South Peace News
The annual Big Lakes County barbecue scheduled for Oct. 1 is cancelled.
At its regular meeting Sept. 8, council cancelled the event over growing concern and cases of COVID-19 in the region.
Council planned the barbecue for Oct. 1 at its regular meeting Aug. 11.
Grouard Councillor Fern Welch raised the issue as council reviewed their agenda.
“I’ve had lots of people talk to me and they’re concerned about the county barbecue in the middle of an election campaign,” Welch says.
“Some people say it’s also a waste of money.”
Local government elections are set for Oct. 18 with nomination day Sept. 20.
Council voted 4-3 to cancel the event on a motion by Heart River – Salt Prairie Councillor David Marx.
Faust Councillor Robert Nygaard, Kinuso Councillor Ken Killeen and Enilda – Big Meadow Councillor Donald Bissell supported the motion by Marx.
All four voiced their views to cancel the barbecue that is usually held the third Thursday in June.
“If we’re going to do a lot of work and then have to cancel it, cancel it right now,” Killeen says.
Reeve Ken Matthews, South Sunset House – Gilwood Councillor Ann Stewart and Welch voted against.
High Prairie East – Banana Belt Councillor Don Charrois and Joussard Councillor Richard Simard were absent.
“People want to get together,” Stewart says.
CAO Jordan Panasiuk says outdoor gatherings are not prohibited under current COVID-19 restrictions by Alberta Health Services.
“We’re not prohibited by law to host the event,” Panasiuk says.
However, many councillors agree that could change as the number of cases and hospitalizations rise and restrictions may return by then.
The event also includes a ceremony to unveil the names of the recipients for the Big Lakes County Wall of Fame.
Bryan and Sandy Heroux, of Faust, and Neil and Maureen Renneberg, of Joussard, were approved by council at its regular meeting June 9.
Roberta Hunt, of Kinuso, was named the 2020 recipient, although no ceremony was held to honour her.
The popular event has attracted up to 700 people. Over the past years, council and staff have served beef-on-a-bun, hotdogs and salads, with watermelon and cake for dessert.
Several giveaways occur and an information table where the Big Lakes annual report would be available to taxpayers.