July 19, 2022
In his CAO report, Barry Kolenosky told council something called the ‘Smith re-development report’ is “probably 88 per cent done.” Holding it up is a challenge pertaining to M.D.-owned properties. Legal, advice is needed, Kolenosky said, without elaborating.
There are different types of property in question. One category is property obtained through the tax recovery process. There’s a process for dealing with those, Kolenosky said, “and I want to make sure we do it right.”
Budget process beginning early-ish
Kolenosky informed council Aug. 31 is kick-off day for the 2023 budget process. The M.D. was significantly later than usual in approving this year’s budget, and it appears the Kolenosky administration does not want that to happen again.
The Aug. 31 date will also see a barbecue for council and staff, and the unveiling of a new commemorative display of photos of all the past councils.
Kolenosky spoke about shoulder pulls and something he called a “reclaimer,” that solves problems left after the shoulders of gravel roads have been pulled back up where they belong. This often leaves baseball-sized rocks on the surface, he said. The reclaimer crushes those and compacts the surface. Getting hold of the machine is the trick; Kolenosky said it would be a lease or rental.
The M.D. has had 37 development applications so far this year, council heard. Of those, 31 have been approved, so far. Last year at the same time, the number of applications was 35.
Bad behaviour on wheels and water
Kolenosky said complaints of bad behaviour by OHV and dirt bike drivers have been made recently, particularly in Canyon Creek.
“We’ve got some guys not obeying the rules,” he said.
Speaking of which, alcohol and boats don’t mix, but some people are pushing the limits. The CAO said on a recent visit to the Canyon Creek boat launch, he saw “some of those guys could barely maneuver,” calling it “an accident waiting to happen.”
Smith lagoon project: “Some issues…”
Acting utilities manager Jeremy Dumaresque brought council up to date on the progress of the re-lining project of the Smith waste water lagoon. It should be completed in mid-August, he said.
The project is budgeted at $2.425 million, of which $1.688 million has been spent so far.
Cost overruns are possible, the written report says, for various reasons. These include pumping costs, longer-than-expected construction duration, plus something called in the report “extensive negotiations and reviews of contractor claims.”
These were not specified, but Dumaresque did tell council, “There are some issues out there.”
Beach groomer on its way
New M.D. special projects manager John McDermott’s report on capital projects included an item about the M.D.’s new and eagerly anticipated beach grooming machine. It was due to arrive on Thursday, he said, with a training session scheduled for Tuesday of this week on Devonshire Beach. It will be used to finish off the beach clean-up project initiated on July 15 by a joint crew of M.D., Town of Slave Lake and Alberta Parks personnel.
Marten Beach loo on hold
Council’s decision to set up new outhouses at the Visitor Information Centre, the Southshore lookout and Marten Beach has been amended. The one slated for Marten Beach will go instead to the west-end campground at Canyon Creek, council heard.
Councillor Pearson asked why.
“They haven’t made up their minds yet,” said reeve Kerik, ‘they’ being Marten Beach residents, or perhaps the community association.
“We have to find a place,” said councillor Spencer.
Dust control under review
M.D. admin. is working up a new policy on dust control and was seeking council’s input. Judging by the discussion, it’s hard to see how they can come up with something that will make everybody happy, but that might be expecting too much.
“Some people hate, or they love it,” said the M.D.’s transportation department coordinator Shari Spencer, speaking of the calcium dust control treatment.
“I agree it needs to be reviewed,” said reeve Kerik. “Is it fair? Not really.”
Pearson: “I’ve got lots of issues. I blame council, present and past.”
Spencer said the current policy isn’t always being followed. Some areas that it doesn’t cover are getting sprayed and others that it does, aren’t.
Council also heard that some residents are clamoring for dust control, and others don’t want it anywhere near their place. When two of these properties are next to each other, it can lead to difficulties.
Then there’s the degree of M.D. subsidy for dust control. Spencer told council Lesser Slave River is more generous than its neighbours in that regard. Westlock County, for example, requires residents to pay the whole shot.
The new policy will be coming back to council for formal review and approval.
Policies, policies and more policies
Council asked for a program of policy review, and they are getting it in spades. Besides the one already mentioned (dust control), council heard reports on a policy about policy development, plus on agricultural service board policies, weed inspection, ASB rentals, vet services, coyote predation, wild boar management, road allowance vegetation management, herbicide application, Ag. Act appeals, soil conservation, and woody species management.
None of these were up for decision; just discussion. On the last item, it came out that there’s some grey area between M.D. right of ways and farmland, where “who’s responsible for what” isn’t clear. The idea would be to clarify that in the revamped policy, resulting in better management of those ‘woody’ species.