Happy New Year!
I was saddened to hear of the passing of former MLA Gene Zwozdesky on Jan. 6. I know that many residents knew Mr. Zwozdesky through his involvement in the Ukrainian community as a musician, dancer and performer, and as an educator. He served in the Legislature from 1993 to 2015 as MLA — including as a cabinet minister of Education, Advance Education and Culture — and was Speaker of the Assembly from 2012-2015. He was known for his kindness, good humour and grace, and for his commitment to community. In order to allow people to share their condolences and remembrances, the government has set up a tribute page at www.alberta.ca/gene-zwozdesky-memorial.cfm.
January has been declared Alberta’s Month of the Artist to recognize the important role art and artists play in our province. Artists make essential contributions to the social, cultural, and economic well-being of our province and their work enriches the lives of all Albertans. At the end of December, Gavin Farmer retired as the Facility Manager and Artistic Director of Festival Place after spending the last 24 years directly supporting the work of artists from home and abroad, and enriching the cultural life of our community. I would like to thank Gavin for all of his contributions to our community and to wish him well in all his future endeavours! I would also like to extend a very warm welcome to Steve Derpack as he assumes his new position at the helm of Festival Place.
Most of us will have heard about the transfer of the colossal propylene-propane splitter from the fabricator in southeast Edmonton to Inter Pipeline’s new Heartland Petrochemical Complex currently under construction just outside Fort Saskatchewan. Weighing 820 tonnes and measuring 97 meters long, the splitter travelled through our region from Jan. 6-9. I wasn’t able to see it in person, but I can imagine how impressive it must have been up close! Thanks to Alberta Transportation for their work coordinating the journey and thanks especially to our government’s investment in petrochemical diversification that has made this made-in-Alberta project a reality — providing many jobs in our community and economic benefits both during construction as well as when the Heartland Petrochemical Complex becomes operational in late 2021.
With the New Year comes the opportunity to recognize amazing members of our community for their accomplishments and service. The Minister’s Seniors Service Awards (MSSA) recognize exceptional volunteers and outstanding organizations for their service to Alberta’s seniors. There are three categories of awards: Individual, organization, and the Alice Modin Award, named after a long-time Strathcona County resident. More information and the link to the nomination package can be found at www.alberta.ca/ministers-seniors-service-awards.aspx and the deadline to apply is Feb. 28.
Nominations are also open for the Alberta Order of Excellence, which recognizes citizens for remarkable contributions to their community, the province and the nation. Information about the Order, including nomination guidelines, nomination forms and biographies of previous inductees, can be found on the Alberta Order of Excellence website at lieutenantgovernor.ab.ca/aoe. The nomination deadline for this year’s awards is Feb. 15.
Rogers Hometown Hockey
Congratulations to everyone who worked to make the Rogers Hometown Hockey event such a success. I really appreciated the Winter Freeze Fest events, including the new outdoor skating opportunities, which led into the Hometown Hockey weekend. We have an active hockey and ringette community, demonstrated by the 102 teams that participated in the Parade of Champions on Sunday night.
Lunar New Year
The first new moon of the lunar calendar this weekend marks the start of the Lunar New Year festival, observed by many residents of Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and Tibetan heritage. Wishing everyone a Happy New Year as we welcome the Year of the Pig.
Annie McKitrick is the Member of the Legislative Assembly for the Sherwood Park Constituency. If you have any questions or comments about this column or any other provincial government issues, she would like to hear from you. Please contact McKitrick’s constituency office at 780-417-4747 or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.