M.D. of Opportunity Council notebook

Jan. 24, 2024 meeting

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader


Council’s Jan. 24 meeting was held in Calling Lake. Five items were added to the agenda: RCMP, Western Indigenous consultation and engagement, Fire Services Policy, Calling Lake senior homes and an amendment to the 2024 interim operating budget.

State of emergency stays, for Calling Lake

The M.D.’s state of emergency for Calling Lake will stay in place for at least another month. Council voted in favour of a Cheri Courtorielle motion to maintain the status quo.

The motion suggests the crime problem in that community continues to warrant the continuation, although no details of any discussion on it are in the minutes.

Criminal record checks, etc.

The RCMP held a town hall meeting in Wabasca on Jan. 17, council heard. Attendees were informed by Sgt. Blize that the RCMP will not be doing criminal record checks unless a letter of support is received from the employer. The sergeant suggested Opportunity and Bigstone change their hiring policies. If he suggested how he thinks they should do that, it did not make it into the minutes.

Council asked admin. for an update on the enhanced policing initiative in Calling Lake. Paperwork and logistics for overtime hours are being worked out, they were told. Resources aren’t to be allocated until this spring.

Calling Lake senior homes

Council asked for an update on this project. Furnishings and appliances have been purchased, they heard, but are being stored for the time being at the suppliers. What they are waiting for is the completion of underground utilities, water, sewer and electrical services.

A related item on the agenda was a change order for the decks and rear landings of the Calling Lake seniors’ homes. It adds $27,600 to the contractor’s total price, for what exactly the minutes don’t say.

Red Earth concession

The arena in Red Earth Creek was in need of a food concession operator, and council took care of it. They approved Burger Baron as the operator for the 2024 season, on the following terms: $500 security deposit and a rate of $200 per month.

Vending machine at Calling Lake

Council approved a request from Chantal Johnson of Calling Lake to have her vending machine rental space agreement extended to include a second machine at the Calling Lake Rec Centre. It will be at the annual rate of $250 per location. Councillor Gerald Johnson had declared a conflict and did not participate in the vote.

Budget amendment

Council approved an amendment to the 2024 interim budget, to accommodate increases in transfers to the Wabasca-Desmarais Housing Authority. No details on the increase are included in the minutes.

New terms on towers

Council approved five-year lease renewals on communications towers in Calling Lake, Sandy Lake, Red Earth Creek and Wabasca to Bell Canada. Each of them include two five-year extensions, with 15 per cent increases each time.

The annual lease rates, however, are different in each case. Calling Lake’s is $7,305, plus tax. In Sandy Lake it’s $4,178; Red Earth $3,703; Wabasca $5,698.

Proposed development will have to get assessments done first

A proposed development in Desmarais will need to get a couple of assessments done on the property before it submits a development application. Council made that decision by way of a motion.

According to an online search of the address, 846 Mistassiniy Rd. South is the Wabasca Desmarais Health Centre, which seems an unlikely spot for a new development. More likely is the lot across the street from the RCMP detachment. Wherever it actually is, the M.D. wants a historical resources impact assessment and a wetland assessment done before it considers any development application.

Additional hectares

The vegetation management contract for the new Wabasca fire break is getting bigger, by five hectares. Council heard that the contract, awarded previously to Davidson Oilfield Construction, is about 70 per cent complete, and $45,000 under budget. At $8,000 per hectare, the proposal was to add five ha. to the existing contract. Council approved it.

Council then approved a similar addition – 7.3 ha. – to the contract on the Red Earth Creek fire guard, at a price of $6,800 per hectare.

Cameras costly

Council had approved $200,000 for upgrading security cameras at 16 M.D. facilities.

Quotes for the work totaled $674,000. As an alternative, administration was proposing upgrades at just six of the facilities, totaling $205,000.

The discussion on the matter is not in the minutes, but for some reason council rejected that proposal, referring it back to admin. “to come back with different scope options.”

Later in the meeting, council voted in favour of a Gerald Johnson motion to defer the project to 2025.

Streetlights approved

Council approved the addition of $200,000 to the budget for 30 new streetlights – 10 each in Sandy Lake, Wabasca and Red Earth Creek.

They’ll go on Wolf Trail in Sandy Lake, Waskway East in Wabasca and at locations to be determined in Red Earth.

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