Town of Slave Lake Council notebook

May 5, 2020 meeting
Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Pool closure

With rec facilities being closed, admin. was asked what the plans would be for re-opening, when that becomes possible. It takes two to three weeks, explained community services director Garry Roth, from the time you know you can open until you do. Getting staff back on board is one thing – many are laid off – and health inspections is another.

“So we’re hoping we have advance notice,” he said.

As for the pool, it is using this enforced pandemic shutdown to do its annual maintenance, which is usually a month-long process in September.

Complaints keep officers jumping

Calls to town peace officers reached 210 for the year last week, council heard. This included 16 such calls in the previous week. Complaints have been about public drunkenness, unsightly premises and vagrancy, among others.

“High speeds continue to be an issue in our jurisdiction,” says the report prepared for council by interim CAO Gordon Lundy. “Playground zone speed enforcement has increased.”

Tax notices out – many by email

Lundy’s report included the news that 2,100 tax notices had been sent out by mail on May 1. Another 1,700 went by email, with that many having requested or accepted that form of communication. Of those, 14 were rejected due to an outdated address, “and we were able to resolve 11 of them,” said Lundy’s written report. This was the first year for using email for tax notices, “and overall it seems well received.”

Application for a shop

Council dealt with a request to amend the Land-Use Bylaw to accommodate a repair shop on a lot in the Small Holdings Industrial District. Complicating the situation is the existence of a residence on the lot. The planning department has concerns about industrial and residential uses on one lot, council heard. But the recommendation is to make the industrial shop use discretionary, “so that the use can be considered on a site-by-site basis.”

A public hearing on the bylaw change is scheduled for June 2.

The applicant is D. Janzen Holdings. The report does not give the location of the lot.

Adding FireSmart requirements in construction

The town has been wrestling with the issue of requiring fire-resistant materials in new construction ever since the wildfire disaster of 2011. It is generally considered a good thing, but the additional costs involved make it less appealing.

However, after much consideration and various delays, the bylaw was before council and passed first reading. The usual procedure of holding a public hearing two meetings hence is not being done in this case. The plan is to put it off until a proper hearing can be held, with no restrictions on how many people can attend.

As proposed, the new construction requirements would only apply to new subdivisions. That leaves all existing structures pretty much off the hook, although the town certainly recommends FireSmart upgrades.

“I struggled with the costs,” said mayor Tyler Warman in his remarks. “But we are living proof that things happen.”

Councillor Brice Ferguson also was leery of the additional costs involved, and unlike the mayor, he voted against the bylaw on first reading. Ferguson said he did include FireSmart materials in his house and it added $35,000 to the cost.

“I struggle with asking residents to pay,” he said.

Councillor Darin Busk asked if Slave Lake was breaking new ground on the matter. In 2012 the answer would have been ‘yes,’ he was told. Not anymore. Many other municipalities are doing the same sort of thing and some are further ahead.

Mayor’s corner

Mayor Warman wrapped up the meeting by talking about some of the things he’d been dealing with over the previous few days. Much of it had to do with figuring out (and answering questions about) what Phase I of the ‘re-launch’ looks like for local businesses.

“Use common sense,” he said. “Look after your staff and guests.”

The mayor was also fielding calls about whether back-yard fires are allowed or not. They are for now (only in town), he said. But with the fire hazard climbing, stay tuned.

In other news, Warman said, lobbying for highway repairs continues, with nothing definitive coming out of the province. (It did later in the week.)
Finally, interviews for the town’s CAO position have been going on, though not in person. Warman said a couple of candidates are hoping to come to town for a closer look.

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