Twyla Penner Questions Home   On Council   Inside Didsbury   Full Bio

Inside Didsbury Entry - Posted: Saturday, October 2, 2021, 03:33 pm
questionmark.png1. A frequent topic on the discussion group is the condition of our roads. There are some areas that appear to have been neglected, and large potholes are developing. I'm sure we're all aware that increased road maintenance means higher taxes. Those taxes also have to spread across other town needs. How do you propose a reasonable balance between these two seemingly competing interests - taxes and town maintenance / management?

Road and sidewalk maintenance is on ongoing battle and every municipality in Alberta is struggling with this dilemma. Through engineering assessments, there has been a priority established identifying the roads needing repair and the order in which those repairs will be planned placing the most dire at the top of the list. This is reflected in the Town's Multi-year Capital Plan as major road repairs are capital budget items. These capital projects are generally funded through grants and reserves; grants from provincial and federal government, reserves through amortization, direct allocation and budgetary surpluses. Additionally, currently the Town supports a Road Rehabilitation Program consisting of $250K per year for patch work and pothole repair. The Road Rehabilitation Program is funded through the Operating budget directly affecting property tax. In addition to these 2 programs there is also the Water and Wastewater reserves that are used to effect repairs to roads that have been disturbed due to water and wastewater service failures. Historically major road repair projects have been undertaken when sufficient grant funds have been received (MSI, GTF and MOST Grants). But recognizing that the allocations of these grants are going to be reduced by over 30% over the next few years, the challenge in meeting the repair and maintenance of roads in Didsbury is going to be elevated significantly. Where is the balance? The balance occurs when Council of the day feels the burden on the taxpayer becomes too much, the point at which Council of the Day cannot justify the increase. This is part of the reason you will see a question on the election ballot asking if you will support an increase in property tax to facilitate increased road maintenance and repair. As an aside to this, Administration has just been directed to purchase a piece of asphalt repair equipment (grant funded) that will allow inhouse, permanent repairs to failing asphalt seams and potholes. If testimonials and demonstrations hold true for this piece of equipment, the condition of our roads should see a significant improvement over the next few years without a significant tax implication.

2.Calgary recently passed a temporary bylaw going beyond the REP (Restrictions Exemption Program). On one hand, this takes the pressure off of businesses to come up with their own policies and always end up being the villain. On the other hand, it puts those who feel compliance goes against their conscience in a difficult place. How do you foresee Didsbury council's role in supporting the success of our hard-working business owners and managers during what seems like "the forever pandemic?" Do you have any concept of how we'll move forward from here? Most of us don't know what that will look like, but I'm just wondering if you have any ideas you'd bring bring forward.

Alberta Health Care and the state of Public Health is under the jurisdiction of the Alberta Government. Although a municipality can, it really is not their place to be doing anything more than abiding by the orders and restrictions handed down by the Provincial Government. Each individual business has the choice as to what action they will take with regard to complying with those orders. It is not Council's place to make that choice for business owners or residents. Council must respect the privacy and individual choice of any and all Didsburians. While there are some businesses who have suffered through this "forever pandemic", there are also those who have flourished and as Council is responsible for representing all businesses and residents they must ensure that all businesses and residents are given equal opportunity. Having said that, it is important for Council to refrain from subsidizing business on the shoulders of residents. While it would be my hope that Council and the Town can put in place procedures and processes that assist business, I cannot support providing financial support to business through property tax.

3.Didsbury has caught the attention of movie producers. Some have felt that many of them provide little to no employment opportunities for our community. Others see this as a chance to "put Didsbury on the map." What do you see the council's role to be in this?

Council's role in this is to look at a "big picture" and realize and recognize the benefit to the community whether that be through employment or economic growth or economic injection or simple publicity. Council's role is to provide direction to administration to facilitate the film industry in a manner that is beneficial to the Town and to assist in educating the public regarding the benefits that occur. An example of this would be the fact that through the production of "Under the Banner of Heaven" over $100,000 has been injected into the Didsbury economy through employment, direct payments and tertiary services.

4. This item is of personal interest; handicap accessibility. I recognize that there have been significant strides in this area. I also understand that few people will notice a problem unless they're in a wheelchair or use a walker. One person noticed it recently when he took our son uptown. He parked in the designated space, but had to leave our very vulnerable son on the sidewalk while he backed out and parked in the no parking zone so that he could load our son into the van. Why? The designated stall was no wider than the other stalls. Someone pulled into the next one, as they should if it's open. I won't ask a question about this. I'll just say that if you speak up on this matter and run for council again, it will go a long way in winning my vote.

When I ran for Council in 2017 one of my platform topics was to apply for and participate in the Enabling Accessibility Funding. Unfortunately, partly because our first two years in office were devoted to addressing deficiencies, I ran out of time to bring focus on several issues, this being one of them. Having had first-hand experience in attempting to navigate city/town streets and sidewalks in a wheelchair, I sympathize with your exasperation. Also, my experience with escorting my recently handicapped father through daily shopping chores has been an eye-opener regarding local accessibility. I hope pursue this in the next term if elected.

If you have any other questions, please email me at During this health crisis this may be the best way to contact a council candidate. If you would like me to pop by, I have visited with other residents in their front yard and certainly do the same for you. I'm pretty sure we drove past your house when we toured town with our Christmas music/light show, so I know where you live.

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