By Marcia Love
The town has finally received word on why exactly an air ambulance as well as STARS and HALO helicopters were dispatched to Maple Creek following a single vehicle accident near Piapot in July.
Emergency services provided by STARS and HALO was discussed during council’s regular meeting on Oct. 28.
The accident on July 13 left two men with serious but non-life threatening injuries. But both HALO and STARS helicopters and Saskatchewan air ambulance responded. The patients ended up being transported by STARS and air ambulance to health centres in Regina and Saskatoon, and locals were left wondering why the number of emergency aircraft that responded exceeded the number of injured people.
Mayor Barry Rudd attended a meeting with Cypress Health Region and STARS in Swift Current last week, where more clarification was provided.
The air ambulance was dispatched from Saskatoon, but weather conditions hampered its arrival. STARS then responded from Regina and HALO from Medicine Hat.
“It was a good move, because it did reassure us and the people of the rural areas that, yes, we do have coverage,” Rudd said.
While it was believed STARS is unable to respond to emergencies in the Maple Creek area as they don’t have enough fuel to fly directly here, STARS officials informed the town this is not the case.
“We were always under the belief that they couldn’t come here because there was no fuel,” Rudd stated.
However, STARS reported they will serve the community and have actually responded to Maple Creek twice.
During the meeting, the mayor asked what should be provided at the Southwest Integrated Healthcare Facility for a chopper to land there. The fire department assists in clearing an area near the hospital for the helicopter to land and in directing the pilot. It was suggested a fuel tank in an enclosed trailer be provided that could be taken to the site to refuel the aircraft. STARS arranges for the fuel to be supplied, and municipalities have raised funds to supply a trailer and fuel tank.
When STARS responded in July, the pilot stopped in Swift Current to refuel on the way to Maple Creek as well as on the return trip to Regina.
In other business, council discussed several properties it obtained through tax enforcement and has put up for sale. Town administrator Michele Schmidt highlighted one property in particular which has presented problems in garnering interest. The former Rowan Financial building at 202 Maple St. has a significant outstanding debt owed to the federal government attached to it.
“When the town acquires a piece of property through tax enforcement, all loans, mortgages, are written off, and the financial institutions end up taking a financial loss for that,” Schmidt explained. “The only thing that does not get cleared off is Revenue Canada.”
Because the property has a debt of $67,000 owed to Revenue Canada, Schmidt requested council’s permission to contact Revenue Canada and see how much it would cost to have it removed from the property.
Council consented, but Councillor Barry Elderkin noted there have been individuals interested in the property who decided it wasn’t a feasible option upon learning the taxes associated with it. He asked if the town’s tax incentive program would cover a new business opening its doors at the location.
Schmidt said council is working on a new tax concession policy for residential and commercial properties. There are three different types of proposals which will be presented to council.
“That would include anything from a new residential home being developed within town limits to a new business being developed, or even an existing business building,” she explained. “We’d be very excited if we could have them all in place by January.”
The town has received a $10,000 donation from CP Rail to be put toward the purchase of automated external defibrillator (AED) devices for public places throughout the town. The town applied for the donation and expects it will be able to purchase several AEDs depending on the type and cost.
Hawrylak discussed a Main Street Program meeting she attended. A new intake of businesses will be accepted in January, and those applying will include the Star Cafe & Grill, Broken Spoke Fine Art Gallery, Jasper Centre, SW Sask. Oldtimers’ Museum, Home Hardware and Country Lane Kitchens. This will be for new projects or to complete projects that are already underway. The Maple Creek Main Street Program will also be serving as a mentor to other communities that are just getting their Main Street programs started.
Hawrylak also reported on the Communities in Bloom Awards Gala held in Yorkton on Oct. 23, where Maple Creek received its award for achieving five blooms to win the provincial population category of 2,001-3,000. It was a red carpet treatment, compete with red carpet, she said.
Local CiB members who attended the event were ready to represent their town well.
“When our community was announced, we pulled on our T-shirts and we went up and accepted our award in our Maple Creek Communities in Bloom volunteer T-shirts,” Hawrylak said with a smile.
She was excited to meet founding president of CiB Raymond Carriere of Montreal.
“He asked us how in a little prairie town we got so involved in Communities in Bloom, and then he sat with us at the supper table,” Hawrylak said.
On a separate note, she added that Maple Creek has been named one of Canada’s must-see places on travel blogger Leigh McAdam’s Hike Bike Travel: Curious Traveler and Outdoor Adventure Expert website. Maple Creek is listed in her Oct. 15 entry, ’10 Small Towns in Canada You’ll Want to Visit.’
The town was honoured to receive a letter from Buckingham Palace thanking it for the celebratory tea held on Sept. 9 to mark Queen Elizabeth II officially becoming the longest-reigning monarch in British and Canadian history.
The town only received interest from one party regarding snow removal at the town office. Prairie West Yard Care was awarded the contract, which will last from Nov. 1 to March 31, 2016 at a price of $595 per month. With additional snow removal requested this year, the cost was increased by $75 per month.
A homeowner who completed work on his driveway which required the sidewalk to also be redone has been reimbursed the cost of a new sidewalk installation. The town agreed to reimburse the resident $880.
The town hopes to have a drainage problem on the roof above council chambers resolved. The company which last completed roof work will be fixing the low spot at a cost of $1,680, which council said was a very reasonable price.
A request was made by the senior Hawks to allow for alcohol in the hockey team’s dressing room following their home games. New liquor regulations allow a permit to be purchased for this purpose. Insurance must also be purchased by the team before alcohol can be consumed in a dressing room. Council gave its consent under the condition the senior Hawks must clarify which dressing rooms this would apply to.
Council also gave the senior Hawks permission to paint their dressing room — room no. 6 — at the club’s own expense, changing the room from green to red.