April 26, 2017 meeting
Council took a few minutes to reconvene as the M.D.’s Disaster Services Committee to review the Lesser Slave Regional Emergency Management Plan, as required by bylaw. CAO Allan Winarski reviewed the Incident Command System (ICS) organizational chart for council, explaining the different sections and how M.D. personnel would fit into the picture, should a disaster break out.
“How the heck do you manage all this?” he asked, rhetorically. “ICS training,” which some M.D. staff have taken.
And in case anybody thinks it all academic: “We are going into fire season. In 2011 it was like this (lots of snow). You never know when this is going to happen to you.”
Regarding the big emergency management training session coming up later in the week, Winarski advised, “once you’ve been in it for about an hour, it becomes real. You rely on your training.”
Winarski also advised councillors to use the smart phone applications that can update the user on the wildfire situation, and the latest from Alberta Emergency Management Agency.
Councillor Darren Fulmore asked if the procedures for emergencies exist on paper for operators of the M.D.’s three community halls to use when the time comes. They don’t, Winarski said, but Peggy Laing, “is putting together the stuff. We know we have to do work there.”
“It should be in a binder,” said Fulmore.
Invitation from SHARA
Council discussed an invitation from SHARA to attend that organization’s strategic planning session on May 9. Councillor Brian Rosche said he didn’t see why west end reps needed to be involved, but councillor Brad Pearson said he’d like to attend.
“Me too,” said reeve Murray Kerik.
Rosche said one thing that might be discussed is whether ice should be put back in the arena in the winter months (versus its current use for equine programs).
“That’s for the community to decide,” said Kerik. “We’re not touching that one.”
Not out of the woods yet
Standing in for finance director Jason Warawa, Winarski noted that there isn’t enough coming from taxes and grants to cover the cost of things. And in response to one councillors assertion that ‘it’s going to get worse,’ he said: “We’re not out of the woods yet, but the good news is there some things coming on stream.”
As far as the budget goes, Warawa’s written report said as of March 31, the M.D. had spent $3.7 million, or $16.6 per cent of its budget. Last year at the same point the numbers were $3.1 million and $16.2 per cent.
Raised by councillor Brad Pearson was the need for cracks to be sealed in the pavement on Southshore Drive. He had photos to illustrate his point.
Pearson was advised that operations staff is aware and sealing is on the agenda for this summer.
Gentle Ben gets $9,150
Council approved an application from the Gentle Ben Care Society for an operational grant of $9,150. The society provides services in the Smith/Hondo area to seniors, which allow them to continue living at home longer than they otherwise would be able to.
Like a dog on a bone
“I’m going to be a like a dog on a bone on Homeland Housing,” said councillor Brad Pearson, when the review of the cheque registry came up. One item on there was a $107,000 payment to Homeland Housing, the successor to the Westlock Foundation for seniors’ housing.
Pearson’s concern – expressed several times already – was that the requisition results in ratepayers in the west end of the M.D. twice. Whether that is actually happening is far from clear, and one of Pearson’s council colleagues did not appreciate his gnawing on that particular bone.
“If you want to split everything apart, we’ll take half the revenue and run District 1,” said councillor Robert Esau.
“I don’t want to fund something that’s 300 miles away,” said Pearson. “I’m never going to use it.”
“Why would I fund your sewer?” Esau retorted.
Playing referee, Winarski said: “We have to pay our requisitions annually, otherwise we’re up the creek.”
Pearson predicted at some point the burden for the M.D. taxpayer is going to increase – and for facilities so far away they would never do anybody in the M.D. any good.
“We should be able to opt out,” he said.
“Be careful what you ask for,” said Esau.
“How do they come up with their numbers?” asked councillor Darren Fulmore. “Does population come into it?”
“Assessment,” said Winarski. “No matter where you live, it’s linear assessment paying for this.”
Chisholm dumpster developments
Council returned to an earlier discussion about whether the M.D. should be supplying a dumpster to the hamlet of Chisholm. This request arose after the M.D. banned burn barrels in hamlets.
The report before council said a dumpster would run several thousand dollars per annum – money that is not in the budget.
“Everyone will want one,” predicted councillor Pearson.
“Can we take them out of the bylaw?” asked councillor Fulmore.
“I know what I would do,” said councillor Garry Horton. “Burn it in my fire pit.”
“I would much rather have it in an incinerator or a burning barrel than a hole in the ground,” said Esau.
“Can’t we let ‘em burn again?” asked Pearson.
“That’s what I would do,” said Kerik.
Council gave first reading to a bylaw change that would exempt Chisholm from the burn barrel ban.
Councillor Pearson brought this matter up. There have been concerns from Canyon Creek about some mulching done at the west end of Southshore Drive, by the Swan River Gas Co-op. Debris being pushed into the bush and ‘unprotected risers,’ were mentioned.
Pearson made a motion directing administration “to seek FireSmart crew assistance to address the clean-up of insufficiently mulched areas…”
On top of that, Winarski said he’d get in touch with the gas co-op.
Agricultural Service Board – Energy grants are available, so people should be encourage to use them. The ASB can nominate the Farm Family of the Year so this will be on the next agenda. Concerns about pesticide application on acreages was discussed; The ASB cannot hand out chemicals to acreage owners
Athabasca Regional Waste Management Services Commission – It’s been a slower year and volumes will be down. Summer villages are part of the board but do not have full voting privileges; they share votes. Cardboard is going to the United States at $200 per tonne.
Slave Lake Regional Library Board – Board will review the 2017 budget at the next Inter-municipal Committee Meeting. The role of satellite libraries was discussed. The library board is now paying a $100 honorarium to its members.
Slave Lake Airport Services Commission – The board discussed perimeter fencing as a way of keeping people off the runway. Lease agreements have not been examined since 2007; tenants are doing things that do not comply. The Airport Manager has provided letters advising of the need for compliance with leases (i.e. remove/stop non-compliant uses); these were hand-delivered to lessees.
Assessment Review Board (ARB) Training – Councillors Fulmore and Pearson went to ARB training and successfully completed the coursework. In the future there will be fewer elected officials on ARB boards in accordance with the new Municipal Government Act. The government is seeking feedback on the future of ARB changes.