Town looks at ‘stimulus’ projects

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

The Town of Slave Lake has access to some provincial economic stimulus cash. But it comes with conditions – one of the main ones being that it can’t be spent on projects that would have been done without it.

Another condition is they have to be submitted by the end of this month; also they can’t result in a tax increase and once approved, amendments are not allowed. The final condition is the work has to be complete by the end of next year.

Council had asked admin. to get on it and make suggestions. Presenting several for council’s consideration at its Sept. 1 meeting was Roland Schmidt, the director of finance.

“There is some grey area,” Schmidt said, on the question of whether a project that was in the town’s 10-year capital plan would or would not qualify.

Five projects are suggested. One is an upgrade to the water supply to the fire hall. It is served by a two-inch line, which in certain circumstances is not adequate. For example, when filling trucks, other things requiring water can’t be done, such as having showers or washing equipment. The estimate for the job is $100,000, which mayor Warman said sounded a bit on the high side.

Sidewalks – Proposal #2 is another crack at sidewalk improvements around town. This is something the town does a bit of every year or two, usually $100,000-worth at a time. Estimated cost would be $250,000.

Rennie Hall Plaza – a redesign of this downtown space is pegged at $100,000. Proposed is the removal of the concrete planter boxes, leveling and resurfacing the area with something called ‘unit pavers.’

Both councillor Joy McGregor and Darin Busk reacted negatively to the idea of small paving blocks. McGregor mentioned that they tend to allow a lot of weed growth in the cracks. Busk said they end up being uneven.

Notwithstanding those concerns, Warman was strongly in favour of going ahead with the RHP item. Councillor Brice Ferguson too, who noted the Downtown Revitalization project is going on 3 ½ years old and not much has been done on the ground.

“I think downtown needs some serious revitalization,” he said.

Councillor Julie Brandle gave a thumb’s up to that idea as well.

Water plant upgrade – this would be for the SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system, which is apparently getting a bit long in the tooth. The upgrade is estimated at $110,000.

Drainage – The fifth and final project proposed is upgrades to ditching that would improve the movement of storm water out of the southwest and northeast parts of town. It would include “major repair works” to storm gates along the creek. Estimated cost is $230,000.

Council is expected to make a final decision on the proposals this week. In the meantime, “start the paperwork” said mayor Warman.

Rennie Hall Plaza in downtown Slave Lake.

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