M.D. of Lesser Slave River Council notebook

March 28, 2018 meeting
Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Nothing out of the ordinary

The M.D. received the usual glowing report from its auditor, meaning as far as he’s concerned there’s no financial hanky-panky going on and the financial position is sound.
“No significant deficiencies,” said Jeff Alliston of the firm formerly known as Hawkings Epp Dumont. “It went very well.”

Watershed plan

Council discussed various aspects of the Integrated Watershed Management Plan (IWMP) for the Lesser Slave Lake basin. This is a document several years in the making, into which the M.D. had considerable input. It deals with goals for water quality and quantity, habitat protection and so on. It makes recommendations, several of which have implications for municipal government. It was these aspects that CAO Allan Winarski had reviewed and commented on in a document he presented to council.
In many cases the comment was that the particular area of concern was a provincial responsibility.
Councillors pushed back a bit on the topic of shoreline setbacks. They don’t want to endorse anything that would stifle tourism development on the lake. Councillor Brian Rosche made the point that so little of the shoreline in the M.D. is available for development that the M.D. doesn’t want to tie developers’ hands.
Rosche also made the point that the small beach at Canyon Creek needs to be cleaned up. To that, councillor Brad Pearson added that fish hatchery infrastructure that is in the water near there should also be cleaned up some day.
The IWMP is meant to be a guideline only, meaning by approving it council isn’t necessarily bound by its recommendations. Councillor Robert Esau, for one, was leery about what kind of a pickle the M.D. might find itself in if the province decides to turn the plan into law.
Pearson, in making the motion, also did not want to tie the hands of a future council, and tailored his motion accordingly.
Council agreed to send its further comments to the Lesser Slave Watershed Council.

New radios

Results were in on seven M.D. tenders for products or services. First up was for a new radio system for M.D. vehicles. The old one doesn’t work anymore and the request for proposals on a new system drew three bids. The least expensive by far was from Bell Mobility, which council approved on the recommendation of Bill Klassen, the department head.
Klassen said the three bids were quite different in what they proposed; what Bell was suggesting was not exactly what had been envisioned, but it appears the M.D. can get by quite well with less than what it had in mind. As part of the Bell offer was a 30-day free trial offer.
The total for the system is $66,899 to get started, with an annual operating cost of $8,208.

Bill Klassen

Old Smith Highway engineering

Council had set aside $250,000 this year for the engineering component of a project to re-route part of the Old Smith Highway that is in danger of sliding into the river.
“Administration would like to be shovel-ready to start this project upon funding or upon the loss of the existing road,” said Klassen in his written report for council.
Two bids were submitted, and they were quite far apart. The higher of the two was $399,000; the lower was $213,850.
Councillors had never heard of the low bidder, and asked the usual questions. Klassen said Beairsto & Associates is based in Grande Prairie and has been around since 1967. Their bid, Klassen said, “is more realistic. It seems they’ve put some decent thought into it.”
Councillor Pearson asked a couple of questions, to which the answers were yes, the M.D. will have to purchase private land to re-route the road and that the estimated total cost of the project is close to $3 million.

Utility trailer

A new, heavier-duty utility trailer is needed, council heard. The M.D. had two bids that were within a few dollars of each other. They went for the lowest, which was $18,478 from the Flaman Group.
Klassen explained why the heavier trailer was needed. Last year, a Bobcat “bent the trailer in half,” he said.

Line painting contract

Seeking bids for three years of line-painting, the M.D. received five. The cheapest by quite a stretch was by AAA Striping & Seal Coating Services, at $49,923. Council voted to accept this offer.
In his report, Klassen said the reason for offering the three-year package was in hopes of getting a better price per year. It seems to have worked. The budgeted amount was $22,000 for this year, and the low bid comes in at about 16.5 thousand.

Fleet management system

Next up was a GPS system for all M.D. vehicles, the existing system being unreliable and lacking support. This one got a big response, and the $15,000 budgeted for it turned out to be a bit optimistic. The lower of 13 bids was $17,000. That’s per year, for a five-year period. On the other hand, the current system costs the M.D. over $22,000 per year, “and lacks reporting and fleet management functions that would enable administration to verify and validate future decision,” says Klassen in his written report.
Klassen’s report further said that a GPS system can help in the areas of reducing emissions, fuel expense, equipment lifespan, driver behaviour and vehicle lifespan.
“Does it tell you if the unit is running?” asked councillor Rosche.
It does, Klassen said, plus such data as speed, braking “and how it was being driven that day.”
Councillor Sandra Melzer said she’s surprised there isn’t a phone system that can handle all those functions, along with the person-to-person stuff.
Councillor Pearson made the motion. “All the oil companies use it,” he said. “I’m in favour.”

Dust control

Tiger Calcium gets the M.D. dust-control contract for another year. Its bid of $135,342 was the lowest of the two received by a fairly wide margin. Councillor Rosche had reservations about continuing with a product (calcium chloride) that he said is “highly corrosive,” adding, “the lowest price isn’t always the best.”
There had been a third bid, by a firm offering an alternative product, but the bid was deemed unacceptable. However, reeve Murray Kerik asked if the company would be willing to do a demonstration. Klassen said he could ask. Rosche made a motion to that effect.

Fleet replacement

Switching out 11 M.D. vehicles for new ones is in the 2018 budget. The tender results, oddly enough, showed not a lot of interest in providing the units. Only one of three local auto dealers submitted a proposal; the other bidder was from Grande Prairie.
The vehicles will be dark blue, which costs more than white. Councillor Rosche made the same objection to spending the extra money that he did last year when council decided to change from white to blue.
Council accepted the Whitecap bid.

Help for Flatbush Help

The Flatbush Help Service Society had requested $2,500 in Family and Community Support Services funding from the M.D. This is a group, council heard, that provides services for seniors in the community that helps them to keep living in their homes. It is run by volunteers, but the people providing the services (driving, handyman, yard work, etc.) are compensated.
Councillor Melzer made the motion, which was unanimously approved.

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