Nov. 28, 2017
This week’s town council notebook is a bit different than usual, thanks to The Leader missing the Nov. 28 meeting. We picked up the following information from town manager Brian Vance and from the council agenda package.
Goodbye and hello in community services
Vance’s regular update for council began with the news Community Services Director Ruth Rolfe would be leaving the town as of Nov. 30, to be replaced temporarily by Audrey DeWit.
“I would like to thank Ruth for her hard work and dedication,” Vance said in his written notes. “It has been a very difficult time following the fire with new staff and new programs and implementing operational strategies for the MRC. She has made tremendous progress with many accomplishments.”
DeWit, who last served as recovery manager for the town, was lured out of retirement to cover the department head’s duties while the town seeks a permanent replacement for Rolfe.
The state of sidewalks in Slave Lake is a going concern, with lots of complaints coming in to the town. Vance said the peace officers will be hanging up ‘door-knockers’ around town, advising property owners of their responsibilities and of the implications of not keeping their sidewalks clear.
Council gave three readings to an updated version of the street-numbering bylaw. It’s more or less a clarification of what’s already in place, Vance says, with a few tweaks. For example, the updated bylaw specifies that property owners must maintain their address number in good condition and make sure it is visible from the street. The rules regarding duplexes and industrial properties with more than one business operating on them were also clarified, Vance says.
Adding FireSmart principles
Council gave first reading to an amended version of the Municipal Development Plan, incorporating FireSmart principles into development standards. Examples would be a requirement in new subdivisions to have more than one entrance/exit.
“It’s to make sure the town recognizes FireSmart principles in our planning,” says Vance.
The next step in the approval process for the bylaw is a public hearing on Dec. 19.
Application for rezoning
A property owner on Balsam Rd. NE has applied for a change to a land use district that would allow more uses on the property. It’s currently M4 – Small Holdings Industrial. The application is to change it to M1 – Light Industrial District.
Council gave first reading to the bylaw change and set the required public hearing to Dec. 19, 2017.
Council considered a report listing all the inventory in town parks and its condition, with cost implications.
“There’s a lot!” says Vance.
The report includes the results of an assessment of all playground equipment done this past summer. The upshot of that is that much of the old equipment is not up to code and is not considered safe anymore. What council has to face, Vance says, is the budget implications of upgrading all of it; on the other hand, closing down some of those small playgrounds in favour of the larger quadrant parks (which has been recommended for at least the past 10 years) does not come without controversy.
“Do we want to spend money on this, the bigger ones, or both?”
Council made no decisions, and will revisit the matter in budget deliberations.
Negotiations with the M.D.
In other council news, Vance said the Nov. 28 get-together of the two councils and administrators was productive. They talked about the details in the two major inter-municipal agreements that still need settling.
“We are making tremendous progress,” Vance says, adding that there’s a possibility the new agreements will be in place by the end of this year.
“I think it’s very possible we will hit that deadline,” says mayor Tyler Warman. “I’m very thankful for both the time and energy both councils are putting in to bring these agreements to completion.”
Meeting with ministries
Vance gave a rundown of the meetings with various government ministries at the recent Alberta Urban Municipalities Association conference.
Municipal Affairs – councillors talked about the role of the FireSmart team for training other municipalities. Apparently there is a demand for this. This was also brought up during a conversation with the Fire Commissioner’s office.
Justice and Solicitor General – RCMP funding and the discrepancy between rural and urban municipalities was a topic in this meeting. Distracted driving was another. The town would like the ministry to approve the use of photo enforcement technology to issue tickets for distracted driving.
Environment – government investment in the provincial park and beach cleaning were the topics in this meeting.
Seniors and Housing – Support for programs dealing with the homeless and the fate of emergency trailers in Slave Lake were raised.
Economic Development – the regional ec/dev group (under the tri-council) would like to be regarded as a Regional Economic Development Association, eligible for the provincial funding those organizations enjoy.
Health – two issues came up in meetings with Health officials; transportation to the city for medical appointments and the desire on the part of the town for the ambulance service to move its base of operations to the old fire hall.
“They said they’d have a plan in place by the end of this year,” Vance says.
Advanced Education – this meeting was mainly to stress the benefit of having Northern Lakes College in town, and to offer the town’s support for expansion or enhancement of the college.