Halkirk sign

Village of Halkirk likely heading for viability vote in the New Year

‘No matter what, people will live in Halkirk, and people will call it Halkirk’

The residents of Halkirk could be facing one more vote in the near future, one which will determine the future of the village.

A viability review of the community undertaken by the Government of Alberta is entering the final leg of the process, council heard during their meeting Nov. 9.

The review was started months ago, when council, facing aging infrastructure and an aging and decreasing population, asked the government to begin the process.

In the months since then, studies have been undertaken identifying the community’s infrastructure needs, as well as economic and development prospects for the community.

While a draft of the viability report has been completed, it has not been released to the public yet; that will happen at a — hopefully in-person — community information session in the village sometime in the next two to four weeks.

Roy Bedford, with the Government of Alberta, has been working with council and administration on the viability review process, and he presented to them viz a Zoom call during the meeting.

Bedford informed council that before the public meeting will take place, the village council and Paintearth County council must have an informal meeting, followed by a more formal one with the Alberta Rural Municipalities Association, Alberta Urban Municipalities Association as well as two other provincial agencies where the report will be reviewed.

After those reviews, the report will be made public to all residents of the village, followed by the public meeting, where residents will have the opportunity to ask questions.

“If I was a betting person, I would look at a vote towards the end of February,” said Bedford to council.

The vote will be completely run by the Government of Alberta and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs.

Simply stated, the vote will ask whether the community of Halkirk should remain an independent village or whether it should dissolve and become a hamlet within the County.

With the infrastructure and lack of development issues in the community being what they are, if the residents do vote to remain independent, the Village will have to work with the ministry to develop strategies addressing the shortcomings found in the viability report and report on an annual basis for five years.

“No matter what, people will live in Halkirk, and people will call it Halkirk,” said Bedford.

“All those infrastructure needs that were identified aren’t going to disappear.”