April 5, 2022 meeting
How to register a concern
In the ‘question period’ part of council’s meeting, councillor Steve Adams led things off with one about how a resident could “get a concern across.” About a bad pothole, for example. It would be helpful, he said, if there were a ‘concerns’ button on the home page of the town’s website, where people could post such things, along with some way town staff could “circle back,” and “close the loop.”
There once was such a function on the town’s website, said mayor Tyler Warman, but “we don’t seem to have that anymore.”
Recognition by council
Councillor Francesca Giroux asked about the process by which a community member or group could be formally recognized by council. She remembered sports teams, for example, being presented to council.
There’s no formal process, said the mayor. As a rule, the group can apply in the usual fashion to be a delegation at a council meeting.
Extended ice season
Councillor Shawn Gramlich, noting that one of Slave Lake’s indoor ice surfaces is going to be usable for a few extra weeks this spring, asked if user groups have been advised as to the opportunity for rentals. They have, he heard. Only one, so far, has expressed an interest in booking ice time.
What’s the verdict on the new Plastasphalt method of hole and crack patching on streets? This was councillor Julie Brandle’s question of the acting CAO. This process, for which a local company has exclusive Canadian rights, was applied in various spots around town in 2022. It was touted as being superior to traditional materials/methods.
“The jury is still out on that product,” said Garry Roth. “In a couple of locations it’s starting to show signs of lifting.”
Hedging bets on disaster
Anticipating disasters probably was not always an item in the town’s budget, but it is now. As council heard, the range of costs for disaster response over the past few years has been from $80,000 to $160,000 (mainly flood, fire and hosting evacuees). A municipality can get most of that back from the province (if approved), but it has to spend it up front. Accordingly, the town has budgeted $200,000 this year.
Grants in lieu of taxes
The provincial government doesn’t pay property taxes per se, but the custom has long been that it submits a grant in lieu of taxes for its property in a municipality. A few of years ago, the government decided it would save itself some money by cutting out that grant for the social housing units it owns in Slave Lake. There went $130,000 from the revenue side of the town’s budget.
Providing this perspective was mayor Warman, in response to the news the grants in lieu would be unchanged in 2022. No change is okay, Warman said, “but it’s 50 per cent of what it used to be.”
Council gave first reading to a bylaw change that (if it gets final approval) would accommodate the development of a fourplex on a lot on 3rd Ave. NW. The re-zoning is necessary because at the moment the lot is part of a single-family dwelling zone.
Giving first reading to the bylaw change does not indicate that council approves of the re-zoning. It is standard practice to pass first reading and schedule a public hearing. What council hears from members of the public at that hearing could affect how it proceeds. The Municipal Planning Commission will also have its say. The proponent would have to satisfy the MPC on the matter of setbacks and parking spaces, for two examples.
Congratulations to minor hockey teams
Mayor Warman made a point of mentioning the success this season of several of Slave Lake’s minor hockey teams. More than usual it seems, he said, won their leagues and qualified for provincials. One of those provincial tournaments was held in Slave Lake. Warman said he’d heard lots of compliments from visitors.
Good job to all involved, Warman said, including the players, coaches and volunteers “that make things happen.”
Warman said a municipality “down south” has reached out to Slave Lake’s council. It is apparently interested in the relationship the town and M.D. have with the Sawridge First Nation, and wants to find out more about it. The whole council of the southern community (he didn’t say which one) wants to come up for a sort of fact-finding visit. It will likely include a meeting with the mayor, the reeve and the chief.
Meeting Treaty 8
On a related note, Warman said council and town staff would again be meeting with representatives of Treaty 8 – sort of ‘Phase II’ of an educational process that began last year. This arises from what Warman called “a genuine desire” on the part of council, “to do a better job” with regard to truth and reconciliation.
Still on a related theme, Warman mentioned that the new ‘ANCA’ group would be meeting the following week. This is the Alberta North Central Alliance, which consists of five muncipalities and five First Nations in the area. It is an attempt to explore the possibilities for cooperation between the parties, something along the same lines as the Regional Tri-Council. The group recently learned it has been approved for a grant.
On the hunt
Lastly, the town is “on the hunt for a new CAO,” Warman said. This puts to rest several months of speculation as to the status of former CAO David Kim, who has not been seen on the job since late last year. ‘Temporary leave’ was the term the mayor used for his absence, about three months ago.
Kim started at the TOSL in the middle of 2020, after holding the CAO job at the City of Cranbrook for a few years. Interestingly, he ended his term at Cranbrook after a lengthy leave of absence.
Garry Roth, the town’s director of Community Services, has been serving as interim CAO for the past five months or so.