M.D. of Lesser Slave River Council notebook

June 27 meeting

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Holding the third of its ‘in the community’ council meetings – this time in Widewater – council started off by fielding questions and hearing concerns from community members. There were several.

Swimming area?

A Canyon Creek resident told council the swimming area at the beach in that community is made unsafe by watercraft coming in and out. He proposed a marked off area for swimming and offered 1,000 floats for the purpose.
“That sounds like a doable thing,” said reeve Murray Kerik.
Councillor Brian Rosche made a motion to have M.D. administration look into it.

Widewater Athletic Ass’n

Harry and Heather Bartlett started off by thanking several people for helping with the recent Widewater Sports weekend – Tim Wright in particular. They also mentioned positive cooperation with municipal officials on the Fire Hall Park, toboggan hill and water intake projects.
On the other hand… they told council they felt the community association could have been better consulted before the renovations to the complex were decided upon. The proposed vinyl plank flooring in particular won’t work for certain sports, said Harry.
Bill Klassen, speaking for M.D. administration, said changes in scope to the project can be undertaken, but they’ll inevitably cost more. He also said the decision on the floor reflects the use that the building has been getting.
“This is a hall,” he said. “It’s not a gym.”
Russ Jassman of the M.D. also put in his two bits’ worth, saying the proposed flooring is much easier and cheaper to maintain.
Council passed a motion to go with the renovations as proposed. Councillor Rosche was the only one to vote against it. His view was if the Widewater Athletic Association was willing to pay the extra costs, the M.D. should consider a change in scope. His council colleague Robert Esau disagreed.
“If we start monkeying around it’s not going to get done this year,” he said.

Who owns the beach

A Canyon Creek resident brought up the issue of private vs. public conflicts on the little beach area west of the Jean-Luc Debas Memorial Park. There’s also a wish to expand the beach, she said, and Alberta Environment and Parks has been advised of this. A wheelchair ramp and outhouses are also desired.
M.D. manager Allan Winarski advised that the M.D. hired a surveyor to settle the question of where private land ends and the beach begins. A sign will be posted, he said.
Councillor Brad Pearson added that the creosoted posts from the old fish plant need to be removed and the beach cleaned up and expanded towards the hotel.
“We can get approval for beach cleaning,” said Winarski.

School bus (lack of) safety

Members of two or three families whose kids are picked up and dropped off by the school bus on Hwy. 2 brought their concerns forward. There have been incidents, they said, of drivers not stopping for the bus.
“It’s just a matter of time,” one of them said, before something worse happens.
Various things have been considered and proposed, but the problem remains. An access road, along the lines of the Turner Estates Road on the other side, would be a solution. Would the M.D. consider such a thing?
Councillor Becky Peiffer, a former school bus driver with Aspen View School Division, said she would much rather go down a private drive than not, if safety was an issue.
Councillor Rosche made a motion to have M.D. administration “explore the options.”

Bad pumps

A Canyon Creek resident related a tale of woe regarding the sewage pumps each connected residence is required to have. They are expensive and prone to failure when the water in the tank gets too high. This happened recently during a power failure.
“The landowner shouldn’t be in this on their own,” she said.
Councillor Pearson was primed to make a couple of motions on the matter. But first he went over the history of the sanitary sewer project in the south shore area – its drawbacks and its benefits. On the whole, “they’ve been a good thing for our community,” he said.
Pearson’s first motion was to “offer a solution to substandard electrical connections” (on the pumps). The second called for the M.D. to look into ways to reduce the financial burden resulting from the recent weather event (the storm that caused the pump failures).

Canyon Creek arena

A Canyon Creek resident asked what the chances were of local folks with equipment helping out on the arena renovations. The answer from Bill Klassen was along the lines of that horse being already out of the barn.
Is there going to be a Zamboni shed? No, that was cut out of the project to reduce costs.
Council passed a Brad Pearson motion to have the M.D. work with the Canyon Creek Recreation Association on the Zamboni storage matter. It was carried.

Ditching at the west end

A resident of the west end of Canyon Creek asked if the M.D. had plans, or would consider, doing more of a ditching project in that area. Council passed another Pearson motion directing administration to look into it.

Too many RVs

A Canyon Creek resident brought up the matter of people using residential lots for holiday trailers and such. She said the neighbouring lot has four of these and some have more. It would be better to have houses built on them, she said. Also, “not everybody is compliant with waste disposal.”
“We’re on this one already,” said reeve Murray Kerik, adding that the M.D. peace officer is looking into zoning issues.

Disaster recovery

Director of finance Jason Warawa updated council on the status of the M.D.’s disaster recovery funding application to the province. It’s in process, he said. The province wants reliable cost estimates, and these are being collected. This would include both for the damage to M.D. infrastructure and private property. What the government decides to cover, if anything, is of course out of the M.D.’s control.
“We’re trying to expedite it,” he said.

VIC playground

Would the M.D. like to “joint-venture” with the FireSmart Committee in developing a playground at the Visitor Information Centre? That question was put to council by councillor Brian Rosche, who sits in the FireSmart Committee. That group is developing an interpretive trail at the VIC.
Councillor Pearson said he agreed “wholeheartedly” with the idea, suggesting that maybe the trail could even be extended to connect with the town trail system. Council approved a motion to have M.D. administration discuss the project with the FireSmart Committee.

Gravel program: back to hourly

This was the second tender on the M.D.’s re-gravel program; the first time no bids were received. This time, the only legitimate bid was 49 per cent higher than the budgeted amount of $585,000.
Councillor Sandra Melzer asked why the M.D. decided to tender the contract this year, instead of hiring local firms by the hour as in the past few years. Because it wasn’t working, said Klassen.
“To be brutally honest,” he said, “every time the oilpatch picked up, we lost our trucks. Anything going on, we lost our trucks. By the end of the year we were using M.D. trucks to finish the project.”
However, it’s back to hiring trucks by the hourly rate. Council accepted admin’s recommendation to do that, at the Alberta Road Builders’ rates.
“We’ll advertise and the first few that show up, they’ll go to work,” Klassen said.

Assineau speed limit

The question of reducing the speed limit on Assineau Road came before council. It had been raised last fall by councillor Pearson, after hearing about it from a resident. The M.D. subsequently polled affected residents. Six of 13 responded, said Klassen’s report for council, with three being in favour of a reduction and three being opposed.
The proposal was to knock it down from 80 kph to 50. Why all the way to 50? Klassen was asked. Because having assessed the sight lines, that’s what speed it qualifies for under provincial rules. People aren’t going to go for that, he was advised, so what’s the point?
They might not obey a 50 limit, Klassen said, but it would probably have the effect of redirecting campground-bound traffic onto Range Rd. 85, which is straighter and therefore more suited for an 80 zone.
“I think it’s just inviting people to break the law,” said councillor Esau.
Pearson: “But what if we knowingly allow a sight line violation? Is that right also?”
Pearson made a motion to accept the recommendation to go down to 50 kph on Assineau Rd. It passed by a 6 – 1 vote, with Brian Rosche opposed.

Award nomination

Council was asked to endorse the nomination of Sheila Willis of Smith for the 2018 Alberta Historical Resources Foundation’s Heritage Award. This they enthusiastically did, via a Becky Peiffer motion.
Willis is the developer of the History Check application for mobile devices – a sort of travellers’ guide to historical (and other) points of interest in northern Alberta.

Getting along well

Reporting on the recent Inter-Municipal Committee (IMC) meeting between Town of Slave Lake and M.D. councils, reeve Kerik spoke about how well the two groups are getting along these days.
“There’s a spirit of cooperation,” he said. “It’s nice to see.”
This followed a period of rocky relations, which came to a head in the 2017 municipal election campaign, over two agreements that needed renewing. That accomplished, there’s peace in the valley now.
Not that there aren’t tough decisions to be made. The IMC discussed the regional economic development project, whose funding is set to run out. Kerik said the proposal is for the town and M.D. to each kick in $75,000 a year to keep it going.
Then there’s the Wildfire Legacy Corporation (responsible for the Legacy Centre). Its 10-year plan, Kerik said, envisions both the town and M.D. with a $250,000 deficit.
“Not a rosy picture there,” he said.

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