March 20, 2018 meeting
Council heard that CN Rail has committed to doing a permanent fix on the two bumpy rail crossings in town. In the meantime, one has been made less bumpy by the addition of a bit of gravel on both sides. However, the crossing at Springwood, now that the snow and ice are off it, is getting on people’s nerves. Councillor Julie Brandle said she’d been asked about it by a couple of residents and hoped some gravel could be added.
Campgrounds, bunkhouses and more
Planning and development boss Laurie Skrynyk presented for first reading a collection of amendments to the Land-use Bylaw – what she called a ‘housekeeping’ matter. Councillors had a question or two.
“There’s a lot on campgrounds,” said mayor Tyler Warman “I don’t remember discussing that.”
Skrynyk said it had come up in the Municipal Planning Commission.
“It’s about regulations that are missing that may make it difficult if we get various developments that may go into Big Fish Bay,” she said.
Councillor Brice Ferguson said the section on industrial camp facilities, “seems a little vague.”
“It’s a can of worms,” said Skrynyk. She went on to describe violations of the rules regarding bunkhouses on industrial properties that inspections this winter have turned up.
Councillor Brandle asked for clarification on a clause that speaks of home-based businesses not being allowed in homes with secondary suites.
“They already have two uses,” Skrynyk said. A third one could create parking issues.
Council gave the bylaw change first reading; A public hearing on it is scheduled for April 17. Councillor Ferguson opposed the motion.
Council gave first reading to a change in a Land-use Bylaw definition that would permit the sale of animal feed. This follows a request by a local business for permission to do that. A public hearing on the bylaw change will be held on April 17.
Council had balked last month at passing a policy on lot grading, asking for more information and more time to think about it. That was on Feb. 6. The idea then was to wrap it up at the Feb. 20 meeting. Make that March 20. Skrynyk had a lengthy report on the history and philosophy behind the town’s procedures on lot grading – including the site visits that seem to be rubbing certain people the wrong way.
Mayor Warman for some reason was playing the devil’s advocate on this one.
“Why do we care?” he asked at several points in the discussion on where water drains and the problems it may cause.
“Due diligence,” said Skrynyk at one point.
The fact is, she said, many lots don’t have proper drainage, despite what the lot grading certificate seems to indicate. The site visits reveal those deficiencies. The town doesn’t want to sign off on a development until they’ve been addressed. If the owner/developer can’t or won’t – well that’s another story.
On a positive note, Skrynyk said developers are getting much better at the lot grading thing. She also noted that in the ‘recovery area’ of southeast Slave Lake, the insistence on proper lot grading in the rebuilding has made a huge improvement in the overall drainage picture.
Having heard the report and watched the slide show, council turned to the matter of approving (or not) the lot grading policy. In the discussion that followed the motion, Warman admitted he’d been hearing things about Slave Lake’s “anti-development stigma,” and that “the process is onerous.” He said he’d talked to local people about it and reached out to other communities to find out how they handle it.
“The alternative is we don’t do it,” he said, “and with that comes liability.”
Council voted unanimously in favour of the policy.
Mayor’s corner: insect-flour biscotti
Mayor Warman reported about a Northern Alberta Mayor’s and Reeves Caucus meeting he’d attended in Edmonton. Marijuana (“We’re supposed to call it ‘cannabis. Marijuana is Mexican slang.”) legislation was one of the main topics. Land-use planning is part of it – where should municipalities allow it to be sold. Or should they at all?
“There’s a range of tolerance we can play with,” Warman said. “On one extreme we can say we’re cannabis-free. Or, on the other extreme, we could say let’s have one on every corner. What’s acceptable and what’s not?”
Another topic: changes in the Canada Food Guide.
“They had some biscotti from a bakery in Edmonton made from insect flour!” Warman said. “I didn’t try them.”
On caribou, the news was that the provincial government is pushing back a bit, asking for a time out on the caribou range plan.