Town of Slave Lake Council notebook

March 8, 2022 meeting

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Green Shirt Day

Responding to a request in the form of a letter by former Slave Lake resident Jan Clemis, council made a motion to proclaim Green Shirt Day in Slave Lake. It will be on April 7, 2022.

The purpose of Green Shirt Day is to bring awareness to the importance of organ donation. Clemis herself was the recipient of a kidney, and speaks in her letter of the life-saving impact it can have. Ninety per cent of Canadians are in support of organ donation, she says, but only 32 per cent are registered to be donors.

“Our hope is to continue to inspire Canadians and Albertans to register to become organ and tissue donors, in the effort to save and improve the lives of thousands on the waiting lists.”

The request is further to light up the town offices in green on April 7.

Do we do anything else, asked councillor Steve Adams.

Typically we just help spread the message, said mayor Tyler Warman.
Councillor Shawn Gramlich asked what the chances were of changing the lights out in the plaza so as to be able to project certain colours for such occasions.

As it happens, that’s part of the design for the refurb of Rennie Hall Plaza, said acting CAO Garry Roth.
“Super cool!” said Gramlich.

Old fire hall sale wrapped up

The sale of the old Slave Lake fire hall on Caribou Trail has been completed, council heard. It has been purchased by Alberta Health Services as a base for the ambulance service. The only bit of business left is for the title to be transferred. No announcement has been made about when EMS will be moving into the new facility.

RCMP salary costs

Estimates for retro-active salary increases for RCMP members serving in Slave Lake are in. These are for the past five years, during which salaries had been frozen pending the results of a lengthy negotiation between the federal government and the union representing RCMP members. The town looks to be on the hook for $360,000 to $380,000, council heard.

That’s quite a blow to the municipal budget, and it’ll be a similar story for towns and cities across the province. That’s probably why the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) is getting into the act on the issue. Roth told council the AUMA is advising its members to hold off on paying for now, pending the results of its advocacy.

E/V charging station grant approved

Slave Lake has been approved for a grant to cover the installation cost for an electric vehicle charging station. Council had earlier discussed where it should go and decided next to the town office would be better than at the MRC. The grant is for $143,028. The only thing it doesn’t cover is purchase of extended warranties and something called “network module activation charges.” Those are expected to be $1,500 for 2022.

Programs booming

Council heard that Family Fun Night events are oversubscribed. The swimming pool is getting busier. Mayor Warman said he’d been hearing good things about rec programs too, and thinks the town needs to “toot our own horn,” about them.

Speaking of the pool, Roth said with recent hires it’s getting pretty close to full complement of staff, after a lengthy period of being undermanned. As a result (of that and an easing of COVID restrictions) it’s looking as if a return to full programming will be possible.

Chamber of Commerce: looking at a Daze date in August

Councillor Giroux reported on the recent plans of this organization, on whose board she represents council. A golf tournament is planned for June 17, she said. The spring trade show is now a fall trade show, due to capacity issues. The tentative dates are Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.

The main topic was Riverboat Daze – whether it should be held in early July or later, in August. The traveling carnival is already booked for a weekend in July, and that is the usual deciding factor as to the Riverboat Daze weekend. But Giroux said there was a strong sentiment on the Chamber board for holding the Daze in August, after the success of last year’s ‘Al-In Slave Lake’ event in the latter part of that month. She said board members have been hearing that August is better; people are more likely to be at home and not vacationing elsewhere. Also, it wouldn’t be in competition with the Calgary Stampede or K-Days. So there’s a “very strong possibility” that Riverboat Daze will be moved to a weekend in August. It means the Westcoast Amusements visit to town will be on its own weekend, and Riverboat Daze won’t have ‘the rides.’

“People really loved the August date,” said councillor Kimberly Hughes.

New rules on board competency

News from the latest Lesser Slave Lake Regional Housing Authority meeting was that new rules from the provincial government are coming down on the competency of board members. Councillor Brice Ferguson, reporting on this, said the government has identified 10 categories of competency, and “you have to make sure you have a well-rounded board.” A year has been granted, for boards to acquire the competency if they don’t already have it.

What if you can’t find enough competent people, was councillor Gramlich’s question.

The department will work with us, said Ferguson. “But we have more questions than answers right now.”

“Interesting, to say the least,” observed the mayor.

Whether the new rules apply only to housing authority boards, or all public agencies, or some and not others, was not specified.

Library board

Eleven hundred people participated in library programs in the month of February, reported councillor Hughes. Tori Hunwick’s art was on display. The board is looking at expanding library hours.

Mayor Tyler Warman used the opportunity to remind Hughes and the others that the town has an events calendar on its website and community groups running programs could and should be using it.

“That’s what it’s designed for,” he said.

Community Education Committee

Councillor Hughes, who represents council on this group, heard at its last meeting that June 3 is convocation day for college students in Slave Lake. It’s assumed at this point it will be an in-person event. Other news: lots of opportunities for trades training and changes are coming to income supports for academic upgrading.

Homeless coalition

Ferguson updated council briefly on the group that organizes the temporary shelter in town. Charitable status is being worked on, he said. Meals are being provided, prepared by volunteers at the Friendship Centre kitchen. There have been over 1,100 stays this winter.

Commenting, mayor Warman called those “significant numbers,” adding it’s “not an easy task for a group of volunteers. You guys are making a difference in the community.”

Protective Services

This committee met recently for the first time in about a year. Reporting on it, councillor Julie Brandle shared the news that the RCMP detachment is fully staffed, and the Alberta Transportation district has gotten bigger – it extends all the way to Dapp now. Word from those folks is they are (or are going to be) “working on potholes.”

The fire department and search and rescue group are both on the lookout for volunteers.

Masking will continue at the Family Care Clinic and hospital in Slave Lake, Brandle continued. Her last bit of info had to do with people passing school buses while they are loading or unloading. According to a report from the High Prairie School Division, it is still happening. Buses are equipped with cameras, and tickets are being issued. The number is down, but it is still too high. Fines are substantial.

Different ways of looking at things

A letter in council’s agenda from Minister of Municipal Affairs Ric McIver paints a rosy picture of provincial support for municipalities over the next few years. It talks about a “predictable, reliable, long-lasting funding arrangement that is tied to provincial revenues.” It also says the amount of money coming from the Federal Gas Tax Fund will be the same this year, although its name has changed to the Canada Community-Building Fund.

Mayor Tyler Warman had another way of looking at the situation. Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) funding has been cut back to the tune of $1 million (this is the money municipalities typically rely on to build or rebuild roads, sewer and water infrastructure) this year. And the recent Alberta announcement is removing a gas tax? Warman speculated whether municipalities will take another hit because of that.

Mayor’s corner: letter to the neighbours

Warman spoke about the recent news of the discovery of unmarked graves of children at Grouard, on the grounds of a former residential school.

“Those are our neighbours,” he said, adding that although he isn’t sure what the town can do about it, he feels it should reach out and “ask if we can help.”

“I’m all for it,” said councillor Steve Adams, and made a motion to that effect.

Agreed, said councillor Shawn Gramlich, and suggested the town also (besides sending a letter) put something on social media.

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