Sept. 6, 2022 meeting
Rennie Hall south
Following the usual formalities, question period was the first thing in council’s Sept. 6 meeting. And the first question, from councillor Brice Ferguson, was about the completion of the south portion of Rennie Hall Plaza in downtown Slave Lake.
What’s the plan, he asked.
CAO Jeff Simpson turned the floor over to Kush Patel, the town’s project manager. The contractor had planned to commence after the long weekend, Patel said. But the company got tied up finishing another job on Caribou Trail. He expected them to start the following week.
“End date before the end of the month?” asked mayor Tyler Warman.
Kush said he expected so.
More Rennie Hall
Lights for the refurbished plaza have been received, Patel told council. The controller for those lights has not.
Another unfinished bit of business for the main plaza is an ‘art piece.’ It will be bolted onto the top of a yet-to-be-constructed pony wall.
How about the east side of the project, asked Warman. What’s the schedule there? This is the plan to re-do the sidewalk on Main St. opposite the plaza to make it match the new concrete there.
Patel said it’s the same contractor that’s doing the curb and gutter work on 3rd St. SW, which affects the starting date on the other project. The contractor thinks the job will take about a month, council heard. In other circumstances it would take less time than that, but being so close to businesses, it calls for a slower approach.
The inevitable question: What happens if it’s not finished before the weather turns bad? Patel said a grant extension request is being contemplated. As it stands, the money has to be spent by the end of the year.
3rd St. SW?
While we’re at it, said the mayor, what’s the projected end-date for the 3rd St. SW project? Mid to late October, said Patel, is the current estimate. That’s to have all the underground work finished, and the surface in drivable (but not finished) condition. Proper resurfacing of the street is scheduled for 2023.
6th Ave. NW
Next on the list of questions was by councillor Kimberly Hughes, about the construction project along 6th Ave. NW. The underground part of it is about 60 per cent complete, Patel said. It’s expected to take another six weeks. Similar to 3rd St. SW, the plan is to cap the trench and then do the complete resurfacing next year.
New splash park
Patel said demolition of the existing asphalt pad had started on this project, which is in Hilda Eben Park in the southeast part of town. The main contractor was to arrive on Monday of this week to begin work. Underground piping and a control box have arrived and will be installed in the next while, as well as the concrete pad. If the above-ground portions arrive soon enough, they’ll be installed this fall as well. If not – next year.
“So theoretically,” said the mayor, “next spring the water park should be open and running.”
Cheques over $50,000
Per town policy, cheques of over $50,000 are brought to town council so they can ask questions or whatever. Accordingly, the director of finance had a list of 10 such cheques (or electronic funds transfers) issued by the town between April 1 and Aug. 5.
Two of them, totaling $757,121, were to Pidherney’s Inc. That’s the company that punched a water line under Sawridge Creek earlier in the year.
The second quarter invoice for RCMP services was another biggie, at $516,670. Then there was a $235,586 debenture payment to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. This is most likely for the sewage lagoon project.
The company that put the rubber surface on the playground at Barton Park got a cheque for $205,318. A fire department truck purchase resulted in a cheque of $71,812 to Whitecap Chevrolet Buick GMC. Associated Engineering was paid $103,916 for work on various projects.
Emil Labby Trucking received a cheque of $60,069 for the gravel program. The requisition for seniors’ housing from the Lesser Slave Lake Regional Housing Authority was $69,841.
Finally, $335,809 went to the Receiver General of Canada, for what the director called in his report, “payroll remittances.” These would have been the town’s pension plan, employment insurance and income tax contributions, for town employees.
Praise for volunteers
Mayor Warman opened his closing remarks by praising all the hard-working volunteers who made the recent All-In Slave Lake weekend the success that it was.
“There was lots of buzz. People were out and about and that’s what it’s all about,” he said. “And it doesn’t happen easily. People roll up their sleeves to get the job done.”
‘Tons of feedback’
Warman said he’s been hearing from all over the place – locals as well as visitors – that the Devonshire beach “has never looked better.”
From there, he launched into what sounded like a plug for the town’s economic development efforts of late. The new town logo is part of the “visual identity,” he said. Just part of it, but an important piece. He’s also been hearing lots about it.
“Some people like it, some people think we’re out to lunch.”
But on the whole, Warman said, efforts to promote Slave Lake as a great place to visit seem to be paying off.
“I’m excited about the fact we are heading somewhere. People are taking notice.”
Health care signs troubling
Warman said it hasn’t been discussed much publicly, but a “serious shortage of nurses” is a looming problem at the health care centre in Slave Lake. Not just there, it’s a province-wide situation, he said.
“We need to attract people,” Warman said. “We need to retain every person we have.”
Not only that, we need the people who are here to feel supported and appreciated.
“Our conversations matter,” he said. “You’re going to see us trying new things to better engage, better get feedback and get a positive message out there.”