No word yet from province on additional funding for Hilda

By Ashley Wiebe
March 28, 2018 - 5:13pm Updated: March 28, 2018 - 7:30pm

 

MEDICINE HAT, AB — For the third time this week, a provincial cabinet minister has made the trip from Edmonton to southeastern Alberta, although none have made their way to Hilda.

A wildfire ripped through and destroyed thousands of acres of land back in October.

Farmers in that area are still trying to recover from the devastation.

Spring seeding will begin soon and they’re still waiting to hear if the province will be offering more compensation.

Finance minister Joe Ceci was in Medicine Hat on Wednesday, touring the city.

He said over the “next three weeks, there’s a series of towns and villages and communities I’m going to,” but couldn’t say if Hilda was on his list.

 

Agriculture minister Oneil Carlier was in the area over the weekend and Labour Minister Christina Gray was at Medicine Hat College on Tuesday.

Ceci said wildfire prevention is on his radar and said hundreds of millions of dollars are put aside in each budget, but he said a lot of the responsibility for funding in a situation like this one would fall on the minister in charge of agriculture.

“As we regrettably see these kinds of things happen, the ministers, whether it’s environment and parks, usually it’s agriculture and forestry coming forward, and they ask to declare an emergency and then we can flow funding to address that emergency,” Ceci said.

Medicine Hat MLA Bob Wanner said he drove through the area in the days after the fire and has spoken with residents there.

He knows there has been some funding made available.

In December the province announced Hilda-area farmers would have access to interest-free loans of up to $25,000.

Earlier this month Carlier announced a $200,000 grant would be divided up among affected ranchers.

Wanner said he believes, based on his discussions with residents, they seem content with what’s being done.

“I’m not completely up to speed as to whether or not there are any additional [funding announcements expected] but my conversations, discussions, that I've had from some of the individuals was that the announcements that were made by Mr. Carlier were very helpful.

Cypress County officials are continuing to push for more aid.

They’re also surprised Carlier made comments earlier this week about not hearing firsthand accounts from residents.

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