June 22, 2022 meeting
Staff Sgt. Al checks in
Westlock RCMP Staff Sgt. Al Baird presented one of his status reports to council, which included crime stats for the first several months of 2022. Those raised some eyebrows due to showing zeroes almost (but not quite) across the board. Apparently not much happens in the part of the M.D. covered by Westlock RCMP. Either that, or not much gets reported. Some councillors are inclined to the latter view.
“Around here there is more theft than is reported,” said reeve Murray Kerik. “I say, ‘report it.’ They say, ‘Why? Nobody comes anyway.’”
“We’ll come when we can,” said Baird, and urged people to report incidents or suspicious people, regardless. He gave an example (from another detachment area) of how criminals got away because their presence wasn’t reported until a day after they were spotted.
There have been some successes, Baird said. He pointed to the apprehension of “prolific offenders” in the Fawcett area. Things have quieted down, now that they are in jail, but they’ll be getting out.
“We know who they are,” said Kerik.
Kerik brought up (not for the first time) a case where frequent gunfire on a rural property is making a neighbour nervous. The person hasn’t heard from or seen the police, in spite of numerous complaints, Kerik said.
Baird said he’s aware of the situation, and RCMP members have looked into it. The main difficulty is getting evidence that would stand up in court, he said. He promised to “re-visit” the file.
HVAC contract awarded
Council approved the recommendation from admin. to award the HVAC system installation contract for the Slave Lake M.D. office to Total Plumbing and Heating. The contracted amount is $123,500, which comes in $8,500 above what had been budgeted for the job.
In the report, CAO Kolenosky said the existing HVAC units are pretty much done for, with maintenance costs increasing. The units even when they are working to capacity are unsuited to the job of maintaining consistent air temperature in the building. Not only that, parts for them are becoming difficult to obtain. The sooner they get replaced, the better, Kolenosky told council.
Reeve Kerik agreed.
“All the years I’ve been here it’s been a problem in the office,” he said. “Feast or famine (too cold or too hot, in other words).”
Delivery of the HVAC units is expected to take 30 weeks. In the meantime, modifications to the interior ducts will take place as well as to ‘zone controls.’
Council calendar adjustments
Council approved some adjustments to the meeting schedule over the next few months. It includes adding a meeting on July 19, removing two meetings (July 27 and Aug. 10), adding a meeting on Aug. 31 (to kick off the 2023 budget process) and adding a meeting on Sept. 20. In addition to that, CAO Kolenosky proposed the regular meeting date of Dec. 14 as the target date for 2023 budget approval.
Sani-dumps and sewer tanks
Council got a rundown on the status of various projects on the M.D.’s ‘to-do’ list. Many of them have not got past the planning stages, but a few are underway. The new Canyon-Creek sani-dump, for example is seeing some action. The M.D. is saving some money on the project by hiring work by the hour and handling the supervision, council heard.
“They’re moving dirt there now,” said the M.D.’s new manager of special projects, John McDermott.
Good news on the Visitor Information Centre sewage tank, McDermott said; it won’t need to be replaced, as was anticipated.
“It’s repairable,” he said, “so there’s going to be a saving there.”
If there’s a sani-dump in Canyon Creek and one in Smith, said councillor Melzer, how about one in Flatbush? We can definitely look at that at budget time, said Kolenosky.
Canyon Creek clean-up
The M.D. has a couple of years to spend the $500,000 it got from the province to clean up old Canyon Creek Fish Hatchery infrastructure that is still in the lake. It consists of posts driven into the lake bed and creosoted timbers connected to them by steel bolts and/or rods. Kolenosky said the steel will be coming out this summer; the wood at some unspecified later time – possibly next year.
Councillor Pearson said there is a “rock island” offshore that was part of the fish hatchery infrastructure that should be dealt with as well, as it is a hazard to boating.
“We’ll have some divers on site,” Kolenosky said.
“I can show you where it is,” Pearson offered.
Council heard that the beach grooming machine has been ordered and is expected to arrive sometime next month. Councillor Lana Spencer asked if a beach clean-up day has been scheduled.
The M.D., town and Parks met recently to discuss that topic, Kolenosky said. The plan is to clean up the beach (Devonshire Beach, that is) twice per month during the season.
Smith office hours
The M.D. is trying something new next month in Smith – having office hours at the community hall on July 6 and 20. Staff members will be doing regular administration office type things on those days, including accepting property tax payments, accepting development applications “and other things we do at our regular offices,” Kolenosky said.
Smith lagoon-lining project
This one “has been really painful for us,” reported utilities manager Donna Cross. She didn’t elaborate much on that, but did mention a couple of items (hiring pumps was one) that had resulted in change-orders and consequently higher costs. The project is more or less on track now, Cross said, and should be completed in the first week of July.
Councillor Pearson said he’s been getting calls asking about whether the M.D. is doing dust control in a certain part of the Poplar Lane area. The answer is no, per M.D. policy. What’s the criteria, Pearson asked. Three hundred vehicles per day, for starters, he heard.
At that, Pearson made a motion to have council review the dust control policy, which was carried.
Broken Paddle road conditions
Kolenosky said he’s been hearing complaints about the condition of the M.D.’s road into the Broken Paddle Resort on Fawcett Lake. People are asking if the M.D. can grade it more often, because the washboard is pretty bad. Administration is looking into it, he said.
A related issue is what Kolenosky called the “shadow population” of the area in the warm season. The road gets a lot more traffic and most of it also uses the bridge over the Athabasca River at Smith. The M.D. needs to build that population into its business case for bridge replacement, he said.
Reeve Kerik said he’s been getting calls about the paving work on Hwy. 2 near Slave Lake. It’s 25 kilometres overall, he said, but not necessarily continuous. What’s hard to understand is why the West Mitsue intersection isn’t getting done.
“That’s got potholes like you wouldn’t believe,” he said. “It defies logic.”