Council adds issues to MP Viersen’s plate

Peace River – Westlock MP Arnold Viersen discussed several local issues with Big Lakes County council at its regular meeting March 13. Left-right, are North Gilwood – Triangle Councillor Jim Zabolotniuk, Joussard Councillor Richard Mifflin, Viersen, Reeve Tyler Airth, Enilda – Big Meadow Councillor Lane Monteith, Faust Councillor Robert Nygaard, CAO David Reynolds and Grouard Councillor Jeff Chalifoux. Absent at the meeting were South Gilwood – Sunset House Councillor Ann Stewart, Heart River – Salt Prairie Councillor Garrett Zahacy and Kinuso Councillor Roberta Hunt.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

The future of the Swan Hills Waste Treatment Centre, agricultural drought relief, and flooding issues were discussed when Big Lakes County council met with Peace River – Westlock MP Arnold Viersen at its regular council meeting March 13.

With the provincial government planning to close the Swan Hills waste plant by the end of 2024, council wants a plan to clean up the site.

Viersen told council he plans to discuss the plant with Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault and Housing, Infrastructure and Communities Minister Sean Fraser.

“We can work together with the ministers to change regulations on the storage of PCBs and perhaps put in incentives to dispose of PCBs,” said Viersen, who serves with the Conservatives as the Official Opposition.

“I’m well aware of the situation.”

Reeve Tyler Airth said council wants to work with Viersen and the federal government ministries on the issue.

Agricultural recovery and drought was another issue the MP heard.

Big Lakes did not qualify for agricultural recovery aid, Airth told Viersen.

“Chances of us getting an agricultural recovery program are not great,” Airth said.

The MP expressed frustration with the federal government on the issue.

“I don’t know if we got any resolution on it,” Viersen said.

He also has a concern with Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay, MP for Cardigan, P.E.I.

“We’re dealing with a lack of understanding of agriculture in western Canada by the agriculture minister,” Viersen said.

He added he plans to discuss the issue with the minister.

Flooding, water management and environmental concerns in the area around Buffalo Bay and Horse Lakes between Prairie Echo and Grouard were another issue.

Airth said no government funding has been provided for the County for several years to do maintenance.

He noted it’s also frustrating that council has to get approvals from the provincial government, then the federal government, and it goes back and forth.

“It’s a vicious circle,” Airth said.

Viersen replied he plans to discuss the issues and concerns with federal ministers, whose portfolios are responsible for those programs and projects.

Updating council on legislative issues, Viersen said he and the Conservatives are ready to unseat the ruling Liberal party.

“I’m looking forward to the next federal election,” said Viersen, who was first elected in October 2015, when the Liberals unseated the Conservatives and Justin Trudeau became the prime minister.

An election must be held on or before Oct. 20, 2025.

Eliminating the carbon tax is the big issues with the Conservatives, he added.

“Lately, we’ve been working on a lot of issues,” Viersen said.

“Number one is to axe the tax.”

The tax is costing Canadians as prices of fuel, food and other amenities increase with inflation, he said.

“People across the country are feeling the pinch,” Viersen said.

“It’s starting to resonate across the country.”

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre is also pushing the call to eliminate the carbon tax, he added.

“That’s good news for us,” Viersen said.

He and the Conservatives are also working on other issues such as the need for more affordable housing and reducing crime.

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