Town of Slave Lake Council notebook

June 14, 2022 meeting

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Ads getting noticed

Something called the ‘Visit Slave Lake’ digital ad campaign seems to be working. Acting CAO Garry Roth told council the campaign, launched June 1, has already garnered 155,000 views. The main target is the Edmonton area and most viewers were between the ages of 18 and 44.

Recreation facilities

The new Barton Park play equipment has been completely installed, with just a bit of landscaping to be finished, council heard.

In other recreation news, the pool has been very busy lately with school visits. Summer swim lesson bookings are being taken.

Meanwhile the new ice-making system is being set up in Arena 1 at the MRC. The procedure is to shave down the ice and replace it with ‘Real Ice.’

Enforcement services

Town peace officers received 59 calls for service in May, and issued 34 tickets. They assisted other agencies with such things as missing persons, collisions and a house fire.

One peace officer has resigned; recruiting for his replacement will begin right away.

Visitor Info Centre

This facility is now open seven days per week, council heard, thanks to a second employee having been hired. It’s been a struggle to find people.

Councillor Kim Hughes asked if there is space for businesses to display their materials. There is, on a first-come, first-served basis.

Sports field service levels

The town’s service levels for its sports fields were outlined in the report from director Jillian Hutchings. Finding the ideal level of service is a challenge, council heard, due to differing requirements between user groups, inconsistent use. For example, there is “relatively low usage” generally, but then intensive use on various weekends. The number of these ‘hosting weekends’ for baseball is itself inconsistent and hard to predict.

Council also heard the number of slowpitch teams is sharply down this year (10, compared with 22 in 2019). Men’s baseball isn’t happening at all this year.

The town spends $60,000 per year maintaining the ball fields, recovering 34 per cent of this through user fees and M.D. cost-sharing.

‘Data-based decision-making’

Council got a report on the progress on items identified six months ago by council in its strategic plan.
One of the items that generated a bit of discussion was something called ‘data-based decision-making’
The question for councillors was whether it was worthwhile producing regular reports for the public on the data the town collects on its activities and processes.

Acting CAO Garry Roth said it had been done for a while with “very little uptake” from the public, leading to the obvious question of whether it is worth the effort.

Data is important, said councillor Steve Adams. It’s a question of what you do with it.

Councillor Francesca Ward (formerly Giroux) agreed. Data for internal decision-making is important, she said.

The data is collected, Roth assured them. It’s a question of how much time and effort in creating reports for public consumption is worthwhile, given the evident lack of interest from the public. He suggested a once-every-six-months report might be more reasonable.

Council accepted the report as information.

Three biggest issues?

In council’ agenda package was a letter from three Conservative MPs who are working up an advocacy strategy for more federal support for small rural communities. Shannon Stubbs, Damien Kurek and Jacques Gourde say in the letter municipalities with under 20,000 residents are in this boat and something needs to be done. They propose a ‘town hall’ meeting with municipal councils to discuss the issue. Also, they ask councils to state “the three most pressing issues impacting your economic development as a rural community.”

Rather than do any brainstorming, council supported a Steve Adams motion to have admin. bring a report on the topic to a future meeting.

Chamber of Commerce

Reporting on this organization, councillor Ward said the Westcoast Amusements carnival will be in town for Riverboat Daze, July 8 – 10. Pretty much everything else the Chamber would usually do in conjunction with Riverboat Daze is happening instead in late August at the All-In event. However, other groups are planning to do things on the Daze weekend.

Ward spoke of vacancies on the Chamber board and urged business owners and managers to consider getting involved.

Housing

Issues discussed at the most recent housing authority board meeting include the province’s shift in policy toward more private sector involvement in the provision of housing. Another shift, reported councillor Ward, is municipalities now being required to assess the housing needs of the community. This has at least been suggested by the province, but there has been some pushback. The housing authority, for example, would like to keep doing the needs assessments, Ward said.

Demanding high levels of competency on housing boards is another new thing from the province, which could cause some problems, given the traditional difficulty in filling board positions. The SL Regional Housing board seems to be okay for now, Ward said.

Tri-council regional health

This advisory committee gets together with AHS managers and shares information. At the latest meeting, they learned of a $3,000 grant, to be used in the area of recruitment and retention of health care professionals.

Other news: The shortage of nurse practitioners in Slave Lake just became more acute, with one of the two remaining NPs leaving for greener pastures in B.C. That leaves one of five positions filled, which means it will probably take even longer than the current 23 days to get an appointment with an NP. Doctor appointments are a bit better, at 17 days. Slave Lake is one physician short of full complement, councillor Ward reported. She also said a new doctor was being toured around the community that Friday, so there were hopes of good news there.

Tourism

Councillor Hughes reported there had been three ‘fam’ tours done so far. One was open to anyone; the other two were private affairs just for Tim Hortons’ staff, and went over pretty well. Others may follow.

These are the tours designed to familiarize front-line staff at local businesses with the attractions of the area, so they can better answer questions and offer advice to visitors.

The tourism society is looking for a part-time executive director, Hughes said.

Community Education Committee

Hughes: The Northern Lakes College convocation ceremony was “very well done!” Trades are picking up. The CEC is looking for new board members.

Homeless Coalition

Councillor Brandle said lots of “boring administrative stuff” has been going on lately. Two of the things that are being worked on are the hunt for an executive director, plus a location for the Mat Program for next winter. The group has suspended the public meetings for now.

Municipal Planning Commission

Councillor Ward reported that the MPC had to turn down an application from somebody wanting to set up a bed & breakfast, because it didn’t meet the requirements. She said the matter will likely go on to the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board for a ruling.

The MPC did approve a re-zoning application for a property on 3rd Ave. NW. This time it’s to build a duplex. An earlier re-zoning application was turned down by council for the same property; the goal at that time was to build a fourplex, which was deemed unsuitable for the neighbourhood.

Share this post

Post Comment