M.D. of Lesser Slave River Notebook

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

M.D. of Lesser Slave River council held an ad hoc ‘committee of the whole’ meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 31. The Leader did not attend, but we were able to put together the following report, based on the information in the agenda package.

What’s on the front burner

CAO Barb Miller’s report for council included some things being tackled during the third quarter of 2021. One is the development of a “campground, harbour and overall recreation strategy” for the M.D. Also:

  1. Training for the returning office and general election readiness
  2. Flood readiness and mitigation for Marten Beach, including response capacity
  3. Bringing on a new executive assistant
  4. Reviewing organizational structure
  5. Operating and capital plans for three and five years, respectively
  6. Purchasing and expenditure policy reviews
    Among others.

Not only noxious

The director of rural services’ report starts off with weeds.
“We discovered we have a huge prohibited noxious weed problem in the southern part of our municipality,” says Russ Jassman in his written report for council.
The main culprit is orange hawkweed, a lot more of which has turned up than expected. Jassman calls this both good and bad news. Bad because it’s prohibited and good because it has been discovered. Notices have been issued and complied with, Jassman’s report continues.

More on weeds

The roadside vegetation management program has been completed in the Flatbush area, Jassman reported. M.D. gravel pits have all been sprayed for weeds as well. Clubroot of canola inspections are to be completed after harvest.

Landfill up

Director of special projects Barry Kolenosky’s report for council included the good news that regional landfill volumes (and therefore revenues) are up so far in 2021. If the trend continues, “a slight surplus,” could result for the year.
That said, the landfill commission is looking at a new fee schedule, to be implemented at the beginning of 2022.
Other news; the landfill is getting its own website, expected to be ‘unveiled’ sometime this month.

Muskeg road issues

As requested, director of field services Ryan Tufts had a report on Muskeg Road (and others), with regard to maintenance issues influenced by the ownership of the land through which sections of them pass – specifically the Sawridge First Nation.
The map provided shows Muskeg Road passing through three distinct sections of Sawridge Reserve. Apparently it’s up to Alberta Transportation to make arrangements for their maintenance. From 2017-2019, the M.D. was the maintenance contractor for these sections, said Tufts in his written report. Last year, that contract expired and another contractor became responsible. According to a series of photos in council’s agenda package, standards of maintenance on the M.D.-serviced portions of Muskeg Rd. and the ones on Sawridge Reserve were distinctly different.
Tufts said Sawridge administration “has been requesting us to work with them to resolve this matter.”

Increasing the duties of the Municipal Planning Commission

Council is considering a bylaw that would transfer some of the authority for approving certain developments from the development officer to the Municipal Planning Commission (MPC).
As it stands, the MPC only approves subdivision applications and extensions. Development permit applications (permitted, discretionary or with variances) are the purview of the lone planning and development officer. This has some drawbacks. Passing some of the decision-making authority over to the MPC would allow council to “take a more active part in the planning process, but also strengthen the participation of residents in the municipality.”
Not only that, the report goes on to say that being the sole decision-maker on such applications “can be extremely difficult and one can endure a significant amount of pressure from an applicant to approve.”
Council will make a decision on the proposed bylaw change at an upcoming regular meeting.

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