Just in time for the white stuff: news from town council

Town of Slave Lake Council Notebook

Nov. 6, 2018 meeting

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Council was informed of three new additions to the town staff – one in community services, one at the pool and one equipment operator.
CAO Brian Vance added that in the operations department that makes three new employees altogether.
“Just in time for the white stuff,” observed mayor Tyler Warman.
“They have a lot of training to do,” said Vance.

Fire hall short of people

Vance reported a busy week of calls for the fire department; also the sobering news that with several recent resignations “they’ve had trouble getting enough people out on calls.”
One way of dealing with this, he said, is to stagger the shifts of the paid people on staff, to improve after-hours coverage. Meanwhile, the efforts to recruit volunteer firefighters continue.

Hilltop piping?

One of the items in Vance’s update for council had to do with what he called the ‘Hilltop Reservoir Piping Replacement Project.’ Mayor Warman may have spoken for many in the room when he said: “I don’t remember talking about that.”
But it turns out the engineering for the pipe replacement at the water reservoir was approved in the 2018 budget and has been going on. It is ready to go into detailed design, Vance said in his report, and be tendered early next year.

Issues with pigs

The regional water line project continues to have its hiccups. The ‘pigging’ process – which involves sending wads of material down the newly constructed line to clean it out – has been problematic, with the pigs getting stuck. Most recently, a valve was damaged, Vance said. Pressure testing continues and once it’s done and everything appears shipshape, the final connection to the water plant will be made. Following that will be a 30-day performance test phase. Once the green light goes on, raw water from the lake off Wagner will begin to supply the plant, replacing (or supplementing) the water intake from the river north of town.

5th Ave. NW

As predicted, the re-hab job on 5th Ave. NW has been interrupted by winter. The curbs and gutters were done, but the pavement will have to wait until spring, Vance advised council.

Water meters being replaced

The replacement of water meters in Slave Lake is in process, but the going is slow, due to the numbers involved; i.e. lots of meters and not lots of people to do the work.
“We did about 45 last week,” Vance told council. He said it is going “reasonably well,” with about 400 changed out so far. The total to be replaced is 2,500.
The replacements are starting in the southeast part of town, and residents are encouraged to call the town and make an appointment.

New vision statement adopted for the town

Council came up with a new statement that captures its vision for the community, as hashed out in a strategic planning session with town department heads back in September. However, it needed to be officially adopted by way of a motion. Commenting on the discussions that led to it, mayor Warman said: “Council is driven to grow the community. So we adapted it a little bit.”
The new vision statement reads: ‘Slave Lake is committed to building opportunities by growing business, industry and population, while promoting ourselves and our exceptional quality of life’
As presented, it actually read ‘an’ exceptional quality of life. Councillor Brice Ferguson said it should be ‘our’ and council went with that, voting in favour of a Ferguson motion to make it so.
The new statement replaces this one, which has been in place since 2007: ‘Slave Lake is the community of choice, recognized as a dynamic, regional leader providing a balanced quality of life in a pristine environment.’
Also coming out of the September strat planning session was a decision to change the committee of the whole meetings to the afternoon rather than the traditional 7:00 p.m. time. Warman said the idea is to facilitate the attendance of department managers at the meetings, so they can participate in the discussions about policy and so on.
“We’re excited to see the possibilities,” he said.
Committee of the whole meetings are the second Tuesday of every month, as a rule. They are intended to give council an opportunity to talk in depth about emerging issues. Warman said they will now be held at 1:00 p.m.

Metis Week is this week

A late addition to the agenda was a letter from the Metis Nation of Alberta Region 5, inviting council to participate in a Metis Week flag-raising ceremony on Nov. 13. Mayor Warman said it conflicted with an economic development meeting, but he would attempt to attend. He encouraged his colleagues to do likewise.

Strat plan; a berm for the hospital?

On a related note, council adopted the new strategic plan – which included the new vision and new meeting times – as presented.
Included in the plan are 10 council priorities, arrived at in the Sept 15 and 16 strategic brainstorming sessions. In the order they appear (which may or may not indicate priority), they are:
A marketing plan for Slave Lake, business and economic development, a 10-year capital plan, continuing with a clean-up program for Devonshire Beach, a workplace-attraction strategy for the town, the implementation of the Downtown and Main Street Area Plan, building a berm behind the hospital, creating an internal training and internship plan and finally, partnering with Northern Lakes College on efficiency at the swimming pool.
Some of those beg to be fleshed out, which is more or less what mayor Warman had to say in his comments, indicating he isn’t quite clear on what they would entail. He said he’s looking forward to discussing them further at upcoming meetings.

SDAB term extended

The Subdivision and Development Appeal Board hears and rules on appeals of decisions made by the Municipal Planning Commission. It consists of one councillor and three or four members of the public. The term of the public members was up on Oct. 31, council heard, but it was recommended to extend it to March 31.
This would see the board through a period in which the town is attempting to set up a regional SDAB with a couple of its municipal neighbours. In the meantime, an appeal is looming, new board members would have to be trained, and the term extension would see things through.
What the report didn’t say was that the M.D. council recently rejected the notion of a regional SDAB, preferring to go it alone.
Council approved the recommendation, extending the terms of public members Ed Procyshyn, Doug Babiy and Bruce Allarie for five months.

Watershed plan

Councillors had some reservations about the implications of endorsing something called the Integrated Watershed Management Plan. This is the plan developed for the Lesser Slave watershed by the Lesser Slave Lake Watershed Council over the past few years, in consultation with local governments and others. Among its recommendations are measures to reduce the impact of development on the lakeshore and along watercourses leading into the lake.
Anything that restricts development or makes it more costly will get a reaction from municipal politicians and that was what happened in this case.
“Are we bound to it?” asked councillor Brice Ferguson.
Not exactly, was the answer, but it does commit the town to making an effort to mitigate negative impacts to the watershed.
“I’m quite concerned,” said mayor Warman.
Most of the things that are recommended in the plan the town already has in place in its development process, said the director.
“It’s pretty standard stuff.”
Councillor Darin Busk said he had nothing against it in principle, as long as it doesn’t entail more money on more studies.
Council ended up endorsing the plan as presented.

Mayor’s corner

Warman wrapped up the meeting in the usual manner, by reporting on his mayoral activities of the week. The list was shorter than usual, perhaps because the bulk of what he’d been doing was enduring budget meetings along with the rest of council.
“Budget continues to be a big process,” he said. “We challenged administration to go back and sharpen their pencils.”
Finally, Warman remarked on how pleasant and relatively uneventful Halloween was this year.

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