Town of Slave Lake Council notebook

Feb. 6, 2024 meeting

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

On the agenda were a couple of delegations, but neither of them showed up. One was RCMP Staff Sgt. Casey Bruyns, who was scheduled to present his quarterly policing report. The other was Lesser Slave Lake MLA Scott Sinclair. Both presumably will be rescheduled. However, Bruyns’ written report was in council’s agenda package…

RCMP looking at RPAS

Slave Lake RCMP Staff Sgt. Casey Bruyns’ cover letter in the Feb. 6 council meeting agenda talks quite a bit about new technology. The RCMP has been getting into the use of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS, which we’ll call drones from now on), he says, calling them “incredibly effective for enhancing police and public safety.”

Bruyns notes that drones are also useful to criminals, “which requires a strategic response.”

The report did not ask council for money for drones, but did say options for their use in rural policing are being looked at. He called it a chance for “our communities to have their own police air support, at a significantly lower cost (than via traditional aircraft.)”

More to come on this as it develops, Bruyns promised.

Property crime down

October through December saw a decrease in property crimes in the area, Bruyns said in his written report. He gives credit to two factors: increased patrols in strategic areas of town, and “targeted checks on prolific offenders.”

Crimes against persons were also down in this period. On the other hand, criminal code traffic offenses saw “a large increase” over the same period of the previous year.

Taking a look at Caribou Trail speed limit

In July of last year, council had asked for a review of the speed limit on Caribou Trail. The idea was to find out if an increase to 60 kph was advisable.

The short answer is ‘no.’

Town Project Manager Kush Patel provided a longer version of that answer in his report to council. It runs to 14 pages and includes a lot of details – many of them having to do with things that must be considered when changing speed limits. Especially increasing them.

Patel said he’d divided Caribou Trail into two sections. One of them – from Hwy. 2 to 8th St. NW – could be considered for an increase to 60, he said. But the rest of it, from 8th St. over to Hwy. 88 was out of the question. Too much going on – especially too many access points.

Patel’s conclusion was that although the first section was less risky for the higher speed limit, there wasn’t enough reason to do it. His recommendation was to leave it as is.

“I was the one who wanted to see the move to 60,” said Councillor Shawn Gramlich, leading off the discussion. “But you’ve done the research.”

Gramlich went right ahead and made a motion to accept the report as information, thus leaving the existing 50 kph speed limit alone.

I agree, said Councillor Steve Adams. The 8th St. to 88 section “makes no sense,” to begin with, given what he called the “blind corner” at Main St. and the big bump there. As for the other section, you have to stop anyway for the railway crossing, he observed, not to mention the factor of the new pedestrian crossing by the fire hall.

Council approved the Gramlich motion unanimously.

Multiple Myeloma Month in March

In council’s package was a letter from the Myeloma Alberta Support Society, requesting that the town proclaim March as Multiple Myeloma Awareness Month.

Multiple myeloma is an incurable cancer of the blood, which – according to the letter – many people are not aware of until they are diagnosed with it.

“I’m in favour,” said Gramlich, adding he has two friends with the disease. “It’s not curable, but it is livable.”

Councillor Ali Mouallem said he supports the proclamation, but made a point of reading out all the other causes that have designated days – or indeed the entire month – in the month of March. It took him quite a long time to get through it.

Mouallem did not say what point he was trying to make by doing that, but it likely had to do with council’s debate of earlier this year about limiting (or not limiting) the number of such causes the town should be expected to recognize.

However, Mayor Ward did not want to go there again.

“The policy was approved,” she said. The time for making such arguments was at that earlier meeting when the policy was open for debate.

Council voted in favour of the required motion for the proclamation, which Ward then read out.

Naming things

Somebody on council or town administration thinks the role of the town’s Naming Committee needs clarification. So it was put on the agenda for discussion.

There is a list of names that the committee came up with, council heard. These are names the town could use to name things – parks, streets, facilities, etc.

What’s not clear, said CAO Jeff Simpson, is “how names come off that list.” By which he meant a process by which council decides to name something, and which name it chooses from the list. Or what.

“How would you like to see that list managed?” he asked.

One suggestion was to make a point of naming something once per year, and whittle down the list like that.

Councillor Steve Adams liked the sound of that. We should have a formalized process for naming things, he said, and get on with it.

“We have to work through the backlog,” Adams said.

But how do you decide? That was Councillor Shawn Gramlich’s question.

“I don’t want to name something (for somebody) just because they’re on the list.”

However, Gramlich suggested council pick a date – he suggested early September – each year, and talk it over, whether it results in naming something or not.

Then again, Gramlich added, “not everything needs to be named after a person.”

Councillor Kimberly Hughes was in favour of leaving it up to the discretion of the Naming Committee.

“I’d like them to bring forward what makes sense.”

Simpson said he’d bring a report for a council decision on the matter.

Change for Victim Services governance

A second letter in the agenda package was from the Slave Lake Victim Services Society. It informed council of the dissolution of the society, effective March 31 of this year.

Services to victims of crime will continue as before, the letter says, but the service will no longer be governed by a local board. Due to a decision by the province, all 60 VS units in Alberta will now come under “a new regional governance model.” There are to be four regions, the letter continues, each with its own board of directors and central support staff.

Local RCMP detachments will continue to be home for VS workers.

State of the Lake: see you out at the Frost Fest events

This is an opportunity, at the end of the meeting, for councillors to talk about what they’ve been doing, or plug upcoming events, or congratulate people or whatever.

Councillor Kimberly Hughes spoke about Frost Fest, the community’s winter festival, which was to run from Feb. 10 through the 19. It begins with the Family Carnival, at the MRC this Saturday she said.

Mayor Ward wrapped things up with the news that community consultation on a permanent homeless shelter begins at the end of February. There will be two public engagement meetings, she said, as well as opportunities for providing input online. Stay tuned.

“I encourage everyone to come out and participate,” she said.

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