M.D. of Lesser Slave River Council notebook

Aug. 15, 2018 meeting
Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Council heard from no fewer than five delegations at its first meeting in about a month, in a session that ran from 10:00 a.m. to about 5:30 p.m.

“Why do you need a library system?”

First up was Linda Duplessis of the Peace Library System, bringing her annual report to council. The M.D. contributes $6.37 per capita to the PLS, and Duplessis is keen to make sure council knows what they’re getting for it.
“Why do you need a library system?” she rhetorically asked, getting right to the point.
Duplessis spoke about “four key areas” that the PLS helps its members in: building collections, tech support, resources and training and program support.
“We can do more if we work together,” she said.
Speaking of the inter-library loan system that the PLS facilitates, Duplessis said, “Tens of thousands of items are going back and forth across the province every day.”
Councillor Brad Pearson, who represents council on both the regional library board and the PLS, said, “It’s been a training ground for myself. I appreciate what PLS does for its members.”

Contretemps at the rodeo grounds

Devon Attfield of Smith was up next, “not representing a club,” he said, to ask some questions about the rodeo grounds at Smith. Who’s the leaseholder? Who’s the overseer? Who has the contract to look after it?
The M.D. was the answer to the first two questions. The third “is a grey area,” said M.D. CAO Allan Winarski.
Gaylene Haynes, the Smith Traildusters’ president, spoke up at that, saying it’s her understanding the Traildusters are responsible for looking after the rodeo grounds. That group has been gradually replacing wooden fences with pipe. But with three weeks to go before the fall fair, others, acting independently of the Traildusters, have torn down sections of fence, putting the rodeo in jeopardy.
“Now we’re in a bind,” Haynes said.
Attfield weighed in again.
“Who operates the grounds?” he asked.
Councillors agreed that as the owner, the M.D. has the authority and any work done on the grounds should be M.D.-approved.
“We have the liability,” said councillor Jeff Commins.
The main thing at the moment is to see that suitable fences are up for the rodeo on the Labour Day weekend. Various solutions have been proposed. Council urged the main players (Traildusters and SHARA) to work together in liaison with the M.D. to make sure that happens. In the meantime, the M.D. will be working on a policy for council’s approval.

Tax collection lags

Finance director Jason Warawa told council that the tax collection rate is usually at about 95 per cent by this time of year, but is more like 90 per cent. One reason is $500,000 outstanding from oil companies that usually pay, but haven’t yet this year.
“There’s a chance we won’t get paid,” he said.

Forest Management Agreement

The Big Three forest products companies visited council to speak about their joint forest management agreement renewal application. What they’d like, said their spokesman Con Dermott (of Vanderwell Contractors) is a letter of support from the M.D.
For background, Dermott advised council the three members’ facilities employ about 500 people, with another 400 or so seasonally in harvesting and hauling wood.
Councillor Robert Esau asked Dermott if the group feels its FMA renewal is in jeopardy.
“No,” said Dermott. “But we’re required to go to communities for support.”
No problem there.
“I don’t think there’s one of us that would disagree,” said reeve Murray Kerik.
Council voted unanimously in favour of a Sandra Melzer motion to provide a letter of support.
The other companies represented were West Fraser and Tolko.

Marten Beach flood aftermath

A delegation of Marten Beach residents turned out to inform council of what they’d been discussing in the way of flood mitigation and to offer to work with the M.D. on anything in that line. Clean-up of flood debris is one issue; another is flood mitigation and drainage. Randy Elm, the Marten Beach Cottagers’ Society (MBCS) President said the group had gone as far as getting a quote on engineering advice, which was $21,000.
“We’d really like to see some work done in Marten Beach,” said Randy Ross, the MBCS vice president. “We’d like to work with you – anything we can do to help.”
Reeve Murray Kerik thanked the group for its offer and suggested it might be a good time to apply for assistance, with a provincial election coming next year. He suggested a letter of support for the M.D.’s disaster relief application would help.
“If we play our cards right we can get something done,” he said. “We’ll add this to our lobbying efforts.”

Toboggan hill

During the ‘CAO Report’ section of the meeting, councillor Brian Rosche asked how the new toboggan hill at the Widewater Complex was coming along. CAO Allan Winarski said it had come to light that the ‘run-out’ on one side was too close to the perimeter fence. He noted that the Widewater Athletic Association had offered $10,000 to help with the cost of properly siting the hill (which at this point is still a pile of dirt in need of shaping).
“It’s going to work out,” said Winarski.

Sewer and water installation

One of the items in Winarski’s written report had to do with a new water and sewer installation policy that is being developed. “Meanwhile,” said Winarski in the report, “unhooked up properties in Southshore being pursued.”
Councillor Brad Pearson asked what that is about.
Winarski said something about properties that may be acting as if they are connected, but aren’t. He said the utilities people will be looking into it this fall.
“Our installation costs are dirt cheap compared to anywhere else,” he added.

Cul de sac deferral

M.D. policy calls for space for a large vehicle to turn around at the end of an M.D. road. The policy calls this a ‘cul de sac,’ (contrary to the dictionary definition).
Plenty of dead-end M.D. roads do not have this, nor does the M.D. seem inclined to install them. This was part of the discussion with regard to a situation in the Flatbush area, where the owners of a property at the end of an M.D. road have applied for a permit to put in a new dwelling. The permit process brought the M.D. policy to light, and councillor Sandra Melzer brought the concern forward to be discussed by council.
The recommendation from admin was to defer the installation of the turning bulb. There are no schoolchildren needing a bus, council heard.
Councillor Esau said he isn’t happy with the M.D. not living up to its policies, but his colleagues took the realistic view, i.e. the bulb isn’t needed in this case and the M.D. can’t afford to fix all the similar situations. They voted in favour of the deferral, with Esau opposed.

Community Assistance Board

Council convened as the Community Assistance Board to review three applications for funding from groups in the community. The CAB had $40,000 in the 2018 budget to disperse, and meets four times a year to deal with that. With $22,000 left, the board had $38,000-worth of applications from SHARA, the Smith Traildusters and the Smith Gentle Ben Care Society to consider.
Something had to give, and it did. SHARA ended up getting $2,000 to help with fall fair expenses. The Traildusters got $3,000 to help with the costs of upgrading the rodeo grounds fences. Gentle Ben got $6,000 for its programs to help seniors with transportation to medical appointments.
That leaves $11,000 for the fourth and final round of applications to the CAB. The group will meet next on Nov. 14.

Shingles, fences, asphalt

Council approved low bids on three repair/upgrade jobs on M.D. facilities.
The M.D. received only one bid on a couple of shingling jobs in Smith. Since it was within budget, council approved the contract for $19,097 to ABNT Eavestroughing of Slave Lake.
The buildings to get the new roofing are former Forestry buildings, now owned by the M.D. One is a house and one is a shop.
Canadian Fence Contracting gets the job of repairing of several chain link gates and fences in the M.D. for the price of $31,000.
This is the second crack at the repairs, since the company that won the contract last year never showed up! The scope was revised and retendered earlier this year, council heard.
The third item was the replacement of a salt shed floor. Knelsen Sand & Gravel will do the paving, for $45,000. To reduce costs, the M.D. will install the sub-grade and base.

Roads

Councillor Jeff Commins mentioned some rough spots on Southshore Drive and asked what the plan is. Winarski said the M.D. has applied for disaster relief for some of that.
Councillor Esau said people in his part of the M.D. are pretty happy with the gravelling on roads. At that, Commins said he’d driven extensively around the Smith area recently and found “damn fine roads.”

Seminar for seniors

The last thing on council’s agenda was a request for $2,500 to help cover the costs of a seminar in Smith for seniors. Called the ‘Seniors Informational Afternoon,’ it is a project of the M.D.’s FCSS office. Reps from the federal and provincial governments will be there, to inform participants about the array of programs available to them. The plan is to bus people in from other parts of the M.D. and to provide them with lunch. The date is Tuesday, Sept. 18.
Council approved the cash outlay.
Councillor Commins, having reviewed the package, said that – as a senior – “there’s a lot of things out there I didn’t know about.”

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