M.D. of Opportunity Council notebook

March 23, 2022 meeting

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

No more recording of meetings

Council followed up on its decision back in February to stop participation in its meetings via Zoom, by banning audio recording of the meetings. However, council also ruled in favour of providing draft minutes to the two newspapers who are interested in covering council meetings.
Since the discussion on this topic was not included in the draft minutes, only the decision can be reported. The motion was made by councillor Leo Alook and approved unanimously.

Council seeks meeting on Red Earth school

Councillor Brendan Powell made a motion to authorized M.D. administration to set up a ‘virtual’ meeting with the Minister of Infrastructure to get an update on the Red Earth Creek School. Contacted later, Powell explained the idea is to keep up the lobby for a newer and better facility for students in the community, on the principle that “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” He said the current facility has an inadequate gymnasium, no science lab and no shop class, with the result that some families move from the community to get broader educational opportunities for their kids.
Giving further urgency to the situation, Powell said, was the fact enrollment has increased 45 per cent in the past year or so.
“The school is inadequate,” he said.

North emergency bypass route

Council received a report on possibilities for bypass routes around the north end of Mistassiniy Road in Wabasca. Several options were presented, with cost estimates ranging from $960,000 to $2.7 million.
The issue arose in January of this year, when a house fire on Mistassiniy Rd. resulted in the road being closed to traffic. This had the effect of cutting north end Wabasca residents off from the rest of the community. This was regarded as not a good thing, should they need to get out in case of emergency or disaster.
Council chose to refer the matter back to administration, to be brought up at the next meeting of the M.D. with Bigstone Cree Nation.

Fire services agreement for JBG

Council approved a fire services agreement with Bigstone Cree Nation that will see the M.D. providing fire protection services to the Jean Baptiste Gambler Reserve (near Calling Lake) for an annual fee of $70,000. This follows the expiry of the former agreement.
Highlights of the new agreement include the removal of an hourly fee of $400 and the removal of an expiry date. Instead, there will be an annual review.

Fire services agreement #2

Council also authorized admin. to execute a mutual aid agreement with Bigstone on protection and emergency services in the Wabasca region. It allows each to assist the other as the case warrants, allowing “either party to enter into each service area within their boundaries.” A change from the previous agreement is the expansion of the region, “to include all our hamlets.”

Re-zoning proposal in Sandy Lake

Council held a couple of required public hearings regarding an application to change the zoning of a lot in Sandy Lake from residential to commercial. The applicant hopes to develop a “four-season, nine-site RV park, a general store and seasonal restaurant.”
Nobody spoke up in opposition, and only the proponent spoke in favour.
Council subsequently gave the final two readings to the required bylaw change.

What’s wrong with EMS

EMS (emergency medical services) is “in a state of crisis” in Alberta, according to a letter in council’s agenda package from the president of Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) Paul McLauchlin. He further informed council that the RMA is part of an advisory committee looking into how EMS operates, the issues it faces and how it might be improved. An initial report will be sent to the minister in May.

Unpaid taxes

A second item in the RMA president’s letter dealt with unpaid taxes by energy companies. This item was addressed by government ministers at a recent RMA conference, and promises were made.
“The RMA will hold them to their word,” McLauchlin said, “and will aggressively pursue an immediate remedy to this outstanding issue. This will include surface lease payments, as it affects our ratepayers as much as unpaid taxes does municipalities. The reality is that the same bad actors are often not paying either.”

Share this post

Post Comment