Regional water line project gets the green light (finally)

Regional tri-council
June 29, 2017

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

The bids were in for the regional waterline and pumphouse project. This is the one conceived after the 2011 wildfire disaster, when a power failure in town caused a failure in water supply for firefighting. Parts of the project (waterlines to Bayer Road and Poplar Lane) have already been done, plus a new reservoir at Widewater. Getting the prep work done for the new intake at Wagner and the pipeline from there to Slave Lake took longer than anyone anticipated, but the final decision on it was before council.
Doug Baird of the town, presenting the report, informed councillors that the overall project cost had come in $2.35 million over budget, at $17.409 million. What’s left in the recovery grant budget for the project is $15.27 million.
What the town is proposing is to cover the shortfall through a loan. However, Baird said, in the year that remains before the loan would have to be taken, the town would continue to look for other sources of funding. It was suggested in his report that the M.D. and Sawridge might consider contributing, since the extra capacity in the new water system would benefit future growth in those communities.
Council then went in camera to discuss the matter further. After that, council passed a motion as recommended, approving the expenditure as proposed. The contracts – one for the water intake and pumphouse and the other for the waterline, have yet to be awarded.

Gilwood follow-up
Gilwood Golf & Country Club reps made a plea to tri-council for financial help. It was the second such approach, the first one having been last year. Tom Tippin, the new general manager of the golf club, did most of the talking and made a good impression. He spoke about recent efforts to improve the profitability of the club. An example is the club taking over food and beverage operations. He said he expects this to earn Gilwood about $240,000 over the season. Tippin also talked about the great success of the junior golf program.
Tippin characterized Gilwood as “a community resource,” and “not just a playground for members.” Fifty-five per cent of golf revenues are from non-members he said, calling it “odd” in his experience.
The course has hosted 18 corporate tournaments so far this year.
However, “I don’t think it can remain viable without increased support.”
That would include a cash infusion from the tri-council. What Gilwood was asking for was enough to cover last year’s roughly $11,000 deficit. It’s not a big number, Tippin said. The last course he worked at had a $272,000 deficit.
“It’s not uncommon in the industry these days,” he said.
Slave Lake mayor Tyler Warman noted that most recreation facilities need to be subsidized. Accordingly, he made a motion to approve the request.
Sawridge Chief and meeting chair Roland Twinn commented that as a club member, he’s seen “a big improvement in communication,” this year. He also suggested that companies that help out at the course receive recognition.
Warman’s motion was carried unanimously.

Economic development
This sub-committee of tri-council has been mostly focused on getting a tourism promotion program up and running. Its chairperson, Tyler Warman, reported on the successful re-launch of the Slave Lake Visitor Information Centre under tri-council ec/dev management. Other initiatives are the establishment of a destination marketing organization, which is in process. The other prong in the tourism fork is a ‘destination marketing fund’ (DMF), which is created by local hotels and spent according to their wishes on projects that promote tourist visits to the area. All but one of the local hotels are on board, Warman said.
There is money in the economic development budget for another year, Warman said.
After that?
“We’ll need tri-council input on the direction.”

The latest on FireSmart
Warman, who also chairs the tri-council FireSmart committee, had six-months’ worth of updates for his fellow tri-councillors. They included the news that a contract for FireSmart education had been extended for two years and just needed tri-council’s formal approval. Next, a new position of ‘FireSmart coordinator’ was being created. This person’s job – among other things – will be to deal with all the requests from other communities around the province – and beyond – for advice on protecting themselves from wildfire.
“We’ve done interviews already,” Warman said.
Council approved both expenditures, but Brad Pearson of M.D. 124 had a concern.
“I hope education doesn’t get most of the money,” he said. “It seems to move slow to get any results.”
Warman advised that specific concerns about vegetation management around communities – or the lack of it – can be brought directly to the board via the M.D. council rep.

Legacy Centre
Warman (again) updated council on this new facility. Open just a year, the building has had some construction deficiency issues, which are being gradually checked off.
There was a flooding incident, Warman said, which has done some damage to floorboards on the stage. Who gets to pay for that is being discussed.
“Insurance companies are talking to each other,” he said.
Warman also advised the group that the town has hired a part-time building manager for the Legacy Centre.

Health committee
Town councillor Joy McGregor is the rep on the tri-council health sub-committee. She reported that the Family Care Clinic is forming a steering committee and that she will also sit on that.
“They’re looking to set a vision for what health care could look like,” she said, adding that engagement with the community is a prominent objective.
“I will be bringing concerns that I hear from the community to them,” she said.
Speaking of feedback on health care issues, Warman added that Alberta Health Services has an online mechanism for exactly that. It’s called ‘AHS Feedback.’

Marten Beach emergency egress
Council set the ball rolling on a matter that has been a topic of discussion for at least the past six years: i.e. an additional exit route from the hamlet of Marten Beach in case the primary egress is blocked (say by wildfire). In his written report on the matter, M.D. of LSR CAO Allan Winarski noted there are mixed feelings in the hamlet on the second in/out route. The proposed solution is to have a gate on it, which would only be opened if needed. It’s proposed to link Herb Crescent with North Shore Drive, a distance of about 100 metres. The proposed cost is $26,100.
Council approved the proposal.

Funding for emergency training
Council approved an ‘after-the-fact’ request for $10,000 to cover costs for the EMX-2017 emergency training exercise that took place in April. It was a regional exercise, involving many agencies in mock disaster scenarios.

Cash for live-fire training centre
Council considered a second request for funding via regional fire chief Jamie Coutts. This one was for help covering some of the costs of setting up the regional live-fire training centre at its new location, in the yard of the new fire hall on Caribou Trail in Slave Lake. The request was for $100,000. A big portion of that would go to running a four-inch waterline to the site, ending in a hydrant. Other funds would be for props, modifications, propane, etc.
Council approved the proposal unanimously.

Gilwood manager Tom Tippin

Share this post