M.D. of Lesser Slave River reeve Murray Kerik looks ahead to what is in store for the municipality in 2018.
A major project that the M.D. will have to tackle is repairs to the Old Smith Highway. Parts of the road are sliding into Lesser Slave River. This means the slides will either need to be repaired or the road itself may have to be moved further away from the river.
Kerik says that regardless if council chooses to repair or move the road it will be costly but either way something has to be done.
“One way or another it has to be fixed or it will stem the flow of logs,” he says. “We don’t want to do that.”
If council decided to repair the road, this would mean steel pilings would have to be driven into the ground to provide stability for the bank. Kerik points out that this has been done before and it seems to be a short term fix. He feels this could mean moving the road is the more long term solution.
The M.D. has budgeted for the project but is waiting to hear back on grant applications before doing something.
“Once we get the news on whether or not our grants have been granted to use, that will tell us when we can start,” he says.
Kerik hopes to get the project rolling as early as possible in the construction season.
On the roads themselves, the M.D. has several that have to be maintained. Kerik said there will be a lot of shoulder pulls and roads being re-graveled. He hopes that the spring of 2018 will not be as wet as last spring.
Kerik feels the roads can use a normal year as the M.D. is still dealing with the negative effects of the wet spring of the last couple of years.
Kerik says there will be a few culvert replacements. These jobs will be fairly expensive projects but must be done. These culverts include one in Flatbush and one in Poplar Lane. The problem is age and they are starting to collapse or are full of gravel.
The M.D. will be working with the Town of Slave Lake on the construction of the regional water line. This is the line that will bring water from Lesser Slave Lake near Widewater area to town. Kerik hopes that this project will completed his year.
The M.D. will have to adapt to changes to the Municipal Government Act. This means all municipalities in the province will have to make sure their policies and bylaws comply with the act. One of the provisions is municipalities need to have working agreements with all municipalities that they share a boundary with. For the M.D. this means agreements need to be made with Big Lakes County, the M.D. of Opportunity, Northern Sunrise County, Athabasca County, Westlock County, Barrhead County and Slave Lake.
Kerik doesn’t think it will be too strenuous, as the M.D. doesn’t have much back and forth trade or involvement with the other counties and M.D.s. The Slave Lake agreement is already in place.
“They should be quick little agreements,” he says.
The M.D. will be taking on a major review of its land use policies in the planning and development department. This will deal with zoning. Kerik calls this review long overdue, as there are areas of confusion that need to be straightened out.
This is something the municipality wanted to tackle in 2017 but could not fit it in. The inter-municipal agreements with Slave Lake took up a lot of their time. Now that those matters are settled the reeve hopes to do some housekeeping items.
These items include taking steps for more transparency and promoting more resident and ratepayer participation with council. Kerik says there will be three meetings in the M.D.’s communities and not just at the main office in Slave Lake. These meetings will be in Widewater, Smith and Flatbush.
“Instead of making somebody drive from Smith to Slave Lake, we’ll have one in their community,” he says.
The meetings will most likely run a little later so people who work during the day would have a chance to attend. The meetings will be at community halls and the times and dates will be available on the M.D.’s website.
Overall, he feels 2018 should be a better year, as administration should be freed up to get done what couldn’t be done in 2017.