M.D. of Opportunity Council notebook

April 12, 2023 meeting

Joe McWilliams

Lakeside Leader

Council accepted the agenda with the following additions: Speakers Bureau of Canada presentation date, rodeo grounds, Francis Drive paving, and in camera discussions about transfer of land and a “hockey issue.”

Snow removal on rodeo grounds

Councillor Darlene Jackson made a motion that Conrad Shaw can do snow removal on the racetrack at the rodeo grounds, but a waiver must be signed. This presumably refers to the Wabasca rodeo grounds, but this is not specified in the minutes.

In a separate but related item, Jackson moved that members of the Wabasca Rodeo Association and Chariot Committee be invited to a council meeting.

Stat holiday June 21

Council voted in favour of a Tahirih Wiebe motion to declare June 21, 2024 as an M.D. of Opportunity statutory holiday. This is to recognize Indigenous Day.

SCARS stops by

Amanda Nilson and Brenda Leonard of the Second Chance Animal Rescue Society (SCARS) spoke with council about what the organization is doing.

SCARS helps communities by taking in unwanted pets. In the past three years, council heard, SCARS took in 402 animals from the Wabasca area. This is paid for by fundraising, and the group is struggling to pay the bills.

SCARS requested support from the M.D. Shortage of veterinarians to ‘fix’ the animals is another challenge.

After the presentation, council approved a $30,000 grant to SCARS, after a Cheri Courtorielle motion.

Gasification of Sandy Lake

Council resolved to commit the M.D. to providing conversion costs to Sandy Lake residents, two switch their household appliances to natural gas. This is in conjunction with a ‘gasification’ project, which ATCO is doing, to provide natural gas to the hamlet.

The costs, per household, are estimated to range from $1,500 to $3,000.

The matter of paying for people’s new appliances also arose (I.e. stove, furnace, hot water heater). Council will deal with such applications “on a case-by-case basis,” according to councillor Jackson’s motion.

Council was also asked to consider paying a big chunk of the cost of extending a gas line as far as Taron’s ranch, which is about seven kilometres south of Sandy Lake, and a further two kilometres off Hwy. 813. The cost to the M.D. would be an estimated $780,000, to serve four households.

Council accepted that item as information.

Sandy Lake has about 120 homes, divided between the M.D. and Bigstone, which are collaborating on the costs. The Government of Alberta is also a contributor, CAO Chad Tullis tells The Leader, as is ATCO.

Support for Bigstone land transfer

Bigstone Cree Nation is working on something called the Treaty Land Entitlement transfer process, and had asked for a letter of support from the M.D. Council complied, via a Darlene Jackson motion.

The process will (or should) result in land around the community of Chipewyan Lake being designated as part of the Bigstone Cree Nation. Three other locations are also designated to add land to the Bigstone – those being at Rock Island Lake and two locations at Calling Lake.

Inviting famous people to town

Council approved up to $40,000 to bring a couple of celebrities to Wabasca in August – one to a golf tournament and two others to Treaty Days.

The motion authorized administration to invite Ashley Callingbull to the M.D. and Bigstone joint golf tournament on Aug. 10, and to spend up to $25,000 to make it happen. Dr. James Makokis and Anthony Johnson (of Amazing Race fame) will be invited to the Aug. 14 – 18 Treaty Days, for up to $20,000.

YTD, financially

As of March 31, the M.D. had revenue of $2.6 million and had spent $12.6 million. Just under $1 million of that had been on capital projects.

Job openings

The situation might have changed by now, but as of April 12, the M.D. was looking for a custodian, an admin. support person, a lifeguard, an equipment operator in Calling Lake and golf course labourers in Wabasca. This is in addition to various other seasonal positions.

More for firefighter training

Council approved an increase in the training budget for the fire department, of $40,000. Also approved was $45,000 for the fire department ‘general travel budget.’

In a separate motion, council approved a boost of $10,000 to the Calling Lake fire hall budget, for purposes not specified in the minutes.

Calls had been fairly light so far in 2023, according to the report in council’s agenda package, with a dozen to the Wabasca hall. Two of those were fires in February.

Wolves and dogs

One of the more interesting items in the very lengthy report by the director of corporate and regulatory services had to do with the M.D.’s wolf-control program. In the first three months of the year, it resulted in 45 wolves being ‘harvested’ for the M.D. bounty. The program was suspended as of April 1, and will resume in November. This past winter the M.D. paid $250 per wolf.

On the domestic animal-control front, lots is going on. The director’s report speaks of “a big focus on educating community members on keeping dogs contained,” etc.

Fourteen dogs had been turned over to SCARS in the reporting period. The project of expanding the M.D.’s dog kennel in Wabasca, meanwhile, is to continue this spring.

Vacant M.D. lots: what to do?

The M.D. has only recently discovered it is the owner of five vacant lots, which were transferred to the M.D. from something called (in the minutes) the MDHC. This probably refers to the M.D.’s housing authority, which last year transferred its assets (minus these lots) to the new Wabasca Desmarais Housing Authority.

Council was asked what it would like to do with the five lots, which are in Wabasca, Calling Lake and Sandy Lake. The answer is as follows: put the two Sandy Lake lots on the ‘available lot list’ for the assessed value, leave the Calling Lake lot as a municipal asset and turn the two Wabasca lots on Caribou Crescent into municipal reserve.

More people needed

Council heard that another worker is needed at the daycare in Wabasca; also that a couple more positions are needed each at rec centres in Wabasca and Calling Lake. That makes for five total new positions, but the minutes show three new positions approved – one daycare worker and two full-time evening supervisors, with org. chart and salary grid adjusted accordingly.

25-year renewal in Red Earth

Council approved a 25-year lease renewal for an oil well located in Red Earth Creek. The terms are $3,507.50 per year, with a first-year additional fee of $2,000. The company operating the well is Surge Energy Inc.

Golf day in Barrhead

Council and administration are authorized to participate in a golf tournament in Barrhead, per a Darlene Jackson motion that was approved by council. It’s the 44th annual Golf Day, hosted by Transportation North Central Region, on June 16 of this year.

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