Town of Slave Lake Council notebook

Aug. 21, 2018

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Progress on the HM Inn

CAO Brian Vance, in his update for council, said “progress is being made,” in the matter of the Highway Motor Inn. Whether the progress has to do with collecting outstanding property taxes, or getting something done about the condition of the building, Vance did not say.
“It’s a very legal process,” he added. “We have to go down the road and see where it takes us.”

Highway Motor Inn

Positive slope

Councillor Darin Busk asked about the new concrete “drainage things” put in as part of the sidewalk rehab project just completed. Some of them look like they are higher than the street, he said. Not so, said town project manager Doug Baird. “Every one of them has a positive slope.”
Not only that, every one of them replaces a similar (but shorter) one. That surprised a few people, since the things were pretty much invisible. Baird added that the new ones are about four times as long and should work better. Nine of the 12 were replaced.

Drag racing on 7th?

Councillor Rebecca King asked about the possibility of the town painting a line down the middle of the street Roland Michener School is on. She said she’s been hearing from concerned residents about ‘students’ drag racing side by side down that street.
“The RCMP say they can’t enforce it because there’s no line,” she said.
Calvin Couturier, the operations director, said he planned to talk to the staff sergeant about it.

CN crossings

Councillor Julie Brandle is probably getting tired of asking the same old question on when the bumpy CN Rail crossings will be fixed. But they aren’t fixed yet, so she did.
Vance said CN is arranging it, and as far as he knows, when E Construction next has its asphalt plant set up in town, that’s when it will get done. That is projected to be next month, since E has the airport paving project to do.

Walking trail security

Councillor Busk said he’s been hearing of people “being accosted” on the walking trails in town and as a result not using them. “It’s not very pleasant,” he said.
Busk said for one thing, the town should make sure all the lights along the trails are working; for another, could the RCMP and/or the town peace officers patrol them more?

Main St. North waterline

Asked about this project, Baird said the decision has been made to abandon (for now) a couple of troublesome tie-ins, finish off the rest of it and get it in service. A couple of spots on Balsam Rd. are defeating all efforts at getting work done, thanks to water pouring in. Two vac trucks couldn’t keep up. The plan is to wait until the lake level goes down.
Meanwhile, the four-inch line north along Main St. from Tamarack Rd. has been installed, per M.D. decision. It’s too small to serve fire hydrants, council heard, but that’s M.D. business. The M.D. will look after the connections.

Waterline construction

Strategic priorities

Council went over a list of strategic priorities, noting what’s been done and what’s in progress. Some big ones that have been struck off the list are the agreements with the M.D. on fire services and rec facility funding – much to everyone’s relief. The 10-year road rehabilitation program, with a funding strategy, is in the books. Also resolved after a lot of work is the town taking over operation of the Legacy Centre.
On the planning side, the downtown and Main St. plan is well advanced and the updating of bylaws to fit the new Municipal Government Act is 95 per cent complete. Various other policy reviews are in process.
“Lots of stuff accomplished this year,” said mayor Warman, summing up. “We’ll be able to start with a fairly clean slate. Good job, everybody.”

Budget update

Finance director Roland Schmidt brought council up to speed on the budget, as of June 30. He said expenditures as of that date were at 53 per cent of budget – more or less in line with expectations.
Two areas were over budget – fire services and town-owned commercial properties. In both cases, Schmidt said in his report, the costs are attributed to higher-than-expected repairs and maintenance. However there are mitigating factors, also in both cases. With the fire services, revenue is up too, somewhat off-setting the higher costs. With the property maintenance, 77 per cent of the expenditures are invoiced to the province.

Roland Schmidt

ATCO Gas franchise

Before council was the proposal to renew an agreement with ATCO Gas to provide natural gas distribution within town limits. The company would prefer a 20-year term, but would accept 10.
Providing the background on the item, Vance said ATCO had purchased the distribution system from the town in 1988, when a 20-year agreement was signed. ATCO pays the town an annual franchise fee, which at present amounts to $453,000 (and which the town can adjust annually). The original agreement was extended for 10 years, bringing it to 2018.
“It’s pretty tricky if we don’t want to renew,” said Vance, “because we’d have to buy it back from them.”
Mayor Warman said he had no problem with the way it works, but doesn’t like the idea of tying the hands of future councils over 20 years. He said he favoured a 10-year renewal. Speaking in favour of the 20-year renewal, councillor Busk pointed out that “it’s been good for 30 years.”
Council gave first reading to the bylaw without specifying a term, and asked admin to get them a list of benefits vs. drawbacks for the two scenarios. Councillors Busk and Joy McGregor voted against the motion.

Local company gets roof job

Tru Line Construction of Slave Lake got the job of repairing nine sections of the water treatment plant roof. Presenting the report, Doug Baird said the plan had been to stretch the repair job out over several years, but the leaking got worse this year and the decision was made to do the works. The plant has 15 distinct roof sections, four of which were repaired last year. Tru Line will repair the rest this year, for the price of $137,000.

Water treatment plant

Tree management

Council approved a new tree management policy for the town. It recognizes trees as assets and sets out rules for pruning and replacement. As well, it includes a process for donations for ‘memorial’ trees.
Presenting the report, community services director Garry Roth (who doesn’t return phone calls from The Leader) said boulevard trees in the northeast part of town are an area of concern in need of monitoring. The issue there is some of them are quite old and large and hang over the street. This can and does get in the way of grader operations.

Electricity purchase agreement

A last-minute addition to the agenda had to do with the purchase of electricity. Town manager Brian Vance said the opportunity was there to buy power for three years at the rate of 5.344 cents per kilowatt hour, through the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association. This bulk-buying scheme usually results in a lower price than the municipality could achieve on its own.
Council doesn’t have to act immediately on this, Vance said, but next week the price might be higher. It could also go lower, he said, but from what he’s seen this was a very good price.
“It’s playing the market, but we aren’t likely to see it get much lower for a three-year contract.”
Council had no problem with that and approved the deal, via a Brice Ferguson motion.

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