Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017
Inter-municipal and fire services
Following a marathon weekend session of talks with the Town of Slave Lake council and administration, council was ready to take certain steps regarding payment of invoices from the town. Councillor Brian Rosche’s motion was to pay the unpaid balance on the 2016 Inter-municipal Agreement invoice of $415,056 and the same on the unpaid balance on the Fire Services Agreement 2016 invoice of $439,073. The M.D. had previously paid $304,482 and $300,000 on those invoices, respectively.
“There is still some detail to agree upon that will be addressed at the end of November,” said M.D. CAO Allan Winarski in his written report.
In a related move, council appointed Brad Pearson to the Inter-municipal Committee, bringing to four the number of councillors on that body.
Councillor Brad Pearson had a proposal for his colleagues: schedule 15 minutes of every regular council meeting for members of the public who might have something they want to say to council, or to ask questions. This would be in addition to the existing opportunity of getting on the agenda as a delegation. He didn’t get much support for his idea.
“Generally we’re running long agendas and long days (already),” said councillor Brian Rosche. “That can so easily extend things by an hour. It doesn’t just end up being 15 minutes.”
The matter was tabled.
New things in Flatbush
Transportation department director Bill Klassen had news that the Flatbush hall washroom refit had grown by $24,000. He needed council’s permission to spend the extra – the biggest part of which was for new doors.
Councillor Pearson surprised nobody by asking where the money would come from.
“I think we have enough,” said Winarski.
Council approved the request.
New guy in charge
Council received its first visit from the new RCMP detachment commander, Staff Sgt. John Spaans.
“Big shoes to fill,” said Spaans, referring to the man he replaces, Chris Murphy. He also told council his philosophy is quite similar to Murphy’s and he doesn’t expect any significant changes in style or focus.
Spaans said he’d served in Slave Lake previously, from 2005 to 2008, and since then in Elk Point, St. Paul/Saddle Lake and Lac La Biche. He likes what he sees so far at the Slave Lake detachment.
“The members we have here are strong investigators and they love it here,” he said.
An unbudgeted funding item was for a survey of all the CN Rail crossings in the M.D. This is federally mandated and was supposed to have been done already, but “it got lost,” transportaton direction Bill Klassen said, in the transition between his predecessor and him.
So what the M.D. needs to do is hire an engineering firm to check them all out and come up with a report. The estimate is $25,000.
“Where is the $25,000 going to come from?” asked councillor Brian Rosche.
CAO Allan Winarski: “We have sufficient slack to be able to address this.”
Klassen said maintenance of crossings has always been a shared responsibility between municipalities and the railway. The M.D.’s part is the roadway up to 18 inches from the rails.
The good news on the Poplar Lane paving project is it’s about $100,000 under budget, Klassen reported. The bad news is the engineering supervision took more manpower than anticipated, and the M.D. has been invoiced for 17,000 additional dollars for it.
“This is within the contingency,” he said.
Councillor Brad Pearson may have surprised a few people by making the motion to approve the expenditure.
Safety concerns in Smith
Councillor Becky Peiffer brought forward a community concern about safety on Hwy. 2A. It has to do with a railway crossing just out of town, and the possibility of a bad crash happening there. Peiffer said a reduction in the 100 kph speed limit to 80 on the stretch leading up to the crossing would help.
“You can’t see the train,” she said. “You come around that corner, you’re committed and if there’s a line of traffic there…”
Council approved a Peiffer motion to send a letter on the topic to Alberta Transportation.
Peiffer’s other traffic safety concern from the area had to do with the intersection of Otter Creek and Ranch Roads. Visibility is restricted by brush and with a lot of logging trucks going through there, it is dangerous, she said. Can some brushing be done? Klassen figured the brush in question is on private property, but he said he’d look into it.
FCSS grant application
Council quickly approved an application for financial assistance from Flatbush Silver Threads to help it put on a volunteer appreciation Christmas event. The approved amount is $700.
Making the motion to approve, councillor Sandra Melzer said, “It’s a good cause.”
Lesser Slave Lake Regional Housing – councillor Jeff Commins reported that Julie Brandle has been reappointed as chair of the board, with Christine Mandau as vice-chair. There are several new members and lots to learn, Commins said, but, “we’ve got a good start.”
Taking up the narrative, councillor Pearson said the leadership of Lindsay Pratt of Heart River Housing has been “very beneficial,” to the organization. He said “no big surprises,” were expected for 2018 as far as budget or requisitions go.
In other landfill commission news, councillor Pearson said it looks as if the government has changed its mind about the fate of 14 recovery trailers in the Lynnwood area of Slave Lake. The housing authority had been expecting to ‘assume’ ownership of them, but that appears now not to be happening.
On the other hand, said Commins, continuing the tag-team approach, “36 units from Sunset (Place) went to Wabasca, given to their housing authority.”
Back to Pearson: there’s a waiting list for social housing units, and in the seniors’ housing complex there are “very few that are empty. Things look good.”
Lesser Slave Regional Waste – Brad Pearson, the new chairperson of the commission, reported that the landfill is fully staffed and has a new manager on site.
“It’s a busy place,” he said.
One opportunity the landfill is looking at is acquiring cell-capping material from the Town of Slave Lake, which is getting set to clear out solid material from one of its sewage treatment lagoons. There’s actually competition for the stuff, he said, because the landfill in Athabasca County wants it too. That group has offered to waive its usual fee to get its hands on the material. Pearson said the commission has proposed to reduce its per-tonne fee from $30 to $5 to improve its chances of getting it. He said it is estimated to amount to 1,000 truckloads.
VSI – Melzer had attended the annual meeting. She took a recommendation from the Ag Service Board to increase the number of semen tests on bulls from seven to eight. The program covers 50 per cent of the cost.
‘No blood on the floor’
Reeve Kerik asked councillors to share their impressions of the weekend session with town council on the two agreements between the municipalities. Starting off, he said, “I believe we’ve come up with a solution.”
Melzer, for whom this is totally new territory, said she was impressed by how the discussion was organized, and she “learned lots.”
Pearson: “I’m still recuperating!” He also said that he was pleased with the candid and frank discussion and looks forward to a new partnership.
“It was nothing like what I expected,” he said.
Commins: “It was very interesting, and there was no blood on the floor when we left.”
Rosche praised the facilitating job done by the reeve and the mayor. “It exceeded my expectations,” he said.
“Me too,” said Kerik. Then he asked Winarski for his view on it.
“I feel good,” said Winarski.
Community Assistance Board
The M.D.’s Community Assistance Board (CAB) convened for its fourth and final meeting of the year. Its main business was to consider one request for funding, from the Widewater Athletic Association. That group was asking for $2,570 to help pay for part of a ball field upgrade already completed this year. The board (which consists of all of M.D. council) approved the request without a lot of discussion.
Also on the agenda was the election of a chairperson. Brad Pearson accepted nomination to that post for another year. Sandra Melzer accepted nomination as vice chair.
The CAB had $40,000 to work with in 2017, of which $3,207 remains. There was some discussion as to what to do with that balance. Board members were reminded that the money isn’t going to be lost if it isn’t used. It will be up to M.D. council to decide at budget time whether or not to add it to next year’s CAB allocation.