M.D. of Lesser Slave River Council notebook

Feb. 14, 2024 meeting

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Meet the new guy

Council’s meeting started with the introduction of the M.D.’s newest management-level employee. He’s Christiaan Rudolf Liebenberg, and is in charge of quite an array of departments – apparently all put in one portfolio just for him. He’s the new Operational Director of Planning & Development, Utilities and Protective Services, and had only been on the job for a couple of days.

“It’s been really good,” Liebenberg told council. “It’s an excellent organization.”

“We try to work as a team,” said Reeve Murray Kerik.

A few calls

Councillor Brad Pearson interjected with some information (not related to an agenda item) he thought his council colleagues would like to hear. It had to do with the news that council had turned down the opportunity to join the Town of Slave Lake’s Rural Renewal Stream program, with its $10,000 price tag.

“I got a few phone calls congratulating council for doing that,” he said. “They approved what we did.”

Public hearings

Council held five separate public hearings, right off the bat. This could have lasted all day, had people showed up to speak for or against the proposed bylaw changes. But no one did. Nor were there any written submissions to speak of.

Four of the hearings had to do with applications to re-zone bits of land off of agricultural quarters, for residential purposes. In one case, council heard, administration has concerns about the development of a home on the site due to slope issues. Otherwise, there were no problems.

And where are these properties? One is by Ranch Rd. in the Smith area, one is in the Athabina area, southwest of Flatbush, one is north of Flatbush and one is by Croswell Rd. in the Hondo area.

The fifth hearing had to do with some ‘house-cleaning’ regarding the rescinded area structure plans for Marten Beach and Smith.

Following the public hearings, council gave second and third readings to three of the five bylaws, bringing them into effect. The other two passed second reading; third and final reading will be held off until the applicants go through the process and the matters are approved by the Municipal Planning Commission.

One of the properties being re-zoned.

Council remuneration

This item was back before council because something was missed when the updated policy was approved a few weeks ago. The missing item had to do with the new daily rate for councillors attending meetings. The new rate is $329. The old rate was not included in the report for purposes of comparison.

Board member compensation

People appointed by council to some boards are compensated for their time. The rates have also been updated to reflect cost of living increases. Accordingly, council approved an increase of $6 per day to bring the daily remuneration to $186.

Sending a letter on drought

It seems there’s a federal/provincial drought-relief program, but nobody in Lesser Slave River qualifies. This is the case even after the provincial government recently added 23 municipalities to the list of qualified counties and M.D.s.

The M.D.’s Agricultural Service Board isn’t happy about that, given the effects of drought on area producers, and are doing something about it.

Ag Fieldman Kendra Kozdroski told council a letter has been worked up, to encourage the province to include more municipalities in the program. The letter has already been sent, Kozdroski said, but needs council’s ratification.

Council gladly gave it. The letter is a joint effort by LSR, the M.D. of Greenview and Brazeau County. Among other arguments, it tells the federal Minister of Agriculture, Lawrence MacAulay, that in some areas of the three municipalities, hay production was down by nearly half in 2023, leading to some hard choices.

“Some producers are calling it a day,” says the letter, “selling off their herds.”

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