March 3, 2020
Town council’s first meeting of the month kicked off with the introduction of the town’s newest employee – Joanna Raymond. She also happened to be acting as recording secretary for the meeting. Her title is ‘temporary executive assistant.’
Representatives of a program called Everybody Plays! informed council of what they are planning. Leard Robertson did most of the talking, explaining what it’s all about. Since an article on the subject appears on Page 12 of this edition of The Leader, we won’t repeat it here. Leard finished off by issuing a formal challenge to councillors to attend the Everybody Plays! inaugural event at the curling rink on March 22, and not just as spectators, but as participants.
Mayor Tyler Warman said it sounds like a great idea and the town would be happy to help promote it.
Councillor Julie Brandle had a question for admin. about the repair of the damaged front door at the multi rec centre. It has been fully three months since the door and a nearby glass window panel were smashed in an ATM theft from the MRC lobby.
Garry Roth, the town’s community services director, had an answer. He said it’s only been a couple of weeks since the insurance details were finalized. A contractor has been engaged, he said, and has ordered materials.
“They’re saying five or six weeks before they can start.”
Councillor Rebecca King asked how the disabled sand truck is coming along. News had been that the motor was pretty much shot. Parts for it are back-ordered, was the answer.
“So it’s fixable?” King asked.
“Oh yes,” said Calvin Couturier, the public works manager. “Hopefully in the next couple of weeks.”
A contractor is filling in with the sanding and plowing in the meantime, he said. It’s costing money, “but we have to do what we have to do.”
Early notice of property assessments
The town will be sending out earlier-than-usual notice to property owners of the assessed value of their properties this year. This was mentioned at a previous council meeting and now it was before council as a formal report.
The usual procedure is to send out the assessment notice at the same time as the tax notice (normally in April). For those who choose to appeal the assessment, this doesn’t leave a lot of time before taxes are due. The early notice provides more time, council was informed.
Council seemed to approve.
“I think it’s wonderful,” said Brandle. “I think this is going to go over well. The more information we can give people, and the sooner, the better.”
New flood pump
Council had already approved the purchase of a new ‘flood pump’ to add to the one already in the town’s equipment arsenal. Now it was down to the nuts and bolts, with a couple of quotes to compare and choose from. It was a fairly easy choice, with one quote being $30,000 less than the other. Accordingly, council approved the purchase from the Ketek Group, for $93,000. It includes a trailer, with accessories such as hoses, fittings, reefer and stand.
Explaining the need for such a pump, Couturier said since flooding happens every year in the town, and hired vacuum trucks are expensive, the second pump makes good sense.
“We’ve had eight or 10 vac trucks going all hours of the night,” he said. “And costing us thousands and thousands of dollars. Last summer we put our flood pump in the northeast and it took the place of three vac trucks.”
Council gave first reading to a proposed change to the Land-Use Bylaw, characterized as “annual housekeeping amendments.”
The amendments range from regulations regarding building demolitions to landscaping to one having to do with setbacks for recreational cabins. The latter of these arose due to the cabin-building program at Big Fish Bay Resort, which exposed some deficiencies in the regs.
“Is Big Fish Bay conforming?” asked councillor King.
What’s the ratio of RV spots to cabins at the resort, was another question. Answer: 158 to 16 (roughly) at the moment.
A public hearing on the bylaw change is scheduled for April 7.
Amendments for Christian school expansion
The Slave Lake Koinonia Christian School has plans to expand onto a property across the street from its current location in downtown Slave Lake (See ‘Old Forestry office property has a buyer’ at lakesideleader.com). The change in use for the property requires three separate bylaw amendments. Accordingly, council gave first reading to those, setting up public hearing dates in each case for April 7.
The society that oversees the school hopes to move portable units onto the property this year, chair Gordon Ferguson told The Leader a few weeks ago. The eventual plan is to build a proper school on the land.
Councillor Darin Busk informed his colleagues about a program from Lac La Biche that seems to be taking a bite out of crime in that community. It involves the installation of about 40 CCTV cameras on power poles. Busk heard at a recent meeting police there claim the cameras have helped them in solving around 250 crimes. If it works there, why not here? was what Busk was thinking.
Busk made a motion directing administration to talk to the Lac La Biche people and prepare a report for council on the possibilities.
“The community wants us to be proactive,” he said.
The program cost about $60,000 in Lac La Biche, Busk said. He thinks at least having a camera at the exit points to the town would help police know which way the perpetrators were heading after committing a crime.
Lundy on Monday
In his wrap-up report at the end of the meeting (the public part of it), Warman spoke about interim CAO Gordon Lundy filling in why the town tries to find a permanent replacement for recently-retired town manager Brian Vance. Lundy was to start on Monday, March 16.
In the meantime, the town has gotten a good response to its initial posting of the CAO position. Warman said “almost 20 résumés” had been received, with “varying degrees of experience and education. We’re working on a process to evaluate those.”
Telus infrastructure plans up in the air
Telus is planning some upgrades to its infrastructure in Slave Lake, Warman reported. But thanks to proposed changes to the rules by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), some of the company’s plans are up in the air. Specifically, there’s the possibility the CRTC will decree that all infrastructure could be open to anybody – for a price. So if Telus (or anyone else) puts cables in the ground they may not have exclusive use of them, or to be able to set the terms for renting them out.
Frustration with highways
Warman spoke of the lobby effort to get a commitment from the province on highway repairs.
“It’s a monumental issue for us,” he said.
Warman said the MLA is “not getting any answers either.”
Councillor Busk asked if highways had gotten any special attention in the recent Alberta budget.
“No change,” said Warman.
Warman said the message he wants to put out is that the more voices clamoring for action on highways, the better.
“Make some noise,” he said
On the economic development front, “lots happening behind the scenes,” Warman said. The town is still (or again) advertising for the staff economic development position. In addition to that, a consultant to advise the person in that position is being sought. The town had about 10 proposals for that contract and has narrowed it down to a short list of two.