M.D. of Lesser Slave River Council notebook Feb. 22, 2017

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

 

Parking in Smith
Council reviewed the issue of parking in front of the Smith Half Century Plus hall. Apparently the angle parking that is customary there is not safe, because longer vehicles backing out of it cross the centre line of the street. The request before council was to change it to parallel parking only, and post signs to that effect.
Council approved the request, with signs indicating where the parallel parking zone begins and ends.

Ag Service Board report
Ag Fieldman Dawnia Myshak presented her annual report to council, as required under the provincial funding agreement. The report included a summary of programs and activities carried out in support of the goals of the organization. These included the Classroom Agriculture program (150 students) the Fall Social (a sell-out), grasshopper surveys, a grazing tour, a herd health workshop, weed control, pest control, a roadside spraying program (Smith area in 2016; Southshore area this year) and more.
Speaking of the Weed Control Partnership Program, councillor Robert Esau said it’s, “a service greatly appreciated in our area. Well-received and well-used.”
Myshak said: “People tell us that program has made a great difference.”

Weed Control Partnership Program
This six-year-old program subsidizes the cost of chemicals farmers need to keep down noxious weeds. Council approved a slightly amended version of the policy to be used going forward.
That’s the short version. The longer version includes a discussion prompted by councillor Brad Pearson on whether the same subsidy was available to acreage owners for treating tall buttercup. It isn’t – and control of it is out of the hands of the ASB or the M.D.
Even if it were approved for acreages, there would be hoops to jump through that might discourage owners from doing it. Having to become a certified applicator is one of them. Another caution, from councillor Esau: “You can spray along your fence line and take out your neighbour’s garden.”
The best acreage or hamlet people can do now is buy a retail weed-killer product at a garden centre, Myshak said.

Peace officer report
M.D. peace officer Paul Mulholland’s annual report for 2016 said one of the focuses for 2016 was ‘infrastructure protection.’ What exactly that referred to became clear later – roads and bridges being pounded by heavy industrial loads.
“There are some quite big issues right now,” Mulholland said. “I’ve levied some pretty big fines.”
Other things keeping the peace officer busy last year were dog complaints, unsightly properties and abandoned vehicles.
Mulholland said there were 81 complaints from the public in 2016, up 15 per cent from the previous year. Seven remain open into 2017. The number of tickets written was up 44 per cent, to 212. This, despite the number of peace officers dropping from three to one halfway through the year.
Also in Mulholland’s report was the news that he “prosecuted a dangerous dog file and ultimately had the dog removed from the hamlet.”
Given the large area and one-man force, Mulholland said residents should know that after hours, he isn’t available to respond. In any case, he added, for emergencies, call the RCMP.
Speaking of the RCMP and noting the frequent break-ins at landfills and transfer stations, councillor Brad Pearson asked if patrols could be increased.
“The RCMP are quite stretched,” Mulholland said.

Borrowing and lending
The M.D. is set to act as middleman in a re-financing scheme for the Lesser Slave Lake Regional Housing Authority. Because the Authority can’t borrow at low interest from the Alberta Capital Finance Authority, but the M.D. can, the M.D. has agreed to borrow $2.6 million from ACFA and then lend it to the LSLRHA. To do both those things, bylaws are required. Council gave first reading to both.
Finance director (and acting CAO) Jason Warawa said the M.D. would charge a ‘risk premium’ of half a per cent, which should earn the M.D. about 100 grand over the term.

Who voted how in the minutes
Councillor Brad Pearson raised the matter of how voting on motions is recorded in the minutes. He said he’d prefer it if the record showed exactly what the vote was, and who voted for or against a motion. That’s how it’s done elsewhere, he said, (offering a couple of examples) and he thinks it’s better.
“I would like the public to see,” he said.
Pearson made a motion to “have administration weigh the options,” which was carried…… unanimously.

Community Futures
CF Lesser Slave Lake ED Christopher Robblee made much the same presentation to council as he had to town council a week earlier. He outlined the various programs and services CF offers, including census-taking and the Business Support Network. All this on top of the lending and business start-up counselling CF is known for.
On the emerging broadband issue, Robblee said CF plans to get a ‘sub-group’ of interested business people together to look into what can be done.

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