Community spirit matters

To the residents of Gadsby and Donalda who are opposed to studies undertaken by Alberta Municipal Affairs that could see their communities officially dissolved. And what exactly does dissolution entail?

To the residents of Gadsby and Donalda who are opposed to studies undertaken by Alberta Municipal Affairs that could see their communities officially dissolved.

And what exactly does dissolution entail?

Well, according to the provincial government, “Municipal dissolution is a legal process of local government restructuring established by the Alberta Municipal Government Act. In dissolution, a municipality gives up its incorporated status to become part of a bordering municipality.”

Naturally, there are mixed feelings among residents in both Donalda (a village in the County of Stettler) and Gadsby (a the 100-year-old community, also in the County of Stettler) about dissolution.

Some people in both centres favour dissolution because they believe that might reduce their property taxes.

Other people — probably the majority — believe it would be a shame for their communities to lose their municipal governments, only to be folded into a larger entity.

Donalda Mayor Terry Nordahl is baffled as to why the municipal affairs minister ordered a dissolution study for their community of 250, which is two years away from celebrating its centennial.

However the province may well believe it would be more efficient for the county to provide services in the community.

That may or may not be the case, but one thing is clear: communities that lose their municipal governments tend to lose their sense of identity.

That’s true even though the province claims on the Internet that “Community pride, history, and a sense of belonging are all very important aspects of community life that will continue after dissolution.”

If that’s true, then why don’t we dissolve Calgary and Edmonton?

Dissolution is a worrying trend that the province should be approaching with greater care.

Since 1990, 55 dissolution studies have been undertaken and about half of the communities involved were eventually dissolved.

The feelings of local residents are said to be “taken into account” by the minister before a decision about recommending dissolution to provincial cabinet is made, but ultimately the big shots in Edmonton make such decisions.

The people in Alberta’s smallest communities don’t appear to be getting much of a say, and that should bother all Albertans.

It just doesn’t seem right.

– Lee Giles

To health authorities, and others, who have carried the H1N1 pandemic scare to extremes, creating mass panic that is yet to be justified.

Did the so-called “swine flu” from Mexico even rate the status of a “pandemic”? The flu didn’t kill thousands. For most, those that did die were already suffering from chronic illnesses that were certain to cause death. The bug sped up the process.

Now the panic is spreading into schools, psyching kids out to wash their hands frequently, or suffer the consequences of certain death. Education authorities have bowed to ridiculous extremes by laying down strict guidelines how the hands should be washed. What’s next? Forcing students to wearing masks and surgical gloves?

“With the pandemic,” says Dr. Bonnie Henry of the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, “we’ve been saying it’s really important this year more than others, even for you (the parents) to have the ability for children to wash their hands, because we know that influenza is what we call ‘amplified’ in schools.”

But spreading germs in the classroom has been the case since schools were invented.

Whatever happened to the good old days when kids got down and dirty making and eating mud pies? Or grossing out their girlfriends by eating an earthworm?

In our bid for a pristine environment, and medical advances that stave off many inflictions, we have created a monster. Our natural immune system is no longer allowed to act naturally.

Maybe dirty hands and eating mud pies and earthworms were not such a bad idea after all.

— Rick Zemanek

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