M.D. of Lesser Slave River Council notebook

January 15, 2024 meeting

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

The M.D. started the meeting as a committee of the whole. At these meetings, council hears reports, discusses them, but puts them over to a regular council meeting for decisions.

Sewer grinder pump warranty

Council was talking about south shore sewer grinder pumps once more. They didn’t have to make a decision, since it was only a minor change to the procedure. However, since this has been an ongoing issue, administration brought forward the changes for council’s information. The procedural change had to do with warranty. M.D. residents will buy the grinder pumps from the M.D. If they break within the five year warranty, they return them to the M.D. which will give them a new one. The M.D. gives the broken one to the manufacturer who gives the M.D. a new one.

The homeowners need to know if it is on warranty, said Donna Cross, director of utilities and operational services. They need to track the installation date. They also have to prove that it is broken.

“I think this is a good step for the homeowner,” said Councillor Brad Pearson, who represents that part of the M.D.

Council accepted the report as information.

Sewer pump maintenance

Council made a motion about the residential sewer grinder pump maintenance policy. This was to bring it to the next regular meeting on January 24 to remove it, because it doesn’t follow operational procedures.

Travel rates

Council looked at some changes to K20 Travel and Subsistence policy and procedures. These are to line it up with CRA guidelines. In one area it is still a bit lower than CRA. CRA allows up to $109 for the full day when people are traveling for work. The M.D. proposal is $98.

“You don’t have to spend that,” said CAO Barry Kolenosky.

Council will make a decision on these rates at the January 24, 2024 regular meeting.

MPC bylaw

Administration asked council to add another council member to the Municipal Planning Commission and to require that the chair be a council member. This would make the MPC have four councillors and three public members. Councillors cannot be on both the MPC and the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB).

Municipalities have different ways of looking at the MPC, said Kolenosky. Some MPCs have a mix of public and council members, some have no council members, and some have only council members.

“I won’t be opposing it,” said Councillor Pearson. However, he thinks the MPC members should vote on the chair.

“We’re in a bit of a transition,” said Kolenosky. Therefore, he thinks that for now the chair should be a councillor. The goal is to set “a solid direction when we’re setting this municipality up for success.”

“Is there anywhere in here that talks about training?” asked Councillor Sandra Melzer.

Councillor Pearson also mentioned the need for training, especially for the public members. He ended the conversation by saying “I understand administrations point of view.”

Council passed a motion to bring it to the January 24, 2024 meeting for a decision.

Final quarter director reports

Agriculture

The Agricultural Service Board and Lesser Slave Watershed Council were planning a farming workshop in Flatbush for January 17.

Kendra Kozdroski, agricultural fieldman called the registration “pretty decent.” Eight people had signed up and Reeve Murray Kerik signed up during her presentation.

From October to December, Agricultural and Environmental Services finished the grant reporting for the Provincial Recreation Areas, met to discuss a long-term lease on Provincial Recreation Areas, put up new signs at Lawrence Lake Recreation Area, helped three producers with environmental farm plans, etc.

Signs on the highway leading to Lawrence Lake will be done later, with help from Alberta Transportation, added Kozdroski.

Utilities and Operations

The utilities infrastructure survived the cold snap mid-January quite well, said Jeremy Dumaresque, utilities/operations manager. “The biggest issue seems to be the vehicles,” he added. On January 15, some wouldn’t start, some of which hadn’t been plugged in over the weekend and some which had.

Community Services

Sandra Rendle presented on Community Services. In 2023, the community complexes were busy, she said. The Smith complex was used 98 times. This includes two days a week for a walking program run by Gentle Ben Care Society, which ran from January to June and November to December. Flatbush was next, being used 38 times. Widewater third with 24 uses.

Was Community Services within budget in 2023? asked Councillor Pearson.

Yes, said Rendle.

In the final quarter, Rendle attended a Family and Community Support Service (FCSS) conference, worked with a company to do surveys and an open house, worked with council to amend the Bench and Tree Dedication Policy, etc.

Brad Pearson

HR and Safety

Leslie Bensch, HR Manager, wasn’t at the meeting. Council had her written update.

Councillor Darren Fulmore asked about the timeline of when an intern would be hired.

The written report says that the M.D. was approved for $60,000 to hire a municipal intern for 18 months. The job will be posted early in 2024, with the intern starting likely in mid-May.

Municipal Affairs will connect us with an intern in 2024, said Kolenosky.

Darren Fulmore

Lesser Slave Regional Fire Service

In December 2023, the fire department responded to 56 calls, says the written report. These were four structure fires, six outdoor fires, 13 alarms, one hazardous material or a gas leak, 13 motor vehicle collisions, 18 medical co-responses, and one Agency Assist – RCMP.

Lesser Slave Regional Fire Service Chief Alex Pavcek wasn’t at the meeting, so council read the written report.

Council had no questions about the fire report.

Legislative Services

“This is something new that we’ve added,” said Kolenosky. Council met a lot in 2023.

In 2023, council had 13 committee of the whole meetings, says the written report. They also had 22 regular meetings, seven special meetings, one intermunicipal meeting, two public hearings, two CAB meetings, one utilities strategic meeting, and one human resources strategic meeting. Council worked on 64 policies and procedures.

This is just under half of all the policies the M.D. has, said Kolenosky.

Of these, they rescinded 32, approved five new, and amended 16.

Planning and Development

In 2023, the M.D. had fewer development permits, said Ann Holden, planning and development officer. Part of this is the M.D. no longer issues them for Crown land.

“We don’t really have any say,” said Holden.

“Are we notified?” asked Councillor Pearson.

Yes, said Holden. The M.D. also notifies the province on anything that is of interest to them.

In 2023, the M.D. received 53 development permits and issued 45, says the written report. One was canceled or withdrawn. Two were refused and one was refused because it was incomplete.

The value estimated by the owner was $4,230,950. This was for 25 residential, eight commercial, four industrial, one agricultural, and 15 recreational.

The development permits follow the same percentage as the electoral division, said Holden. The east end Division 1 (Flatbush, Smith-Hondo, etc.) had 38 per cent of the development applications and 39 per cent of the population. The west side Division 2 (Mitsue, Poplar Lane, the southshore, and Marten Beach) had 62 per cent of the applications and 61 per cent of the population.

Councillor Pearson asked Planning and Development and Protective Services to work together on enforcement.

“We have been known to not enforce,” he said. People continue to do “activity that isn’t approved yet.”

When a stop work order is issued, the peace officers take it to the person on the same day, said Peace Officer Paul Mulholland.

Protective Services

In the final quarter, Protective Services received 28 complaints, said Mulholland. However, they didn’t issue any warnings or bylaw tickets.

Bylaw officers try to deal with as many complaints as possible through talking, said Mulholland.

This was the quietest quarter, which is common, he added. “Animal complaints is the busiest throughout the year.”

About half of the animal complaints are against the same people. One is getting close to requiring a court order to remove the dog. The dog isn’t a danger to the public, but isn’t being cared for properly.

Protective Services issued 10 provincial tickets, attended two agency assistance response, and conducted two joint forces operations (JFOs).

Protective Services has decided on the type of cameras it will be adding to M.D. facilities. These should arrive in late February or early March.

Councillor Pearson asked if the province had caught up on sending the M.D. the money for provincial tickets, which had been an ongoing issue.

In the final quarter of the year, the M.D. received $22,107 from the province for provincial tickets.

Facilities

M.D. staff repaired a fence and gate at Flatbush sewer lagoon, said Borris. It was damaged by livestock.

Other work in the fourth quarter included adding outside power outlets to the Flatbush shop, winterizing the Canyon Creek Campground, work on the Flatbush Complex, and many other things.

Transportation

With a warm November, the transportation department was able to move some gravel, clean up some trees by Lawrence Lake, and some other jobs, said Borris. They also did a lot of work on the M.D.’s equipment auction.

Council reports

Tri-Council Health – AHS has uploaded 8,000 patients to Connect Care, out of approximately 14,000, said Councillor Pearson.

Councillor Melzer said that committee sent an invitation to Sawridge First Nation to join. Also, that a new doctor is coming to Slave Lake soon. Slave Lake hospital isn’t delivering babies, but AHS is trying to hire an anesthesiologist.

Agricultural Service Board – The fall social in Flatbush was a success, said Councillor Fulmore. Drought has affected the agricultural sector, but government funding doesn’t include the affect of the dry spring on hay harvest.

“A lot of producers are feeling the pinch,” said Fulmore. The first hay crop is usually the biggest one, but was lousy, so they are having trouble feeding their cattle.

Wild boar trapping has started around Fawcett in Westlock County, he added. Wild boar are the world’s most invasive species.

CN has told municipalities that they will deal with their weeds, finished Fulmore.

“They’ve told us that before,” responded Reeve Kerik.

Athabasca Regional Waste – The landfill is looking to add another cell (hole in the ground) in 2024, said Councillor Fulmore. The engineers figure it will be double the cost of the last cell.

Homeland Housing – As of December 8, Homeland Housing had 95.9 per cent occupancy, said Councillor Melzer. Smoky Lake has contracted Homeland’s CEO, Raymond Cormie, to manage their housing authority on a trial basis. If it goes well, a three year contract will be signed. The boards will remain separate.

“That’s a good thing,” said Councillor Pearson. It will provide continuity.

“Raymond knows what he’s doing,” agreed Melzer.

Item of note: flood map for Marten Beach

Some councillors had looked at the Alberta government’s flood maps for Marten Beach. Public engagement is open until February 11, 2024 (see more information on Page 9).

“I think it’s pretty accurate,” said Councillor Norm Seatter.

Councillor Pearson had played around with the map which projects different types of floods. He mentioned 1 in 20 year and 1 in 100 year floods.

“It doesn’t change much,” he said. “It’s in a depression there.”

Council reconvened as a regular council meeting.

Rural Renewal Stream Program

The M.D. voted against taking part in the Rural Renewal Stream, which is an immigration program which is only available in registered municipalities. See article above.

Council congratulates new deputy minister, former RCMP K Division commander

The M.D. of Lesser Slave River voted to send a letter of congratulations to the former commanding officer of the Alberta RCMP.

The written report says, “On January 9th, 2024, Reeve Kerik received an email/letter advising that C.M. Zablocki has retired from the RCMP and has taken a new position as Assistant Deputy Minister with the Public Security Division of the Ministry of Public Safety and Emergency Services.”

Reeve Kerik requested that council sent a letter of congratulations. Council agreed.

“He was always a voice of reason,” said Councillor Pearson.

“I liked the fact that he remembered names,” said Reeve Kerik.

Capital budget dates

Council will meet on January 23, January 24, March 8, and March 15 to discuss the capital budget. The Jan. 24 meeting will be after the regular council meeting.

AB Farm Animal Care

Council voted for Councillor Melzer to attend an emergency meeting of AB Farm Animal Care (AFAC), which is in crisis. She will attend the Jan. 19 meeting by Zoom, find out what AFAC was asking and bring a report to a later council meeting. See article on Page 7.

Closed session on Smith Bridge

At 2:14 p.m., council went into a closed session.

The agenda says they were discussing three items: a letter to a resident, Smith Bridge, and a staffing update.

After the closed session, Councillor Seatter made a motion to have admin send a letter to the resident with a copy of the minister’s letter.

M.D. council continues to talk about the Smith Bridge, but in closed sessions.

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