M.D. of Opportunity Council notebook

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Council’s June 12, 2024 meeting took place in council chambers in Wabasca, with seven members present in person, with two more via teleconference and two (Leo Alook and Tahirih Wiebe) absent. Also present were nine M.D. staff members and five representatives of CNRL.

Council added two late items to the agenda: Calling Lake Library and the sound system at George D. Hall.

CAO report

Rain has kept the fire threat down, reported CAO Chad Tullis; on the other hand, it has slowed down some M.D. projects. One of these is paving in Wabasca; another is the lagoon in Sandy Lake.

The M.D. plans to conduct a policing study, Tullis also reported. Or rather it plans to hire somebody to do that. On a related note, the M.D. will soon be advertising for community peace officer positions. Meanwhile, a private security firm has been on the job in Calling Lake for the past month or so. Whether it is making a difference or not, Tullis didn’t say in his report.

In yet another related note, council voted to extend a state of local emergency (probably in Calling Lake, but the minutes missed that detail) for another two weeks. It has been in place, frequently renewed, since sometime last fall.

Library board member needed

The M.D. had advertised for a member at large for the regional library board, and received one application. However, council opted to re-advertise for the position, voting in favour of a Brendan Powell motion to do that.

Calling Lake seniors housing complex

Lots is happening on this project, according to Capital Projects Director Jason Supernault’s report for council, and a few more things still need to be done. Water, sewer and gas hook-ups are among the things that need doing. Eaves and fencing are also on the to-do list.

CNRL visits, talks landfill, arena

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. reps spoke with council about the Wabasca Class II Industrial Landfill expansion project. They dealt with concerns about spills and spoke about various monitoring programs. Testing is to continue for 25 years after the site is filled, council heard.

CNRL said an open house could be organized, if the public wants more information.

Also raised at the meeting was the idea of CNRL helping the M.D. build a new arena. Let’s see your proposal, CNRL told council.

Finance report

As of May 31, the M.D. had collected $4.5 million and spent $26.3 million. That revenue figure will have shot up by now, with property taxes being due at the end of June.

On capital projects, $4.9 million had been spent, most of it on vehicles.

Small business sub-class

Council gave all three readings to a change in policy to require proof that businesses are actually in this class. The amendment states that the businesses must provide ‘T4s’ to prove they have fewer than 26 full-time employees to qualify.

This is presumably for tax purposes, though the report in council’s agenda package does not specify.

Credit limit

Council voted in favour of a motion to amend the Corporate Credit Card Policy to add the Red Earth Community Liaison position, and raise the limit from $5,000 to $10,000.

Job openings

This might have changed by now, but as of the date of the report, the M.D. was looking for a fire chief for Calling Lake, a parks maintenance person for Red Earth, an equipment operator and labourer in Chipewyan Lake, summer student supervisors, summer students, admin support in Wabasca and a manager of facility maintenance.

Fire ops

In the report of the Director of Corporate and Regulatory Services was the news that fibre optic connections to homes in Wabasca were beginning in June. Expectations are that the work will be finished by November of this year.

Medical clinic news: new nurses coming – maybe even a doctor

Wabasca’s Keyanow Medical Clinic saw 835 patients in May. Despite being down two doctors, the report says, the clinic is keeping up, one way or another.

One of the missing doctors hasn’t showed up for two months, “even though she is scheduled and under contract.” She is under investigation.

Meanwhile, the clinic hopes to have three new nurse practitioners on the job within the next few months.

Attempts are also underway to secure a physician, “but this is a few months away.”

Re-zoning application for group home

The owner of a residence in Wabasca wants to operate a group home for foster children. To do that, the property needs an appropriate designation in the Land-Use Bylaw, otherwise known as re-zoning.

Accordingly the owner had applied to change the zoning from R1A – Residential District, to R1E – Residential District, which allows for such things as group homes, day homes and such.

Council gave first reading to the required bylaw change, and set a public hearing date for July 10, 2024.

More child care staff

Demand for child care spaces is big. Council heard that Opportunity Daycare in Wabasca recently opened another room and split three and four-year olds, “to help alleviate staff burnout and increase supervision.”

The day care is in a position to take in nine more kids, the report says. To do this, two more Level I staff would be needed. But there’s no budget for it.

The request before council was to approve the extra expenditure. Council complied with the request.

Disposing of M.D. vehicles

In council’s package was a proposal from the Director of Public Works, Kimball Newberry, sell surplus vehicles from all locations, as well as “miscellaneous items.”

These items include ‘speed humps,’ tires, a garage door, a Bobcat bucket a couple of floating docks and so on and so forth.

But council decided not to go ahead with the sell-off, or not until they have more information.

Generator relocation

Council approved the unbudgeted expense involved in the relocation of a generator from a Wabasca lift station (where it isn’t urgently needed) to the water plant in Red Earth Creek, where it is needed.

As explained in the report in council agenda package, power outages and natural gas interruptions (such as happened during a nearby wildfire) have caused disruptions in water supply in Red Earth. The generator would allow the plant to keep running in those situations.

Admin was also asking council to approve the awarding of the relocation job to a company called BMS, so as to avoid delay.

The cost of the relocation is estimated at $180,000, although (for reasons not specified in the report or the minutes), only $30,000 extra was needed. Council approved both proposals.

Red Earth sewer tank

An M.D. hall in Red Earth Creek is in need of a sewer storage tank. The job includes diverting a sewer line and a pump.

The low bidder on the job, council heard, was Glen Armstrong Construction, at $123,000. Council voted to award the contract to that company.

Golf duty

The M.D. registered four teams for the June 22 Ka-Asiniskasik food bank fundraiser golf tournament. It’s hosted by the Neepinise Family Healing Centre, in partnership with the Wabasca Lions Club.

Requests for grants

The M.D. had received seven requests for grants in the most recent reporting period. These were reviewed at the June 11 meeting of the M.D.’s Grants Committee. The committee recommended grants be awarded in five of the seven cases. The approved grants total $68,150.

Approved were grant requests by Sandra Boskoyous (for an anniversary celebration), Chokopeu Contracting (for life skills training), Neepinise Family Healing Centre (food bank fundraiser), Bigstone Health Commission (for a golf tournament), and STARS Foundation (pledge amount).

A request for a grant for a private, anniversary event was accepted as information. Another one, from an organization “conducting searches to aid families” was tabled “to conduct further dialogue.”

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