Dec. 1, 2020 meeting
Per the CAO’s update for council, one town employee was in isolation and waiting for test results, due to having been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19. As of Nov. 30, all other town employees were reporting as healthy, said David Kim.
Town approved for stimulus funds
Provincial stimulus funding is coming Slave Lake’s way, council heard. The total is close to $800,000, which is earmarked thus: $400,598 for downtown revitalization, $180,000 for a drainage system upgrade, $110,000 for an upgrade to the SCADA (Supervisory control and data, at the water treatment plant) system and $100,000 for an upgrade to a waterline serving the fire hall. What the downtown revitalization will consist of (beyond the spiffing up of Rennie Hall Plaza) hasn’t yet been decided.
Rec facility shutdown
All town recreational programs are canceled for three weeks. However, limited use of the field house continues, “for individual activities only.” Whether there are any holiday skates will depend on whether they are allowed by the province.
Meanwhile, the SLIP (Slave Lake Ice Patrol) volunteers have installed and are maintaining two outdoor skating rinks. Councillor Darin Busk took the opportunity at that point to thank SLIP for the work it does on the rinks.
“Great job,” he said. “Looks good.”
Big interest in Government Centre roof job
The roof at the Government Centre building needs some attention and council had the results of the tendering process. A surprising number of companies bid on the job.
“For whatever reason, there was a lot of interest in this project,” said community services director Garry Roth, presenting the report. No fewer than a dozen firms tendered bids on it. They ranged from a low of $210,000 to a high of $408,000. Recommended was the second-lowest bid, made by Western Weather Ltd, at $225,003. The lowest bid had incomplete information, council heard.
The written report in council’s package says the contract calls for membrane patches to be applied to areas of the roof that are defective. Then “rolled roofing strips” go on top, over “the entire affected roof.”
The retrofit is expected to add 15 years to the life of the roof. The town expects 78 per cent of the cost to be reimbursed by the Government of Alberta over the lifespan of the roof.
New zoning for the Ruecker Building
Council held a trio of public hearings on a rezoning application for a property on 6th Ave. SE. Only the proponent spoke up at any of these.
“It allows us to do what our building was designed for,” said Lyle Ruecker.
The proposal is to put the property in the Downtown zone, which would allow a broader variety of uses. It required three bylaw changes, to make it compliant with various planning documents. In each case, council voted 4 – 2 in favour (with Julie Brandle abstaining in each case).
Following the votes, mayor Tyler Warman (who voted in favour) asked his nay-voting colleagues why they weren’t in favour.
“I don’t like spot zoning,” said councillor Rebecca King. She added that because the town is anyway planning to re-do its entire downtown and Main St. plan, she’d prefer to wait for that to be done, rather than re-zoning in bits and pieces.
“Politics!” was councillor Joy McGregor’s response. She did not elaborate.
On the economic development front, geo-thermal energy is a matter of some interest. Council heard that the town contacted three companies to talk about opportunities in this area. Councillor Brice Ferguson mentioned that about a year-and-a-half ago, one such company made a presentation to council. He suggested the town’s economic development officer get in touch with them.
Ec/Dev consultant hired
A firm called Incite will provide consulting services on economic development for the next three months. This is an item council had budgeted for in 2020 and in fact had engaged another company back in the spring. But Progress Unlimited backed out in July.
Asked what the company would deliver, economic development officer Leah Jones said “there will be a lot of data gathering,” and “a deep dive into the micro-economy of Slave Lake.” One thing to be achieved is finding out “what differentiates Slave Lake from other communities that are doing the same thing.”
Mayor’s corner: no mandatory masks, for now
Warman wrapped up the meeting by talking mostly about the upswing in COVID-19 cases locally. The message is the same, he said, limit social interaction and so on.
Warman said he’s gotten a lot of feedback on masks. Part of it is from people who wonder why the town hasn’t mandated masks. We continue to follow the provincial recommendations, he said. That could be reconsidered if the Slave Lake area reaches ‘X’ number of cases. But “we have to define what ‘X’ is.”
If Warman was hoping for some input from his fellow councillors on this point, he didn’t get much. Only councillors Busk and McGregor weighed in. Busk said 75 to 100 cases might be a threshold.
“I feel really confident following what the province is saying,” McGregor said.