June 14, 2023 meeting
Improvements to employee benefits get the green light
Council approved a set of improvements to health and wellness benefits for employees. They did it over the objections of councillor Brad Pearson who repeated his views of the previous meeting.
For one thing, $800 is a bit high for a health and wellness benefit, Pearson said.
“$800 doesn’t buy much,” countered councillor Norm Seatter.
“We don’t have a money tree,” said Pearson.
Councillor Darren Fulmore proposed the idea of offering the health spending benefit as an incentive to stay with the M.D. after, say, three years. Pearson liked the sound of that, but still was skeptical of the need for it. He spoke of a benefit he’s familiar with from the oilpatch, where people get a couple of pairs of workboots, free, per year from their employer. A lot of guys took it just because they could, he said, not because they needed it.
In this case, “I’m going to go for a massage just because I can,” he predicted. “It’ll get used.”
“That’s the point,” said councillor Nancy Sand.
“I think it’s a good program,” said reeve Murray Kerik.
We can review it in a year, said councillor Lana Spencer, and made the motion to adopt the policy as presented. It passed by a 6 – 1 vote.
Paved path in Smith
Councillor Sand’s second late addition to the agenda had to do with the paved walking trail in Smith. It’s very popular, she said, but ends rather abruptly.
Her idea (or she could have been conveying somebody else’s idea) was to add to the length of the trail, taking advantage of a paving company being in town to lay down an asphalt pad for a skating rink at the Smith Complex. Extending the trail at least as far as the M.D. transfer station would be a good idea, she said.
Councillor Darren Fulmore was on board. Mobilization and de-mobilization are a third of the cost of a contract, he said, so it would make sense to do it while the contractor is nearby.
It wouldn’t cost too much, agreed CAO Kolenosky. But getting permission from Alberta Transportation might be tough.
Councillor Pearson surprised nobody by objecting to the expense.
“Why does every trail have to be paved?” he asked.
Spencer’s motion to have a cost analysis brought to the next meeting was carried, with Pearson opposed.
New peace officer a black belt
M.D. peace officer Paul Mulholland introduced council to his brand-new colleague, Gagandeep ‘Raxen’ Singh. He’ll be riding along with Mulholland for a few weeks while he waits for his appointment (from the province) to come through.
Singh had previously worked as a security guard and for AHS as a community peace officer. He also worked as a corrections officer in Whitehorse and served as a volunteer firefighter in nearby Ibex Valley, YT.
Perhaps reacting to Singh’s small stature, councillor Pearson asked him how he would handle “somebody twice the size of you,” on a rural M.D. road.
“I’m black belt in taekwondo and judo,” Singh replied.
Later in the meeting, Singh was sworn in.
Community Standards Bylaw: alligators, anyone?
The brand new M.D. bylaw on community standards sailed through all three readings to go into immediate effect. It replaces a couple of other bylaws (the noise bylaw, for one), which were rescinded as part of the process. It also brings in a new schedule of penalties, some of which are quite a bit steeper than they used to be.
Some of these raised an eyebrow or two. Senior peace officer Paul Mulholland stressed again and again that discretion is a big part of the enforcement picture. Whatever happens to be on paper, it’s “just a tool,” and the goal is to get compliance.
“Ask, tell, make,” he said, summing up his operational strategy when it comes to dealing with people.
“Some of these will never be used,” he predicted. But it’s necessary to have them on the books, just in case. Mulholland gave as an example the keeping of pets.
“You can keep alligators until somebody complains,” he said. “If you’re creating a disturbance for your neighbour, that’s when we have to act.” (Not that he was encouraging possession of alligators, which the province forbids.)
Later liquor at Canyon
Ken Kennedy, the manager of the campground at Canyon Creek, was in to ask council to approve a one-time exemption of the 9 p.m. limit for serving alcoholic beverages on the patio at the harbour/campground store. It’s for Canada Day, he said. There’ll be fireworks and it’s expected lots of people will be gathered to watch them. He requested an extension of liquor-serving privileges until 11 p.m.
“It’s going very well so far,” Kennedy said, of the liquor sales experiment so far. “Very well-received.”
Councillor Pearson had good things to say as well; this was after his initial skepticism about the wisdom of allowing liquor sales at the site.
“Stop in there for a look,” he told his colleagues. “They’ve done a good job there.”
Council voted in favour of a motion to approve the one-time exemption.
Zoning change in Athabina
After a public hearing with zero participation from the public, council gave second reading to a bylaw change needed for the subdivision of a chunk of land off a quarter section in the Athabina area, near Flatbush. The 10-acre lot, which contains a dwelling, will move from the agricultural to residential un-serviced district. As a result, the M.D. should collect more taxes from it. That’s on top of the $500 it already made from the application fee.
Third and final reading of the bylaw change will have to wait until all the conditions attached to the subdivision are fulfilled.