Town council congratulates disappointed Winter Games particpants
March 10, 2020 meeting
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Mayor Tyler Warman, speaking of when the news came through the Arctic Winter Games had been called off. He was on a hockey trip at the time. Already scheduled for the following Tuesday was a visit to town council by the athletes, coaches and staff heading to Whitehorse for the 2020 Games. They were asked to show up anyway, to accept council’s congratulations for their accomplishments and for being good ambassadors for the community.
“We’re very proud of you,” said Warman. “Congratulations.”
The other pre-agenda item dealt with at the March 10 meeting was to welcome interim CAO Gordon Lundy back to the team. Lundy worked for the town previous in recovery projects and was acting CAO for a time in 2012 or thereabouts. He comes out of retirement in the Crowsnest Pass area.
“I’m very happy to be here,” said Lundy.
Quipped the mayor: “Gordon was a municipal councillor in the Crowsnest Pass and it shows. That was a very political answer!”
New cemetery in use
Calvin Couturier, the town’s public works manager, reported that the very first burial in the new cemetery had taken place. It was for Joe Mouallem. Couturier said it was not only the first interment at the new Lakeview Cemetery, it was the first-ever Muslim funeral the town had dealt with. The rules are quite different, he said, but working closely with the family it was taken care of.
Councillor Joy McGregor asked about this hot topic. The news was good.
“We have done some,” said Couturier. “We got 16 barrels. There shouldn’t be any shortage.”
Couturier said one bad one was done at the McDonald’s entrance – a hole caused by a utility company. The company should have done it, but “we were getting complaints,” he said. He’ll be following it up with the company responsible.
Couturier figures all the current holes will be patched, “but as quick as we patch them, new ones appear.”
Council was presented with an updated version of an 18-year-old bylaw that regulates how taxis operate in Slave Lake. Senior peace officer Mark Becker called the 2002 version “severely outdated.”
For example, the new bylaw gives peace officers the power to collect photos of drivers annually, ask for insurance and other documents, to have a vehicle inspected for safety and cleanliness and to shut it down if it doesn’t comply.
Another provision of the new bylaw is to require the operators to display their licenses and fares.
Councillor Darin Busk asked if any thought was given to requiring safety features such as a barrier between the front and back seats. It doesn’t get into that, Becker said.
“I got a lot of resistance (as it is),” he said. “It’s up to the companies if they want extra protection.”
Some of the operators are unhappy about the $140 annual business license fee. But it’s not for the permit, Becker said. That’s free. And it’s not a per-unit charge. It’s a single license fee for however many cars you operate. Becker’s boss Garry Roth added that some municipalities charge a license fee per driver and for every piece of equipment.
Council gave all three readings to the new bylaw.
Reduce variance fees
Owners of a duplex in the southwest part of Slave Lake are asking for a reduction in variance fees for decks that don’t comply with setbacks. The director in her report said the town typically does not grant such requests. She did offer one exception to that custom; it involved a span of time between the original application and the building of the item requiring the variance. During that time the town increased its fees. That circumstance doesn’t apply in this case, council heard.
Variance fees are in place, says the written report, “partially to cover costs for meetings to consider variances and partially to be punitive to owners who did not build in accordance with their plans or built without a development permit.”
Council voted to uphold the variance fees, which for the two properties amount to $4,000. Councillor Brice Ferguson voted against the motion.
Hiring an economic development contractor
It was down to brass tacks in the matter of choosing an economic development contractor. Council had whittled the applicants down to two firms. Both were considered good choices. There was a $30,000 difference in price, however.
Leading off the discussion, mayor Warman asked his colleagues to state their preference. Councillors Ferguson and King spoke up in favour of a firm called ‘Incite.’ Others favoured a company called ‘Progress Unlimited,’ which was the lower-cost alternative.
Council went with Progress Unlimited by a 5 – 2 vote, for a two-year contract costing not more than $120,000.
Councillor Brandle reported that she and the CEO had met with the M.D. of Opportunity and told them in no uncertain terms the Slave Lake Regional Housing Authority is not willing to negotiate a reduction in Opportunity’s funding contribution.
So it’s status quo, “at this time,” she said.
Regional library board
Councillor McGregor reported that the security cameras had been installed at the library in Slave Lake and that they have already been “put to good use.”
Library programs continue to be well-attended. A vacancy in the board has been filled by former board chair Angela Wright.
Mayor Warman’s final remarks were mostly about efforts to press the province on the matter of highway maintenance. An hour after posting a strongly-worded open letter to the minister online, Warman said he got a call from the minister. That was a surprise and a positive sign, but “It didn’t bear a lot of fruit.”
No commitment to pay special attention to the bad sections of Hwys. 2 and 88, in other words.
Warman said he passed on some specifics about the situation to Minister McIvor. He also encouraged residents to send in their own views on the situation to the provincial government. Photos of highway potholes are available on the town’s website.
Warman said McIvor told him that MLA Pat Rehn is “on him a lot” about the same subject.