WEMBLEY, ALTA – The county will be donating a used police package Chevrolet Tahoe to the Wembley Fire Department (WFD).

Noreen Zhang, Wembley’s chief administration officer (CAO), wrote to the county asking for the donation on behalf of the town.

She said that the current vehicle being used by the WFD has “exceeded its operational timeline and usefulness as an emergency response vehicle and is in dire need of a replacement.”

“The donation mirrors the county’s past practice of repurposing used patrol vehicles for fire department use in local municipalities,” said the county.

The Town of Wembley purchased a previously retired patrol vehicle from the county in 2016, says Zhang.

The fire department will use the vehicle for emergency responses and logistical duties within the region.

The county recently received a replacement police package vehicle that will replace the 2016 Tahoe being donated to Wembley.

The county says the 2016 vehicle will not be released to Wembley until late 2021/early 2022.

The value of the Tahoe at auction is estimated between $6,000-$10,0000.

Hythe Tree Drop Festival: County council approved public works to install a tree in Hythe for the annual Christmas Tree Drop Festival.

County public works will also be responsible for the removal and setup of barricades around the tree.

The former Village of Hythe had been building a unique tradition, with the towering tree brought in via helicopter to Main St. ahead of the Christmas season.

Due to the short timeline, the helicopter drop is not an option this year.

Last year, the Tree Drop Festival was shelved due to pandemic gathering restrictions and the village opted to bring the tree by truck. Later, residents decorated the tree on their own time.

The Hythe & District Agricultural Society planned much of the event in the past. The society had received a donation of the village’s public works crew to ensure clear roadways, set up fire pits and secure and remove the tree.

The county estimates that 60 co-ordinator hours and 80 public works hours were used in the 2019 festival.

Council also directed administration to share information about the county’s Community Assistance Grant program with the Hythe and District Agricultural Society for the 2022 event.

In July, the Village of Hythe dissolved and became a hamlet of the County of Grande Prairie.

Recreational use of stormwater ponds: The county will be moving forward with the Recreational Use of Stormwater Ponds Policy as a one-year pilot project for the 2021/2022 season.

The pilot policy will see up to four ice surfaces in residential neighbourhoods identified for recreational use. The county will provide oversight and regular ice thickness testing.

The county is asking for volunteers to apply for approval to take responsibility for snow clearing and maintenance of storm pond ice surfaces.

Additional funding for Evergreen Park: Council approved an additional funding request of $193,000 to cover the payroll of Evergreen Park management until Dec. 31.  The facility’s revenues have been impacted by the pandemic.

This is the second request for payroll funding since June, when council approved $700,000 for funding to cover management payroll from April 1 to Dec. 31, 2021.

Dan Gorman, general manager of Evergreen Park, told county council this week that despite low attendance, the park needed to be kept open and maintained as it is also a designated EVAC centre for the region.

Council has given Evergreen Park $893,000 this year to cover payroll.