Town of Slave Lake Council notebook

Feb. 15, 2022 meeting

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Community Futures making loans for downtown beautification

Council received pretty much the same pitch from Community Futures Lesser Slave Lake (CF) as M.D. council did the previous week. CF executive director Josh Friesen outlined a few of the programs that CF does on top of its basic role of a ‘lender of last resort.’ They include teaching kids business basics, courses in customer service, helping businesses with their ‘digital footprint,’ plus something new in the way of small loans. These are the ones for ‘beautification,’ as Friesen described it. They’d be small loans to ‘incentivize’ businesses to spruce up their appearance. Interest is five per cent, and Friesen’s request was for the town to cover the interest as a further incentive. He’d made the same request to M.D. council. In a best-case scenario, $200,000 would be lent out, Friesen said. The town’s expense in that case would be $15,000 over three years.

Council made no decision on the request. It will presumably be part of the ongoing budget discussions. But at least one councillor is on board.

“I love the beautification program,” said Julie Brandle.

On a related note, Friesen told council the deposits the town requires on development projects for businesses are “a bit of a barrier.” Mayor Tyler Warman said council is already planning to take a look at that item.

Josh Friesen

Chamber of Commerce

Friesen, who is also president of the Slave Lake & District Chamber of Commerce encouraged council to continue to provide annual financial support to the organization. Warman assured him the matter would be “debated in budget deliberations.”

Friesen said planning for a spring trade show is underway, which the Chamber is doing in collaboration with Community Futures. The idea (or maybe one idea) is to make it both a trade show and a job fair, he said. The dates are May 6 and 7.

Friesen also advised council the annual general meeting for the Chamber is on Feb. 28.

Town applying for grant for charging station

The town has applied for a grant of $125,000 to help pay for a fast-charging station for electric vehicles. If successful, it would cover all but $15,000 of the estimated cost of setting up such a facility on town property.

According to the report by town project manager Kush Patel, the plan would be to install a ‘Level 3’ (100 kW) charging facility. Patel said there is no such charging station north of Edmonton at the moment.

As to where it would go, locations next to the library and at the Multi Rec Centre were proposed. Mayor Warman said he preferred the MRC location. Councillor Giroux spoke up for the one nearer to downtown. Charging time would be 30 to 40 minutes, Patel said. The station would have connections for two vehicles to plug in at the same time.

Council needed to make no decision on the matter, and accepted the report as information.

Supplementary assessment

The town has been making next to nothing on supplementary property assessment in the last few years. But it went through the motions anyway and passed the required bylaw.

As explained by director of finance Roland Schmidt, the bylaw allows recently-improved property to be assessed for tax purposes. So the town can collect some additional taxes during the tax year that would otherwise be missed until the following year’s round of assessment. It doesn’t mean property owners have to pay more overall, Schmidt advised council. Just that they pay at different times.

Schmidt also told council that with not much development happening lately, the supplementary assessment has “tapered off.” Last year, for example, it resulted in just $2,000 coming in to the town coffers.

What’s the point then, asked councillor Adams, if it’s a matter of just two thousand bucks?

“It’s still good to have in place,” said Schmidt.

Council agreed and gave first reading to the bylaw. A public hearing will be held on it on March 15.

Update for Big Fish Bay

A bit of housekeeping work was in order, with regard to a re-zoning that happened four years ago in the Big Fish Bay development project. The Municipal Development Plan needed to be updated in conjunction with that re-zoning, council heard, but it wasn’t done at the time.

The re-zoning was from Industrial to Regional Commercial, which was needed for BFB to expand its campground/RV resort.

Council gave first reading to the bylaw change and a public hearing date was set for March 15.

Clean Energy Improvement Program

This item was introduced by councillor Steve Adams. The program offers grants to businesses and residential owners to do energy efficiency upgrades. It requires municipal involvement, and Adams said it might be a good idea for Slave Lake to look into it. He said Rocky Mountain House and Devon are already on board and accepting applications.

Adams made a motion to have administration look into it, which was carried.

No 55 Plus games for now

An organization that stages summer and winter games events for seniors in Alberta is looking for communities to play host. A letter from Alberta 55 Plus to that effect was in council’s agenda package. Another one, from Alberta Culture Minister Ron Orr, urged council to consider the same thing.

Addressing it, mayor Warman said although such events bring benefits, and Slave Lake has a history of pulling them off successfully,“I don’t think it would be realistic right now.”

Nobody disagreed with him.

Mayor’s corner

Warman spoke about an inter-municipal committee meeting council had attended earlier that day with their counterparts from the M.D. of Lesser Slave River. One thing they discussed was the pair of major co-funding agreements between the two municipalities – those being the Fire Services Agreement and the Inter-Municipal Agreement. M.D. councillors decided they needed more time to discuss those items amongst themselves before continuing the conversation with town council, Warman said. Another inter-municipal committee get-together will happen in March.

Another topic of discussion was about the need for more industrial lands in the area. This topic was on the front-burner in the spring of 2011, Warman said, but never really went anywhere. It’s now back on the agenda. One thing town council heard from the M.D. was that there are expansion possibilities at the Mitsue Industrial Park. Warman said council urged the M.D. to let realtors know about what’s available out there, because he’s pretty sure they don’t.

There is “significant activity” in the oilfield right now, Warman said and it is “attracting companies that want to do business here.”

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