May 12, 2021 meeting
Community Assistance Board
Council convened as the Community Assistance Board for starters, discussing the second round of applications for funding from community groups this year. They were more numerous than usual, with nine organizations requesting a total of $23,456. In some cases, the money is needed to keep the lights on; revenue has dried up due to COVID restrictions.
The board made the following decisions:
Flatbush Help Service Society – $750
Flatbush Silver Threads – $1,462
Gentle Ben Care Society – $4,800
Smith Traildusters – $4,000
Smith Half Century Plus – $2,500
Southshore Children’s Association – $930
Regional Arts Council – $400
Slave Lake Tourism Society – nothing
Northern Lights 4-H – nothing
Council heard about two applications for Family and Community Support Services grants from community groups. As it happened, they were two of the same groups that had applied for funding via the M.D.’s Community Assistance Board – heard earlier in the meeting. Councillor Brad Pearson asked why.
Peggy Laing, who looks after FCSS for the M.D., had the answer. Some things don’t qualify under the FCSS mandate. So groups have to look elsewhere.
In this case, the Flatbush Help Service Society had asked for $4,750 and Gentle Ben Care Society asked for $4,152. Council approved both of them.
Council discussed the M.D.’s effort to mark the 10-year anniversary of the Slave Lake wildfire disaster, which destroyed buildings and disrupted lives in at least three settled areas of the M.D. It consists mainly of updating (adding new material) to a video the M.D. had done following the 2011 disaster.
“Credit to councillor Peiffer for having the idea to do this in the first place,” said councillor Darcie Acton. “Now we have something all of us, and the tri-council community, can be proud of.”
Councillor Brad Pearson mused about the idea of commemorating the disaster by way of a mural. He had visited the town of Legal recently, he said, and been impressed by its murals.
Domestic animal control
Council gave the final two readings to the M.D.’s (already discussed and reported on) Domestic Animal Control Bylaw. It lays out the rules for pets in the M.D. and the penalties for not obeying them. This includes a requirement for tags for dogs and cats. This prompted a question from councillor Acton.
“In light of COVID, how will people obtain tags?”
CAO Barbara Miller said the M.D. would likely set up a dedicated email address, whereby people could request tags.
Acton also asked about the status of the agreement between the M.D. and Slave Lake’s Animal Rescue Committee, regarding the care of captured animals.
“It’s all working as it should,” said bylaw officer Paul Mulholland.
Mulholland went to say the first cat had been trapped under the new rules just the other day, and it turned out to be quite the adventure. He described it (possibly with some exaggeration) as “a 30-lb. feral tom, more like a pit bull in a cat suit.”
Apparently the tom didn’t give up without a struggle.
“Did you have your vest camera on?” asked reeve Kerik.
Mulholland: “No, and if I had, I wouldn’t be sharing it, I would be selling it.”
Road closure goes through
Council put the finishing touches on a road allowance closure in the Athabina area. The allowance passes through somebody’s yard, more or less, and stands no chance of ever being developed or needed as a road.
Councillor Pearson objected on principle, as he has each time the matter has come up. He asked for a recorded vote, which had him as the sole dissenter. Pearson said he was worried about setting a precedent. He also didn’t like the idea of selling the closed bit of road allowance to the applicant, without putting it on the open market. His colleagues didn’t share his concerns in this case.
“It has no value for anyone else,” said councillor Robert Esau.
Council made the appointment of two weed and pest inspectors official by passing motions to that effect, as required by policy. They are Cole Paly and Brayden Delisle.
Clean-up on Nine Mile
Councillor Darcie Acton, reporting on the latest from the Lesser Slave Watershed Council, had a proposal for council. How about giving M.D. blessing to the removal of the remnants of a bridge over Nine Mile Creek in Wagner? The Watershed Council might take it on, and if the M.D. wants to be a partner in it, so much the better.
Councillor Brad Pearson was all for it. Not only that, similar dilapidated – and possibly contaminating – infrastructure is in the water near the Canyon Creek Hotel, and should be removed. He suggested the Government of Alberta should be a partner in the project as well.
Athabasca Watershed Council
Councillor Robert Esau reminded his colleagues he’ll be stepping down as M.D. rep on this body next month. His question for council: does the M.D. wish to retain a seat at the table?
“It keeps our toe in the water,” said councillor Pearson.
Reeve Murray Kerik seemed skeptical of the value.
“Eight years, they’ve done absolutely nothing,” he said. “Do we want to continue to help them do absolutely nothing?”
Esau: “It’s a radical board to sit on, and you can get swallowed up pretty quickly. It took all I had to hold my own.”
Council asked administration to look into the terms of reference of the AWC and bring back a report.
Regional exploratory meeting
Reeve Kerik reported on a recent meeting of municipal and First Nations leaders from the region, calling it an “exploratory meeting” on a regional partnership. Some who were expected to participate didn’t show up, he said.
Those who did seem keen to continue exploring the possibilities. One is that the larger and more diverse the group, the greater the access to funding.
“So far, so good,” he said.
Councillor Acton said if nothing else, getting to know each other is useful.
“So that when we do run into a crisis, we can pick up the phone and have a conversation.”
Another thing discussed was “maximizing health facilities across the region.”
The “low-hanging fruit” in the scenario, Acton continued, is “lobbying for better roads.”