Often the vision into our future is in the information right in front of us. On March 27, High River council discussed a number of separate, but very connected issues.
The fire chief commented that the average response time to a call in the northwest took 10 minutes. If response time is over that limit, then the distance between houses must be increased and/or a sprinkler system installed. Otherwise, the insurance companies would view these as “higher risk” and premiums would rise significantly.
Also on the agenda was a local developer asking for an extension of their development timeframe. He explained that a number of things are hampering progress on the project, including:
• Lack of material and sub-trades for infrastructure and building;
• Inflation of building materials costs adding thousands to each house;
• The interest cost increase on a significant line of credit;
• The wider lot cost impact on the whole development; and
• Sprinkler costs per house
But perhaps the bigger issue was how to market these homes to customers that are extremely concerned with the stench from Rimrock Feeders and the proposed industrial chemical factory with a 39-foot stack and 550,000-square-foot open ponds full of sludge.
These developers in the northwest were planning on many thousands of new homes and supporting businesses that would generate jobs and many millions in taxes over the near future.
The Town of High River’s Strategic Plan states: “We make a positive difference now and for generations to come.” On the contrary, there are a number of overriding conclusions that come from that March 27 Town council meeting:
1. The current and next generations of this community are destined to be plagued with the stench of a poorly managed and non-controlled feedlot.
2. The upwind toxic wastes of an industrial chemical rendering complex coming from a 550,000-plus-square-foot uncovered lake (swamp) and a flare stack.
3. The lack of legislation, regulations, cabinet instructions and/or properly defined standards of controlling and regulating these conditions.
4. Future growth of new homes and neighbourhoods are being strangled, meaning the tax base to fund new community facilities, to encourage commercial development will be crushed
Without growth, without new citizens and a growing vibrant community, this town is in a descending spiral. The death knell is tolling for a vibrant Southern Alberta community.