2016 was a year of considerable change and growth for the Community Services department. As a result, several key milestones were achieved, including FCSS enhancements, renovated recreational facilities and many developments in Agricultural Services.
Family & Community Support Services (FCSS)
There was a restructure of FCSS programming and grant allocation process. A detailed funding report will be presented at a later date.
The Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) was implemented and continues to grow.This program offers help completing income tax returns for qualifying residents. This service saves residents clients time and money by completing yearly tax forms locally at no cost. The weekly pick-ups and drop offs in Onoway and Alberta Beach are well received as well. To date, this service has been used mostly by Seniors and those on AISH type clients, but some students and other low income persons as well.
Regarding Parent Link/Early Childhood Program Staffing, a full-time position has now been created.
Parent Link/Early Childhood program facility space has been arranged in the Onoway Heritage Centre for programs starting September 2017 (2 days per week), as well as at the Sangudo Arena (since inception).
The County's Home Support Program has been established, and to date has been very well received. This program provides subsidized housecleaning services for seniors. Three Home Support Workers have been contracted. We have built the program up to 9 clients (1 south of Mayerthorpe, 1 Lake Romeo area, 4 Sangudo area, 1 Lake Isle area, 2 Onoway area), and clients are so very appreciative.
The Snow Angels Program has been established, providing subsidized snow removal program for seniors. Although the program was small this past winter, we definitely got the message out there and are looking to expand this coming winter.
Onoway Playschool – Continued growth of the Onoway Playschool Program enabled the addition of a second staff member onsite. Under this program, three and four-year old children are provided with a variety of early childhood training and activities. The addition of staff has been greatly appreciated by the parents who are relieved to not be required to do as many helper days, and in addition, the instructor no longer has such a huge concern about parent helpers not showing up. Having consistent staff in the classroom has had a positive impact on the students as well.
The County's annual Seniors’ Tea continues to be a popular celebration. With this event, we try to mix entertainment with information about what is available in our area for Seniors to access. The event is hosted annually during Seniors Week.
Extensive kitchen renovations were completed at the Lessard Lake Outdoor Education Centre. The renovated facility was inspected and approved by Alberta Health Services, and a food handling permit was awarded.
The washroom and shower facility renovation was completed at the Sangudo Riverside Campground. The office and store were moved onsite (some work remains to be completed this year for water and power access)
Campground Development of Phase I & II (Peters Pond Loop A & B) are now complete at the Paddle River Dam Campground. This development included construction of a washroom and shower facility; construction of an office and store; and development of a playground. Phase III (Boat Launch area) is currently under construction. Phase III received Canada 150 grant funding to assist in the construction/development costs. This campground gets busier and busier each season, and patrons appreciate the amenities now in place. The playground is a HUGE hit!
Resurfacing of pathway at the Lessard Lake Public Campground was completed between the Outdoor Education Centre and Washroom/Shower Facility with pour-in-place recycled rubber tire. This is an amazing product and one we hopefully can use in other locations in the future. This pathway was historically a tripping hazard due to deterioration of the concrete walkway. The new pathway is seamless and eliminates that hazard. The pathway resurfacing project was funded primarily through grant dollars.
2016 saw a complete restructuring of the Agricultural Service Board, and the subsequent appointment of six very qualified members at large, as well as three dedicated Councilors to this restructured board. Members at large include Bruce Churchill, Larry Kidd, John Kyle, Kirk Wildman, Brad Anette, Owen Wild.
Ag Services applied to the Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program in March of 2017 with the intent to expand the ALUS program outside of the Lake Isle watershed for an additional four years.
Lac Ste. Anne County was awarded $609,972.00 for the ALUS program within the timeline of April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2021.
The ALUS program currently has two projects completed, two projects approved and in progress or looking for additional funding, and 5 projects in the planning phase.
An APP-based weed inspection program was designed and implementes, with the ability to operate on almost any mobile device (Smart Phone, Tablet, etc.). The APP was designed in-house, and has vastly improved the efficiency of our weed inspection program. There was no outsourcing required for programming changes and/or modification.
Ag Services acquired new spray skids for the roadside spray trucks in 2016. This new herbicide application equipment has allowed the department to supersede the Council-set annual herbicide application goal of one third the County, by a vast amount.
Three diversely targeted herbicide applications were completed on over fifty percent of the County ditches in 2016, with a similar target in reach for this season.
A new side by side was acquired, and will be utilized for custom spray operations. The new UTV and spray skid has improved the efficiency and effectiveness of the custom spray program tremendously. We have been able to effectively complete all the custom spray work that ratepayer have requested of us, with minimal wait time. This is despite the less than conducive spray conditions that have occurred this summer.
The roadside spray trucks have been upgraded with addition safety equipment, rails and guards. The intent is to increase the ability of seasonal spray operators to conduct operations in a safe manner.
A GPS tracking system has been implemented within roadside spray trucks, allowing for the acquisition of detailed spray records and increased safety.
Extensive maintenance and repairs have been completed on the current Ag rental fleet, to ensure the in-service fleet is in reliable functioning order.
Ag Services has completed all seasonal operations with no major safety incidents or lost time.