SHARA asks for M.D. help in getting ice back in Smith arena

M.D. of Lesser Slave River Council notebook

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Fred Laughy, the president of SHARA, was back before council last week to see about getting the arena in Smith operational as an ice rink.

“We’d like to put ice in there and run a program, but keep being told we can’t do it,” he said.

Apparently there are various issues with regards to fire codes. If the Zamboni could be moved outside it would take care of most of that, council heard. Laughy said community members are willing to do a lot of the work and wanted to know if the cost could be shared. Not in this year’s budget, he was told.

“We’ve been trimming the budget like you wouldn’t believe around here,” said reeve Murray Kerik.

Unless grants can be found.

Councillor Brad Pearson proposed a motion calling for administration to “bring a recommendation on how to bring it up to code.”

Presenting gymnastics
Something entirely new for M.D. council was a presentation by a fledgling gymnastics club. Two club board members, who also happen to be mothers of gymnastically-inclined seven-year-olds, made the presentation.

Leading things off, Tasha Albert told council the group needs to raise $75,000 to get going, and hopes to be able to accomplish that by next September. That would be for a space, proper flooring and equipment.
Fundraising is underway.

“Permanent space?” asked councillor Jeff Commins.

“It would be ideal if we could keep it set up,” said Albert.

That would rule out a school gym, though Albert said that’s far from decided. But the preference would be a dedicated space.

“We’ll keep our eyes open,” offered Kerik.

Albert said she’s paying $460 for five months of one-session-per-week gymnastics for her daughter in High Prairie. Other families from Slave Lake are doing the same thing, but still others can’t. She says 200 families have expressed interest in participation if there were a local club.

Added Marcia McDermott: “People are so excited about the possibility of gymnastics.”

How about people from the M.D.? asked councillor Pearson.

Albert said she wasn’t sure, but would expect to get people from as far away as Red Earth and Wabasca.

Pearson encouraged the group to apply for funding to the Community Assistance Board.

Watershed plan
Council accepted as information the Integrated Watershed Management Plan for the Lesser Slave Lake watershed. The idea is that it would guide future development affecting the lake and the streams that run into it.

Councillor Pearson was leery of the term ‘endorse’ in the recommended motion, so council passed one with that word removed.

Canyon Creek Arena is pretty much done, council heard. At least to the point where the ice is in and it can be opened.

“It looks pretty nice,” said Pearson.

The Widewater Complex has been finished, including the deficiencies.
Down in Flatbush, the new elevator on the hall is installed but not yet operational, reported Russ Jassman.

“It’s really close,” he said.

The central administration building is due to receive back its occupants this week. It has new floors, newly painted walls, new LED lights and more.
New blinds are ordered.

Admin. had looked into what it would take to upgrade the ad hoc boat launch next to the Athabasca River bridge at Smith. One hundred thousand dollars just to get to square one, said Bill Klassen. Meaning before materials and construction.

While council considered that sobering thought, CAO Allan Winarski said other options are being considered, involving “the private sector.”

Tax write-off
Several energy companies have defaulted on their property taxes. That’s tough enough on the M.D., but the education portion of those taxes still has to be paid to the government and has been paid, with no chance of collecting it. Providing relief for municipalities in this pickle is the provincial government through a program called PERC. The M.D. stands to get $80,000 back through PERC, Winarski informed council. But first it has to write off the associated property taxes for the companies in question. The offenders were listed for council. They are eight in number, comprising 96 separate properties. Seventy-five of them belong to Sequoia Resources.

Council passed the requested motion.

Board reports
Ag Service Board – Councillor Sasndra Melzer reported that board members would be attending a provincial ASB conference in Calgary Jan. 21 – 24. Workshops on abandoned oil leases are coming up Feb. 21 in Smith and Fawcett.

Lesser Slave Housing – Councillor Commins said the numbers are looking good. Vacancies are down and waiting lists are longer.
Homeland Housing – Councillor Melzer said the authority is getting $1.7 million from the province for upgrades to some of its properties, including the lodge at Westlock. New floors, new security system and so on. Vacancy rates improved in 2018.

Rural School Symposium – Melzer had been encouraged to attend by Aspenview School Division, which had offered to cover her registration fee. That left travel and accommodation for the M.D., something council had to approve (or not).

Councillor Pearson said with Aspenview board member Nancy Sand attending, he thought that should be good enough.

Esau disagreed: “For the ministers forum, M.D. representation would be vital,” he said. “It bothers me we already lost one school.”

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