Slave Lake & District Chamber of Commerce Notebook

Nov. 27 meeting
Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Seasonal events

Chamber President Francesca Giroux provided brief updates to the members on various Chamber programs. Something called the Mini Monster Night Out was an effort to provide an alternate trick-or-treating opportunity for kids that would allow them to go out earlier than usual. Participating businesses had candy to give away in the afternoon on Oct. 31, and quite a few people took part in it.
“My kids loved it,” said Ali Mouallem of Alimo’s Pizzaria.
Forty-three businesses took part.
Moonlight Madness, etc. – Giroux said the Santa Claus parade and all that went with it on Nov. 17 was a good success. There were 29 entries in the parade, the bonfire was popular and lots of people were downtown for the evening’s festivities. She said she’d heard from downtown restaurants that their business was substantially up for the night.
“Great parade and great crowds,” said Warman. “Exactly what you want.”
Yet to happen is the Chamber’s Christmas Lights Competition. ATCO Electric will be judging it this year, taking in seasonal displays in town and in hamlets in the M.D. First, second and third prizes are on the line, of $100, $75 and $50 ‘Slave Lake Bucks.’

Getting stuff done

The Chamber’s annual general meeting and awards gala are coming up in February. The AGM is on Tuesday, Feb. 20. Giroux encouraged members to attend and to consider putting their names forward for board positions, of which five are vacant at the moment.
“We have a great group,” she said. “But we could use more input. A few more board members would make us a stronger team.”
The following Saturday, Feb. 24 is the annual business awards gala. It’ll be back at the SL Inn this year, with a menu by Tony Giesbrecht Giroux promises will be fabulous. It’s $80 for the evening, which will include entertainment and of course all the awards.
Speaking of which, nominations are required in various categories. On the agenda was a discussion on whether the nine awards are sufficient. Are changes needed? Should there be more?
Somebody suggested a ‘youth entrepreneur’ category. Another asked if there could be an award for home-based businesses. We can add those, said Giroux, but they need sponsors, at $250 apiece. A representative from Northern Lakes College said the college would like to sponsor the youth entrepreneurship award, if somebody else was willing to take over sponsorship of the ‘employee of the year’ award.
“South Shore Leisure would be happy to,” said Jeff Commins.
“I’ll sponsor the home-based business award,” said Joy McGregor, who was at the meeting representing the High Prairie School Division.
“Thank you!” said Giroux, pleased with the way things were shaping up. “We’re just getting stuff done today!”
As for making nominations for the awards, Giroux said nomination boxes would be in businesses around town in January, “or you can do it online.”

Tourism committee

The Chamber has joined the regional tourism committee and its rep on that board was scheduled to report on its recent business. But she wasn’t in attendance, so mayor Warman pinch hit for her.
“We elected a board of directors,” he said. “We filled all those positions.” The group was getting together later that day to strategize. The initial meeting was encouraging. “We had close to 20 people,” Warman said. “A good start.”

‘Great start’ on spring show

Giroux, speaking of the Chamber’s big spring trade show event said there’s lots of work to do, but it’s off to “a great start.” It’s being re-branded, she said, as an ‘outdoor adventure show,’ modeled after the successful High Prairie Gun Show. Having an outdoor adventure theme does not mean, she added, that the regular type of exhibitor will not be welcome; they will, but the hope is that the theme will make the show more attractive to a regional audience.
Heading the organizing committee is Ali Mouallem.
“We’ve had interest from places within the region who haven’t been before,” he said. “Feedback is really good.”
Mouallem also made a plea for more help on the committee. In particular, he said, it would be good to have someone with a passion for outdoor adventure-type of stuff, because he isn’t that guy.
“I’d rather be in the kitchen than in the garage,” he said, drawing a few laughs.
Giroux reminded the members there is a discount for them in registering for booths at the show.
“Early bird as well,” Mouallem added.

Town report

Mayor Warman started the always-popular Town of Slave Lake update by praising the Chamber’s Christmas season kick-off events of Nov. 17. Then he spoke about the state of town/M.D. relations, saying the two bodies are very close to sorting out their differences as far as the two major cost-sharing agreements are concerned.
“We’ve still got five or six items to get sorted out,” he said.
Moving on, Warman said at the recent conference of urban municipalities, council was able to have eight “really good,” meetings with provincial government ministries.
“There are some big announcements coming we’re not allowed to share,” he added, tantalizingly.
On the snow-removal front, Warman said town crews took a week-and-a-half to clear the whole community after the last snow – quicker than the expected two-weeks. Now, with more fresh snow on top of ice from recent freezing rain and melting, he said the sanding crews would be following the snowplows.
In other town news, Warman said the town saved a bunch of money by being its own general contractor on the Main St. North waterline project. Signals at the Caribou Trail railway crossing are wanted and needed and the town “will be pushing hard on that,” he said.

Budget

Council has held the line on a budget increase for the past two years, Warman said. This year, heading into another budget season, it’s going to be harder to do that without cutting services, he predicted.
“I don’t know if it’s feasible,” he said.” I’ll be shocked if we find a way to keep zero per cent without reducing services levels.”
Warman’s final piece of news was that the Legacy Centre fundraising banquet and auction on Nov. 18 was a great success, raising something in the neighbourhood of $35,000 to $40,000.

M.D. report

M.D. councillor Jeff Commins echoed Warman’s optimistic tone about M.D./town relations. He predicted “some good long-term agreements that are going to stand the test of time.”
At the recent rural municipalities’ conference, “there was a lot of talk about the implications of legalization of marijuana,” Commins said, without elaborating.
Commins also informed the group of a new toboggan hill taking shape at the complex grounds in Widewater, thanks to an arrangement with the contractor excavating for a new regional waterline pumphouse nearby.
And finally, “we start budgeting next week,” he said.

It might not look like much in this view, but there are about a thousand cubic metres of dirt behind the complex in Wagner, waiting to be turned into a sliding hill.

HPSD report

High Prairie School Division board trustee Joy McGregor’s report consisted mainly of discussion about the irksome problem of drivers ignoring schoolbus flashing lights and blowing by when the buses are loading or unloading. It continues to happen, she said, in spite of high fines and a fair amount of publicity.
“One passing is too many for me,” she said.
“Can you post videos of fly-bys?” asked Giroux.
“I’m not sure,” said McGregor.
Asked if he had anything to add, new HPSD trustee Ali Mouallem said he’d learned at a recent conference that 40 per cent of trustees in Alberta are, like him, new to it.
“Are you enjoying your new job?” asked Warman.
“Yes,” said Mouallem. “I’m very green behind the ears, but I hope to bring a different perspective. I’m the only male (on the board) and I have young children in the system. We’ve got a great team.”

NLC report

Valerie Tradewell, reporting for Northern Lakes College, said “a lot of our post-secondary programs are full.” That includes the new paramedic program, for which she said thanks is due to community partners for their support in bringing it about.
Tradewell took the opportunity to promote a ‘Dragons Den’ type of program to provide guidance to entrepreneurs, culminating in March with an actual pitch session before a panel of small business owners.
“Spread the word!” she said. The deadline for applying to the program is Dec. 8. Cash prizes are on the line.

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