M.D. of Lesser Slave River Council notebook

Sept. 13, 2023 meeting

Joe McWilliams

Lakeside Leader

Recognition at the landfill

Regional landfill manager Randy Peconi and some of his crew were in to receive the congratulations of council for their recent award from the Alberta Recycling Management Authority. It recognizes the good work they do with recycling.

“I’ve been trying for a long time to win this award, at my last landfill,” Peconi said. “But I didn’t have the support I have here.”

CAO Barry Kolenosky said, “it’s quite an honour,” and “recognition for everything we’ve done out there. We’ve come a long way from where we were.”

However, he said, the crew deserves the credit; “they’re the ones that do the work.”

Peconi said the landfill had been visited by “the author of every landfill book that’s ever been written. He was very impressed.”

Policies and bylaws

Per council’s wishes, admin. had come up with a plan to review and update all M.D. bylaws and policies. It was presented for approval by Dawn Durocher.

A review committee has been formed, and has a plan to bring four or five policies forward for discussion, per month. In fact twice that number of policies were on that day’s agenda for review.

Council wasted no time in approving the recommended motion.

Boat launch ramp

Brian Vance was in to provide a final report on the recent Lesser Slave River boat launch upgrade. Also being requested was a motion on how to divide up the cost between a couple of budgets, plus to express official ‘thank yous’ where appropriate.

Vance’s report had all the juicy details, nicely illustrated each step of the way with photographs. The project turned out to be unexpectedly difficult, requiring extra time. The result was the $34,000 budget was exceeded by about $24,000. That was not the end of the story, however; contractors Exact Oilfield Developing and Aquatech Diving & Marine Services turned around and reduced their invoices, bringing the total down to about $46,000.

The motion was to divide that amount down the middle, between the M.D.’s operating and capital budgets on one hand, and a donation from the Motor Dealers Association of Alberta on the other. The motion further called for the M.D. to “post an acknowledgement of the donations at the boat launch.”

Commenting on why it was over budget, Vance said, “We found all this junk in there we didn’t expect.” Removing it took some improvisation, using rig mats to support a trackhoe that wasn’t allowed to enter the water.

The fish-removal process alone was $10,000, and had to be completed within a narrow window of opportunity.

Councillor Darren Fulmore asked how deep the water is now at the end of the extended ramp. Over the divers’ heads, said Vance.

Photo courtesy of M.D. #124

Spark the North

The M.D. had been asked for a financial contribution to a regional conference called Spark the North. It’s a project of Community Futures Lesser Slave Lake.

It is described as an event bringing municipal, business and academic leaders together “to explore economic development opportunities,” and so on.

Speakers are expected on rural growth and labour strategies.

Spark the North was originally planned for May of this year, but was postponed due to the provincial election that happened that month.

Speaking up in favour of the donation, councillor Nancy Sand said she had gone to the last Spark the North, in High Prairie.

“It’s a really good event,” she said.

“I’d like to attend,” said councillor Lana Spencer, and made a motion to provide the $1,000. That was carried, as was a second Spencer motion for council approve the attendance of councillors at the event.

Spark the North is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023, at the Legacy Centre in Slave Lake.

Gentle Ben

The Gentle Ben Care Society is applying for a federal grant and would like a letter of support from the M.D. No discussion was needed; councillor Fulmore made the motion and it passed unanimously.

M.D. Community Services Coordinator Sandra Rendle mentioned that Gentle Ben is willing to extend its services to the Flatbush area.

Asset management

Council approved an asset management policy and a set of procedures on the same subject.

As the report says, it is becoming “increasingly necessary,” for local governments to have such plans in place, so as to “maintain assets, manage risk and plan for future generations.” It also helps when applying for grants.

Road policy

Council approved an updated version of the M.D.’s policy on road inspection, maintenance and repairs. The new one aligns better with best management practices and organizational structures, “without reducing quality of service,” the report says.

One drawback to the old policy was “unattainable deadlines.”

Councillor Fulmore had a question: When it comes to complaints about roads, should there be something the M.D.’s procedures that ensures people get a response? Sometimes, he said, “they’re left wondering,” if anything has been done, or decision made, one way or the other.

CAO Kolenosky said there is a system in place for that, and it is improving.

“We’ve been getting better,” he said, “but we’re not there yet.”

Cemetery funding

The policy on granting funds to groups that look after cemeteries in the M.D. was back with the requested changes. It was approved by council.

The report had the cemeteries listed – nine of them. Rendle asked if anybody knows of any others.

“No!” said councillor Brad Pearson. “That’s enough!”

“It’s a dead issue,” quipped councillor Norm Seatter.

Video surveillance

“It’s a sad sign of our times,” said Reeve Murray Kerik. “We need this. There’s no sense pretending we don’t.”

Kerik was responding to the presentation of a report on a new video surveillance policy for the M.D. It was prompted by a rash of break-ins and thefts from M.D. property.

Senior M.D. peace officer Paul Mulholland told council the surveillance is working; it led to the capture of two people recently.

Municipal Planning Commission

The M.D.’s MPC heard a case where a Widewater property owner wants to have more than the half dozen sheep he’s allowed on his property. He’s got a business renting out sheep to mow the grass on other people’s properties.

The MPC approved the variance, Seatter reported.

There are some issues arising due to required setbacks (for garages and such) not being suitable for the size of the lots. One such situation came up in Broken Paddle, and Marten Beach is another spot of concern. The required 7.5 metre setback just doesn’t work with the small lot sizes, council heard.

Councillor Spencer said the MPC is going to make a list of such situations and present them to the M.D.’s development office.

Vet crisis

CAO Kolenosky spoke about what he called a “crisis” in the area of large animal veterinary services. People are retiring, and not enough others are coming into the field to replace them. There are lots of vets who look after pets, but the traditional large animal vets serving farming regions are getting thin on the ground.

“If you live two hours from Westlock,” Kolenosky said, by way of offering a scenario, “that cow is dead by the time the vet gets there.”

What needs to happen, he said, is “the government needs to provide funds and impetus to get more vets out.”

Power line hazards

Councillor Fulmore had this item added to the agenda. Trees frequently fall on power lines in the Smith area, he said, causing power outages. It can also result in wildfires. He was hoping the M.D. could talk to ATCO Electric about it.

Fulmore said it’s a particular issue on areas with a single access/egress route. If there’s an incident, people in those situations can be trapped. Something ought to be done about it.

One problem, observed Reeve Kerik, is you can’t make private landowners cut their trees.

Sure, said Fulmore, but on the roads he’s talking about it’s mainly Crown land.

There was talk about bringing it up at the Rural Municipalities Association conference. The RMA could then lobby the province about it.

“When you look at what the province spends to fight fires, that would pay for a lot of tree removal,” said Seatter.

Share this post

Post Comment