rather frustrated with the lack of communication. A second set of letters have been sent to Ministries of Energy, Economic Development and Trade, and Environment requesting face to face meetings with those respective Ministers to discuss how we have proposed moving forward. To date the only reply we have received is from the Ministry of Environment. We have requested that these face to face meetings take place prior to the end of August as we feel time is of the essence. We will continue to advocate to the government to have the very best outcome for our region.
Chris Warwick, Mayor
Storm Water System & On the Coal Front
May 11, 2017
Improve the storm water system
In this Mayor’s message I want to provide an update on a major infrastructure project that was budgeted for in 2017 and the project tender recently awarded. This project was identified as a high priority in the 2014 Infrastructure Management Study and is anticipated to improve the storm water system. Our current storm water system, which was designed many years ago, is not able to satisfactorily manage the heavy rainstorms that we receive. Through our Infrastructure Management Study it was identified that the construction of another outfall would relieve some of the pressures on the existing storm water system. Currently there are three locations where our storm water is released, with one of the outfalls managing the majority of the Town. The project moving forward this summer is the installation of an additional outfall which will extend along 3rd Street West south from 3rd Avenue West and draining into the CN dam south of town. This project is anticipated to increase the capacity of the storm water system and alleviate the stress which the system currently experiences during heavy rainfall. In addition to the installation of the storm water system along 3rd Street from 3rd Avenue West to Railroad Avenue; the water mains will be replaced and upsized, the sewer mains relined and the road rehabilitated. It is anticipated that the project will be completed by late summer if all goes well.
The Coal Front
On the Coal front, the Government of Alberta appointed Advisory Panel has finished up their consultations with coal affected communities, and it is anticipated that their final report will be public prior to the end of June. In the meantime our Taskforce is developing a transition plan with an expectation of financial assistance from the Province. Once funding to implement the transition plan is confirmed, the Taskforce will begin the community engagement piece of the plan and coordinate a Town Hall meeting to kick off the process. This will be an excellent opportunity to have input into the future of Hanna.
I am looking forward to one of my favorite events of the year, the Mayor’s Garden Party, planned for June 6th this year. Watch for details.
Chris Warwick, Mayor
The Advisory Panel on Coal Communities visited Hanna
March 15, 2017
The last few months have been rather busy, especially on the coal affected communities front.
In February the Government of Alberta’s appointed Advisory Panel on Coal Communities visited Hanna. Their mandate is to have consultations with coal affected communities, including Hanna, Forestburg, and the counties of Parkland and Leduc. They are expected to complete a report by late spring to be presented to the Minister of Economic Development and Trade with recommendations of how the Government should help municipalities transition away from coal fired generation.
During their visit they met with several groups including municipal leaders, the Chamber of Commerce, the Hanna Learning Centre, Cactus Corridor Economic Development and the workers from both the ATCO Sheerness Generating Station and Westmoreland Coal Mine. We had the opportunity to take them on a tour of our community so they could get a sense of all that we have to offer. Overall we felt the meetings were productive and very engaging by the panel.
Our focus going ahead will be to develop a transition plan with community engagement to help direct the Taskforce on the direction and opportunities we see for our community. As a region we have a lot that can be gained in composing a solid transition plan as the Government of Alberta has budgeted a significant amount of funding for coal affected communities, which could include investment into new industry and businesses to come to our area. We are in the very beginning stages of a transition plan and will keep our residents up to date on possible town hall meetings and engagement strategies going forward.
Chris Warwick Mayor, Town of Hanna
In October of this year there is a municipal election!
January 18, 2017
As we enter into a new year, your council looks forward to serving the citizens of Hanna for the next 10 months. In October of this year there is a municipal election, so this will be this council’s final calendar year in office.
At our December Council meeting the 2017 Operating & Capital Budgets were approved, and I am pleased to announce that there are no anticipated increases to the tax rates. Budget time is always challenging as there are more infrastructure projects that should be completed than there is funding available. In October of 2014 council accepted an infrastructure management plan which we felt was necessary to prioritize our capital projects. One infrastructure project that was high on the priority list was to increase the capacity of our storm water system. I am pleased that in 2017 the Town anticipates undertaking a major infrastructure project that will increase the capacity of the Town storm water management system.
Currently when large amounts of rain fall in a short period of time quite often the storm water system cannot handle the volume. The 2017 project will comprise of the addition of a new outflow system to CN Reservoir along 3rd Street West. The Town has also been able to continue with a significant investment of funds in the sidewalk replacement program.
On the Sheerness Generating Station closure front, the Town is expecting to meet with the government appointed Coal Advisory Panel early in 2017. The panel anticipates visiting our community over 2 days to attain a better understanding of what the impacts will be to our community. Once they complete all of the visitations to the coal affected communities, the panel will compile a report to submit to the Government of Alberta with their recommendations on how they can assist the coal affected communities transition.
Finally, Council loves to have people in the gallery at our council meetings. Council holds their regular council meetings on the second Tuesday of every month starting at 6:00PM in Council Chambers at the town office.
Chris Warwick, Mayor
Update on the Taskforce
November 15th, 2016
How time flies. This council you elected in October 2013 are entering into their last year of a four year term.
This is the time of year when council works on the budget for the following year and have scheduled three budget meetings: November 23rd, November 30th, and December 7th with all meetings beginning at 8:30 AM. During this process Council will be working on the operating and capital budget for 2017 including projections for the following two years. I would encourage our residents to contact any of our Councillors or myself with your budget recommendations prior to the first meeting so that they may be discussed during our meetings. In addition these meetings are open to the public so feel free to attend any or all of the meetings. The meetings are held in Council Chambers at the Town Office.
Here’s an update on what the Taskforce has been up to.
The impact study, facilitated by Urban Systems is complete and is being reviewed by the Taskforce prior to presentation to Council and the Special Areas Advisory Council. The Taskforce will be reviewing the opportunities asset mapping study facilitated by Urban Systems on November 18th prior to presentation to Council and The Special Areas Advisory Council. There have been no dates set but the Alberta Government’s Advisory Panel on Coal Communities should be meeting with key stakeholders within the next couple of months.
Note that the above studies will become public once they have been presented to Town Council and the Special Areas Advisory Councils in Early December.
If you have any questions about the budget process, please feel free to contact myself, any of your councillors or our CAO, Kim Neill.
Chris Warwick, Mayor
Public Consultation Invitation
The Task Force is NOT studying climate change.
I hope everyone had a great summer, in between all of the rain we experienced this year.Now it’s time to get back into a routine with school and extra curricular activities.
There seems to be some confusion around the Climate Change Taskforce which was established back in December of 2015 as a direct result of the Alberta Government’s Climate Leadership Plan. The Town of Hanna, Special Areas Board and Cactus Corridor Economic Development Corporation formed this taskforce to monitor and Investigate how the Climate Leadership Plan and impending coal fired generating station closure will affect our community and surrounding region. The taskforce has hired a consulting firm (Urban Systems) to do two studies, one study will measure the impacts of what the closure would mean to Hanna, while the second study will investigate potential economic development opportunities that may become available in the region.
The Task Force is NOT studying climate change. Webster’s dictionary defines taskforce as; “a temporary grouping under one leader for the purpose of accomplishing a definite objective”. Our “objective” is to be proactive to best prepare our region for the inevitable closure of the generating station, whether it is prior to 2030, or as a result of the federal legislated closing in 2040.
It is important for the Town of Hanna and area to be leaders in the province regarding these issues. The Town has been in communication with the Government of Alberta regarding these studies and have specifically asked for assistance to fund them. The Minister of Economic Development and Trade,Hon. Deron Bilous, told us in a meeting held in late June, that “He wants to work closely with Hanna throughout this process” and as a result the Task Force is hopeful that the Province will provide funding toward these studies.
Public Consultation Invitation - If you have concerns about the closure of the generating station or ideas for opportunities we can explore for Hanna and area, I encourage you to attend one of the Community Public Consultations:
September 20 – Hanna Community Centre 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm or 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
September 21 – Hand Hills Lake Community 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
How would you like to volunteer for the Hanna Museum?
I would also encourage you to attend the Hanna Historical Society (Hanna Museum) meeting on September 22nd at 7:00PM at the museum grounds. Our museum is operated 100% on volunteers, and they are always looking for assistance in every facet of their operation. So if you are interested in learning how you might be able to help, please attend this general meeting.
Chris Warwick, Mayor
Axia & Climate Change Updates
July 15, 2016
The last few months have been extremely busy for Council and myself as all of the committees and boards that Council members are appointed to attempt to get their meetings and projects lined up, as a result of the difficulty to meet during the summer months due to vacation schedules.
Town Council has received a couple of presentations and administration has had significant discussions with a company called Axia over the last few months. Axia is an internet service provider who also installs fibre optic internet into communities who don’t currently have fibre. Fibre is the highest speed internet that you can receive. To put it in layman’s terms it’s like having a ½” water line, then upgrading to an 8” water line, giving you much more volume or in this case a much faster internet service. Axia is proposing to install the fibre infrastructure at their cost in the Town of Hanna and become an internet service provider. There are many variables that Council needs to consider in regard to Axia’s proposal. While it is hard to say no to free, Council does not want to make any hasty decisions when it comes to the future of fibre optic broadband internet; as the decision we make needs to be in the best interests of not only the Town of Hanna, but also for the whole region. In my opinion, we need to take time to weigh all of our options before we proceed with any fibre optic projects; but that doesn’t mean that this project gets put on the back burner. Council does understand that fibre is the way of the future and it has the potential to provide significant benefits to residents and business owners, as well as making the community an attractive place to relocate.
Climate Change Taskforce
On another note, the Climate Change taskforce has been very busy with meetings to decide the next steps to be taken to secure the future of our region. The task force has agreed that it is necessary to complete a couple of studies. One study is to analyze the impacts to our region of the impending closure of the Sheerness generating station and Westmoreland Coal and a second study is to investigate what potential economic opportunities may be available for our region. The task force is pleased to report that following a public Request for Proposals call there were a significant number of proposals received. The proposals have been short listed with interviews conducted and the successful consulting firm is Urban Systems. The studies are to be completed and the reports provided by October of this year. These reports will be very beneficial to us, so if you are approached by the consultants we hope that you spend some time with them to discuss your views on the future of our region. It would also be very valuable if you would attend any open houses or town hall meetings that will be hosted through these consultation periods. Please watch for details on the consultation opportunities in the coming weeks.
I would like to say that “It is an honour to serve the Town of Hanna as your Mayor”. I take great pride in being able to tell people that I am your representative. I am doing everything in my power to make sure that the future of Hanna is secure.
In conclusion, I would like to commend the Town of Hanna staff for organizing another spectacular Canada Day celebration. Well done.
Chris Warwick , Mayor
Update from the climate change task force!
May 15th, 2016
This Mayor’s Message is going to provide a bit of an update from the climate change task force which was formed in early December with the announcement of the NDP governments’ climate change strategy proposing the early closure of coal fired generating stations. The main goal of the task force is to investigate impacts and opportunities in the region. Two separate requests for proposals are being sent out, looking for companies to complete one study for the impacts and one study for opportunities. This initiative is being taken so that the Town and region will be prepared when the government starts to release the 195 million dollars to municipalities impacted by the coal-fired generating stations early closures as indicated in the Alberta 2016-17 budget. The task force recently released a media statement on the workings of the group (press release).
After months of a lack of communication from the Alberta government, discussions have become more frequent and meaningful with more to come in the near future. I would like to assure the residents of Hanna that the Town and the Task Force are working very hard to ensure that the Town of Hanna remains a strong healthy community now, and in many years and decades to come.
On a personal note, I have spent countless hours educating myself on the workings of the electrical generation system in Alberta so that I can be informed when I am speaking to the media and government officials.
Now more than ever is the time for all residents of Hanna to be united with a strong voice to ensure a prosperous future.
Chris Warwick, Mayor
Assessment Notices & Climate Change Strategy
It’s that time of year again, when your assessment notices come out. In the next few days you will be getting your notice in the mail. It is very important for you to review any changes that may have occurred. If you are concerned with changes to your assessment and feel that it is incorrect you can appeal your assessment. The amount of taxes you pay are based on your assessment, so if your assessment increases, so do your taxes. You cannot appeal your taxes but you can appeal your assessment, so it is imperative that you study the assessment notice that you receive. If you would like to speak in person to the assessor, the Town is hosting an open house at the town office on March 30, 2016 from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm. This is a great opportunity for you to get clarification on your assessment.
Climate Change Strategy
In my last Mayor’s Message, I spoke briefly about the Climate Change Strategy and the impending closure of the Sheerness Generating Station. The Government of Alberta was planning to release the details around the Climate Change Strategy in late January. To date we have not heard any release date. On March 3rd the Coal Association of Canada held a town hall meeting at the Community Center in Hanna. This meeting was well attended. Former MLA Robin Campbell spoke about the implications of the coal mine closure to our municipality, and also touched on how a carbon tax would negatively affect every Albertan. In closing he asked the citizens of this region to write both the Federal and Provincial governments expressing our concerns over the potential increase in costs and loss of jobs that these mandates are promoting. I would also encourage the residents of Hanna to do so. We need to speak up or the governments will assume that we are in support of the direction they are taking us.
Chris Warwick, Mayor
The carbon tax will affect the price of everything we purchase!
I would like to wish the residents of Hanna and surrounding area a Happy New Year.
In December, Council approved the 2016 Operating and Capital Budget, which anticipates a 2% tax increase. Council understands that we are in tough economic times and did our best to keep any potential increases to a minimum while maintaining the current level of service. However there are still significant infrastructure deficits that can’t be ignored and resources have been allocated to attempt to address some of the deficiencies. The municipal tax rate has remained the same for at least 5 years as Council and Administration have been very diligent at controlling our expenses. There is a chance that we may not have to increase the tax rate if the assessment is significantly more that we anticipate.
Many of you have probably seen or heard that I have been interviewed many times regarding the inevitable closure of the Sheerness Generating Station. Our Provincial Government has legislated that all coal fired generating stations be discontinued by the year 2030. A Climate Change Task Force has been spearheaded by the Cactus Corridor Economic Development Corporation with representation from the Town of Hanna and Special Areas. The Task Force is looking into what opportunities may arise, and what impact the closure will have for Hanna and the surrounding area.
My concern is that in the process, our Provincial Government is going to impose a carbon tax which will cost Albertans significantly. The carbon tax will affect the price of everything we purchase. The proposed tax not only taxes our industries which emit carbon, but also will be a flat increase to every litre of fuel we purchase. Portions of the carbon tax will be distributed to our power providers for them to Invest in renewable power solutions. Although this will help to offset the power generated by coal fired generating stations it will not be enough to replace what they are providing now. I want residents to know that this is a priority issue for the Town and all attempts will be made to keep the public informed as to how the task force is progressing.
Chris Warwick, Mayor
New Office Building and Working on Budget
New Office Building
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.
Chris Warwick, Mayor
Update on a few projects!
I hope everybody had a great summer, I know it passed by very quickly for me. I would like to update you on a few projects that have been undertaken by your Town. The paving on Fox Lake Trail from Argue Drive east to Pioneer Trail should be completed the end of September. As you may have noticed, we replaced quite a few of the sidewalks in town. We realize that there are many more to do, but it is very expensive to replace all of the sidewalks that need replacement. The 2015 budget included an increase in funding for sidewalk replacement as Council and Administration recognized the need. We also realize that there are a number of our roads that could use an overlay. Main Street has been an area of concern for many of our residents. Unfortunately putting new asphalt on the road is rather expensive (approximately one million dollars per kilometer), and some of our infrastructure beneath Main Street is in poor shape and should be replaced before the road is fixed. This is another huge cost, but if we are going to spend tax dollars we would like to do it as efficiently as possible.
On September 28th, the Town office will be operating out of the new location 302 - 2nd Avenue West (formerly Endeavor Chartered Accountants). Please bear with us during the move as it will be a fairly daunting task, but the new building will suit our needs much better than our current location. Plans are underway for the library to expand into the current town office building.
I just want to add a comment regarding business licenses in Hanna. All people conducting business in Town are required to purchase a business license. This includes door to door salesman. If you are being bothered by door to door salesmen, ask them, “Do you have a license to conduct business in Hanna?”. Quite often if they don't they will simply walk away. If they do have a business license and you feel that you are being harassed you should get as much information from them as possible and immediately call the town office to lodge a complaint. If there are enough complaints the Town has the option to revoke the business license. One last note, just because they have a business license it doesn't mean that they are a reputable business.
Chris Warwick, Mayor
'Canada Day - A Job Well Done'
Wow, my hat's off to the Town of Hanna staff and volunteers for a great Canada Day celebration. Starting with the fireworks on June 30th and continuing all day on Canada Day. I have had several comments on how awesome the festivities were. I was camping at Fox Lake and the camper next to me, who was from Medicine Hat, knew that I was the Mayor. He came over to our site after supper on Canada Day, he shook my hand and thanked me for one the best Celebrations he has been to. He couldn't believe that all of the festivities and food were free of charge. I also had numerous comments from residents of Hanna who said that they thought it was one of the best celebrations they have been to. Congratulations on a job well done!
On another note, I want to remind you that the Town of Hanna owns a wheelchair accessible handi-van. The van can be used free of charge for medical appointments out of town or can be rented for non-medical appointments as well. The van can hold 2 wheel chairs and 4 passengers, including the driver. For more information contact the Town Office at 403-854-4433.
Thank you for your patience, especially along Fox Lake Trail with the installation of new main water lines. Fox Lake Trail will be completed with new asphalt in the upcoming month so watch for detours.
Chris Warwick Mayor, Town of Hanna
SPCA Funding Clarification
In this message I’d like to shed some light on council’s decision regarding funding for the Hanna SPCA. A number of years ago the SPCA approached Council with a request for funding as they were having difficulty keeping up with their expenses. Council at the time realized that the SPCA were a valuable asset to the town, in assisting our Director of Protective Services by housing and feeding stray dogs and starting a program to address our stray cat concerns. This allowed the Director to deal with other operations within his department. Seeing the value of the services provided by the SPCA, Council decided to provide an annual operating grant of $5,000. For several years the SPCA continued to receive the operating grant, until 2013, when they reached out to Council with concerns that they may not be able to continue as their funding was falling short of their expenses. The Council at that time decided to increase the grant to $15,000. This enabled the SPCA to continue operating normally. The grant remained at that level for 2014 as well.
Early in 2015, representatives from the Hanna SPCA came to council to provide an update on their operations. During that presentation their financial statements showed that, due to working a casino, they had received a healthy sum of money and their financial position was very strong. Council debated at length as to the amount of money we would grant the organization for 2015 and it was decided that we would reduce the funding to $5,000 for this year. I want to make it clear that this amount is only for 2015. Council will receive an update from the SPCA before we work on our budget each year and will decide at that time how much grant funding will be allocated for that year. The budget process is always Council’s most arduous task. It is very difficult to decide which funding to cut, and which funding to increase or add to our budget. Having updates from organizations as to their financial position and their operations certainly helps us to make our decisions. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the SPCA and all of their volunteers for all of the good work that they do.
On another budget update, Council approved a project to upgrade our water supply along Fox Lake Trail. This project was identified through the infrastructure management study that was completed in 2014. The project will include looping a 300mm water line in two places between 3rd Street West and Golf Course Crescent. This will help to increase pressure to those areas of town, especially in the case of a fire where water pressures would fall dramatically. The project also includes refurbishing the road from Argue Drive east to Pioneer Trail. The budgeted cost of this project is approximately $1,000,000.
If you are interested in looking at the Infrastructure Management Study, it is available on our website for download, or you can visit the Town office. This is an excellent document which greatly assists Council during the budget process and when applying for grant funding.
Chris Warwick Mayor, Town of Hanna
Well it’s that time again for another Mayor ‘s Message. By now all property owners should have received their property assessment notice. I want to stress how important it is for you to review your assessment. The amount of property tax that you pay to the Town of Hanna is based on your assessment. So if your assessment increased from 2014, then your taxes will increase as well, although not by the amount of your assessment increase. Based on the 2014 tax rates, an increase of $5,000 for a residential assessment would create a tax increase for the year of approximately:
$52.00 for Municipal taxes
$12.50 for School taxes and
$3.00 for Acadia Foundation taxes
Remember these estimates are made using the 2014 tax rates and budget figures.
Council is not planning to increase the municipal tax rate for 2015.During the budget process back in November, as a council we streamlined the budget to keep from increasing taxes in 2015.
The Municipal Government Act clearly defines that, as a tax payer you can appeal your assessment if you think that it is not accurate. The deadline to appeal your assessment is May 4th, 2015. To give taxpayers the opportunity to discuss your assessment prior to submitting an appeal, the Town appointed assessors are hosting an open house at council chambers in the town office. It is happening April 8th, 2015 from 3:00 - 7:00p.m. After speaking with the assessors, if you still want to appeal your assessment, submit your fee with the reasons for your appeal to the Town office.
There are lots of great events happening in Hanna in the next couple of months, including the Figure Skating Carnival, Front Row Centre performance, Stage Hanna Comedy and Volunteer Appreciation. I want to highlight two in particular that are not annual events. The first is starting March 25th to March 28th at the Hanna Curling Rink. The Hanna Elks Lodge is hosting the Elks Canadian Curling Championships. Spectators are welcome to watch the action from the lounge or the lower viewing area. You can visit our website at hanna.ca for more information. The other event that is coming up is the Hanna Learning Center Gala on Thursday, April 2nd, which is the evening before Good Friday. The evening includes a Dinner, His & Her Raffle Tables, Silent & Live Auction and Dancing to the music of Five of Diamonds. There are limited tickets available, so if you are interested you should act fast. For more information you can visit www.hannalearning.com or www.HANNA.ca.
That's it for this message, I hope you enjoy reading it. If you have any topics you would like me to discuss, drop me a line.
Chris Warwick Mayor of the Town of Hanna
Hanna Learning Centre Benefits our Community
As all of you may know, as members of Town Council we represent Hanna by sitting on various committees, voicing our opinions and assisting the organizations in the ways that best benefit the organization and the Town of Hanna. One of the committees that I have the privilege to sit on is the Hanna Learning Centre Board of Directors. I thought I would use this message to explain some of the services that HLC offers and how it greatly benefits our community.
Career and Employment Centre
Their statement is “If you want to do it, we will help you get there”. The Career and Employment Centre provides assistance to individuals who are looking to find employment or pursue their educational goals. The staff is there to help you get on the path that is right for you! The Career and Employment Centre offers many different services and resources that are FREE of charge.
Community Adult Learning Program
Hanna and District’s Community Adult Learning Program provides learning opportunities for adults through training and workshops which include computer training, General Equivalency Diploma preparation, workplace safety, first aid, health and wellness sessions as well as training to support businesses, employment skill development, career related, and personal development courses. The Learning Centre is affiliated with Campus Alberta Central (Red Deer College and Olds College) which provides connections to post-secondary options.
Provides support to Not-for-Profit and Charitable organizations through consultations, workshops, and information which develop community capacity and sustainability. Volunteer Hanna continues to provide up to date resources and assistance to Hanna’s not-for-profit organizations and community volunteers.
Rural Alberta Business Centre
Hanna’s Rural Alberta Business Centre offers a one-stop resource for small business, providing information and support on virtually every aspect of doing business. This is a service that is unique in that most programs like this offered in other communities are not free. If you are looking at a career change or have a business idea, this is a great resource.
The Hanna Literacy Program offers free family programs for families with children age 0-6. The program also offers free coaching and mentoring to adults who would like to increase their literacy and essential skills.
Community Building Initiative
Community Building Initiatives (CBI), are supported by Central Alberta Child and Family Services Authority with annually updated outcomes and performance measures. The purpose of CBI is to research needs and services in the community pertaining to children, youth and families, and collaborate with other agencies and partners to fill gaps where needed.
The Hanna Learning Centre is funded through tuition fees and grants. As our Federal and Provincial governments pull back some of the grants that the Learning Centre has successfully applied for in the past, HLC, through the budget process is challenged with these cuts.
As a means of bridging that funding gap, I'm pleased to announce that the Hanna Learning Centre is hosting a fundraiser Thursday April 2nd, 2015 at the Community Centre. The theme for the evening is “Enhancing Your Life” and will include an amazing supper, live and silent auctions as well as door prizes and draws, ending the night with a dance featuring live music from Five of Diamonds. Tickets are available now at Warwick's Home Hardware and Hanna Learning Centre for $50.00.
As you can see from this short synopsis, the Hanna Learning Centre is a valuable service in our community. For more information about services provided please check their website at www.hannalearning.com
Yours Truly Chris Warwick, Mayor
It's Budget Time
It's Budget Time
Well it's that time of year again, when Council and Administration hold a series of Budget Meetings. The Town is facing many challenges, including infrastructure in need of upgrades and replacements. In 2014 council approved the completion of an infrastructure management study on Town owned infrastructure, specifically water and sewer pipes in the ground, pavement, sidewalks and storm management. Hanna, like many Municipalities in Canada, is experiencing a higher number of failures in infrastructure such as pipes bursting or collapsing, valves rusted and unable to open or close and sidewalks with trip hazards. The infrastructure management study concluded that as a municipality there is a need to start being more proactive in replacing and maintaining our infrastructure. The Engineering Firm, as a result of the study, is recommending that the Town budget upwards of one million dollars per year on maintenance and repair of infrastructure. This would be a substantial increase to the budget, and these are not the kind of expenditures that get politicians re-elected when we go to the polls, although it is our due diligence to properly maintain our capital assets. Hanna’s Elected Officials have been diligent in making our Provincial and Federal Governments aware of these challenges, yet the funding provided through the grants is significantly less than what is required to keep pace with our increasing needs. This leaves the burden on us, the taxpayers of Hanna. I'm not trying to paint a doom and gloom picture, but I think that it's very important that as residents, we all understand where a large portion of our tax dollars are being spent. Hanna is, according to the engineers who completed our study, not in a desperate situation, but warned that we can spend now or a substantial amount later.
As Council, we work on three year budget projections, so we will be looking very closely at what the next three years of infrastructure repairs and maintenance will look like. It is never Council's desire to raise taxes, and it will be our goal through the budget process to keep taxes at a minimum, but I will not promise that our tax rate will not change.
Congratulations to Dean Viste
On a positive note. I'd like to congratulate Mr. Dean Viste on winning one of four 2014 Recreation Volunteer Recognition Awards.
Hanna Business Awards
I would also like to thank the Hanna and District Chamber of Commerce for hosting the 1st Annual business awards banquet. You should be very proud as it was an excellent evening.
I would like to remind everybody as we head into the Christmas party season, to drink responsibly and please don't drink and drive. Moving into 2015 I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and all the best in 2015.
Yours Truly Chris Warwick, Mayor
September 19th, 2014
First of all I want to say how proud Council is with the recent announcement of the Town of Hanna being selected the 2014 Communities in Bloom Provincial winner in the 2,001 – 6,000 population category. Since Hanna’s first involvement with Communities in Bloom in 2005, the Town through the efforts of the Hanna in Bloom Committee, property owners, residents and staff have improved our standing and ratings in each of the prospective evaluation categories starting with a three bloom rating in 2005, reaching five blooms in 2013 to five blooms and Provincial winner in 2014. On behalf of Council, I would like to thank, , the Hanna in Bloom Committee, Town staff and property owners who take great pride in the community and their properties. Well Done.
In my 2 1/4 terms on council I never would have imagined that the Town would have to look at expansion at the airport. This is exactly what happened at the September Council meeting as Council approved a development plan at the airport. With the recent pilot training that has taken place at the Hanna airport there have been a number of new pilots who have purchased planes and are looking to build hangers to lodge their aircraft. The development plan will create 12 new lots. There is currently interest in six lots and construction on some hangars will begin this fall.
Also at our last council meeting we had a presentation from Emily Campbell and Jian Diaz, the two young ladies who were a part of the Japanese Student Exchange program with the Town of Wake that was rejuvenated this year. They left Hanna on August 1st with the two boys from Wake who had been visiting Hanna as part of the program and returned to Hanna Aug 25. Both Emily and Jian expressed what a wonderful experience the exchange was, providing an opportunity to learn about Japanese culture, education and lifestyle. They extended their sincere gratitude to Council for the opportunity. It is anticipated that the student exchange program with the Town of Wake will continue in 2015. If students are interested in the program or any families interested in home staying Japanese visitors in 2015 watch the newspaper for information on how to apply.
The subdivision known as Fielding Place on Fox Lake Trail is complete. The lots vary in price and size, and are now available for purchase. Council approved a discount of 5% if purchased before January 1st 2015. For more information visit www.HANNA.ca or drop into the town office.
Downtown Hanna & Fielding Place
In this Mayor's Message I want to touch on a few of the projects that have happened in the town in the last while.
National Hotel, Discount Food & Country Attic
Of course we all know that the National Hotel has been demolished, which has cleaned up the downtown quite a bit. The Special Areas Board also did some demolition of their own, after purchasing the former Discount Foods and Country Attic buildings with a plan to add on to their building to the west. Keep an eye on the Town's website as there will be more information available in the near future regarding the development. The National Hotel lot is available for purchase and for more information please contact the Town Office.
Another project the Town has been working on is the completion of the Fielding Place development which is a fifteen lot residential development, with lots ranging in price and size. Council priced these lots in an attempt to recover the majority of the cost of the project including the purchase of the land and the development cost. You may have heard talk around town that the lots are too expensive. Council's decision to price the lots was with the intention that the Town would recoup the majority of the money spent on the project. The lots are now ready for home construction and you can acquire more information about the lots including the size and price at the Town Office.
Although it isn't a Town project, I'd like to mention the Roundhouse Restoration project. The Roundhouse Society is making progress on the restoration by acquiring an architect and consulting team to study the condition of the building, specifically the condition of the wooden timbers used in its construction. This is the first step in the restoration and will provide the Society with a better understanding of what will be required to renovate in the future. It's an exciting project and once completed will be a great attraction for our community.
In this edition of the Mayor's Message I'd like to touch on the demolition that has been going on downtown. As many of you have noticed, the Country Attic building as well as the former Discount Foods buildings have been demolished. These properties have been purchased by Special Areas who will be adding on to their existing office building. In the next week or two the same demolition company will be taking down the historic National Hotel. The Town of Hanna acquired this building through tax recovery. Unfortunately the building was well beyond repair, so it was the decision of council to demolish the structure.
RV Parking (Proposed Reduction of)
At the May 13th Town Council meeting first reading was given to a Traffic Bylaw amendment. The proposed changes to this bylaw include:
Reduction of the 72 hour time limit for a vehicle to be parked on a street or alley to a 24 hour period. Currently the bylaw states that you can park a vehicle on a street or alley for a period of 72 hours, after this time the vehicle must be moved. The new bylaw will require the vehicle to be removed from the street or alley for a minimum period of 48 hours before being returned.
An increase in the fines for subsequent offences.
Provide for a temporary permit to extend the time limit in extenuating circumstances. You would be able to obtain a permit from the Town office to allow the 24 hour time limit to be extended.
All bylaw changes require 3 readings in order to be passed and put into effect. Council will be giving this bylaw 2nd reading at the June 10th, 2014 Council meeting. Now, is the time to express concerns or support for the bylaw amendments.
The Director of Business and Communication has been very busy developing our new website. The website went live on Tuesday May 13, 2014. Check it out at www.HANNA.ca it is a dramatic change, which is very functional and easy to maneuver.
In this edition of the Mayor’s Message I would like to touch on four topics.
Water Meter Replacement:
Many of you may have had employees of the public works department knocking on your door, or leave door hangers in regards to changing your water meter. The Town is replacing all of the water meters with new meters that can be read electronically which means access to your yard is no longer required and the meter readings can be completed in a much shorter period of time. Your cooperation in changing out these meters is appreciated, as there are 1,300 meters that require replacing.
Waste Transfer Rates:
During Council’s annual review of utility rates, discussion centered around the regional waste fees. The Town of Hanna belongs to the Big Country Waste Commission, who manages and operates waste management within the Special Areas region. As a member of the commission, the Town is charged a requisition which funds the management of our local waste transfer station and the Towns portion of the costs associated with the operation of the central landfill located in Youngstown. Previously commercial properties did not see a regional waste fee on their utility bills as they were charged a small load fee or by weight at the Hanna Transfer Station. If a contractor hauled the commercial waste to the site, they were charged the regional waste fee.
With the Commission managing the Hanna Waste Transfer Site as of November 1, 2013 and the scale in need of significant work it was determined to cover the regional waste requisition charged by the Commission to the Town equally amongst all property owners both residential and commercial. This means all property owners will now be charged $28/billing period or $14/month. Previously, residential properties paid $33/billing period.
Council acknowledges that this system may not be perfect as there is a significant variation in the amount of waste produced at the different commercial properties however this is also true of residential properties.
At the end of the day there is a cost associated with dealing with the waste generated from the properties in Hanna and Council believes this is the best way to manage those costs. Strategic Plan:
Town Council has been busy revising our strategic plan. This process will include a review of the plans that were completed by your former councils in 2008 and 2011. Council will be amalgamating and updating those plans with new goals to form a new strategic plan that will include Councils short, mid and long term goals.
National Hotel Demolition:
It is anticipated that within the next few months the downtown core will take on a very different look. Through tax recovery the Town of Hanna has acquired the National Hotel property. Unfortunately the 100+ year old building is in a poor state of disrepair, beyond renovating at a reasonable cost. Council, after some lengthy discussion, at the March 2014 council meeting approved the demolition of the tired old structure, including the removal and handling of the hazardous material (asbestos, lead paint, etc) located within the building envelope. The project is anticipated to start prior to mid April and should be an approximate two month process.
Understanding Assessment & Taxation
January 30, 2014
This message will focus on budget, assessment and taxes. As we have been through our budget deliberation, there are always listsof expenses from each department. Through the deliberation process council and administration sit to discuss what can be trimmed and what is necessary. This year was a little more onerous as this is the first time we have done a three year budget. This is not to say that there hasn't been a three or even five year budget, it is that now there will be a document to support it.
Our initial draft budget was one and a half million dollars over budget based on keeping municipal taxes at the same rate as they currently are, and that there would not be a change to our assessment. So the task that council and administration had was to either cut the budget, or raise taxes to accommodate the budgeted items, or a combination of both. There isn't a council in the world that wishes to raise taxes, us included. Council and administration are also taxpayers, so if we raise taxes, it affects us personally just like it does you. The difficulty is, the municipality is faced with the same increases in the cost of commodities as you are. This means that if cost of living increases to you, it also does for the town, which means that taxes really should increase the same as the cost of living, providing that our assessment stays relatively the same.
Speaking about assessment, every property in town is assessed and then the tax rate is applied to the assessment and that is how much tax is collected from that property. Our municipal tax rate has not changed in at least 3 years. This is not to say that some of you have not been paying higher taxes. This is due to a higher assessment on your property. While you cannot appeal the amount of tax that you pay, you certainly can appeal your assessment.
When you receive your assessment notice it is important that you look at what the value of your property is, if you feel that your assessment is too high, you can contact the assessor to receive a better understanding of the assessment. If you are still not satisfied with the assessment you can appeal it. For more information on this process visit the towns website or contact the town office.
Finally, administration is working with the assessor to host an open house, possibly in April. This will be an opportunity for property owners to discuss their assessment with the assessor. Please watch for dates, times and location.
It is very important that your assessment and taxation are understood. I hope that this message has shed some light on this subject.
Mayor Chris Warwick
I want to start this message by saying that I am thoroughly enjoying being the Mayor of the great Town of Hanna. These last couple of months have been relatively busy, getting the new council up to date on the current projects that the town is embarking in.
We will be starting our budget meetings this month, Administration has been working very hard at putting together their numbers for a budget review. This budget will be a little different from previous budgets as we will also be doing a 3 year budget, as implemented by our CAO Kim Neill. This process will be a little more onerous for both Administration and Council as we look to the future and the needs of our community.
Our tax rate has not changed in the past several years, Council and Administration work very hard to try to keep property taxes down as low as possible while still maintaining the services and infrastructure that we are accustomed to. This is always a challenge as, just like our taxpayers, we incur rising costs due to cost of living increases. Many of you have been paying higher taxes over the last few years. This is due to the assessment process done on your property. The Town of Hanna receives the assessment from our assessors then tax accordingly. If you are concerned that your assessment is too high you can always appeal that assessment. Assessment is not the same as appraisal, a good rule of thumb is if your assessment is more than what you could sell your property for, your assessment may be too high. For more information on this please check out our website at www.hanna.ca, or contact the Town office.
This winters snow has been very demanding on our public works crew. It seems that they just get the streets cleaned and another few inches of snow fall. I would like to acknowledge how co-operative, the residents have been at removing their vehicles from the streets when the department is going to clean their streets, and I would encourage you to continue to do so. This makes the departments job much easier. I would like to say “Job well done” to the public works department on our snow removal, you are doing a great job.
Mayor Chris Warwick
Mayor Chris Warwick
Nov. 22, 2013
I would like to start my inaugural Mayor's Message by saying congratulations to the newly elected council, and thank you to all candidates for putting their names forward. I would like to also acknowledge the previous Mayor; Mark Nikota, and Councillors; Charles Girard, Tanis Graham, and John Kaster on a job well done. You have certainly set the bar high for your new council.
We were sworn in by Mr. Doug Todd at our organizational meeting held in October. I would like to thank Mr. Todd for a job well done as he has been conducting the swearing in ceremonies for Hanna Mayors and Councillors for many years. Councillors were appointed to their respective committees. You are able to find these appointments on the Hanna website. (www.hanna.ca)
On that note, there are several committees that have members from the community at large (ie. Library Board, Community Services Board, etc.). We are always looking for new members, so if you are interested with any of these committees, please contact the town office for more information.
Your new council has been very busy the past few weeks. One of our first tasks was to educate ourselves as to our roles and responsibilities as public servants. Hanna hosted extensive training bringing Alberta Municipal Affairs and surrounding communities together. There were about 30 people in attendance including all of Hanna’s elected officials.
We have attended the annual Alberta Urban Municipalities Association Convention in Calgary in November. The convention is particularly helpful with additional education sessions and networking with other municipalities across the province.
In the New Year, we will be looking at the strategic plan already in place by your previous council along with the plan brought forward in 2008. It is time to consolidate them and modify this living, working document.
Of course, budget time is also coming close and it requires a number of meetings to finalize.
So, as you can see, we have been busy, getting straight to work to continue to make Hanna, “Worth the Drive”.
I look forward to keeping you informed of happenings in our great community through future Mayor's Messages.