M.D. of Lesser Slave River Council notebook

July 13, 2022 meeting

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Remembering former reeve Kerik

Council’s meeting started off with a tribute to former reeve Duane Kerik (written by councillor and former long-time M.D. employee Lana Spencer). It was read by councillor Norm Seatter.

Duane Kerik was the first reeve of the M.D., starting in 1995 and serving for two terms.

“He helped build the foundation for the councils and administrations that came after him,” Seatter read.

“That’s pretty nice,” said current reeve Murray Kerik, Duane’s son. “Thank you.”

Councillor Brad Pearson added this, from remote location: “He was a great man to talk to. I think we’re all going to miss him.”

Duane Kerik

Adding weed and pest experience

Council moved to formally appoint Chantelle Borris as an inspector for the M.D. under the Weed Control Act and the Agricultural Pests Act.

The need for a third, more experienced inspector, to supplement the two already on the job, was explained by CAO Barry Kolenosky.

“It was determined that the weed and pest inspection program had not been sufficiently launched,” he said, and the two earlier appointees needed more training. With Borris being experienced and available, the decision was made to hire a third inspector, “to provide the guidance and leadership needed.”

Subdivision application #1

Council dealt with three separate land-use matters. For two of them, public hearings were held, but nobody showed up to comment, one way or another.

That allowed council to move fairly quickly to the second-reading phase.

The first of the trio is an application to subdivide a small portion of a quarter section that has a house and other buildings on it. It’s located northeast of Slave Lake in what is known as the ‘jackpines’ area. The application is actually to change the zoning, from agricultural to residential un-serviced (RUS).

Admin. recommended giving second reading to the bylaw change, but holding off on third reading until all the conditions of the subdivision process are completed.

Councillor Brad Pearson had a couple of questions. One of them was about responsibility for maintaining the access road to the property. The M.D. can take it over, he was told, but has no obligation to do so. Unless it does, the property owner is responsible for maintenance.

Council approved the recommended motion.

Subdivision application #2

This one was from Vanderwell Contractors. It is in the process of purchasing a piece of Crown land near its Mitsue Industrial Park sawmill. Once it’s in private hands, M.D. zoning comes into play, and the application is to have it designated as heavy industrial land.

Council had no issues with that, but again held off on giving it third and final reading. Best to wait until the sale of the land is finalized, they were told, and the new ownership is registered with Alberta Land Titles.

As for what Vanderwell’s intend to do with the property, that was not mentioned in the proceedings. But Ken Vanderwell subsequently told The Leader it’s for snow storage and a ‘bone yard’ for old vehicles and such. It will take the place of the lot due north of it, which is being sold to Expander Energy for a bio-diesel plant.

This aerial image, courtesy of Vanderwell Contractors, shows the property being purchased (in red).

Subdivision application #3

The third application for re-zoning is another case of a small piece being separated from an agricultural quarter. It is apparently somewhere in the vicinity of Smith, although that is not easy to tell without deciphering the legal land description. This was an issue for councillor Pearson, about which more below.

As with the first item above, the parcel being subdivided is too small to remain under the agricultural land use designation. So the application is to re-zone it as RUS. According to the report, the smallest that can be considered agricultural land is 10 hectares (24.7 acres). The parcel in question is 6.41 hectares.

Council gave third and final reading to the required bylaw change.

Pearson was also in favour, but asked if in future, more than a map and the legal land description could be provided when the M.D. advertises such items.

“I’d like to see an identifier,” he said, that shows what part of the M.D. the property is in. “Where is this at? I ask myself that all the time.”

Councillor Norm Seatter suggested it could be something as simple as saying, “Property located seven kilometres northeast of Smith,” for example.

“That works for me,” Pearson said.

The lot in question, to be separated from the quarter section.

New man with a badge

Next up was the introduction and swearing in of the M.D.’s new bylaw officer, Joel Flemmer. He comes to the M.D. after a stint as a professional firefighter with the Lesser Slave Lake Regional Fire Service.

“We interviewed several good candidates,” said senior M.D. peace officer Paul Mulholland, “but Joel stood out from the rest. He’s going to be a good addition to this team.”

Council heard that Flemmer will be taking some training to qualify him for special constable status.

New ag fieldman

Council approved the required motion to formally appoint the M.D.’s new agricultural fieldman, who is in fact a woman named Kendra Kozdroski. Presenting the report for council, CAO Barry Kolenosky said Kozdroski had been hired on July 8. She has the experience, he said, having worked in the ag field for a couple of other municipalities.

As fieldman, Kozdroski will be responsible for overseeing the M.D.’s activities in the areas of weed and pest control, which are required under the relevant provincial legislation. She’ll have a trio of weed and pest inspectors working under her.

Road closure technicalities

The M.D. has already gotten ministerial approval to close and sell a piece of unused and unneeded road allowance that runs through somebody’s farmstead near Flatbush. But Alberta Land Titles balked at registering the change, due to a few deficiencies in the description the M.D. provided.

It would have been onerous and inconvenient (to say the least) to have to jettison the whole thing and go back to the drawing board, but that was not necessary, council was happy to learn. A mere revision of the wording in the bylaw would be sufficient, and the ministerial approval remains valid. So that’s what council approved.

Not unanimously, however. Councillor Pearson stood by his earlier-stated objection in principle to selling off road allowances. He voted against the motion on both first and second reading, but elected not to derail the entire process by opposing unanimous consent to go to third reading. He voted in favour, which allowed council to conclude the matter. Third reading of the motion to approve the amended bylaw passed by a 5 – 1 vote.

Two years’ worth of grader blades

Council had approved $125,000 in this year’s budget for a year’s supply of new grader blades. This was sharply up from previous years’ cost, but the M.D. can’t do without new blades.

But CAO Kolenosky had some good news for council. If the M.D. buys two years’ worth of grader blades, the second set will only cost another $37,000. No reason was given (to council) for this generous offer, but the recommendation was to snap it up. So council approved the extra expense, upping the total to $162,000 for grader blades.

“Good strategy,” said councillor Seatter, making the motion.

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