M.D of Lesser Slave River Council notebook

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Council’s Dec. 13, 2023 meeting saw Councillor Sandra Melzer attending remotely for the second meeting in a row. The open portion of the meeting was quite brief – not much more than an hour-and-a-half, after which council went behind closed doors to discuss a few items. One of them was a meeting with Associated Engineering on the Athabasca River bridge project at Smith.

This just in from the college

Jasmine Light of Northern Lakes College spoke to council about the college’s Community Education Committee (CEC) program. Each of the 17 communities that have an NLC campus has a CEC, she said. The chairperson of each gets together with other CEC chairs a few times a year; this higher-level group is the CCEC, and its role is an advisory one to the college, bringing the concerns and ideas of each individual CEC to the NLC.

The CCEC has $6,000 annually to do training courses, but it “doesn’t go far,” Light said.

Light said NLC has over 2,000 students enrolled this term, with both in-person and online course offerings.

Councillor Brad Pearson asked for statistics on enrollment and graduates. Light didn’t have any grad numbers, but said 80 to 90 per cent of enrolees were from the region.

Pearson also asked about a water and wastewater operator course the college had worked up. We’ve got it, Light said, but nobody has ever signed up for it.

That’s unfortunate, said Pearson, because we have a hard time finding qualified people.

RCMP quarterly: some things up, others down

Slave Lake RCMP detachment commander, Staff Sgt. Casey Bruyns (recently promoted) said a few words about the detachment’s third quarter statistics and such, which were on paper in the agenda package, and answered questions.

One notable thing about the third quarter, Bruyns said, is property crimes were up in the M.D. and down in the town. That’s exactly the reverse of what happened in the second quarter. He suggested allocation of RCMP officers might have had something to do with it.

“I wish we had more resources,” Bruyns said, but we can only do what we can do.

Speaking of staff, Bruyns said he’d heard – by way of the Mayor of Slave Lake – that the detachment was short-staffed. Not so, he told council. In fact we’re better off than many other detachments in the region.

There is a constable position open, with somebody on the way to fill it. And his former position (since his recent promotion) is open.

Bruyns mentioned that the return of the RCMP traffic unit to Slave Lake is in the works, and “I can’t wait for that to happen.”

Patrols are happening on highways in the area, mind you, but they must be dispatched from Westlock.
Reeve Murray Kerik asked about how long it takes to get a wreck removed from the ditch.

Depends, said Bruyns. If it’s a hazard, it’ll typically be dealt with right away, and the bill sent to the responsible party. If it isn’t…. it’ll be left up to the insurance company.

Kerik was particularly concerned about a holiday trailer in the ditch not far from Flatbush. Coming across it after dark it gave him quite a shock, he said.

Councillor Lana Spencer agreed it was a hazard, at least indirectly, because people may stop to have a look at it.

“It’s been there 3 ½ weeks,” Kerik said.

Bruyns said he’d have a word with the staff sergeant in Westlock about it.

Fyten words on recycling

Molly Fyten, a waste management consultant the M.D. has hired, did a presentation on the new Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) program for recycling. Sitting in by video feed were a couple of reps from the Alberta Recycling Management Authority (ARMA).

Municipalities need to sign on to the program, council heard, and have until the end of this month to do it. What it should mean, is that by April of 2025, responsibility for recycling a few types of packaging material will shift to the producers and marketers of that stuff, and be lifted off the shoulders of municipalities.

Council has talked about it before, and Councillor Brad Pearson has expressed skepticism before, as he did again. He pointed out that if companies have to pay more to facilitate recycling, prices of their products will go up, and consumers will be hurt.

Prices will go up, agreed Ed Gugenheimer of ARMA. But maybe not as much as you think. Alberta is the last province to get on board with EPR, so higher producer costs for recycling many products are already being spread out across the entire country. The difference when Alberta comes on stream likely won’t be that much. And then there’s the reduction of municipal recycling fees to take into consideration.

Fyten explained that under EPR, recycling is generally handed by PROs (Professional Recycling Organizations), that are hired by producers for the purpose.

What if a producer doesn’t cooperate? asked Pearson.
The province didn’t give us a lot of teeth, said Gugenheimer. That resides with the government. Our job, he said, will be “to find them and report them.”

It’s Fyten’s job to prepare the application for the M.D. to get on board the EPR program.

Council voted in favour of a Lana Spencer motion to accept the EPR report as information.

Bison bison! (bison)

Council rubber-stamped a couple of policy updates – one on winter road maintenance and the other on the VSI, or Veterinary Services Incorporated Partnership Program.

The only question from council came from Councillor Spencer on the curious term for a certain farm animal – one of a list of seven that are eligible under the VSI subsidy program. It appears as Bison bison (Bison). Spencer thought that odd enough to ask Ag Fieldman Kendra Kozdroski about it. It turns out the Latin name for the North American bison is, in fact bison bison. It’s done that way, Kozdroski said (or suggested), to distinguish it from other types of bison.

Going after a grant to study M.D. industrial lands

A late addition to the agenda was something about applying for an economic development grant. CAO Kolenosky told council up to $200,000 is available and he thinks the M.D. should give it a try. If successful, it could be used to hire somebody to do a proper study of the Mitsue Industrial Park area, what’s available and what the possibilities are for further industrial development and that sort of thing.

It’s a 50/50 formula, Kolenosky said, meaning whatever amount is granted, the M.D. has to match. He estimates the project might cost around $150,000- I.e. 75 grand for the M.D.

Councillor Pearson didn’t like it.

“What are we going to learn new?” he asked.

Pearson went on to say the M.D. already knows what land it has. What we really need is to find out how “to get land out of the province.”

“That could be part of the study,” said Reeve Kerik.

Kerik also disputed Pearson’s assertion that the M.D. already knows enough about what land it has.
“We say we have lots of land in Mitsue: do we?”

The market for industrial lands could also be part of the study, suggested Councillor Seatter.

“Nobody’s got a crystal ball,” said Pearson.

Seatter made the motion to have admin apply for the grant. It was carried, with Pearson and Melzer opposed.

File photo of part of the Mitsue Industrial Park.

Share this post

Post Comment