M.D. of Lesser Slave River Council notebook

April 17, 2024 meeting

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

New employees

Council’s meeting started off with the introduction of several new M.D. employees. Three were there in person.

Mercedes Mohler will be working on budget, taxation and grants.

Janine Freckelton is in the transportation department.

Elizabeth Krumes works in planning and development.

Margeurite Chalifoux (the one not present) is in the operations department. She’ll also have some duties with the regional landfill, council heard.

Soil conservation

Council got the lowdown on a proposed new policy and procedure on soil conservation in the M.D.

The need to conserve soil, or take steps to prevent its loss, is recognized by the province, council heard.

“There are some things we need to start looking at,” said Ag Fieldman Kendra Kozdroski.

The goal would be to “promote the widespread adoption of best management practices and soil conservation techniques,” according to Kozdroski’s written report.

There’d be an educational component, and consequences for not doing things right. Kozdroski gave as an example a scenario where a lot of topsoil washed off a field and plugged up an M.D. ditch. The cost of digging it out could be put back on the landowner.

“I’m kind of with you on this one,” said Reeve Murray Kerik. He talked about situations he’s familiar with, where property owners dig ditches in low-lying areas of their fields to get rid of excess water; when there’s high runoff, a lot of soil can be washed away.

“They shouldn’t be doing that,” he said.

Who’s going to enforce all that? was councillor Sandra Melzer’s question.

Councillor Lana Spencer suggested the measures shouldn’t just be directed at agricultural lands; there are soil loss issues on acreages as well, she said.

Council made and approved the recommended motion, which was to bring the proposed soil conservation policy and procedure to a regular council meeting for a decision.

Peace officer policy

Another policy council ran through was the one on the community peace officer program. It covers a range of topics, including video use and data storage, privacy and control of sensitive information, reporting requirements, jurisdiction, operating procedures for highway patrols, uniforms, equipment and rank, use, care and operation of patrol vehicles, records management and retention system, and authorities.

The main topic of discussion was whether the M.D. peace officers could, or should, be participating in joint force operations (JFOs). This question came up in the context of council’s recent decision to rescind the PO’s authority to do any work on provincial highways. As such, said senior peace officer Paul Mulholland, “we shouldn’t be attending JFOs.”

Some councillors didn’t like the sound of that.

“I don’t want to take away your ability to respond,” said Councillor Lana Spencer. She gave as an example a large-scale incident that takes place on a provincial highway. Does council really want to forbid the PO to attend?

That wasn’t our intent, said Councillor Norm Seatter. Council just wants M.D. POs to spend time on M.D. roads, not provincial ones, as a rule.

Council approved the recommenced motion, which was to bring the policy and procedure back to a future meeting for decision.

Reeve Kerik suggested in the meantime the M.D. “seek clarification on the legality of them running on the highways.”

Canyon Creek crossing

Councillor Brad Pearson put this item on the agenda. CN Rail, he said, wants $26,000 from the M.D. as part of the cost of upgrading a crossing in Canyon Creek. But the M.D. doesn’t own the road, Pearson said. The road in question is Seppola Drive, which connects Hwy. 2 with the Canyon Creek Harbour. The M.D. has nothing to do with it, Pearson says.

“I don’t think we should pay.”

Pearson suggested the M.D. follow up with CN on the matter, and “see what their view is.”

File photo of Seppola Drive in Canyon Creek.

Home stretch for Marten Beach truck fill: grand opening set for May 16

CAO Barry Kolenosky informed council Thursday, May 16 has been chosen as the date for the grand opening of the new Marten Beach water station, or ‘truck fill.’ It’ll be “towards the end of the day,” he said, to allow for better participation from local people. A barbecue is planned.

As for the project itself, it’s not quite finished, Kolenosky said, but the expectation is it’ll be in working order by the above date. There’s still the matter of a concrete pad, but that will come later. The facility can work well enough without it.

How about the Flatbush truck fill station, asked Councillor Melzer. This is the one that is to be developed using the old equipment from Marten Beach.

“We’ve got to get this one up and running first,” said Kolenosky.

Councillor Pearson asked if the project was within budget. It will be, Kolenosky said. The total for the two projects (Marten Beach and Flatbush) is around $500,000.

As for payment systems for water users, there are the regular account holders, but other users will be able to buy water too, using credit card or debit, Kolenosky said. That raised a question about the possibility of commercial customers buying up all the water, due to its relatively low price.

“We have the ability to program it so you can only take so much,” Kolenosky said.

Street sweeping dust causing headaches in Canyon Creek

Pearson has been hearing from Canyon Creek residents who aren’t happy about all the dust stirred up by M.D. street-sweeping operations. His question: is it really necessary?

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t, said CAO Kolenosky. If you don’t clean off the road, people will be complaining about rocks taking out their windshields.

Well, said Pearson, you could leave the shoulders to Mother Nature to wash off. “We don’t need the Taj Mahal.”

Kolenosky said admin would look at it and bring back a proposal.

Re: campers/RVs on residential lots: too many?

Another late addition by Councillor Pearson to the agenda had to do with holiday trailers/RVs on residential lots in the south shore area. It’s becoming an issue, he said. Specifically, too many of these units. There should be a limit of two, Pearson proposed, and one of them must belong to the property owner.

A related issue, Pearson said, is how long it takes people to develop a permanent residence on a lot. The existing rule is they have three years from the time they put up a shed or garage. But in cases this is not being done.

Pearson’s suggestion was to require tie-in to municipal water and sewer right from the start.

“Then at least we have some clout,” he said.

The clout being that if the rules aren’t followed, the M.D. can threaten to shut off water and sewer to the lot.

“Either that or you have to put the house on first,” suggested Kerik.

“We know games are being played,” Pearson added.

Council was not asked to make any decisions, but the matter will likely come up again, in the form of a report from administration, with options.

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