Nov. 3, 2020 meeting
Chief administrative officer David Kim gave a mostly good-news weekly report on the state of affairs in the municipal government arena. For example, there are no COVID cases among town staff, he said. On the other hand, there were three ‘incidents’ (unspecified), resulting in two injuries.
On the projects side of things, Kim’s report included the news that the hilltop water reservoir project is pretty much finished; the bacteria test came back with flying colours, and the reservoir has been feeding water into the town during the night since Oct. 26.
Town peace officers have been spending a lot of time caring for animals in the town pound, Kim’s written report said. Some of those animals belong to “repeat offenders,” who “have been charged to make up for the accumulating boarding costs and overtime costs.”
In other animal control news, officers have launched an investigation into a case of alleged “cruelty and neglect of two pit bulls.”
Pool coming along
The town is working with Northern Lakes College “to complete shutdown activities” on the swimming pool, said Kim’s report. Dressing room upgrades are part of the picture, as is a boiler replacement.
At the MRC, a new operations supervisor has been hired; he previously worked in Sylvan Lake and has ice and golf course experience, council heard.
Contract to Mourad Group
The town got four bids on the janitorial contract for the government centre. Coming in lowest was the Mourad Group, which has held the contract for the past few years.
In recommending the Mourad Group, community services director Garry Roth said, “The new price is $1,500 less than what we are currently paying.”
Councillor Brice Ferguson asked about the evaluation criteria, noting “There are some pretty competitive bids in there.”
After price, local vs. out of town was a big one, Roth said. Also, “some didn’t have the greatest of references.”
Council approved the recommendation for a monthly cost of $11,928, for one year.
Rescue boat ready
Fire chief Alex Pavcek informed council the new rescue boat would be picked up at the end of the week. It’s a $140,000 unit that was paid for entirely by fundraising. Mayor Warman made a point of praising the firefighters’ society, which did the fundraising, as well as the companies and community organizations that pitched in to the project.
“What are you doing with the old boat?” asked Warman.
“Selling it to Wabasca,” said Pavcek.
Fire truck damage
Pavcek reported that one of the pumper units had suffered damage to its engine block on two successive trips up Hwy. 88 in response to calls. The fire department believes the damage was done while crossing the temporary bridges, but failed to convince the insurance company. Therefore; no insurance to cover the $56,000 repair cost.
Pavcek wasn’t asking council for money. He said it would come out of the department’s repair budget; it would make things pretty tight, he said, but was manageable. An application for assistance through the province is in process, “but we don’t know if it will be successful or not.”
Becoming part of downtown?
The owners of the Ruecker Building have applied to have the zoning changed for the location on 6th Ave. SE. It’s in a district called ‘regional commercial,’ council heard, and the owners want it in the ‘downtown’ C1 zone.
The C1 allows more uses and the owners “maintain that they are part of the downtown area and this this zoning change will increase the opportunities to lease space in their buildings.”
Presenting the report, planning and development director Laurie Skrynyk said the change fits in (despite being an example of ‘spot’ zoning) with a longer-term vision of creating “a much larger downtown zone.”
“I love it!” said mayor Warman, leading off the discussion. “We’re on a mission to grow business and create opportunities. I think this is a road to go down.”
Agreed, said councillor Busk. “I think we have to be open to more of these ideas.”
Council gave the required first reading to three motions – one each for the change to the Municipal Development Plan, the Downtown and Main Street Area Structure Plan and the Land-Use Bylaw.
Public hearings on all three will be held on Dec. 1.
Signs of the times
Council gave second and third reading to an amendment to the sign provisions in the Land-Use Bylaw that would facilitate a new free-standing sign outside the downtown mall. The current regs allow only one such sign and there already is a ‘super sign’ out near Main St.
The owners of the mall have applied for permission to install a ‘mall directory’ sign, which would be located near the new entrance to the mall. The bylaw change had been advertised for two weeks, with no comments received on one side or the other. At the public hearing, nobody spoke up either for or against.
Councillor Julie Brandle, who sat on a committee that went over the town’s sign regs in detail and recommended changes, said, “We thought we had it nailed down, but things always pop up.”
School buses onto Caribou Trail?
Council discussed a request by the High Prairie School Division for permission to use the north exit from the bus compound at CJ Schurter School. As explained in a letter from board chair Steve Adams, using the exit onto Caribou Trail (which is there but has never been used) would ease congestion on 6th Ave. NE.
“If council is concerned about buses turning left onto Caribou Trail,” says the letter, “we would be amenable to buses only being able to turn right from that exit.”
Administration’s view on the matter was no decision should be made without a traffic impact analysis being done. Council asked if a delegation from the HPSD could attend a meeting; in the meantime, town staff will look further into the feasibility.