Town of Slave Lake Council notebook

Apr. 4 meeting

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Back to square one
The town has to start over on a bylaw aimed at releasing a bit of environmental reserve for development. That means giving first reading to an adjusted bylaw and setting up another public hearing. This council did.
The property in question is the corner of a lot owned by Spruceland Properties, next to Sawridge Creek. Council had already decided to grant the zoning change, after a public hearing on it provoked zero response from the community. However, as planning and development director Laurie Skrynyk reported, “Alberta Land Titles has rejected the bylaw.”
“Why?” asked councillor Mark Missal.
“They didn’t like the description,” said Skrynyk, adding that the appropriate adjustment had been made in the wording.
Councillor Julie Brandle asked why council couldn’t then just go ahead with all three readings and get it over with.
“We’re required under the MGA to have a public hearing,” Skrynyk said.
“I’m sure they’ll come in droves,” said mayor Tyler Warman, with what may have been a touch of sarcasm.

Making brewing legal
People are coming in droves to the Dog Island Brewing Company’s ‘tasting room,’ which is located in the industrial area along Caribou Trail. However, it’s a use not anticipated under the Land-use Bylaw as it stands, and the town would like to correct that. Accordingly, Skrynyk had a bylaw change for council to consider.
When the town’s planning department issued a permit last year for the brewing operation, it “was not aware that the applicant intended to include a tasting room, retail and wholesale distribution and a drinking establishment,” said Skrynyk in her written report.
The proposed changes set out a new definition for craft brewery and distillery in several commercial and industrial districts.
Skrynyk said in her research she found that such uses are quite common in other municipalities in Alberta. The recommendation was to give the bylaw changes first reading and set a public hearing.
There are some issues to be addressed. One is brewery effluent, which can be a problem for a municipality in certain quantities. Another is parking. Skrynyk’s report notes that in general, the town does not encourage retail uses in industrial areas and prefers them to be in commercial zones.
The public hearing on the matter will be on May 2.

Thumbs-down on video-conferencing
Per a council request, a report on the pros and cons and costs of video-conferencing council meetings had been prepared. This was mainly at the behest of councillor Mark Missal, who has said he’d like to be able to attend council meetings remotely when he is away from town.
Town communications coordinator Christopher Brown had investigated three options – Skype, Highfive and GoTo. The technology ranges from quite expensive to very little. But even very little proved to be too much for four of the seven councillors. It probably didn’t help that Brown’s research turned up a case in Texas where a city had spent a quarter of a million dollars on video-conferencing technology in 2013 and has yet to use it.
“I should apologize for you wasting your time on this,” said councillor Darin Busk. “I was never in favour of this.”
Missal, on the other hand, was in favour.
“I like the idea,” he said. “It’s progressive. I see a definite need for this sort of thing should another disaster happen.”
The vote fell 4 – 3 against Missal’s motion. His parting shot on the matter was: “If we’d had this policy in place, we would have chickens in Slave Lake!” This was a reference to the famous ‘chicken vote’ last fall, where a 3 – 3 vote on backyard poultry resulted in a defeat of the proposal to allow it in town.

Big Fish Bay lease transfer approved
Council gave formal approval to the change of leaseholder for the Sawridge Recreation Area, better known as Big Fish Bay RV Resort Ltd. The business is changing hands, and as the town is the owner of the property, council has to approve it.
The new lessee is a numbered company, owned, or principally owned, by Willy Driedger. Driedger had met with council a few weeks ago, outlining his plans to expand the resort and eventually add – pending regulatory approvals – a marina.
The lease expires in 2049, with an option to renew for another 50 years.

Rates up by 2.5 per cent
Council approved a 2.5 per cent increase in the rates charged by the town’s operations department. These run from equipment fees to cemetery fees to map products. The increase reflects a change in the Consumer Price Index, council heard.
The new cemetery fees, it should be noted, are much more than 2.5 per cent higher than the old ones. But these were already adjusted in an earlier resolution by council, to reflect the cost of operating the new cemetery. Hence the cost of a burial plot going up to $500 from $325.

CAO report
Town manager Brian Vance went through the usual list of town activities to bring council up to date.
– Alberta Environment would be looking at the town’s plans for sewage lagoon upgrades. “Hopefully they’ll agree with our proposals.”
– Sewage lift station E: electrical and mechanical installation moving along. Tie-ins done. “It’s getting back on track. The project manager is visiting often.”
– Street sweeping and pothole filling have both started – earlier than usual. The sweepers, “can’t run when it’s freezing.” Something else the sweepers can’t handle is the kind of mud left on the street by trucks parking in muddy lots. 14th Ave. SW was mentioned.
– Leftover ‘millings’ will be spread on the recycle depot, (presumably to improve the surface). Councillor McGregor asked if a crack in the paved trail could be filled with some of those millings.
– The swimming pool maintenance shut-down this year will be shorter than usual, because it won’t be drained. Councillor Lokken: “Does that mean there won’t be a ‘swimming with your pet,’ day?” There won’t. Mayor Warman recommended the lake as an alternative.

80 on 88?
Recalling an earlier council conversation, councillor McGregor asked about the idea of restoring the 80km speed limit on Hwy. 88. Vance said what he recalled was that council wanted to deal with the realignment of the walking trail where it crosses the railway tracks by Hwy. 88 before any speed limit increase. And that, he added, is up in the air pending Alberta Transportation changes to the highway. The same goes for the installation of barriers along the west side of Hwy. 88 by the Sinclair Fields, to discourage parking in the ditch.
“We’re hoping to know this summer,” what the government’s plans for the highway are, Vance said.

Mayor’s report
Mayor Tyler Warman, recently back from a foreign vacation, thanked deputy mayor Philip Lokken for filling in for him. Since he’s been back, he said, he’s been busy with various things including the Legacy Centre, where deficiencies are being addressed.
“For example, there was a fan issue in the daycare.”
The FireSmart Committee, on which Warman also sits, is attempting to hire a FireSmart coordinator. A separate, but related matter is the visitor information centre, and how to make it into a place that draws more people in and even induces them to stay for a while. A trail loop with interpretive features in the FireSmart line is part of it.

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