M.D. of Lesser Slave River Council notebook

April 11, 2017 meeting in Flatbush
Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

SHARA reaches out
Fred Laughy, the president of SHARA (Smith-Hondo Association of Recreation and Agriculture) presented several matters of concern at council’s meeting in Flatbush. They had to do with upgrades to the arena, erecting an electronic sign, and getting permission to set up a shipping container for storage, among other things.
On the arena matter, Laughy said SHARA would like to bring it back to where it could once again be used for hockey in winter. It’s a shame, he said, that the M.D. spent $400,000 upgrading parts of the building already and “it’s hardly used.”
What SHARA has learned is that it needs a new set of boards and benches, which would cost $123,000. He asked what the M.D. would be able to contribute and further, whether the M.D. would continue to cover the utility and maintenance costs if the arena were brought up to code and a hockey program established.
“I’d like to have hockey in there next winter,” Laughy said.
If it happens that soon it won’t be with M.D. money, said councillor Robert Esau.
“Our budget is saturated,” he said.
“Every community has desires,” said councillor Brad Pearson. “They have to be prioritized – weighed against others.”
“We’ll have to look at what we can do,” said reeve Murray Kerik.
Councillor Brian Rosche made a motion to have M.D. administration look into the proposal and the costs.
Regarding the container, Laughy said the idea is to locate it on the school grounds in Smith. It contains recreational equipment for the use of the school and community members. There’s apparently a delay in getting a development permit to do that. The M.D.’s view is that the school division should make the application. We’re still waiting for that, said Russ Jassman, the M.D.’s rural services director. Laughy asked if a previous development permit application could be used. The M.D. will look into it.
Another thing SHARA would like approval for is in fixing up the boat launch on the river next to the bridge. Community members do fix it up a bit each year when high water messes it up, but SHARA would prefer to have official approval. That requires permits from higher levels of government. Councillor Rosche made a motion to have the M.D. work with the concerned government agencies on permission.

ASB report: fieldman flies the coop
Dawnia McCann, the M.D.’s departing agricultural fieldman, presented council with some highlights from 2017. One notable fact was quite a drop in weed control treatments. Why? Wet land, McCann said, still not dried up from the soggy 2016 season.
“Every farmer knows, you fight the weather and you always lose,” she said.
On the other hand, good things did happen in 2017. Visits to schools were successful and popular, she said. Contacts with industry on weed control were “really positive.”
A workshop on solar power was held; also a rural women’s conference.
McCann said there were 349 weed inspections in 2017 that resulted in reports being written up. Another 152 were done in the Town of Slave Lake under an arrangement with that municipality. In only two cases were weed notices enforced – these were both for the prohibited noxious weed Himalayan balsam, which the M.D. is required by law to act upon.
The M.D. weed and pest people also responded to 13 clubroot, four fusarium and 20 grasshopper complaints in 2017.
There were no coyote complaints last year, nor were there any reports of Norway rats or wild pigs. There were, however, several skunk complaints.
As for 2018, McCann said the plan is pretty much business as usual. It will carry on without her, however; she has accepted a position with Brazeau County.

Aerial photography
Council approved the third-lowest bid for an aerial photography project, at $138,000. The M.D. uses aerial photos for planning purposes and gets them updated every few years. Five bids were received. The one from Tarin Resource Services was – as noted – not the lowest, but it was the one they liked the best.
What’s promised is – among other things – 10-centimetre resolution for all the hamlets in the M.D.

Board reports
Community Futures Tawatinaw – Councillor Sandra Melzer said a workshop for kids on how to set up a lemonade stand is being offered on June 23.
“It’s a really good course,” she said.
In other CF news, the business analyst will be helping out the Lesser Slave CF office one day a week.
Homeland Housing – Melzer said she met the new CEO Raymond Cormier, who has plans to standardize pretty much everything, as well as reducing redundancy and increasing compliance.
She also warned her colleagues to expect a requisition increase from the housing body, “but not this year.”
AHS EMS – Councillor Brian Rosche spoke of a meeting councillors had with managers of the ambulance service in the northwest part of the province.
“We had some assurances that they are going to minimize delayed response times,” he said.
Taking up the report, reeve Murray Kerik said 50 per cent of ambulance calls are for patient transfers, and they’re taking up 70 per cent of ambulance time. “So I think we know what the problem is. But what the solution is…. we have to stop being a taxi service.”
Kerik added that it might be a good idea for a resolution to be put to the Rural Municipalities Association, or by that association, to the government on the issue.

A member of the audience asked council when a ditch by his place is going to be dug out. His garden has flooded three years in a row, he said, due to bad drainage.
He heard that the M.D. has budgeted money for drainage this year, and Flatbush is definitely going to get some attention.
“We’ve got money,” said transportation direction Bill Klassen. “We’re going to be working through a list of projects.”
Councillor Robert Esau said he hoped it wouldn’t be a case of moving water away from one place just to create a similar problem for another property owner.
Klassen said they’d be trying not to do that, but cautioned that approvals may be needed for some of the drainage work and there’s no way around that.
“I may have to get Alberta Environment approval on some of this stuff,” he said. “We’re going to work through this systematically. We’re going to survey it. We can’t go willy nilly anymore.”
Another audience member asked what the plan is for road maintenance and gravel this year. The answer; every three years the M.D. gravels roads.
Referring to last year’s bigger-than-usual graveling program, Klassen said, “Some people are complaining about too much gravel on the road!”

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