March 6, 2018 meeting
Changes to Land-Use Bylaw
Council’s first order of business was to hold a public hearing into a proposed bylaw change. This is the one – reported earlier – that incorporates recent changes to the Municipal Government Act. Nobody came forward to say anything for or against the bylaw change, so the public hearing was a short one.
Later in the meeting, council gave second and third reading to the bylaw, which puts it into effect. The changes mainly have to do with how the town deals with development applications. For example, the appeal period is to be lengthened. For another, the town is required to notify an applicant if a development permit application is deemed complete or incomplete.
Also, a section has been added detailing the applicant’s responsibilities with respect to development.
New man on the team
CAO Brian Vance introduced the new director of community services to council. He’s Garry Roth, lately of the City of Grande Prairie.
“He joined us today,” Vance said.
Vance added that in the past month, Roth had sold one house, bought another and managed to squeeze a vacation in.
“This man doesn’t let the grass grow under his feet,” he said.
Roth was in charge of a department called ‘Community Living’ for Grande Prairie.
Vance’s town status update for council included the good news that CN Rail had been in touch on the matter of the raised rails at a couple of crossings in town. Remedial works needs to be done to reduce the bump for traffic, and “they assured us they’ll address it in the spring.”
In other news, there’s “a steep learning curve,” on running the Legacy Centre, Vance said.
On the snow-plowing front, Vance said crews had managed one complete circuit of town in the past week. Councillor Darin Busk put in another plug for attention to be paid to visibility problems at intersections due to snowbanks. Vance said he’d pass on another reminder.
PD day camps?
Councillor Rebecca King asked Vance if the town had any plans to run ‘camps’ for kids on ‘PD days’ – those occasional Fridays when school is out. She said members of the public had been asking her about it. What she’d been told, she said, was that the town used to do them, but had stopped.
Vance said he wasn’t sure about it, but would check.
Supplementary tax bylaw
As it does every year, council passed a bylaw that allows ‘supplementary’ property value assessments. This allows the town to collect taxes on unfinished developments, according to their state of completion at assessment time. This is in July.
Council gave all three readings, bringing it into effect.
Council approved a recommendation by administration to reduce the insurance on the Centennial Building – which is the former daycare location on 6th Ave. SW. The building is considered good for nothing much but demolition, council heard, and the cost of that is estimated to be $400,000. Hence the recommendation to reduce coverage to that amount. This will result in an annual cost saving to the town of about $2,100.
The building got its name due to a 1967 federal grant program in recognition of Canada’s centennial year. It started life as a community hall and in more recent years served as the principal facility of the Slave Lake Childcare Society. In the early days of the arena, it also served as the dressing room for arena users.
As for actual demolition, Vance says plans are hypothetical at this point.
Ball rolling on SW park naming
The town’s recently-revived Naming Committee has been active and had a couple of items on the agenda for council’s consideration. One was a request for council approval for the naming of the so-called ‘Southwest Quadrant Park,’ sometimes also called ‘Nacho Cheese Park.’ No alternatives were suggested; the committee’s idea was to first get council’s blessing, then go ahead and solicit suggestions from the public.
“I think it’s a heck of an idea,” said councillor Darin Busk.
“How do we find names?” asked mayor Tyler Warman.
“Pioneers,” suggested councillor Shawn Gramlich.
The town will advertise for suggestions from the public.
Honouring Ms. Attrux
Also on council’s agenda was a presentation by the Naming Committee on its idea that legendary public health nurse Laura Attrux (pronounced ‘Ay-tru’) should be memorialized by having her name on something in the community. As suggested by committee member Harry Bartlett, this could be the local Family Care Clinic. Alberta Health Services has not yet been approached about the idea he said. The committee thought getting council’s blessing would be a good first step; after that AHS could be approached.
Bartlett, referring to a fat file folder of information on Ms. Attrux, gave council a few details of her remarkable life. It was a life lived in service of people in northern communities before there were doctors and even before there were reliable roads. One story is how she used a railway speeder (hand-pumped) to transport a patient to a point where he could be taken by an ambulance. Another story is how she splinted a pet canary’s broken leg with a toothpick.
“She was a doctor, counsellor, social worker, dentist and community leader,” said Bartlett, quoting from his written material.
Councillors voted in favour of providing a letter of support for the idea.
“People speak very highly of her,” said mayor Warman. “I’m curious to see their (AHS) response to it.”
“Slave Lake by the sound of it was lucky to have her in the area,” said councillor Busk. “I’m in favour.”
Public health nurse Laura Atrux in action.
‘Busy 10 days’
Warman closed out the meeting with his mayoral activity report, starting off with the water meter business, into which he and council put a lot of extra time. He made a point of commending the extra work town staff did on it as well.
Warman also praised the Chamber of Commerce for the “great job” it did in putting on another business awards gala.
“It’s very exciting,” he said. “The Slave Lake Oscars!”
On the tourism front, the committee is putting together a program guide from scratch. Helping out is Tom Tippin, the manager at Gilwood Golf Club.
Warman’s involvement in the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association’s (AUMA) lobby on caribou range planning continues. There’s another meeting coming up on it in Edmonton, he said. The AUMA view on it is that “changes need to realistic and financially viable. They have to look at the impact. It’s kind of a mess, to be honest.”
Councillor King reported on a recent luncheon meeting at the Friendship Centre at which the topic of rural homelessness was discussed. She said it was very well-attended, with about 65 people there. It was also a fundraiser for the Mat Program in Slave Lake. That program is 100 per cent community funded at the moment, King added, with the Friendship Centre taking the lead on it.
King said there’s a plan to get a committee re-established to talk about a Housing First program for Slave Lake. This is acknowledged as being a way to actually solve homelessness, as opposed to just treating the symptoms. But it takes a lot of resources.
“It’s a daunting task for a community our size,” said mayor Warman, wrapping up. “Any success is going to come with provincial and federal funding.”
Coun. Rebecca King