Town of Slave Lake Council notebook

Dec. 19, 2023

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Request to name a street

Brian Persson spoke to council on behalf of his family, on the subject of their late father Emil Persson. The family would like a street in Slave Lake named for Emil, and Brian was before council to make the case.

Brian broke down in tears during his presentation, which consisted of reading a letter about Emil and his contributions to the community over many years. Born in Slave Lake in 1936, Emil worked in commercial fishing and raising mink. He started a slashing company in 1968 and later got into lease and road building. He was successful, and contributed in many ways to the betterment of the community, said Brian, reading from the letter. Examples included the ski hill, ball diamonds, golf course and the Allarie Trails, and more.

“Whenever he was asked, he stepped up with equipment, money, manpower, whatever was needed to make it happen.”

Then there were donations to clubs, and how he cared for his employees.

“We ask for something to be named for Emil H. Persson,” the letter concludes.

Asked by council if he had anything in mind, Brian said the road out by the airport would be appropriate, since Emil flew his own plane for many years, often working for Alberta Power (now called ATCO). Or maybe the north end of Main St., where it runs past the former Emil’s Right of Way Clearing shop.

Council made a motion to have administration prepare a report on naming possibilities and bring it back to a council meeting – probably in January.

RCMP quarterly

Slave Lake RCMP Staff Sgt. Casey Bruyns made more or less the same report to council that he’d presented to the M.D. a week earlier. Most of the questions he fielded from council had to do with staffing.

We’re not in bad shape, staffing-wise, Bruyns said. Two positions are open at the moment, and one is expected to be filled in February with a new recruit. The other one is the sergeant’s job that Bruyns recently abandoned to take over as staff sergeant.

The detachment continues to target prolific offenders, council heard. Just last week they arrested somebody who has 62 Criminal Code property charges pending, Bruyns said.

Councillor Brice Ferguson noted that traffic tickets were down 38 per cent in the July – September period and asked about it. Secondment to wildfire duties was the reason, Bruyns said; there was a lot of that going on.

Councillor Steve Adams asked about total policing costs to the town; about $300,000 higher than the previous year, he was told (by the CAO). This has mainly to do with higher salaries. New equipment too, pointed out Bruyns, including tasers and ‘work stations’ in vehicles.

In December there’s always a focus on impaired driving, Bruyns reminded council. This includes several checkstops.

Adams asked if they have been successful.

The last one we found two impaired drivers, out of 80 or 90 checked, Bruyns said.

Provincial support for municipal infrastructure nowhere near where it used to be

The Local Government Fiscal Framework is the new term for what the provincial government used to call Municipal Sustainability Initiative, or MSI. Or rather it is a brand-new program for the same purpose, to help municipalities with the cost of expensive infrastructure construction and upgrades. Roads, water, sewer and that sort of thing.

In council’s agenda package was a letter on LGFF from Alberta’s Minister of Municipal Affairs, Ric McIver. In it, McIver informs municipalities LGFF will have $722 million in 2024, which he said “strikes…a fair balance between predictable funding for communities and fiscal responsibility for government.”

How much of that $722 million might trickle down to Slave Lake was not included in the letter, but Councillor Ferguson had the numbers for Slave Lake and isn’t all that happy about them.

“It’s nice to see that it’s rising,” he said. “But it’s still $600,000 less than it was 10 years ago.”

Municipalities are bearing a disproportionate share of provincial budget cuts, Ferguson added.

“One hundred per cent agree,” said Adams. So did a couple of other councillors.

Councillor Hughes asked if Alberta Municipalities was still lobbying the government on the issue. The lobbying never stops, said the CAO, but the province seems to have made up its mind.

Brice Ferguson

Monumental request

A second letter in council’s agenda package was from Brenda Genaille, Executive Director of Otipemisiwak Métis Government, LSL District 21.

What’s proposed is the erection of a monument, in Slave Lake, per Call to Action #82 of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission. This calls for a ‘highly visible’ residential schools monument to be erected in ‘each capital city.’

What the district Métis group has in mind is a monument and a bench.

“The implementation of this monument would be seen as a positive step towards truth and reconciliation,” says the letter.

District 21 would like the Town of Slave Lake to be a partner on the project, although the precise role of the town is not mentioned in the letter.

CAO Simpson told council he expected the town’s contribution would be to offer a space for the installation.

“I’m all for it,” said Councillor Adams.

“I’m also in favour,” said Mayor Ward.

Adams’ motion to support the project was carried.

State of the Lake

No councillors had any particular events or causes to plug, so all that was left to do was reveal the winners of the ‘best (or was it worst?) Christmas sweater contest. Meeting attendees had been asked to vote for their favourite before the meeting started. In the competition were the six councillors present, plus CAO Jeff Simpson.

The winner was Brice Ferguson, with his Mario Brothers-themed cardigan. Frankie Ward placed second and Simpson got the bronze.

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