2015 was another busy year for projects and issues in the City of Lacombe.
Whether it was hosting the Scotties Tournament of Hearts or breaking ground on the new police facility, it certainly wasn’t a sleepy year in the city.
The following is a list, in no particular order, of the most newsworthy items in the City of Lacombe.
Mary C. Moore Public library closed due to flooding
On Monday, March 30th, the Mary C. Moore Public Library was closed due to a severe flooding incident. Extensive damage occurred to the north end of the facility.
While it was closed, a base library service was established at a temporary kiosk at the Lacombe Memorial Centre (LMC). It stayed open until the library reopened on Aug. 17th after renovations.
Lacombe Community Watch Association forms
Citizens of Lacombe continued to take great strides to bring safety to the community through forming the Lacombe Community Watch Association (LCWA) in April.
The new association is comprised of three groups – Neighbourhood Watch, Citizens on Patrol and Block Parent. The main purpose of the association is to engage citizen responsiveness to crime prevention and to bring neighbours together in the effort of keeping the communities safe. The association continues to meet regularly.
Margaret Trudeau visits Lacombe
Wife of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and mother of then Liberal leader Justin Trudeau (now Prime Minister) Margaret Trudeau visited Lacombe on Feb. 24th.
She shared her story about her struggle with mental health issues during the one-day workshop Mental Health in the Workplace, hosted by the Lacombe Action Group at the LMC.
Police station ground breaking
Soon the Lacombe Police Service (LPS) will have a new home along with the birth of a new community hub.
Ground was broken on July 24th for the new police station to be constructed in the Wolf Creek Industrial Park at 3906-53 Ave. Dignitaries, police service members, and those involved in the $8.39 million project gathered at the site to mark the beginning of construction.
LPS Chief Steve Murray said the plans for a new facility began eight years ago after some shortcomings of the current facility were noted.
The new station will have a larger footprint, with a bigger lobby, more room for all staff members, a meeting room for community groups, file storage, a new up to standard cellblock and an in-house victim services office.
The new facility is estimated to be completed by October of 2016.
2015 Jiffy Lube Scotties Tournament of Hearts
Lacombe residents and hundreds of visitors were treated to five days of premier women’s curling during the 2015 Jiffy Lube Scotties Tournament of Hearts from Jan. 21st to the 25th.
Fans poured into the Lacombe arena to watch the events leading up to the championship game held on the Sunday.
Defending champions Team Sweeting took on Team Carey and held onto their title of Team Alberta with a score of 9-7.
Hail storm hits Lacombe
Shredded trees, destroyed gardens, flattened crops, broken windows and damaged vehicles. That’s what Lacombe and area residents woke up to the morning of July 22nd after a violent hailstorm ripped through the region the previous night.
The devastation was evident. Tattered leaves covered the sidewalks, with residents and business owners slowly sweeping up the debris.
Many cars had tarps covering where their back window used to be. Others had smashed windshields and sunroofs, broken side mirrors and dents all over from the large-sized hail. Insurance companies were busy receiving multiple claims throughout the day.
Environment Canada Meteorologist Gregg Pearce said the government weather organization received multiple Facebook and Twitter reports of large hailstones pelting vehicles that night.
“The hail was reported at 50 millimeters in diameter, which is golf ball-sized to egg-sized hail,” he said. “As for rain, from an auxiliary station in Lacombe, 20 millimeters of rain fell in a fairly short period of time.”
Pearce said the large storm hit the region just after 7 p.m. with the first heavier storm set bringing 17 mm of rain, following a brief break and then 3 mm more of rain falling.
The high-intensity storm also passed through Ponoka, Bentley, Blackfalds, Clive and Alix and the north end of Red Deer.
Train whistle cessation
What’s steady, at times noisy and runs right through the heart of Lacombe? The train of course.
A petition requesting that train horns not be sounded within City limits was brought to councillors during a regular meeting on May 11th.
Known as whistle cessation, municipalities can go through a lengthy process that would legally stop railway operators, like CP or CN Rail from sounding their whistles while approaching public crossings and moving through the municipal area.
With the cessation, alternate measures would be set into place to provide necessary safeguards for adequate protection at crossings, for vehicles and residents living nearby.
After multiple letters, two circulating petitions and many residents voicing their opinions, the sound of the train whistle remains a fixture within the City. Councillors declined to proceed towards achieving whistle cessation in the City limits. All councillors present were opposed to the potential process and voted against the proposition during their regular council meeting on July 13th.
Lieutenant Governor visits Lacombe
Lacombe residents and dignitaries gathered at a construction site in the MacKenzie Ranch subdivision to welcome Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Lois Mitchell to City on Aug. 21st.
On her first official visit to Lacombe, Mitchell, along with Mayor Steve Christie, Habitat for Humanity Chair Dennis Bowman, MP Blaine Calkins and MLA Ron Orr attended a sod-turning ceremony to celebrate the beginnings of the very first Habitat for Humanity project in the City.
Habitat for Humanity Red Deer is a not-for-profit organization that works towards creating sustainable affordable housing in the Central Alberta area. The organization is building four units (two duplexes) in the MacKenzie Ranch subdivision of Lacombe.
Welcome Burman University
Over the year, Lacombe’s post-secondary institution, formerly known as Canadian University College (CUC), transitioned over to a new name: Burman University. The University officially debuted their brand new name during Burman Launch Week from March 26th to April 1st.
A variety of events showcased the University and all the areas of study it offers. From academics to athletics there was something for everyone.
In December, the provincial government passed Bill Pr4, allowing CUC to continue on as Burman University. The bill was championed by Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr and was sent to the Lieutenant Governor for Royal Assent.
The name change process began in July 2014 when then Premier and Minister of Innovation and Advanced Education, Dave Hancock granted permission for the institution to change its name from ‘university college’ to ‘university.’
The usage of Burman University was implemented on May 1st but the bill still required an Act of Alberta legislature to make the name change official.
The university is named after Charles A. and Leona Burman, the husband and wife team who founded the educational institution in 1907. Charles served as the first and third president (principal) of the school that would be known as Burman. Leona taught English, science, language, geography, physiology and acted as school nurse.
Goodbye photo radar
It was a program that was built in the name of safety, but ended up costing Lacombians over the past two years. Citizens and those who drive through the City will no longer be receiving pesky photo radar tickets.
Lacombe City council moved to abolish the Automated Traffic Enforcement Program (ATEP), also known as photo radar.
ATEP was initiated in 2012 by council and began in October of 2013. The program was administered by an independent third party contractor, Independent Traffic Services Ltd.
Twenty-eight locations in the City were approved for enforcement, chosen for high pedestrian volumes, school zones, high collision areas and other locations that are frequent for speeders.
In November of 2014, council approved the use of the ATEP for one further year, intending to review it for a second time in 2015. A total of 10,427 tickets were issued from November 2014 to November 2015, noting a drop of 101 tickets from the first year.
The program was terminated on Nov. 30th.
-with files from Kalisha Mendonsa