M.D. of Lesser Slave River Council notebook

March 13, 2024 meeting

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Policies and procedures

Having reviewed and approved of (but not formally) a trio of updated policies and procedures at its March 5 meeting, council put the finishing touches on the process with three votes. All three were reported on in the March 13 Leader.

The three policies have to do with dust control, the plowing of private driveways and transfer station tipping fees.

The last one of these actually required three separate readings, due to the rules governing the repeal of bylaws. The M.D. is scrapping tipping fees at waste transfer stations formally, after not having charged them in practice for the past 10 years or so.

The only comment from council in this whole process came from Councillor Brad Pearson (by proxy, since he wasn’t at the meeting). He asked that the grader operator not be referred to as just ‘he,’ but ‘he or she.’

Assessment review board appointments

Council did its annual appointment of a regional assessment review board, to handle the business of appeals on property value assessments. Council went to the regional approach for these services several years ago. The reasoning, as stated in the report, is that it “eliminates the need for every municipal government to create and train its own ARB.”

The three motions were to appoint a clerk (Gerryl Amorin), the board members (seven people) and the chair (Raymond Ralph). Council complied.

Councillor Lana Spencer asked what the annual fee for the service is. CAO Barry Kolenosky said he’d get back to her on it.

Peiffer to MPC

The M.D.’s Municipal Planning Commission was down one member at large, but it isn’t anymore. Council appointed the lone applicant, former councillor and Smith area resident Becky Peiffer, to the commission.

“Now we have a full board again,” said Spencer.

Funding for firefighter appreciation

The M.D. has been planning an appreciation dinner for first responders who helped out in the wildfires that affected M.D. residents in the Smith area last year. (It happened last Friday in Smith.) Administration was asking council to approve funding of $15,000 from the FCSS budget for the event.

That’s what the written report in council’s agenda package says, but Sandra Rendle, making the report in person, said it turned out less money would be needed. Accordingly, council approved a motion to allocated “up to $10,000” for the appreciation event.

Letter of support for Gentle Ben

Next on the agenda was a request by the Gentle Ben Care Society for a letter of support from the M.D. Gentle Ben is applying for a grant from the Provincial Assisted Transportation Project. The money would be used to provide transportation to older adults and people with mobility issues.

Motion by Nancy Sand, approved unanimously.

Financials: ‘change in process’

Making her regular report, M.D. Director of Finance Holly Omelchuk pointed out “a large variance” in ‘actuals’ between January of 2023 and the same month this year. This has to do with a tightening up of the procedures with regard to recording bill payments and such, Omelchuk told council. Things were done a certain way in the past; the Omelchuk way is different and hence the variance.

The director’s report outlined a few other examples of how the M.D.’s bookkeeping is being streamlined or tightened.

“It’s a change in process,” she said.

“I like the way you’re doing it,” said Councillor Sandra Melzer.

Ag Service Board

Councillor Melzer said the ASB – along with its counterparts from two or three other rural municipalities – had drafted and sent a letter to the federal authorities. It asks that those M.D.s and counties be included in the drought-relief designation. We haven’t heard back, she said.

Library board

The Smith Library is closed, reported Councillor Sand. She had assumed it would be just for a short time, but not so, advised the CAO. It’s a frozen pipe, somewhere under the road. He called it “quite a challenge.”

Community Education Committee

Councillor Seatter said Northern Lakes College’s enrollment is up this year 10 – 12 per cent. A program that upgrades licensed practical nurses to registered nurse status is under way – actually a pilot project – with 20 students, he said.

Community Futures

Councillor Sand reported on a few of the many new programs – mainly employment and business-related – that Community Futures Lesser Slave Lake is taking on. The office, as a result of the new programs and the grants that made them possible, has five new employees, Sand said. It’s necessitated some rearrangement of the space in the office on 3rd Ave. NW in Slave Lake – including converting the board room into a couple of new work spaces.

In other CFLSL news, the Spark the North conference is going ahead on April 25.

Councillor Spencer made a motion to approve the attendance of councillors at Spark the North, which passed.

Housing authorities

Homeland Housing is at 98 per cent occupancy, reported councillor Melzer.

On the Slave Lake side, occupancy is also high, with a waiting list, said Sand. All units are occupied, in fact – not counting the ones out of services for renovation.

Municipal Planning Commission

The MPC approved a sea can for Old Town, Spencer reported. Also a variance on the setback regs for Marten Beach. This appears to be quite common in that hamlet, where the standard 7-metre setback is tough to meet. The lots are smaller than whatever size of lot the M.D. had in mind when it drafted those regulations.

Councillor Seatter said probably 80 per cent of the lots in Marten Beach need such variances.

Spencer’s other item of news from the MPC was of the approval of an industrial development on highway commercial land by Mooney Creek. If they expand any further, she advised, the M.D. is going to have to amend the Municipal Development Plan.

Tourism Society

Beach Fest is going to be big this year, said Spencer. I hope to see you all out there. It’s Aug. 10 and 11, on Devonshire Beach, in Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park.

Spencer said some sort of a self-serve kayak rental station is being investigated for the beach.

Northern Alberta Elected Leaders

Reeve Kerik had attended a recent meeting of this group in Peace River, and heard lots of interesting things. One of them was about nuclear power stations, which the CANDU Reactor people are promoting in the region. Several municipalities seem quite interested, he said.

Another new thing (new to Kerik, at least) discussed at the meeting was how municipal waste water is being used for well injections in the oilfield. And the municipalities benefit doubly – by getting rid of stuff they’d have to treat, and getting paid for it.

Drought and its impact was a topic at the NAEL meeting. There’s a shortage of water down south.

“They’re scared,” Kerik said.

Plan ‘B’ in case of disaster

In answer to a question on disaster preparedness, CAO Kolenosky said some thought has gone into what happens if the M.D. has to evacuate. The most obvious option would be to go to Slave Lake. But what if Slave Lake is already full of evacuees from elsewhere?

“We need a Plan ‘B’”, Kolenosky said, and indicated that might be Athabasca.

Legacy Corporation: board needs another member

Bookings are looking good for the Legacy Centre, reported Kerik. But there are “numerous maintenance items” looming. Meanwhile, the board is having a tough time making quorum, which doesn’t help.

“We need one more public member!” Kerik said.

Tri Council Health Advisory

“A very positive meeting,” is how Councillor Melzer described the most recent get-together of this group.

One thing they heard about was recruiting efforts by the emergency medical services people. They are trying to interest young people in ambulance work.

Speaking of recruiting, the biggest obstacles to getting doctors and nurses are lack of housing and lack of daycare, Melzer said.

Long-term care, Melzer added, is at capacity, with a waiting list.

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