May 15, 2018 meeting
Thumbs down to zoning change
Council voted unanimously against adding a couple of uses to what’s permitted in the C1A, or Mixed Commercial/Residential District. This was in response to the application of a property owner on 3rd St. NE, who would like ‘secondary suites’ and ‘general contractor services’ added to what’s permitted in the district.
The application had previously been rejected by the Municipal Planning Commission. Council was not minded to contradict that body.
“I’m not in favour,” said mayor Tyler Warman, leading off what he expected to be a vigorous discussion, but wasn’t. “C1A is a buffer zone between residential and commercial. There’s a lot of variation in what could exist. I can’t justify that.”
Warman was referring to the fact that if ‘general contractor services’ is permitted in C1A (it’s the zone next to downtown where commercial establishments on the ground floor and apartments above are envisioned and promoted), it could lead to things the neighbours don’t like. That was the point stressed more than once in the public hearing on the matter. If you make a change in a permitted use for one applicant, you have to be prepared to accept what comes for every property in that zone. Council and the MPC clearly weren’t prepared to do that.
Where that leaves the applicant, with the detached garage and suite above already constructed, is not clear.
Nuts and bolts
In his CAO report for council, Brian Vance said the regional waterline project “is getting down to the nuts and bolts.” In fact project manager Doug Baird had provided a report about pretty much exactly that – nuts and bolts. The biggest part yet to do is drilling the intake lines out under (and then into) the lake at Wagner.
Vance said the town was putting out an ad seeking ‘expressions of interest’ on further developing Fournier Place. This is the town’s residential neighbourhood on the west side of town, development of which was handled for the past several years by Homes by Northplex under an exclusive deal with the town.
“We’re open for business on that,” Vance said. “Whatever makes sense.”
Missing pieces of sidewalk
Apparently the mayor has been hearing from people who are unhappy about missing chunks of sidewalk at CN rail crossings. He asked Vance if the plan was to make it part of the larger sidewalk repair program or to do it separately and hopefully sooner.
Vance said he’d check.
“My preference is we do it separately,” he said.
“Me too,” said Warman.
Small equipment helps
Warman said he’d heard the town was able to do a bit of remedial work with small machinery on rough spots on roads in the Gloryland neighbourhood. Frost boils have been bad there, and sending in a grader wouldn’t make sense when the road is soft. So a Bobcat was the answer and apparently brought some temporary relief.
Slow-pitch to pay adult rates
Council made short work of a suggestion that the Slave Lake Slo-Pitch Association be charged less than other adult users of Slave Lake recreational facilities.
“I can’t justify charging a youth rate for something that’s already heavily subsidized,” said mayor Warman in his remarks.
Councillor Julie Brandle agreed: “These are adults and they should be paying adult rates,” she said.
Slowpitch reps had appealed at an earlier meeting for a return to the rates the league had been paying historically. These had been set years ago, council heard, in a deal that had the association doing a lot of the work in developing and maintaining the diamonds. Last fall, the town informed them the rates would be going up. The group appealed then, and appealed again this spring.
The matter is now settled.
Playing in the market
Vance reported an upcoming meeting with Alberta Urban Municipalities Association people on the topic of power and gas purchasing. An agreement on that ends in the fall and the discussion is about how to proceed on the next one. How it works generally is municipalities join together to increase purchasing power so as to get better rates, and there are various options.
“We get to play the market a bit on that,” Vance said.
No rubber for playgrounds
The town likes the idea of rubberized surfaces for playgrounds and wants to install them when affordable. Affording them is the tough part.
Council was informed that the town had been approved for a $16,000 grant towards the cost of rubberizing one of the ‘tot lots.’ However that amount plus a reserve account would still not cover the cost. In one case it would leave the town with a deficit of $32,000; in another the shortfall would be $14,000. No thanks, said council, and voted it down.
“Let’s re-evaluate it during budget discussions next year,” said Warman.
Cheques over $50,000
Per policy, cheques of $50,000 or higher must be approved by council. Accordingly, finance director Roland Schmidt had a list of them for council to pass judgment upon.
The biggest was a million dollars to the Slave Lake Airport Commission. This is a grant for paving that the town was holding on behalf of the commission. Another large one was $408,000 for policing costs.
Summer meetings curtailed
Council approved a reduced number of meetings in July and August. The July 17 and Aug. 7 meetings have been canceled.
Warman said he’s been spending a lot of time on economic development and tourism (which amount to the same thing) matters lately. He said there’s new staff at the Visitor Information Centre, and the gift shop has re-opened. The new regional brochure has been released and is getting some good reviews.
The ‘familiarization’ tours for front-line staff in service businesses went well, Warman said. The idea there is for people who are likely to encounter visitors to the community to better be able to answer questions about local attractions and services.
The Dime Store Fisherman will be filming an episode on the lake and in the community in early June.