September 13, 2022 meeting
There were seven new business licenses in the past month, CAO Jeff Simpson, told council. These were Peace of Mind Services, Jackson Co. Hair Studio, Lornes Food Services, Jen Col Construction, Rymut Mechanical, Shopping Finds, and Anna Masnikova Educational Resources.
As of September 13, Lesser Slave Regional Fire Service has responded to 344 calls in 2022. Of these, 42 were in August. They were in eight categories: alarms (four), medical co-response (12), motor vehicle collision (11), search and rescue (two), wildland fire (five), structure fire (three), water rescue (three), and hazmat (two).
Councillor Steve Adams made a motion to remove peace officer appointments from the list of management tasks. The motion was over three years old. It had been waiting on the Alberta Solicitor General and the RCMP for all of that time. The hope had been for Slave Lake to be added to a pilot project which allowed peace officers to help the RCMP with some minor criminal offences, investigating non-injury collisions, and arresting people wanted on criminal warrants. It was removed from the list.
Met on Monday, September 12. The Town of Slave Lake and M.D. of Lesser Slave River unanimously passed changes to the Intermunicipal agreement.
“That was huge progress there,” said mayor Tyler Warman.
The changes were to the water portion of the agreement. Neither town nor M.D. residents will notice a much change in either cost or service levels.
The Intermunicipal Committee also has a fire service agreement.
Lesser Slave Watershed Council
Councillor Adams gave an update about LSWC. It will be doing watershed information sessions in the schools. It has a new video out, and a program called ‘Eyes on Slave Lake’ which allows people to look at real-time video of lake conditions on two locations on the lake – one on each basin.
Slave Lake has a nursing and nurse practitioner crisis, said councillor Francesca Ward.
“We really need nursing staff,” she added. The existing nursing staff are working too many hours and will burn out soon.
On the doctor end of things, one of the nine doctors is retiring and another one is on parental leave. Only one of the doctors is accepting new patients.
Mayor Warman added that a potential new doctor had recently toured the community.
The Slave Lake Regional Tourism Society is hiring an executive director. The society and partners were busy over the summer organizing All-In Slave Lake, which was a multi-day event the last weekend in August.
The Slave Lake Homeless Coalition has hired an executive director, said councillor Brice Ferguson. Her name is Jackie Freamo.
A location for the temporary mat program which offers a place for people to sleep out of the cold was discussed later in the meeting. See article on Page 1 and 3.
Children’s Resource Council
Councillor Adams reported on the CRC’s meeting. It covers McLennan to Wabasca, including Slave Lake. It needs more board members.
“Let’s have a voice in there,” he said, meaning a desire to have a community member from Slave Lake on the board.
The Slave Lake Forest Area has had 154 wild fires, said councillor Ward. A pilot project on Marten Mountain used a variety of technology to detect wildfires. However, the fire watch person found them five to 10 minute faster than the technology. Also, the technology was confused by road dust and steam from the lumber mills. Alberta Wildfire is going to recommend keeping Marten Mountain watch tower manned.
The Lesser Slave Regional Fire Service has six new people doing training. However, it also is having trouble keeping people.
Fire prevention week is coming up in October. There will likely be a barbecue and open house at the fire station.
Family and Community Support Services grants
Five out of six applications for FCSS grants were eligible. Darcy Comeau, FCSS Coordinator suggested that council grant these five requests. This is out of a yearly pot of $35,000, of which $27,150 was left.
Councillor Brice Ferguson wanted to ensure that the money for youth events requested by the High Prairie and District Children’s Resource Council (CRC) be spent in Slave Lake.
It will be run in three Slave Lake schools, said Comeau.
Council passed a motion to support the following projects. Ula’s Active Rehabilitation (senior’s independence) received $2,350. CRC received $7,075 for BFNS teens. Lesser Slave Regional Arts Council received $2,475, for Art in the Park which it ran on September 11. The Slave Lake Native Friendship Centre received $500 for its Tree of Warmth. Slave Lake and Area Wellness Society, a new group connected with St. Peter’s Ecumenical Church, received $6,000 for women’s wellness.
Lakeside Figure Skating Club was not eligible.
Disaster Recovery Program
In 2018, Slave Lake flooded. The Town of Slave Lake has received $524,198 from the Disaster Recovery Program toward the cost spent at the time.
This is 87 per cent of the costs, said Kush Patel, project manager.
The town applied for seven items, but one – “repairs to flooded ball diamond and walking paths” wasn’t eligible. The rest were covered to some degree. These were emergency operations, 5th Ave and 5th St. NE road reconstruction, raw waterline intake station project, raw water intake line project, washed out walking trails along Sawridge Creek, and personnel time.
Capital Projects Update
An aspect of the downtown revitalization project sparked animated discussion and a change of direction for administration. See article on Page 14.
The 16 other items on the list passed with only a few comments.
One was a question about where the asbestos was found in the Waste Transfer Plant office. The answer was in the cinder blocks which make the external walls.
Another was about the EV Charger. The hardware had been received, but how the electricity would reach it was being negotiated. It is cheaper for it to have its own meter, than to be connected to the town.
School Zone signs
Council didn’t make any decisions about speed signs, but it likely will in the future. On the agenda was a brief report about school zone signs. It said the cost of changing the signs would be about $2,000. At the moment, the signs follow the provincial legislation which is 30 km/hr from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. There are two other options – change it to 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or treat school zones as playground zones, which are dawn to dusk.
Councillor Shawn Gramlich also suggested that all of the speed limits in town should be reviewed. In residential areas, 50 is too fast and on Caribou Trail it’s too slow, he said.
After a lengthy discussion, councillor Gramlich made a motion to direct admin to bring the traffic bylaw back to council for a decision. The motion was carried.
“The town has been researching ways to support productive engagement and feedback on town projects and initiatives,” said the written report on Engagement HQ, a program which does this. It can be integrated into the town’s website. The annual cost of the software is $10,000.
The public is asking for more opportunities to give feedback, said councillor Ward. At the moment, mostly people use social media, which she described as “a bit wild west.”
Social media isn’t monitored 24/7, added mayor Warman.
Councillor Ward liked that this software funnels comments and feedback to the correct department.
Councillor Adams also liked what he saw, including that it could be incorporated into the existing website.
Council passed a motion to start using Engagement HQ.
Council looked at a June to September social media tourism campaign. It targeted Edmonton, St. Albert, Spruce Grove, and Stony Plain. The project cost $7,451.
The report said, “the campaign was a massive success,” based on 3,161,503 impressions, 704,639 people reached, and people 25 to 40 years old the most interested. Also, 41.5 per cent of visitors to the Visitor Information Centre (VIC) this summer were from Edmonton and surrounding area.
Councillor Adams made a motion to accept this report as information.
Mayor Warman made a second motion that administration reach out to the company to see about the costs for a winter campaign. Both motions were carried.
Administrative Rates Bylaw
Town council gave first, second, and third reading to administrative bylaw rates. This is a yearly review.
The week of September 19 to 23 town council will be at the Alberta Municipalities conference. The plan is to meet with a variety of ministers, including the minister of health and municipal affairs.
Referring to the decision of council to support the Slave Lake Homeless Coalition, mayor Warman said, “It’s tough. There’s a variety of perspectives out there.” He expects some people will think it’s about time and others will wonder why the town is involved.
“I encourage the Homeless Coalition to keep moving forward,” he added.
Mayor Warman wrapped up his comments with a vow to do better communicating council’s vision to the public.
He apologized and added, “I think we used to do a better job.”
Council ended the meeting with a closed session on human resources.