March 9, 2022 meeting
(Report compiled from agenda and draft minutes provided by the M.D.)
Community Futures presents
Community Futures Lesser Slave Lake (CF) executive director Josh Friesen started off the March 9 meeting. He let council know about the new Beautification Loan Program, which is specifically aimed at businesses willing to spruce up their premises. The pitch to the M.D. was if the municipality agreed to cover the interest payments on the ‘micro’ loans, the program might catch on. It was the same presentation Friesen had previously made to the councils of the M.D. of Lesser Slave River and the Town of Slave Lake.
Also in Friesen’s presentation was information about training programs offered by CF.
Later in the meeting, council voted in favour of a Cheri Courtorielle motion to allocate $5,000 to cover the interest on the beautification loans.
Knowledge Keepers conference
As requested at a previous meeting, council got a presentation from a group seeking M.D. funding for a proposed ‘Knowledge Keepers’ conference entitled ‘Renewing Our Spirit.’ Gordon Gladue and Francis Gladue of the Urban Rez Cultural Society told council the conference is about education and healing.
Further, the presenters outlined planned workshops and the expected benefits to the community. The request of the M.D. is to sponsor the youth achievement awards, supper and dance. The conference is scheduled for Aug. 25 – 28.
Following the presentation, councillor Darlene Jackson made a motion to approve a $24,200 grant to the group, from the M.D.’s FCSS budget. The motion was carried.
Off to the FCM
Council voted in favour of a Leo Alook motion to authorize councillors’ attendance at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ annual conference. It is being held in Regina Saskatchewan this year, June 2 – 5. Costs were not mentioned in the minutes, but various options were in the report in the agenda package. For example – $895 per person ‘early bird’ rate for in-person attendance. If attending ‘virtually,’ that fee drops to $480. Additional costs include $60 to attend a reception with the mayor and $140 for host city reception and closing dinner.
Lions campground boat launch gets funds
Councillor Jackson moved to authorize administration to allocate $100,000 for a boat launch and dock at the Wabasca Lions Campground, and that it be moved up from the 2023 capital project list to 2022.
Council had discussed the matter on Feb. 9, at which time Jackson had made a motion to allocate $15,000 for the dock project. In the meantime, apparently, the cost had grown by 566 per cent.
Council discussed the topic of landscaping around Wabasca’s Keekenow seniors’ facility. They (the minutes don’t specify who ‘they’ is) would like a garden and trees. A separate issue at the facility is the phone system isn’t working properly. Eight lines had been applied for, but only two are working.
Calling Lake historical
A request from the Calling Lake Historical Society to use the Calling Lake Visitor Centre was approved by council. The group wants to use the space for “historical items, archives, stories and oral history,” according to the M.D.’s draft minutes. Councillor Gerald Johnson made the motion.
Promoting the golf course
Council will be handing out passes to the Eagle Point Golf Club at a Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) conference, as a way of promoting the M.D. of Opportunity. Cheri Courtorielle made the motion.
Council voted in favour of a Cheri Courtorielle motion to provide $12,000 to the Wabasca Desmarais Children’s Place Playschool Association, to help with space rental. The association had requested $46,482.
Grant for grads
Graduates of the Career Pathways School will celebrate their graduation this coming June 11 with support from the M.D. Council approved a request for $2,000 for the grad ceremony and supper for the outreach school located in Wabasca. The school is expecting seven to graduate this year. Making the motion was councillor Gerald Johnson.
Off-season hockey ideas
The possibility of hosting a hockey school or, alternatively, a “hockey event,” before next winter was discussed. The hockey school concept would be for 30 kids at an estimated cost of $18,000.
The other idea was for a two-day ‘hockey event, to be held in Calling Lake and in Wabasca, with banquets in each community.
Council made no decision on the matter.
Calling Lake School
Another late addition to the agenda was to discuss a request from Calling Lake School administration for M.D. help in getting tables and seating at the school grounds. The purpose would be to help the school with it’s ‘land-based’ training program, which includes preparation of fish and wild game, for example.
No decision was recorded in the minutes.
Breath of fresh air
Council voted in favour of a Darlene Jackson motion to support the March 25 ‘Breath of Fresh Air’ festival, to the tune of $2,000. This is (or was, by the time this comes out) a project of the Peekiskwetan Society, involving (probably among other things) skating and sliding. The M.D. also committed to providing port-a-potties, skid steer work, skates and helmets for the event.
Trina Mineault, the M.D.’s director of finance, informed council that year-to-date revenue, as of Feb. 28, stood at $1.46 million, and operational expenses at $6.8 million.
On the capital spending side, expenditures as of that date were $1.07 million.
Mill rate ratio: tweaks suggested
Mineault’s report included a piece on the five-to-one non-res to residential mill rate ratio that is prescribed in the Municipal Government Act. The M.D. had recently received a letter from the Minister of Municipal Affairs, urging the M.D. to move towards compliance.
No consequences for not doing this have been suggested, Mineault’s report says, but “the minister could regulate the rate and penalize municipalities, if the rate is not achieved within the next couple of years.”
Accordingly, Mineault had a scenario for council to consider. It showed what the consequences would be if the M.D. moved to a 5.4:1 ratio. It called for a slight reduction in the non-residential rate, combined with a small increase in the residential rate.
The result would be a drop in non-res tax revenue of $1.93 million and an increase from the residential side of $30,180.
At the current 5.74:1 ratio, the M.D. collects (if everyone pays up) just under $60 million from non-res properties and $843,000 from the residential.
Under the above scenario, a $200,000 residential property would see an increase of $23.62, on average.
However, council made no decision on the matter, simply accepting the report as information.