M.D. of Opportunity Council notebook

Feb. 9, 2022 meeting

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Council voted on Feb. 9 to end Zoom access to meetings. It wasn’t unanimous, but most councillors didn’t seem to like having reporters listening in from remote locations.

The meeting was held in Red Earth Creek.

Meeting with KTC

Council heard that the Kee Tas Kee Now Tribal Council had asked the M.D. to host a meeting with KTC, plus representatives from Northern Sunrise County and Big Lakes County. Council voted in favour of a Leo Alook motion to host the meeting at Red Earth Creek and provide food. Various issues will be on the table, including the future of Hwy. 686.

Species at risk group

Councillor Brendan Powell brought this item forward. The Northwest Species at Risk Committee meets to discuss caribou range planning. Does the M.D. want to appoint somebody to the committee? Powell said he has attended sporadically, but is not formally appointed. Non-voting membership costs about $1,000; voting membership more than that. Meetings are generally in High Level.

What’s the benefit to the M.D.?

Three caribou ranges are in the M.D., said CAO Chad Tullis. The background on the issue is the federal government had told the province if it didn’t come up with a plan for protecting woodland caribou, the feds would impose one of its one. The committee was formed to make sure any conservation plans didn’t shut down industry.

Council appointed Powell as a council rep on the committee, with Tahirih Wiebe as alternate.

In-person or nothing

As noted above, council voted to return to the traditional ‘in person’ format for council meetings, with no opportunity for anyone to ‘Zoom’ in remotely. Councillor Cheri Courtorielle was strongly in favour of the move. She said she didn’t like members of the community hearing about council proceedings via media reports, calling it “annoying,” because her comments were “taken out of context.”

“I never did like Zoom,” said councillor Darlene Jackson.

Agreed, said councillor Larry Cardinal. “I’m totally against it. I like the room, when we can yell at each other without anybody recording.”

Councillor Robin Guild was the only dissenting voice.

“I think it’s important for people to know what we’re doing,” he said. “We’ve never had such good coverage. They may get it wrong once in a while, but….”

That argument didn’t sway anybody.

If a newspaper wants to cover meetings, said Jackson, “they can hire local people to sit in. We’re not trying to hide anything.”

How about allowing, say, an engineer to Zoom in to a meeting from Edmonton, said CAO Tullis.

Nope. In-person or nothing. That was the motion by councillor Alook, approved by a strong majority.

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