By the beginning of July, COVID-19 had been in Alberta for four and a half months. On July 3, there were 38 active cases in seven regions. At the time, the closest cases were in Big Lakes County.
Graduations (except for Northern Lakes College) happened, but looked very different than in previous years. Roland Michener School held a graduation parade. Slave Lake Koinonia Christian School had a backyard socially distanced grad for its five students. St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Academy had a parade, plus other activities.
A Peace and Equity walk on June 20 went off ‘without a hitch’ said an article in the July 1 Leader.
‘Hire somebody who knows trees and shrubs’ was the headline for a Letter to the Editor. This was part of a series of letters that germinated when the Town of Slave Lake ‘excessively’ trimmed elms, while there was a province-wide elm pruning ban.
On the M.D. side of things, it was cats not trees that were getting a lot of attention down in Canyon Creek. One article was entitled ‘Herding cats in Canyon Creek: Episode III.’
In sports news, Anthony DiFrancesco (11) planned to broadcast the Icedogs hockey games once the season commenced. A football program at Roland Michener was also proposed.
Cricket, slowpitch, gymnastics, Taekwondo, dance, and golf were happening with restrictions. The Larry Dahlgren Memorial Walleye Tournament went ahead. Other fishing tournaments were cancelled. The decades old Oilmen’s Golf Tournament and the second annual Emes-Lukan Memorial Golf Tournament didn’t happen in 2020.
Court resumed to something closer to normal than it had been. However, lots of people didn’t show up. On July 15, 2020, former Slave Lake RCMP officer Const. Licio Soares was sentenced to 15 months probation for assault.
A wind storm on July 11 caused quite a bit of damage at Spruce Point Park campground near Kinuso. Flooding and wildflowers filled the middle of the July 22 Leader.
During the early days of the pandemic, there was a decrease in the number of calls to the women’s crisis shelter – Northern Haven. At the same time across Canada, the number of women killed by their partners or exes increased.
The COVID-induced do-it-yourself explosion and other factors meant that the forestry industry was booming. The three Slave Lake mills were also seeking input on a 20 year regional forest management plan.
The Town of Slave Lake hired a new CAO – David Kim. Lesser Slave Lake Regional Fire Service had a new deputy chief – John McDermott, who had held the role in the past.
School boards were gearing up for school. Parents had three options in-class, at-home, or traditional homeschooling under a different school board.
Sheila Willis and pals organized a poker rally which converged on Slave Lake. This was open to all types of vehicles, but the majority of participants rode motorcycles.
A proposed oil industry tax break could have had a very big impact on municipalities. The M.D. of Lesser Slave River and Big Lakes County would have had to increase taxes by 200 per cent. The M.D. of Opportunity would have to increase its taxes by 2,000 per cent.
In July, the unemployment rate in western Alberta, which includes the Lesser Slave Lake region, was improving, but still above its historic high.
The province cut the Boreal Centre for Bird Conservation’s budget in half. It was ordered to close for half a year starting in October. It had already closed for several months because of the pandemic. In response, M.D., town councillors and others advocated for it to be reopened. (As of writing this, BCBC remained closed.)
M.D. of Lesser Slave River councillor Brian Rosche passed away. Rosche first came to Slave Lake in 1976 as an airplane mechanic. He then became an airplane pilot. He had been on M.D. council since 2005 or 2006. The decision was made not to have a by-election to replace him.
Slave Lake Victim Services held its second annual family fun skeet shoot. The fundraiser raised $8,300, which was better than the first year.
The Mat Program, which provides a place to sleep out of the cold in the winter, had a lease on the old Parent Link (formerly doctors clinic) in Slave Lake. It had been looking for a place since the previous fall. However, the lease didn’t guarantee planning permission.
In-person court resumed in Slave Lake, Wabasca-Desmarais and Red Earth Creek. From mid-March to August, it was held remotely in High Prairie Provincial Court. This was because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Sheldons near Kinuso won a provincial farming award. There have been Sheldons farming in the area for almost 90 years.
The Town of Slave Lake council decided not to pass a bylaw which would make FireSmart building techniques and materials mandatory in parts of Slave Lake. These proposed changes were sparked by the 2011 Slave Lake wildfire.
The Lesser Slave Forest Area had a slow fire season, so sent two crew members to fight wildfires in Oregon. Back in 2019, firefighters from Oregon had made the reverse trip to fight the McMillan fire, this was the largest fire in the history of the forest area. At the time, it was still on the books. However, hadn’t been very active in 2020.
A 24-year-old man was arrested for a 2019 homicide. The victim was found in a wildfire near Widewater on May 31, 2019. The victim was Darren Dawson (30).