Town of Slave Lake Council notebook

Feb. 13, 2018 meeting
Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

‘Slowly getting involved’

CAO Brian Vance’s report for council opened with the news that the town has reached an agreement with the board of the Legacy Centre on the town’s new role of managing the building.
“We’re taking over bookings on March 1,” he said. “We’re slowly getting involved.”

New director starts soon

Garry Roth, the town’s new Director of Community Services, will start on March 5, Vance said. Roth had stopped in for a couple of days this month to get acquainted. Community Services is a big portfolio, which looks after everything from bylaw enforcement to recreational facilities and programs. The former director, Ruth Rolfe, departed the position late last year.

Not allowed to loiter

Vance said the town has been getting a lot of complaints about certain people loitering and drinking in and around the town office/government centre. The town had been taking a lenient attitude toward it, but the drinking that inevitably happens leads to trouble, he said.
“So we’ve taken the stance they’re not allowed to loiter in here.”
Mayor Warman mentioned that he’d been approached by a couple of the people in question. They told him they were frustrated at not being allowed to spend time in the town lobby. He said he asked them if they knew about the services supplied by the Friendship Centre. They did, one told him, “but we can’t drink there.”
On the positive side, added Vance, “they’ve been good about leaving.”

Tax recovery sales

Council heard that four properties in Slave Lake are in arrears on their taxes to the point they are eligible for tax recovery through selling them. Council made the required resolutions to set the tax sale process in motion. If the owners don’t make arrangements between now and March 30 to pay up, the properties will be sold and the town will collect its taxes from the proceeds. In practice, it hardly ever comes to that.
Two of the properties are trailers in Westside Village. One owes $10,364 in taxes; the other owes $2,783. A residential property on 2nd Ave. NW is $23,789 in arrears on property taxes. The fourth one is a residential property on 6th Ave. NE. It owes the town $12,600 in back taxes.
“Our number one goal is to work with people,” said mayor Warman, “but protect ourselves if that isn’t working.”

The year in enforcement numbers

Senior peace officer Mark Becker’s annual report for council included a lot of numbers. For example: 986 files processed in 2017; 22 trials, 472 tickets issued; 37 dog complaints (55 in 2016).
“A lot of people solve their own dog problems,” Becker told council.
Referring to the 472 tickets, mayor Warman asked Becker what the success rate is in court.
“Very good,” he said.
It’s still tough to get a conviction on a distracted driving ticket, though. Why? Because if still photos are all you have to go on as far as evidence, they just aren’t good enough. It can look as if the car isn’t moving, Becker said. A solution might be a piece of equipment called ‘recording binoculars,’ which take moving pictures. They cost about $2,000.
Councillor Julie Brandle asked Becker if the ‘door-knocker’ notices on sidewalk clearing have worked.
“Yes,” he said. “Very good compliance.”
Warman asked about the big gap between fines owed ($133,000) and fines collected ($46,000). Becker said one reason is some people don’t pay up until they go to renew their driver’s license. Since that is required every five years, it could be some time before people are faced with the necessity of paying their tickets.
On a related note, the number of drivers ticketed for not having their vehicles registered went up sharply in 2017. Becker figures one reason for that is the automated traffic enforcement tickets. If people can’t afford to pay those, or choose not to, they can’t get their vehicles reregistered, so they drive without it.
Becker’s written report for council included a few highlights – one of those being a conviction in provincial court against the owners of the Highway Motor Inn. Charges included unsightly land, failing to cut grass and having appliances on the property.
Two other abandoned commercial properties facing similar tickets did not contest them and were convicted. These were the former Lakeside Motor Inn and the former auto shop next to the Highway Motor Inn.

Water meters

Vance said the report for council on an interim solution for the widespread failure of water metres was not ready, but gave an idea of what it would contain.
“Our current plan is to concentrate on keeping industrial and commercial meters working and moving to a fixed rate for residential.”

Committee reports

Regional Housing – councillor Brandle reported that funding requisitions would not be going up for the fifth year in a row. Also that the old Fish & Wildlife office was due to be transferred to the housing authority fairly soon.
Tri-Council Health – councillor McGregor reported that two nurse practitioners have recently been added to the staff (or at least hired) of the Family Care Clinic. Three doctors have also accepted positions there and will be in place before the end of this year. The FCC is looking at ways to make the place run more efficiently.
Library board – McGregor said the charges to the library resulting from people paying their fines with their debit cards amounted to $200 in one month. In other news, four people had to be kicked out of the library for drinking. Staff is going to start keeping statistics of this sort of trouble.
Municipal Planning Commission – councillor Ferguson said the MPC approved development permits for a “transportation service provider,” a goldsmith, a massage therapist and a tattoo shop.
Ec/Dev – mayor Warman said this group is developing a guide for the area. It has also applied for a grant to do ‘familiarization tours’ for frontline workers in the area, so they can be better able to tell visitors what there is to do and see and where to get the things they are looking for.
Mayor’s corner
Warman spoke about two days of meetings in Edmonton on the caribou management issue. There seems to be a conflict between government efforts to preserve habitat and industry’s ability to do business in the bush. Warman said the meetings had both pro and con sides.
“This is a very complex problem,” he said. “Trying to balance all those interests is tough. Every province is struggling.”

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