M.D. of Lesser Slave River Council notebook

Aug. 24, 2022 meeting
Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Council’s meeting began with the introduction of a couple of new M.D. employees; Rhonda Muzyka is the safety coordinator and Sheri Payne is HR coordinator.

Tackling illegal dumping in Canyon Creek

The M.D. has been getting complaints about illegal dumping at a site near the west end of the hamlet. It’s apparently been going on for some time and the decision has been made to do something about it.

Pictures of the dumping were in council’s Aug. 24 agenda package. The report said the dumping has escalated lately. What once was just a bit of brush and clippings and such now includes construction materials, treated wood, furniture and other stuff.

“It’s becoming a free-for-all,” M.D. special projects manager John McDermott told council.

According to the report, somebody said there was an agreement with the fire department to burn the organic waste at the site a couple of times per year. But not so.

“Upon further investigation, it was determined that no such agreement had ever been made….”

What’s proposed is a closure of the site, with signs to be erected informing people of the penalties for illegal dumping. The fine is $300, council heard.

“We should maybe jack that up a little,” said councillor Darren Fulmore.

Council also heard a trail camera had been put up at the site, resulting in about a dozen charges so far.

Councillor Brad Pearson was not optimistic about the success of simply putting up signs.

“It’s just going to move,” he predicted, “likely to another area.” He suggested ditching on the site in question to block easy access.

The landfill is just up the road, McDermott pointed out. If they can haul stuff to the illegal site, they can just as easily haul it to the legal one.

Illegal dumping in Canyon Creek
Photo courtesy of the M.D. of Lesser Slave River

‘Somebody has to pay for this stuff’

Dust control was on council’s agenda. Specifically, proposed changes to the dust control policy, which spells out who qualifies for free dust control and who doesn’t.

As it stands, the threshold for a free application is 150 vehicle trips per day; any residence on such an unpaved M.D. road qualifies for 100 metres of dust control, providing the house is not more than 100 metres from the centre line of the road.

The new policy proposes some changes, but council isn’t ready to make a decision on it. Instead, it will seek public feedback on the new provisions. Accordingly, council voted to table the matter until that consultation is done.

A survey will be sent out to residents on the topic.

If residents are expecting more free dust control from the M.D., they likely will be disappointed.

“Somebody has to pay for this stuff,” commented reeve Murray Kerik. “They have to understand that.”

Also discussed was how the M.D. determines traffic volume. Traffic counter devices are the answer; the M.D. has several of those, and they work well enough, as long as people behave themselves.

Councillor Pearson had a story about that. He’d heard of people “burning out” on the counter wires that cross the road.

“Bad apples trying to wreck stuff,” he said.

Requests for financial support

Council reconvened as the Community Assistance Board (CAB) to hear funding requests from five community organizations (both for CAB and FCSS funds). Once those details were read out on the record, the board went into a closed session to debate the merits. Once back in open session, they made the following decisions:

Smith’s Traildusters Horse Club gets the $4,000 it asked for to finish off its rehabilitation project of the Traildusters Grounds. It’s the final year of a five-year project, council heard.

“I went out and looked at it,” said Kerik. “It looks good.”

Stage North Association gets $3,700 to help with two programs for kids and seniors it was putting on at the All-In event in Slave Lake on the Aug. 26 weekend.

The M.D.’s Agricultural Service Board was approved for $4,000 to help with the cost of putting on its fall social – the first one to be held since 2019. Nov. 5 is the designated date for the event, council heard, but the location hasn’t been nailed down yet. It’s usually at the hall in Flatbush, but Smith is being considered this year.

The social will have a ‘Columbian’ theme this year.

The board allocated a whopping $37,000 from the FCSS budget to a series of community dinners planned for this fall – one each in Flatbush, Smith and Widewater. This, or something like it, was first tried last year, apparently as a way of spending grant dollars that would otherwise have to be returned to the provincial government.

Councillor Melzer asked if there might be “a better way” to disperse the funds, besides serving meals, but didn’t receive much in the way of an answer.

The one request that wasn’t granted was from Gilwood Golf Club, which had asked for $25,318. Of that, $20,000 would be for a drainage reclamation project; the remainder is the amount of property taxes Gilwood paid this year to the M.D. and would like to get back in the form of a grant.

Council decided to table the request and ask Gilwood for more details on programs that might make the request more palatable. (I.e. programs for kids or seniors, rather than simply for operational expenses.)

No appetite for road allowance lease request

A property owner on the Old Smith Highway has applied to lease the bit of undeveloped M.D. road allowance he uses to get to his recreational property. Council balked at the idea, though. Leasing it would mean a loss of control, and bad news for others who might want to use it.

Council heard (and saw photos) of the road allowance, which actually has been developed (though not with M.D. permission). It has some gravel on it and a gate.

Recommended was a license of occupation (LOC), rather than a lease, but councillors weren’t even willing to go that far. What they were more than willing to do was insist the applicant remove the gate from the road allowance and – if he needs it – put it on his own property. That was included in councillor Pearson’s motion – along with the proposal to defer any decision on changing the status of the road allowance. Council voted in favour of the motion.

Change in agricultural land use district shelved for now

A plan to add a use to the agricultural district in the M.D.’s Land-Use Bylaw (LUB) will be on hold for a while. “Indefinitely” was the term used in councillor Lana Spencer’s motion.

What the fly in the ointment might be, specifically, Spencer didn’t indicate; nor did anyone else. But apparently council needs more time “to consider all the options.”

What had been proposed was to add something called ‘general commercial services’ as a discretionary use, to the agricultural district in the LUB. As explained in council’s agenda, the dual purpose of this amendment is to “protect the agricultural district for the main purpose of food production,” and also to “enable farmers to earn a proper livelihood by supplementing farm income…”

Although the bylaw change was deferred indefinitely, it could come back for decision at any time, Spencer pointed out. In the meantime the specific application that triggered the LUB amendment proposal is due to come back to council’s next meeting.

Marten Beach emergency access

Councillor Norm Seatter had added this item to the agenda. He wanted to know the status of the project, which had been approved by council about a decade ago.

“It hasn’t gone anywhere,” said CAO Kolenosky.

Seatter allowed that with flood mitigation measures possibly pending, it probably doesn’t make sense to go ahead with the project for now. Councillor Nancy Sand agreed, calling it “putting the cart before the horse.”

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