March 7, 2018 meeting
Lindsay Pratt of the Lesser Slave Regional Housing Authority updated council members on plans for a new affordable housing apartment building in Slave Lake. Construction funding is anticipated from the province, but what’s needed is some money to get it to ‘shovel-ready’ stage. As it happens there is still some disaster recovery money earmarked for affordable housing. Pratt was seeking council’s blessing to use some of that to move the project along.
As the use of the $260,000 recovery ‘envelope’ for such a project has already been approved, council did not need to make another resolution on it. They simply accepted Pratt’s report as information.
The land identified for the project government property on 4th Ave. NE, that formerly housed Fish & Wildlife and Forestry offices. There is still some uncertainty, Pratt said, as to when the government will actually decide to aprove funding for the project. Further uncertainty comes from the looming provincial election in 2019. Another government might have different priorities. Either way, the housing authority wants to be ready to proceed when they get the final green light.
Giving some background on the situation, Pratt explained how the housing authority wants to move away from single-family units toward apartments. It lost several of the former in the 2011 wildfire and does not plan to replace them. Apartments are more affordable, both for the renters and the housing authority, he said.
FireSmart course development
A plan is afoot to develop a couple of hands-on courses in FireSmart, or more specifically in ‘wildland/urban interface structural protection.’ These will be developed in conjunction with Northern Lakes College, in response to a perceived demand for such across the province.
The initial idea, based on a written report by fire chief Jamie Coutts, was to have those courses ready to go this spring. That looks unlikely now, for reasons not explained at the meeting, but the request before council was for it to approve $36,000 for course development.
The FireSmart vegetation management crew is due for a new Bobcat and mulcher head. Both are five years old and have seen 2,000 hours of work, council heard. The existing unit is worth $35,000 on trade in. Subtracting that from the cost of the two new pieces of equipment leaves $100,000. That’s what council was being asked to approve, and did.
Amenities at the VIC
Mayor Tyler Warman put this topic on the agenda for discussion. Some FireSmart money has been allocated for trail-building at the Visitor Information Centre. There’s been talk in the committee, he said, about further enhancement of the amenities there, so as to make it more of a ‘destination’ for visitors – helping both in that regard and in FireSmart education. Ideas include fixing up the fire lookout tower cupola, adding benches and picnic tables and maybe a playground.
Councillor Darin Busk liked the idea of setting the cupola up so it gives a view of the countryside. As for the trail, he said, gravel should be good enough.