May 18, 2021
Council’s point man on bad roads is councillor Darin Busk, and he was back on the attack, asking CAO David Kim for updates on a couple of matters he’d raised at previous meetings. One was a proper demonstration of the ‘Plastasphalt’ type of pavement patching. Busk had proposed an experiment that would give the town a good idea of the durability of the material, versus other types.
“I just want to see it get done,” he said.
“It’s going to go ahead,” Kim said.
Busk’s other point was about area highways. One spot in particular, he said, should be brought to the attention of Alberta Transportation. About 10.5 kilometres north of town on Hwy. 88, there’s a dip that’s getting worse, Busk said, calling it “a major problem.”
“We’ll report that issue,” Kim said.
Chiming in, mayor Tyler Warman mentioned the town’s effort to encourage citizens to bombard the provincial government with stories and pictures of bad roads. It’s the second such campaign in recent months. The first one generated around 200 responses from people in the area; this time only 40 or 50.
“Let’s keep peppering them with this,” said Busk, “and hopefully we can get some repairs done, because this is just not acceptable.”
Busk singled out two other spots needing attention; Hwy. 88 at 6th Ave. SE and at the railway crossing.
Councillor Brice Ferguson asked the CAO about progress on the Rennie Hall Plaza upgrade project. Kim said it will take some time, because it involves engagement with a ‘steering committee.’ The vision for the renovations needs to be finalized, and only after that, somebody hired to do the actual work.
“A couple of weeks,” he suggested.
The CAO report included the news that three new business licenses were issued by the town in the previous week. One was for a day home and two for construction companies.
Included in CAO David Kim’s update for council was news from the regional fire service. It fielded 11 calls during the week – four of them for small grass fires, one for a structure fire and a couple of motor vehicle collisions.
Captain Fred Laughy of the hall in Smith received recognition for 20 years of service.
One of the town peace officers stopped a speeding vehicle on Hwy. 2, said Kim’s written report. The driver turned out to be very intoxicated and faces various charges, including resisting arrest.
Foot patrols were conducted during the week “of the homeless camps,” the report continued. “We will work in the coming days to clean these up.”
Speaking of unsightliness, the town is receiving “numerous complaints” about messy properties. Clean-up orders have been issued.
News from the pool
The “targeted re-launch date” for the swimming pool is June 14. It has been re-filled and water samples submitted to AHS for approval. Meanwhile, change room renovations continue. Staff are in training.
Clearing the way for Big Fish Bay
Council dealt with two bylaw changes required for an expansion of the Big Fish Bay resort. They concern a 40-acre piece of forested land next door to the resort that Big Fish Bay has recently purchased. Having received a ‘thumbs-up’ from the Municipal Planning Commission, and having heard no opposition at the two public hearings held earlier in the meeting, council made short work of the matter, passing the required motions.
Mayor Warman took the opportunity to comment on how impressed he is by what the resort owners have accomplished in the past two or three years.
“It’s like a mini-city out there!” he said, having recently taken a tour. The entire place was booked for the long weekend, Warman said, calling it “huge for our region.”
The actual re-zoning was from Airport Industrial to RR1 – Recreational Facility and Resort.
The buck stops with the SDAB
A development proposal turned down by the Municipal Planning Commission was heard on appeal by the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board. Mayor Warman sits on that board and reported briefly on how it went.
Proposed is a duplex on a lot on 12 St. SE. It has variances beyond the authority of the MPC to approve; not only that, some of the neighbours aren’t happy about it and haven’t been shy about voicing their opposition.
Some of those opponents showed up at the SDAB hearing, Warman said. The board considered three separate variances – one at the rear of the property, one at the front and the third having to do with the “parcel coverage.”
Variances were granted, Warman said, “but we reduced them.” In other words, the building can extend further than the bylaw prescribes, but not as much a proposed. It’s up to the proponent to decide whether he/she can live with those conditions.
Legacy Centre: lots of work to do
This ongoing saga had another chapter, as reported by the mayor. The Legacy board, along with the Childcare Society (which is also a member of the Legacy board) did a “deep dive” into the operation of the facility, the numbers and so on. This is the latest in the effort to figure out how to make the rent manageable for the daycare. Right now, it isn’t, Warman said.
“No epiphanies came out of it,” Warman said, of the exercise.
However, a new three-year lease for the daycare is being negotiated. Likely part of the new deal will see the daycare giving up some upstairs space it now has; attempts will be made to rent it out to another tenant. Also, the childcare society will join the other Legacy partners in doing some fundraising. In exchange for those two things, the daycare rent will be reduced to a sustainable level.
“There’s still a lot of work to do,” Warman said.
One positive thing that came out of the examination of the Legacy books, Warman said, is confirmation that the Town of Slave Lake taking over operational responsibility has worked out well.
“We’re getting very good bang for our buck,” he said.
The second meeting for a group of leaders from five municipalities and five First Nations in the area was supposed to happen the following week, Warman said. But due to scheduling difficulties, it looked as if it would have to be postponed. This is an effort to create something on the model of the Regional Tri-Council, but on a bigger scale.
Warman said the decision has been made to engage an expert facilitator to help the process along. Bill Sutherland, who played exactly that role in the early days of the tri-council, has agreed to help.
‘Sweep our own trails’
Warman made a point of thanking a local resident who took the trouble to sweep off a section of the paved trails, which had hazardous gravel on it. It’s great when somebody steps up to improve things in the community, he said, “but we should sweep our own trails.”
In support of the RCMP
Councillor Busk mentioned lots of other municipalities are speaking up in favour of the RCMP, and against the idea of a provincial police force. He feels the same way and wondered if the town should send a letter to the provincial government expressing that view.
Warman agreed with the sentiment.
“I don’t think that’s where they province should be spending its time,” he said.
Council will further discuss the matter at an upcoming meeting.
Lobbying for changes
On a related note, councillor Busk asked about council’s approach to the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) on proposed changes to the justice system. Specifically, how criminals are released too quickly and easily back ‘onto the streets.’
“We have to stay diligent on this,” Busk said.
Warman said the last he heard, the AUMA was working on an advocacy plan, and would be approaching the minister.