Nov. 17, 2020 meeting
One unintended consequence of the recent intense criticism of comments made by a town councillor is a relative unwillingness for councillors to say much about anything. Candour seems to be out the window.
Once upon a time, the CAO would be peppered with questions about this, that and the other thing. At council’s Nov. 17 meeting, dead silence following David Kim’s CAO report, except for one request from councillor Darin Busk for clarification about water meter change-outs.
These are the new (ish) ‘no-read’ water metres, that were all exchanged on warranty. It took some time to accomplish this, and Busk – seeing that the town utilities staff were doing some change-outs, thought it meant the project might not be finished. But it turns out it was completed, and some of the new ones are faulty and need replacing. How many? Not sure, said the director.
The target for re-opening the Northern Lights Aquatic Centre is sometime in February, council heard. The latest thing is a plan to upgrade the change rooms. Northern Lakes College is looking into the costs and will decide on the scope of the project based on budget.
Meanwhile, a boiler-replacement project is expected to be finished before Christmas. Once it is, the plan is to “start refilling the pool and bring back staff in January for training.”
2020 road repairs: a lot of potholes fixed, and within budget
Council got a pretty rosy report on the 2020 road maintenance program. Project manager Kush Patel said more bad spots than anticipated were fixed within the budget. It went so well that instead of the 15 areas of repair to potholes, heaves, etc., the number was up over 40 by September. With some budget room left, even more were added, but weather factors in October put a stop to it. Of the $491,000 in the budget, $52,000 is left over. It will be applied to next year’s program.
The patching program dealt with defective spots in Slave Lake streets ranging in area from eight square metres up to 945 m2, said Patel’s report.
“That’s a lot of potholes fixed!” said mayor Tyler Warman.
It’s certainly a lot more than in a normal year. Typically, the town budgets $100,000 for summer road repairs. This time council tossed in $391,000 in unspent grant cash that for some reason had been lying around since 2014.
Sidewalks and trails: what to expect in plowing and sanding
Council got an update on the town’s service levels when it comes to snow-clearing on the trail system and on those sidewalks the town looks after. Also mentioned was the responsibility of adjacent property owners to keep their sidewalks clear.
Where the town is concerned, sidewalks come first. The standard there is to get them cleared within 24 hours of the end of a snowfall. This is the same as for private property owners.
The town looks after sidewalks on both sides of Main St., from Hwy. 2 all the way to the railway crossing, plus various other spots adjacent to town property, such as by parks.
Sidewalks get attention first, as noted; then the Allarie Trails. The policy there is that clearing be “initiated in no more than 48 hours after the end of the snowfall.” It can take up to 72 hours to finish the job, council heard, depending on the amount of snow. Pea gravel and/or salt may also be added at key spots.
So what happens when property owners don’t look after their sidewalks? Community services director Garry Roth told council bylaw officers respond to complaints; otherwise, they are not looking for violators.
A late addition to the agenda was a letter from a local auto dealer, on the subject of charging stations for electric vehicles.
“Whitecap (Chev, Buick, GMC) is looking for a partner,” said mayor Warman, introducing the topic.
Warman mentioned that the town had already expressed an interest in becoming part of a network of E/V charging stations in northwestern Alberta. This was after receiving a proposal from the Town of Edson some months ago. In the meantime, Warman said, that group had informed Slave Lake it wasn’t being considered for inclusion during ‘Phase I’ of the program, meaning nothing would be happening very soon. So let’s see what Whitecap has in mind.
Accordingly, Warman made motion directing administration to get in touch and see exactly what is being proposed.
Contacted subsequently, Whitecap owner Colin Parada said “there are a lot of hurdles to jump over,” but “you’ve got to start somewhere.”