April 10, 2018 meeting
Progress on one thing and another
CAO Brian Vance was back after a week off with a new set of updates on town projects and departmental circumstances.
The regional waterline and intake station project is on schedule, Vance reported. The pump house shell will be completed soon and plumbing will follow, with electrical the final piece. Those should take about a month apiece. The waterline installation is about 60 per cent complete. Drilling under the airport will start as soon as permission comes through from Transport Canada.
The Main Street North waterline replacement project has run into some difficulties, Vance said. “Extremely wet” soil conditions are the problem. The solution is a new “engineered shoring box,” which will apparently allow the below-ground work to be done safely.
CN has committed to a permanent repair on the two uneven crossings in town; those are on 7th St. leading into/out of the Springwood neighbourhood and 3rd St. The work is to be done when it warms up.
How is it being done, asked mayor Tyler Warman. They’ll grind the pavement down to a correct slope and then fill it in with a ‘hot mix.’
The town is working with the Regional Housing Authority on a proposed affordable housing project. One of the options being considered is a complex pre-fabricated out of shipping containers in Calgary.
“I don’t like the technology,” Vance said.
The town’s bylaw enforcement people have been active. Peace officers seized two vehicles for not having insurance. A ban notice was given to a repeat offender for being drunk in the library.
“The bans do appear to be making a difference,” says Vance’s written report, “however there is still heavy alcohol abuse in the government building and lobbies.”
Street to be torn up for a couple of months
Having decided to impose a special tax to help pay for road rehabilitation in the northwest part of town, council took the next step and approved the contract. It goes to the low bidder, Knelsen Sand and Gravel, in the amount of $1,167,778. With engineering and other costs added, the total for the project is budgeted at $1,584,600.
Fifth Ave. between 5th St. and 8th St. NW is in “horrible shape,” said town project manager Doug Baird. The curbs are falling apart and the sidewalks are lifting, so small cars, when they park and open the door “can’t get out of the car.” The pavement on both sides is degraded to the point it can’t really be called pavement anymore.
What was originally envisioned was a repaving job with spot repairs to underground water and sewer lines. But Baird told council close inspection revealed so many repairs needed to the lines that they should be completely replaced.
“It’s those old concrete sewer lines,” Baird subsequently told The Leader. “Concrete and frost don’t get along all that well.”
So it will be the full-on road re-hab type of job, meaning the street will be dug up and off-limits to traffic for a good two months. July and August are the months expected for that, Baird said, calling the two months “a best-case scenario.”
In addition to new underground lines and new pavement, the section of street will get new sidewalks and a couple of new fire hydrants.
The $1.58 million is well below the originally budgeted $1.97 million. However, it includes an increased contingency component, raised due to expectations of difficulties from the high water table. Baird told council of the “extreme challenges” the waterline project on the north side of town has been facing due to saturated ground.
Asked about plans to inform affected residents, Baird said all would be given 45 days’ notice, then a two-week notice and finally, when the road is going to be closed directly in front of a property, the residents will be notified of that.
“Over-communicate, please,” said mayor Warman.
Boards and committees
Council approved an updated version of the town’s policy that governs how council makes appointments to various boards and committees. Suggested changes were fairly minor. Apparently it had been talked about, but no change was made with regard to compensating public members on these boards.
“We’re keeping with the policy of not doing that,” said mayor Warman, “but some of these boards continue to struggle with attracting public members.”
Vance pointed out that the policy does allow boards to set their own rates.
Chamber of Commerce – councillor Julie Brandle, reporting on the most recent meeting of the Slave Lake & District Chamber of Commerce, said the spring trade show was one topic of discussion. It has an ‘outdoor adventure’ theme, and one whole arena will be filled with automobile and rec vehicle dealers. Also at the meeting – a presentation by the High Prairie School Division on school bus safety. This included some alarming videos of vehicles passing buses while the red lights were flashing. Finally, the presentation by Economic Development Minister Deron Bilous was “very interesting,” Brandle said.
Tri-council health – councillor McGregor said a group called RPAP (Rural Physician Action Plan) is reaching out and wants to talk to physicians (and perhaps other health care professionals) in the area. Their goal is to find out what brought them here and what keeps them here. They’ll also be talking to the spouses and making short videos.
The group also met with AHS ambulance people for a frank discussion on service gaps, McGregor said.
“There are some things they’re working on,” she said. “It was a good meeting.”
Warman agreed, calling it “very candid.” There have been times, Warman said, when the fire department has been called in on medical calls when ambulances weren’t available. However, the feedback to the ambulance bosses seems to have done some good.
“Rural Alberta as a whole has an issue (with patient transfers between hospitals),” he said. “It’s going to have to be a joint effort.”
On a related note, Warman said the group continues to advocate for a more suitable home base for the ambulance service locally.
Library board – McGregor said a community input session is scheduled for Monday, May 7. Various groups will be invited to have their say about library services.
People drinking (or drunk people) continue to be a problem at the library. Staff are keeping statistics and don’t hesitate to call the police, McGregor said.
In other library news, the turnout at kids’ events has been big.
Community Education Committee – McGregor reported that the CECs from all over the Northern Lakes College region gathered for a meeting. The keynote speaker was former MLA and cabinet minister Doug Griffiths, who did his ’13 Ways to Kill a Community’ presentation.
“It was good at getting you to think,” she said.
Municipal Planning Commission – councillor Busk said the MPC heard two applications for new businesses. One was for a home-based photography business and the other was for a catering business offering prepared meals (fresh or frozen) that could be picked up at a certain location.
The group also had what he called “a good discussion” about an application by an existing business in the industrial area to carry animal feed. MPC members were “not in favour of bulk,” he said, meaning, presumably, that they are in favour of packaged products.
Regional waste management – councillor Brice Ferguson reported that “volumes are up substantially” at the landfill lately. There have been a couple of incidents of trucks ‘jackknifing’ on the landfill road. Staffing is a challenge and other than that, it’s “business as usual.”
Tri-council economic development – this group’s main focus continues to be tourism promotion, Warman reported. There’s a “big push” to get a brochure out by the May long weekend. Also the group is encouraging local hotels to get back at the DMF (destination marketing fund) concept. A new website for the region is also in development.
Plans are in process to take frontline staff of interested businesses on a tour of the area, making them familiar with the highlights. The idea there, Warman said, is that visitors to the community often ask these people questions about the area and it would be helpful if they knew how to answer them.
Finally, the group is launching a survey, in which respondents are asked to list the ‘Top 10 things to do in Slave Lake.’