M.D. of Lesser Slave River Council notebook

Jan. 24, 2024 meeting

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Who goes to the conference?

That was the question council had to answer, about attending a conference in Red Deer in late April. It’s the annual get-together of the Community Planning Association of Alberta. The theme is ‘Beyond Municipal Borders, Collaborating for Vibrant Communities.’

Council’s decision was to approve the attendance of all council members, which doesn’t mean all will go.

Library budget

Council voted in favour of sending $155,714 to the Regional Library Board as the M.D.’s annual contribution to the cost of running three libraries – Slave Lake, Smith and Flatbush.

Breaking down the amount by libraries it’s $36,264 for Flatbush, $39,058 for Smith and $80,392 for Slave Lake. In all three cases, the amounts are less than what the M.D. had anticipated at the time it passed the 2024 operational budget. The difference appears to be due to the board contributing more from an accumulated surplus from past years.

The existence of that surplus (or maybe the way it’s been handled) is of some concern to the M.D., CAO Kolenosky said. He suggested having the library board to a council meeting would be a good idea, “to discuss where they’re going, etc.”

Engagement on police governance

The provincial government is trying to do something about the way policing is handled in Alberta. It passed the Police Amendment Act in 2022, which among other things “calls for the establishment of civilian governance bodies for all communities policed by the RCMP,” plus a provincial police advisory board (PPAB).

Supporting regulations for these initiatives are being developed, and the province wants input from communities. To that end, a questionnaire has been worked up, and sent around to municipalities. A lengthy (and not particularly easy to understand) document on the process was in council’s agenda package, for discussion. Reeve Murray Kerik, opening things up, called it “kind of a strange thing” and wondered “why don’t they just do it themselves?”

“They want it to be done on a local level,” said Councillor Norm Seatter.

“I think the government is lining their ducks up for something,” said councillor Brad Pearson. He didn’t suggest what that something might be, but Kerik did.

“So if we do this, does that mean we approve of a provincial police force?”

Seatter said he didn’t think so.

“As long as they don’t take it as an endorsement,” said Kerik.

Councillor Darren Fulmore’s comment was that the M.D. doesn’t have a problem with policing, just with the judicial system.

It seems a committee is to be formed to provide input. Pearson made a motion to approve M.D. participation, with Councillor Lana Spencer as the council representative.

Spring convention

Council talked about which government ministers they’d like to meet with at the Rural Municipalities Association’s spring convention.

Transportation Minister Devin Dreeshen was one of the first names mentioned. He holds the key to the future of the Smith Bridge replacement project, not to mention highway upgrades.

Pearson suggested the Minister of Education would be a good one to see. He particularly wants to say something about the 35-student enrollment limit for small school funding.

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