April 3, 2018 meeting
Council had an unusually slim agenda. This was probably deliberate, since its two main items were weighty matters that could result in a lot of discussion. These were planning for the legalization of cannabis, and how to raise money for rebuilding failing streets. But first, council had a visit from the Community Futures folks.
‘Here’s what we’re up to’
Josh Friesen and Robin-Lee Vance of Community Futures Lesser Slave Lake updated council on what sort of a year the agency had, and what its plans are. Friesen started by reporting the good news that CF had exceeded its goals in the area of lending “by quite a bit.”
The normal targets are eight loans in a year, and $400,000 loaned out. In the fiscal year just ended, CF had made 10 loans, totaling $574,000 – the latter figure being a 204 per cent increase over the previous year.
Overall, Friesen said, CF has 41 active loans, and seven have been paid back in full.
Community Futures also advises people in starting up businesses and offers training services. Friesen said there were 657 such services last year.
That seems like a lot of interaction with the public, but Friesen said his impression is that CF is still generally unknown in the community (or communities) that it serves.
“People don’t know about us until they meet us,” he said. “We would like them to think of us first.”
That might sound a bit odd, given that CF is a so-called ‘lender of last resort.’ Under the rules imposed by its federal funding masters, clients only qualify for business loans after they’ve been rejected by the banks. On the other hand, Friesen told council, clients who have been approved once for a CF loan don’t have to try at the banks for a second loan.
Vance spoke about other types of service the CF office is engaged in providing. These include contracts with municipalities and chambers of commerce, including three jobs developing promotional materials for the M.D. of Opportunity.
“We also do workshops and seminars,” she said, giving as examples youth entrepreneur workshops held in Slave Lake and High Prairie.
Another CF project is the Business Support Network. This has been going more or less successfully for a couple of years in Slave Lake. Recent efforts to launch it in High Prairie and Wabasca have been less successful. Friesen said. The plan is to collaborate with chambers of commerce to do meetings targeted at topics that chamber members in those communities have identified as important to them.
Launching a Toastmasters club in Slave Lake is another CF project. Or re-launching, as it was attempted last fall but didn’t achieve lift-off.
“It will be re-formatted,” said Friesen. “A simpler version.”
Two boarded-up former motels in Slave Lake continue to cause headaches. Mayor Tyler Warman said he hears “daily” from a resident informing him that doors have been kicked in at the former Highway Motor Inn.
“I’m confident that somebody’s living in the one beside Boston Pizza as well,” he said.
Planning and development supervisor Laurie Skrynyk said on the former location the peace officers have an “active enforcement file.” But she was unaware of any problems with the other one.
“Somebody’s going in and out,” Warman said.
Filling in for town manager Brian Vance, Roland Schmidt ran through the highlights of recent TOSL activities. First off, from his own finance department, Schmidt said the auditors had been and done their business and gone, and the 2017 financial statements were being finalized. A ‘special’ tax bylaw was being prepared he said, providing no explanation about what was so special about it.
Council could expect a report on the 5th Ave. NW paving project at its next meeting, Schmidt said.
On the operations side of things, Schmidt said crews were doing a ‘scrape-through’ of alleyways, (In anticipation of the next time the temperature actually goes above the freezing mark, he didn’t say.)
The planning and development department is working on a couple of development permits for Big Fish Bay, Schmidt reported. It is also working a report “regarding options for Fournier Place.” And it had been spending some time on the question of cannabis. (See article elsewhere in this edition of The Leader.)
Dogs and drunks
Town peace officers had a fairly active week, with a dog attack, a cemetery bust and problems at the library.
Oddly enough the dog attack resulted in injuries to two dogs, but none to the “small youth” who was allegedly attacked. Or was the complaint about a small youth attacking the dogs? The wording of the written CAO report was ambiguous. Perhaps the dogs attacked each other, and the young person was the witness.
“The dogs were placed under mandatory quarantine for observation,” said the written report. “The youth was not harmed in the incident.”
Patrolling near the cemetery, peace officers conducted a “traffic stop,” the report said. The driver was arrested (with the help of the RCMP) and charged with impaired driving and driving with a suspended license.
Problems of loitering at the library persist, council heard. Peace officers made one arrest during the week of someone for being drunk in public at that location.
Finally, town peace officers came across a motor vehicle collision on Caribou Trail. One of the vehicles was not drivable. No one was injured.
Following a lengthy, slightly chaotic and sometimes comical council discussion/debate on cannabis (see story elsewhere in this newspaper), Mayor Warman had to gather his thoughts for a few seconds to remember what he’d been up to over the past week for his meeting-closing mayor’s report.
Warman mentioned the visit of Alberta Economic Development Minister Deron Bilous to Slave Lake. He said he used the occasion to lobby Bilous on behalf of the regional economic development group, which would like provincial recognition as a Regional Economic Development Agency, due to the funding that goes with that.
The regional tourism project is moving along, Warman reported, with over 60 members signed up with the fledgling organization.
Warman also mentioned a letter the town had received from the Sawridge First Nation, asking for a meeting.
“They want to talk about 911 service,” Warman said. “There are problems with addressing.”
On a somewhat related note, Warman said an AHS ambulance official would be in town the following week to talk with local leaders about that service.
Regarding the Legacy Centre, Warman said the board continues to work with the Elks Club on contracts. It’s taking longer than we wanted it to, he added. Rental prices for the hall are being reviewed and may be changed.
“We want people using the facility,” he said.