M.D. of Lesser Slave River Council notebook

Oct. 25, 2017 meeting
Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Council doles out appointments

Brian Rosche will be the deputy reeve again. That was the first item in council’s organizational meeting, which preceded a five-hour regular meeting. Other board appointments are as follows:
Reeve Murray Kerik – Inter-municipal Committee, Slave Lake Chamber of Commerce, Northern Alberta Development Council, Legacy Centre Corporation, Assessment Review Board
Brian Rosche – Inter-municipal, LSL Watershed Council, Municipal Planning Commission (MPC), Canyon Creek Harbour Authority, Tri-Council Health, FireSmart Committee
Robert Esau – Agricultural Service Board (ASB), VSI (alternate), LSL Regional Waste Management Commission, Athabasca Regional Waste Management Services Commission, Athabasca Watershed Council, Slave Lake Airport Commission, Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB), Tri-Council Economic Development
Brad Pearson – LSL Waste Management, Community Futures LSL, LSL Watershed (alternate), Peace Library System (PLS), SDAB, Lesser Slave Regional Housing Authority (RHA), Tri-Council Health
Sandra Melzer – ASB, VSI, Community Futures Tawatinaw, PLS (alternate), SDAB, Homeland Housing
Becky Peiffer – Weed and Pest Appeal Committee, Regional Library Board, MPC, Tri-Council Health (alternate)
All members of council are appointed to the Disaster Services Committee, the Community Assistance Board, the Pembina Zone of the AAMD&C and the Regional Tri-council.
Council also appointed several public members to boards (sometimes after voting on it). These included Darren Fulmore, Damond Stadnyk and Les Kochan to the Ag Service Board, Ken Sauter, Nancy Sand and Rick McKnight to the VSI board, Grant Gramiak, Ken Caissie and Nancy Sand to the MPC, Brent McKay and Charlotte Measor to the SDAB, and McKay to the housing authority in Slave Lake.
Former councillors Mike Skrynyk and Darren Fulmore have indicated they are willing to continue as public members on the Assessment Review Board.
Appointments are mostly for one-year terms.


The new (and old) councillors were treated to presentations by each of the department heads, who tried to give an idea of the scope of their responsibilities. First, though, CAO Allan Winarski gave an overview of the crew, providing biographical details not generally known. For example, director of finance Jason Warawa has a degree in biology! Bill Klassen the transportation (roads and buildings) director has an MBA, and Winarski himself revealed he has been in the municipal administration game since 1990.
“Do not hesitate to ask any of these people how things work,” he said. Otherwise, “If you need a person – I’m your guy.”
Klassen described his position as “hero to zero and back again,” and having “a lot of moving parts.” One part that has recently moved into the forefront is railway crossings – there are 21 of them, Klassen said, and the M.D. needs to hire somebody to assess them – yet another unanticipated expense.
Human resources and communications coordinator Alanis Marleau had some interesting numbers for council. She said this year the M.D. has received 388 job applications and hired 21 people (full-time, part-time or seasonal). Last year, 225 people applied for work and 23 were hired.
Utilities boss Lyle Farris said his 10-member team looks after seven distribution systems, a couple of water plants and of course the sewer system in the south shore (among other things).
“How’s it working?” asked councillor Peiffer, referring to that last item.
The treatment plant does a great job, Farris said. The pumps at the residences – not so much. They don’t handle the climate very well.
Rural Services director Russ Jassman told council one area under his purview – parks and rec – “is growing by leaps and bounds.”

Toboggan hill at Wagner

Per a request from the Widewater Athletic Association, council heard a report on the notion of using surplus dirt from a nearby excavation to create a sliding hill on the grounds of the Widewater Complex. The contractor is willing to move it, council heard.
Making the report, Jassman said there are design, safety, liability and other issues the M.D. needs to consider.
“Costs?” asked councillor Rosche.
“No clue,” said Jassman.
Councillors seemed generally in favour of the idea. But public works manager Bill Klassen wasn’t comfortable with the idea of having to prepare the site on such short notice. The contractor wanted to start moving the dirt right away. Can we just stockpile it nearby, asked one councillor? It’ll cost money to move it twice, said Klassen.
Council settled on a motion (by Brad Pearson) to have the material piled nearby and to have admin prepare a report on the costs of site prep and hill construction.

Financial update

Warawa’s regular update on M.D. finances contained no startling information, which was good news in itself. Also good news was that the M.D.’s total assets (cash plus capital assets) have improved by about $5 million over last year.
One item that drew a few questions was the money for the regional water project. Though the Town of Slave Lake is managing the project, the M.D. is holding the cash and writing the cheques. The question of ownership of the asset – once it’s complete – is still in limbo. And if the project comes in higher than expected?
“The town will secure a debenture,” said Winarski, and the cost of that will be worked into the per-cubic-metre water rate.

State of the roads (and a few other things)

Klassen provided the new council with a punchy set of highlights from his roads and facilities portfolio.
Poplar Lane paving – I know you don’t want to hear this, said Klassen, but engineering costs on the project have jumped another $17,000. On the other hand, it’s under budget overall.
Old Smith Highway – stabilizing the slope on a two-kilometre section is estimated at $3.4 million, Klassen said. A better alternative would be to relocate that section of road away from the river – estimated at $2.6 million.
Marten Beach walkways – they are not only finished and beautiful to look at, said Klassen, they will out-live anybody in the room.
Flatbush drainage – Klassen said he’s having an engineering firm study the drainage in the hamlet itself and figure out a solution. The plan is to start with that, “and work our way outward.”
Overtime – Klassen mentioned 2,000 hours of overtime for his roads crew this year. “I’m building my case for more people in the summer,” he said.
Wet snow causes/reveals problems – heavy wet snow falling off the roof of the Flatbush Complex onto an M.D. employee was a wake-up call. Klassen said barriers have been fixed to the roof, and something should also be installed above the door. At the Smith library, the same wet snowfall caused several trees to lose their stability, necessitating their removal. No harm done to the library, but a lot of trees need to be removed. Council approved a $6,000 bid on the job. The library will be closed until it’s done.
Beaver control – “We relocated over 200 of them,” said Klassen. “They are in a much happier place.”


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