M.D. of Opportunity council notebook

Joe McWilliams

Lakeside Leader

Council’s Aug. 23 meeting took place at the complex boardroom in Calling Lake, with all 11 councillors present. Two items were added to the agenda for discussion – Hwy. 686 and a vending machine at the Lakeview Sports Centre.

Hwy. 686

The question on this topic – most likely raised by Councillor Louis A. Cardinal – was whether local contractors will get a chance to work on future development of this road. This probably refers to the announcement from April of this year by the province that it intends to connect 686 with Fort McMurray.

The M.D. will request a meeting with the Minister of Transportation to discuss the matter.

Vending machine

The M.D. had received a request from a local business-person for permission to set up a vending machine (or machines) at the Lakeview Sports Centre in Wabasca. Councillor Darlene Jackson made the motion to approve a one-year contract, with a fee of $250. It was unanimously carried.

Arena contract awarded

The contract for some upgrade work to the Marian Wolitski Arena in Wabasca goes to Budney’s Maintenance Service, per a Councillor Brendan Powell motion, carried unanimously. The job entails work on the arena scoreboard, sound system and seating. The contracted amount is $27,129.45.

Gas line extension?

The last time the question of whether to extend gas lines from Sandy Lake to Taron’s Ranch came up, back in April, council simply accepted the report as information. According to the report in The Leader at the time, the additional cost to the M.D. was estimated at $780,000, to serve four households.

The matter was discussed again on Aug. 23, with the result that administration is to “get more information and discuss it at the capital budget meeting.”

Levels of service for fire department

Council approved proposed amendments to the policy on fire department levels of service. The new policy clarifies how the department will respond to calls involving dangerous goods; it also calls for the inclusion of a duty officer, but leaves it up to the discretion of the chief.

RCMP visit

Representatives of the Athabasca and Wabasca RCMP detachments attended the council meeting. Acting Staff Sgt. Charles Dubois from Athabasca gave an update on crime statistics and requested another meeting in early September. Sgt. Amie Blize from the Wabasca detachment also gave a crime stats report; he also shared the news of the renaming of the detachment. The word ‘Desmarais’ has been dropped; now it’s just the Wabasca detachment.

Wabasca RCMP has a community engagement event planned for Sept. 21, at the Wabasca Community Hall.

Culvert repair

Council re-visited the matter of a major culvert repair job, discussing it as a capital project for 2024.

According to the report in council’s agenda, the issue arose back in 2021, when M.D. staff noticed a dip forming on Yellowknee Road. An engineering firm took a look at it and came up with a replacement proposal with an estimated cost of $703,000. It included the construction and later removal of a bypass road.

At the time, the M.D. looked into the possibility of cost-sharing with Bigstone Cree Nation, since the road serves its residents as well. Bigstone declined to participate and nothing was done.

This summer, the report continues, the M.D. has been doing temporary repairs with gravel and rock to stabilize the road, which at the time of the report was under water!

The motion council approved was to get a new cost estimate, schedule the replacement and “potentially cost-share with Bigstone.”

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