June 7, 2022 meeting
Pathway purchase proposal
A resident of 7th St. SW Slave Lake would like to buy an adjacent footpath from the town. It runs between his property and a neighbour’s, connecting the street out front with an alley behind. It is never used by anybody, Bruce Allarie told council, except by his neighbour for parking. Nor does the town maintain it.
Council also heard that eight or nine years ago, the council of the day had rejected a similar proposal.
Mayor Tyler Warman was all for it.
“If we’re not going to look after it,” he said, “let’s get rid of the liability, especially if it’s not serving a purpose.”
Councillors seemed generally in favour, but did not give immediate approval. It will have to go through a process of being advertised and so on, with formal notification of nearby property owners.
Questions are (or were) swirling about whether the Main St. and Hwy. 2 intersection would be properly finished off along with the other paving that is going on along Hwy. 2. I understand Garry (interim CAO Roth) is on top of this, said Warman, “But the public’s on top of me.”
The word is the contractor is returning to finish the intersection off properly.
But how about further south along Main St. in front of the Shell station, said Warman. That’s a pretty bad section that must be the town’s responsibility.
Rather than put more patches on it, Roth said, the town is talking to the contractor about including it in its intersection work. That way it would be continuous asphalt, without a lot of seams.
“I love it!” said Warman.
We’re still waiting on a price, he was advised.
“Oh, so don’t get excited yet,” he added.
The town had spent 27 per cent of its 2022 budget by April 30, council heard. Revenues at that date were 11 per cent of the hoped-for amount. Both figures were fairly typical for four months into the fiscal year.
One non-typical thing, reported by finance director Roland Schmidt, is that the budget for contract snow removal was entirely chewed up in the first couple of months of the year. That leaves nothing for November and December. It doesn’t mean snow won’t get hauled, but it would result in overrunning the budget.
Another notable and often-repeated item in the report was the effect of high fuel prices.
Other challenges: difficulty in purchasing some supplies, plus position vacancies.
Town seeking someone to sell ads for the MRC
Council thinks there’s more money to be made by selling ad space in the Multi Rec Centre. Rink board spots and such.
The last time this was discussed, it was mentioned that current staff don’t have a lot of time to pursue advertising. Up for consideration this time was the idea of farming out the ad sales to a contractor, who would receive either a flat fee or a percentage cut.
Mayor Warman said he was keen to try something new, but thinks the rink board ads “are too cheap.”
However, he and all his council colleagues voted in favour of the bylaw change which sees a modest increase across the board. A request for proposals will now go out, seeking someone to handle ad sales for the MRC.
Town to front loans for home energy upgrades
Council voted in favour of a motion to participate in the Clean Energy Improvement Program. It gives property owners access to financing to pay for energy-efficiency upgrades.
Financing would be through the town and clients would pay back the principle, interest and fees as an addition to property taxes. Alberta Municipalities looks after administration of the program.
There is a chance of getting some of the costs back by way of a federal grant, but the town would have to come up with the money.
“Do we have the resources to do all this?” asked mayor Warman, adding it would be “a bit of a challenge.”
That being said (he said), “I think it’s an easy win for us to show some leadership in this area.”
Council formalized the hiring of new chief administrative officer Jeff Simpson by way of a motion. Simpson’s hiring had been announced a few days earlier.
Warman spoke of the lengthy process in choosing the new CAO, who was one of a number of applicants. He praised the work of Sondra Rorbak, the town’s director of human resources, plus Garry Roth, whose job as interim CAO ends on the day Simpson starts – June 20.
“Good job keeping the ship floating,” said Warman. “We sure appreciate everything you have done.”
Roth plans to retire from municipal administration in September.
Forty per cent for infrastructure funding
In council’s package was a letter from Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver. It informs the town that – among other things – MSI funding this year will be 40 per cent of what it was last year.
MSI stands for Municipal Sustainability Initiative, and municipalities rely on it to pay for infrastructure projects, such as road and utility upgrades.
Warman called it “frustrating, to say the least.” The government has promised a new infrastructure funding program to replace MSI, he said, “but while they delay it, they just short-fund, and that’s no way to run our municipalities.”
Council was asked to give its blessing to the appointment of a new auditor for the Regional Library Board. This raised at least one set of eyebrows, those belonging to councillor Brandle, who wondered why the request was being made.
“I don’t ever recall this coming to us before,” she said, noting that it’s the library board’s business who it gets to check its books.
Council dealt with the request by accepting it as information.
June 18 is Lemonade Day in Slave Lake, and the organizers had asked town council to formally proclaim it as such. Council approved a motion to that effect and the mayor read out the proclamation, which encourages “every citizen to purchase a cup of lemonade….to demonstrate how our community cares for the future of our youth.”
Arts council has murals on its mind
Mayor Warman said the Regional Arts Council has been in touch with an idea it has to bring more murals back into the scene in Slave Lake. The town once had several; only one survives.
Warman said the group is “formalizing what they would like to do,” and on the town side, administration is looking into it.
Mayor Warman closed things out with a few words about a recent violent incident that took place at a homeless camp. Police were dealing with the crime, but the questions of what to do about homelessness remain. He spoke again about the town having reached out to the province for help. An associate minister was to have visited this month, but that has to be re-scheduled and no new date has been given.