Sept. 15, 2020
The business of helping businesses improve business
“Some local businesses are busier than ever,” Community Futures Lesser Slave Lake (CF) Business Analyst Robin-Lee Vance told council at its Sept. 15 meeting. That was in Vance’s preamble to presenting a slide show on the results of the 2019 ‘business visitation survey.’
The survey’s results were already discussed in some detail back in March. This was a refresher, along with a suggestion that the town might want to consider participating in an annual survey update – to see what the trends are.
One on the recommendations coming out of the survey was for customer service workshops. As it happens, Community Futures has three of those planned on successive weeks, starting Oct. 7. They are online and cost $5.
CF GM Josh Friesen, taking over from Vance, told council three workforce development workshops are also coming right up, with expert presenters. These are on Sept. 30, Oct. 22 and Nov. 18. Leadercast Women is another event CF is involved in presenting. It’s slated for Nov. 7 at the Legacy Centre.
In other Community Futures news, Friesen said $770,000 in federal COVID money had been loaned to 29 area businesses in the past few months. These are the ones that – if they pay the loan back within 2 ½ years – 10 per cent of it is forgiven. It’s made for a very busy few months, Friesen said, but “It’s been good for us.”
Shocked by shotguns
An item in the CAO report raised an eyebrow or two. It had to do with animal control. Apparently bear encounters in town have induced the peace officers to request shotguns. The business case will be presented at budget time. Approval from the Solicitor General is also required.
Recycling – a waste of money?
Councillor Joy McGregor asked if the town is wasting its effort and money on recycling. The word is it isn’t working; it may be ending up in landfill anyway, so why bother?
“Are we just wasting money as we head into our budget, if we’re throwing everything in the garbage anyway?”
“The market has tanked,” said mayor Tyler Warman. The other factor working against recycling is that Canadians aren’t very good at sorting and cleaning their recyclable materials. And the customers have decided they don’t want to do our dirty work for us anymore.
CAO David Kim said he’d get back to council with some details on the recycling situation.
Same stretch of road; two speed limits
Another burr under councillor McGregor’s saddle was the speed limit (or limits) on a section of Hwy. 2. It seems it’s 60 kph going west between the Hwy. 88 and Main St. intersections, and 80 going east.
“That’s dumb,” she said. “Something doesn’t add up there.”
We’ll investigate, Kim said.
Pool may be closed until February
For swimming pool users, the latest news isn’t good. According to the CAO’s report, a “boiler replacement project” will result in the pool “offline until Dec. 31. This means that the pool will likely be unable to relaunch until the beginning of February.”
Mayor Warman called it “troubling news,” adding, “We’re at the mercy of Northern Lakes College.”
Council had asked admin. to look into the possibility of installing cameras in town – how it would work and how much it would cost. This followed a report back in March that Lac La Biche had seen good results (in the area of crime reduction and/or prosecution) from its surveillance system.
In August, the director of community services and the RCMP staff sergeant visited Lac La Biche for a first-hand look at what’s in use. As reported by Garry Roth, it consists of a dozen cameras in the downtown area. At the time of the report in March, the word was the camera system had helped with 250 cases.
The camera system and installation cost the county $50,000, but that was an in-house project, thanks to the fairly large IT staff. With one IT person, Slave Lake would have to contract it out, Roth said, likely at about twice the price. The estimated annual cost would be $5,000 to $10,000.
Councillor Darin Busk seemed in favour of the idea, although he wanted more details.
“I’ve heard from numerous people in this community who are fed up with crime and want something done,” he said.
Mayor Warman said he would “love to explore it more and take a look at it at budget.”