With nearly $800,000 of provincial economic stimulus cash up for grabs, Slave Lake’s town council has decided to spend a bit more on downtown beautification. Instead of the initial proposal of $120,000, councillors voted in favour of more than tripling it at their Sept. 8 meeting.
Five projects had initially been proposed and tentatively approved by council a week earlier. But following councillor Brice Ferguson’s lead, councillors came around to favouring more for downtown and less for sidewalk improvements.
“I’m in favour of more in downtown revitalization,” Ferguson said.
Mayor Tyler Warman pressed him for a number. Three hundred thousand, Ferguson suggested.
Council eventually settled on combining the $200,000 sidewalk item with the Rennie Hall Plaza item, and upping the total to $400,000.
Three other projects were approved as proposed – a new waterline for the fire hall, estimated at $100,000, a SCADA system upgrade for the water treatment plant ($110,000) and drainage upgrades ($180,000).
It should be noted these all have to be approved by the provincial government, which has some stipulations attached to its Municipal Stimulus Program (MSP) grants. One of them is that projects can’t be ones the municipality would have done otherwise, without the stimulus money. It could be argued that at least two of them (SCADA and drainage) would have been done eventually, with or without provincial cash.
The downtown revitalization project – as proposed – calls for leveling off Rennie Hall Plaza and replacing the surface. What that will end up consisting of remains to be seen. Councillor Darin Busk again stated his dislike for paving blocks, and councillor Julie Brandle shared the sentiment. The report says the upgrade could include the relocation and removal of planters, flowerpots, lamp posts and entrance features. Going even further (much further), it includes the construction of a trail connecting 6th Ave. NW with Caribou Trail, so as to give access to pedestrians and cyclists to Big Fish Bay without having to use Caribou Trail. They would have to cross it, though, and a crosswalk would be in the budget.
“That’s great,” said Warman, referring to the trail. He noted that there haven’t been additions to the town’s trail system in a number of years, and that the western quadrants of town haven’t had any trails to begin with.
The proposed MSP projects must be submitted to the province for approval by Oct. 1. Once approved, the town has until the end of next year to spend the money.