April 18 meeting
‘High five for your end of the lake’
Meaghan Payne, the ED of the Lesser Slave Watershed Council, provided an update on the progress of the Integrated Watershed Management Plan (IWMP) for the Lesser Slave Lake Watershed. This is a process that has been going on for some time. One reason for its modest progress is the requirement to consult, or ‘engage’ with the various jurisdictions in the watershed. This includes a couple of towns, a couple of rural municipalities, three Metis settlements and five First Nations.
Payne thanked the town and also mentioned the M.D. of Lesser Slave River for participation in the municipal input workshops. How about Big Lakes County and the Town of High Prairie? asked mayor Tyler Warman.
“They got shamed for their less-than-robust participation,” Payne said. “High five for your end of the lake.”
Engaging with First Nation groups is another issue. Payne said three of the five have expressed interest in the process. She said a lack of clarity of what constitutes ‘consultation’ isn’t helping.
Payne said the IWMP group wants all feedback on the plan in by June, after which a draft version will be circulated.
Siren just fine
The recent annual test of the emergency siren went well, reported CAO Brian Vance.
“It’s nice having two qualified electricians on staff,” he said. “They jumped all over it.”
Lift station ‘E’
The new sewage lift station in the northeast part of town could perhaps use a couple of electricians to jump all over it. It has “ground to a halt,” (again) Vance reported, due to the late order of a vital piece of equipment called a ‘motor control centre.’ It is expected to arrive in mid-May. He assured council all costs related to the delay are being tracked.
Vance’s report included the news that the operations department has “quickly shifted from sweeping and pothole repair back to sanding and plowing.”
Five year plans and new deals
Council was asked for its opinion about the new owner’s five-year development plan for the Big Fish Bay RV Resort. Presenting the report, planning and development director Laurie Skrynyk made sure council understood it was a concept only, representing what “will likely take place.”
Detailed survey work would have to be done, she added, and the proper permits applied for.
“We need growth,” said mayor Warman. “I support the motion.”
His colleagues did too.
Survey results in on RV park
Respondents to the town’s survey on an RV park proposal for the Sunset Place property were split on the main question: i.e. are you in favour of the location. But slightly more against it than in favour of it.
On the other hand, respondents were overwhelmingly supportive of the notion that more tourism infrastructure is a good idea. Just not in that spot.
“I think we’ve done our job,” said mayor Warman. He added that the door is not closed on the proposal, but it’s clear council has no appetite to continue with it.
Sprucing up the procedures bylaw
The town had been attempting to fix up the procedures bylaw for some time, but one of the procedures it calls for kept getting in the way. This was the requirement for all seven councillors to be present to approve the necessary changes.
The main thing needing changing, council heard, was the clause limiting council members to serving on three committees. It would be nice if that were the case, said Warman (who sits on probably half a dozen besides council), but it’s not realistic.
Council gave the bylaw change the three required readings.
As required, council approved an updated version of the council compensation policy. No changes in the numbers were proposed; that is up to a committee, which is to be formed and to do its business prior to the next election. This is standard practice; the outgoing council makes decisions so the incoming council doesn’t have to.
‘Magic moment’ not here yet for LED street lights
As requested, CAO Vance had a report for council on the pros and cons of switching to LED lights for all the town streetlights. This had been recommended by ATCO Electric at a meeting earlier in the year. The town has 800-odd street lights, only 22 of which are LEDs. However, over time, they will all end up LEDs, because ATCO is replacing them as the older high-pressure sodium lights fail.
Payback on a complete switch to LEDs wouldn’t be that great, Vance said. Current annual power cost for street lights is $226,616; with all LEDs it would drop to $204,880. Vance’s calculation had it taking the town over 18 years to cover the cost of the changeover from the money saved on power bills. The main reason, Vance said, was that only a small portion of the power bill is for actual power consumption; the majority of it is for other fixed costs which would be the same regardless of the lighting technology. The other factor, he said, is “the HPS lights are actually pretty efficient.”
“So wait and see?” asked mayor Warman.
That was Vance’s recommendation. Replacing with LED lights might become more attractive, given the likelihood of government credits for such upgrades.
Said Warman: “There’s a magic moment to jump off that train and I don’t think we’re quite there yet.”