Council lays it out for the MLA

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

If Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn wasn’t sure what was on the mind of Slave Lake town council, he now knows. When Rehn visited councillors on Oct. 23, they were armed with several issues.

Here’s the list:

  1. Investment needed for a new ambulance facility
  2. Lack of support from province in dealing with crime and criminals
  3. The geographical area for family and children’s services is too big
  4. Lack of investment in Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park
  5. Affordable housing project delayed with no end in sight
  6. Local physicians being forced into a new system; risk of losing them
  7. Too-easy access of vape pens and other products by minors
  8. Winter months’ closure of Boreal Centre for Bird Conservation.
  9. Condition of highways.

Asked how the meeting went, Slave Lake mayor Tyler Warman said “we shared our frustrations,” about the lack of progress on most of these items so far.

Warman said Rehn told them the bill on vaping was already in force, since June. However, subsequent research by councillor Brice Ferguson confirmed what he’d already supposed – that the bill has yet to be ‘proclaimed.’ As such, he says, “Town Council will continue with our lobbying effort to get the bill proclaimed and look at various options in the interim to keep vaping products out of the hands of youth.”

On the first item on the above list, it’s been acknowledged for several years that the ambulance bay at the hospital isn’t adequate. As council’s written brief notes, Alberta Health Services identified the matter as a top priority for capital spending, but “no progress has been made beyond that.”

The town has even offered a building, rent-free, to help move it along, among other suggestions.

Frustration on the matter of property crime is not a new thing. The province is well aware of it, and has invested some money to beef up rural policing; also to hire more prosecutors. So far, though, nothing in this area.

Moving along, Slave Lake once had a provincially-funded program for young kids and their families called Parent Link. That was shut down and Slave Lake is now served by the Children’s Resource Network, based in High Prairie. It serves a region that runs from Smoky River to Wabasca.

“There is definitely a huge gap in the service of early intervention when compared to the past programming,” says council’s briefing package.

Jumping ahead to the highways issue, the MLA is certainly well aware of the circumstances. The town brief acknowledges some highway repairs were announced for Hwy. 2. It being delayed to 2021, it calls “a great disappointment.” And Hwy. 88 has no plan at the moment for repairs, despite serious deterioration under heavy industrial use.

“We have areas where the pavement has eroded so badly the lane is not even wide enough to accommodate a vehicle,” says the report. Photos were included.

Rehn had this to say about the meeting (posted on his Facebook page): “Today I had a productive meeting with our mayor and council. Discussing important issues and concerns that we face in our community that I will work hard on addressing and bring back to session this week.”

Rehn mentioned in another post he had met with the Boreal Centre executive director Patti Campsall.

“Please know that I’m working to try to find a solution,” he said. “I’ll be returning to session on Monday and will be having a discussion with Ministers.

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