June 1, 2021 meeting
Council’s meeting opened with a moment of silence, in acknowledgement of the discovery of the remains of 215 children at a former residential school in B.C. The meeting concluded with the mayor making some remarks on the situation, about which, see below.
CAO report: various things
CAO David Kim’s update included the news that a “major waterline break” near the hospital is being addressed. A project comparing asphalt patching materials is being done on Caribou Trail at 7th St. NE. Two types are being applied at that location, and the results over a period of time will be monitored.
Barton Park is “partially re-opened,” Kim said, and the insurance company is reviewing the town’s claim on the playground equipment destroyed or damaged in a fire in late April of this year.
Pool set to re-open
Kim pegged June 14 as the re-opening date for the Northern Lights Aquatic Centre, otherwise known as ‘the pool.’ It has been shut down since March of 2020, due to COVID, plus various repairs. The latter were still going on, Kim told council, with leaks appearing in the trough area. Someone was coming up from Edmonton to fix those, and the June 14 prediction was taken that into account.
Also holding things up had been “a significant leak in the hot tub,” Garry Roth, the town’s community services director told council. However, a couple of handy town employees managed to fix it. That raised some eyebrows at the council table.
“For years we have been talking about this,” said mayor Tyler Warman. “But a couple of staff took a hammer and chisel to it and it’s fixed?”
“Credit to our operations staff,” said Roth.
“Probably saved us a ton of money,” said Warman.
In other pool news, finding staff has been tough.
“If you’re looking for a job lifeguarding,” said Warman, “now is the time!”
Visitor info centre
Councillor Darin Busk asked about the status of the Visitor Information Centre.
“What can we expect to see happen?” he said.
The biggest challenge at the moment is staffing, Roth said. The town did not receive a qualified response to its recent ads for people to man the centre during the summer months. So it’s back to the drawing board on that. Roth added that staffing for rec positions is generally pretty tough right now. People aren’t applying. It’s apparently the same story across the province. The assumption is COVID-induced uncertainty has something to do with it.
Back yard fires
Councillor Rebecca King said she’s gotten several calls from people concerned about unattended fires in back yards in town. Are they allowed? What should be done?
They are allowed, said Kim. Unless there is a special ban on fires from the provincial authorities, which right now there isn’t.
Mayor Warman said he’s gotten such inquiries as well. What he tells people, generally, is that if there’s a significant safety concern, call the fire department.
The spray park at Schurter Park is in need of repairs, council heard. The water connection is the issue, apparently. Warman asked if a temporary connection could be set up, while the bigger problem is being solved.
It might be possible, said CAO Kim, and promised a proposal in a week. Two weeks for the permanent fix proposal.
Kim went on to say the routing for the water line was too close the creek. There was a potential for it to fail, he said, and it did. A re-routing will be proposed.
With a new ice-surfacing machine recently showing up, the question arises what will happen with the old one. Apparently such machines are hot commodity, said mayor Warman.
If it’s to be offered for sale, said Roth, it has to be a public process. But as the machines tend to get a higher price in winter than in summer, he suggested holding off.
Kim’s report included the detail that the town issued four business licenses the previous week – three to out-of-town companies and one local. The local one is called Elysian Beauty & Wellness. The out-of-towners include two construction outfits and one with the curious name ‘Hoodies 4 Hunnies.’
The Lesser Slave Lake Regional Fire Service had nine calls for service during the week, which brought the 2021 total to 171. Three were motor vehicle collisions and three were small grass fires.
As for the town’s two-man peace officer crew, it has had 284 calls for service this year, with 66 in May. Some of these have been complaints about unsightly properties. Officers have issued “numerous clean-up orders to property owners,” said Kim in his written report for council.
Managing the assets
Asset management is something that the town (and every organization) does, whether or not it has a policy. In the town’s case, it didn’t have one. But it does now.
Having received a grant from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to develop an asset management program, the town needed a policy to go along with it. That was one of the requirements attached to the grant, council heard from Garry Roth.
“It’s a lot of what we already do,” Roth said. “We just had to put it into policy format.”
Council asked no questions and voted unanimously in favour of a motion to approve the policy.
Councillor Busk, noting that May 24 – 28 was Rural Health Week, made a point of expressing council’s appreciation for the work that health professionals do in the area.
“We truly appreciate everybody that makes our system as good as it is,” he said.
Busk said the town should look at some way of formally showing that appreciation.
Agreed, said the mayor, and suggested the next meeting would be a good time to toss out ideas on how to do that.
How do we fit in?
Mayor Warman, closing out the meeting as usual with comments on the events of the week, spoke of his reaction to the news of the bodies of 215 children being discovered in unmarked graves on the site of a former residential school at Kamloops B.C.
“It blows my mind,” he said. “What would I do if they came and tried to take my children? Or what would we do as a community, if we found 10 children in a grave, let alone 215?”
So what can or should a municipality do? How do we fit in?
“Maybe there’s an opportunity for us,” Warman said. “To stand with our neighbours and let them know they’re not in this by themselves.”
Warman finished off by encouraging his colleagues to attend an ‘acknowledgement walk’ on the evening of June 2.