March 6, 2019 meeting
SHARA looking for help in getting Smith arena operational
SHARA president Fred Laughy visited with council again, making a plea for funds to help get ice back in the arena in Smith. The minimum amount to bring some outstanding things up to code is about $20,000, he said. This includes fire-resistant paint, new drywall, a couple of doors and ‘wired’ glass.
“We have community backing for labour,” he said.
Joining Laughy were two members of an organization called ‘Rink of Dreams,’ that helps small communities in northern Alberta find ways to build or improve their rinks. Doing most of the talking was Wilf Brooks, the former owner of United Cycle in Edmonton. He gave examples of how the charitable organization has helped other very small communities with their rink problems. Chateh, Graminia and Kingman found ways to do it, with help from Rink of Dreams, he said.
“What does your community want to be when it grows up?” said Brooks. “Don’t mess around,” he advised. “Think big.”
Laughy told council his group isn’t thinking that big.
“We’re not asking for a brand new facility,” he said. “We want to work with you – the minimum to make it multi-use and get back into it in the winter.”
Peace officer report: complaints much higher in 2018
M.D. peace officer Paul Mulholland presented his annual report. It was a busy year in some respects.
For example, Mulholland said there were 241 complaints from the public in the M.D. in 2018 – 153 more than in 2017. These ranged from unsightly properties to abandoned vehicles, noise issues and “lots and lots of dog complaints.”
Mulholland issued 135 violation tickets during the year; their face value was $38,278. That’s down considerably from 2017, he said, because they were mostly smallish amounts; 2017 had some big fines for big overweight loads.
On the topic of patrols, Mulholland said he does them, but chooses not to have a routine. It works better if residents don’t know what day the patrol car is likely to come by.
“Do you ever fear for your safety?” asked councillor Brad Pearson.
No, said Mulholland, but he does take precautions. This includes letting somebody know via radio every time he makes a stop (or visits a property). The procedure is if he doesn’t call back in 10 minutes, the dispatcher will notify the RCMP.
Along those same lines, Mulholland said he’s not on the list of enforcement people who are automatically informed when somebody regarded as ‘dangerous’ to law enforcement people moves into the area. He thinks that should change. There are a small number of people out there, he told council, who harbour violent intentions toward people in uniform.
Reeve Murray Kerik asked who should be phoned in the case of an injured moose. Fish & Wildlife should be called, Mulholland said. However, it’s often the case they can’t get there soon enough.
“I’ve killed a couple of moose,” he said.
“Do you have to file a report?” asked councillor Robert Esau.
“No,” said Mulholland. “It’s an authorized use of the weapon.”
Councillor Brian Rosche asked about drug offenses. Not my jurisdiction, said Mulholland. Strictly RCMP. Alcohol on the other hand – “That’s all me.”
Asked if he lacks anything in the way of support from the M.D., Mulholland said no. Pretty much what he has asked for has been supplied. He offered camera systems as an example of a big improvement from a safety point of view.
“That’s the big thing,” he said. “I’ve got the tools I need.”
Levy on gravel goes up
Council approved a proposed increase to the M.D.’s levy on gravel taken out of pits in the M.D. It had been 25 cents a tonne of sand or gravel; now it’ll be 40 cents. The new rate became possible in 2018 under the revamped Municipal Government Act. Other municipalities immediately took advantage of it, council heard. The M.D. didn’t, because it would have caused too much inconvenience. This year it hopes to get it enacted early.
Based on last year’s activity in the pits, the increase in revenue to the M.D. would be about $59,000 at the higher rate.
The extra cash will help the M.D. maintain roads and cover the cost of finding a new M.D. pit – expected to cost between $25,000 and $40,000.
New way of thinking about zoning
The M.D. is planning to re-do its Land-Use Bylaw. Among other things, this is the document that sets out the various zones and what can and can’t be developed in them.
The process will involve community consultation, to find out what people want, don’t want, are bothered by, etc. A consultant will handle this.
Briefing council on the project, CAO Allan Winarski said, “we want to look at geographic zoning.”
What he was getting at is a different way of looking at zoning that could end up with area-specific zones, rather than ‘one size fits all’ zones. In other words, a system that recognizes differences between, say, Flatbush and Canyon Creek. He even implied there might be a solution to the seemingly never-ending land-use conflicts in the Poplar Lane area.
It seemed to go over pretty well.
“I love what you’re saying,” said councillor Esau. “It’s the way of the future. I believe it should have been the way of the past.”
Councillor Rosche said he hoped the new LUB would help move trailers out of areas with high-value lots where they don’t belong.
“I’m thinking 50 years into the future,” he said.
This drew a response from councillor Pearson.
“I disagree,” he said. “I started out in a trailer. It’s a stepping stone. To say an $800,000 house has to go next – that’s wrong.”
Rosche: “Fifty years from now do you still want to see trailers and houses mixed?”
“There’s room for everything,” said Winarski.
There was also some talk about changing the rules with regard to subdividing agricultural property.
This prompted a comment from councillor Jeff Commins: “Who in their right mind is going to subdivide right now? We have 300 lots in the M.D. right now (with nothing on them).”
Council accepted the report as information.
Toboggan hill at Wagner
The so-called toboggan hill at the Widewater Complex came up for discussion. It has not been finished, may not be quite safe and does not meet the expectations of the Widewater Athletic Association. That group is willing to put $10,000 towards the project.
That’s fine, said Bill Klassen, but his department has no time to do it. That leaves hiring somebody to design and build it properly.
“You’re looking at 50 to 75-thousand to get it done,” he said.
Council made no decision on the matter.
Highway condition not great
Councillor Pearson brought up the condition of Hwy. 2. It’s in bad shape, he said, and not safe at all.
“Our pavement is brutal,” he said. “Bang! Bang! Bang! We need an overlay.”
Council passed a motion to have a letter sent to Alberta Transportation on the matter.
Cash for Flatbush Moms and Tots
Council approved an application from the Flatbush Nursery School for FCSS funding for its Moms and Tots program. The program has been getting good participation, council heard. The approved amount is $3,400.
Presenting the report, Peggy Laing told council the program has been collaborating successfully with Westlock Parent Link as well.
Rural Education Symposium
Councillor Melzer reported on a symposium on rural education she’d attended. New regulations for bus drives will cost school divisions more money, she said, but no funding to cover the higher cost has been offered at this point.
One in four children is not ready for Kindergarten was another thing Melzer heard at the symposium.
Councillors Pearson and Esau had attended the annual CARE conference, held this year in Calgary. Pearson said one interesting thing he learned is that latex paint can be – and is being – recycled. He toured the plant.
Another tour was of the High Prairie ‘recycling centre.’ Don’t call it a landfill, Pearson said, and by all means don’t call it a ‘dump.’
“They’re trying to recycle everything,” he said. However, glass continues to be difficult.
“Nobody wants to do it,” he said.