April 10, 2019 meeting
Council accepted the recommendation and approved the lower of two bids on the Chisholm gravel haul contract. That was from Doerksen Transport of LaCrete, for $96,846. The other bid came in at $110,000.
The contract calls for the delivery and spreading of just under 8,000 tonnes of gravel on 25 kilometres of roads in the M.D. It’s one of four separate re-gravel projects in the M.D. this summer. Three were put out for bids. The Smith one, council heard, “will be an hourly project, due to scheduling conflicts (with) the hot oil project on the river hill and the ditch pull on West Fawcett Road.”
The report continues, saying the hourly work along with three hot oil projects, “will ensure that local contractors have a fair opportunity.”
Councillor Sandra Melzer asked who is going to be monitoring dust control, speed and such on the Flatbush gravel haul. We are, said Bill Klassen, the M.D.’s roads boss.
Slave Lake haul
The M.D.’s re-graveling program for roads in the Slave Lake area was budgeted at $100,350. It’s for spreading 12,695 tonnes of M.D. gravel on 35 kilometres of road.
This time there were five bids, and again Doerksen Transport was the lowest of the bunch. It came in at $85,150. Council voted in favour of that one.
The middle three bids ranged from $126,500 to $150,000. The highest one was a whopping $486,000.
Poplar Lane flood repair – engineering fees
The bad news is due to the flood repair job on Poplar Lane costing more and taking longer than initially estimated, engineering (i.e. supervision) fees went up accordingly. The good news is it’s being covered by provincial disaster relief funding.
Council was asked to approve $106,000 for this item.
Councillor Brad Pearson asked if the election could affect the delivery of the relief funding. Anything’s possible, said CAO Allan Winarski. But probably not.
“You’d have to be a real heel to cancel,” he said. “I can’t see disaster funding being pulled out from under you.”
Pearson had more to say about the project.
“I really struggle,” he said. “Doing the same thing over and over again. It just doesn’t work. It’s just going to happen again.”
Pearson was referring to damage caused by Eating Creek when it floods, which it does frequently. Some kind of mitigation is in order, but funding for it has never been approved. However, there is some reason for optimism.
“We’re working on a grant to save us in the future,” said Klassen.
He was referring to the Alberta Community Resilience Program. It’s a fund for flood and drought mitigations projects.
“We should be very competitive,” said Winarski.
Councillor Pearson added this item to the agenda. He said he noticed a culvert or culverts under paved roads that are at risk of deteriorations. What he wanted to know was if the M.D. had a program of monitoring them and a formula for prioritizing repairs.
“If we’re going to develop a program, priority should be on the ones that are the costliest to replace.”
Klassen assured him culverts are checked regularly.
“We never know which ones are going to fail,” he said.
Pearson said he could point to one or two in Canyon Creek that are at risk.
Klassen said his team is working on a 10-year plan for culvert maintenance and replacement.
Councillor Pearson’s third additional agenda item had to do with signs on Southshore Drive by the Widewater fire hall playground. They don’t indicate a 30 kph zone, he said, and he wondered if they should. The limit along there is 50 and some exceed it.
“I’ve had a few phone calls,” he said. “It’s kind of a race track.”
The reason it isn’t a playground speed zone, Klassen explained, is because the playground is far enough off the road not to require it. However, council could make it happen if it wants to. If safety is a concern, council could reduce the entire road to 30, he said.
Councillor Brian Rosche said he thought it was worth looking into, but he was definitely in favour of a 30 kph zone behind the playground, on the nearby Woodland Estate road.
Pearson made a motion to have administration look into making it 30 kph on Southshore Drive by the fire hall.
Keeping the M.D. out of the ditch
Council got a fairly rosy report on the M.D. financial situation from its external auditor. Financial controls are good, etc. etc.
Sitting in to hear the auditor’s presentation were five ladies from the M.D.’s finance department, whose hard work was acknowledged.
“Kudos for keeping the M.D. out of the ditch,” said councillor Pearson.
The five are department director Pat Sibilleau, Wanda Sinclair, Debbie Conrad, Sharon Woolston and Joni (‘She’s on us like pit bulls’) Boucher.
Councillor Rosche asked if the carbon tax could be isolated as an expense in the financial report.
“I think it should be shown,” he said. “A lot of people aren’t aware they’re paying it – on groceries, municipal taxes, school taxes – on everything.”
Difficult to do, said CAO Allan Winarski.
“It’s a political issue,” he added.
Phishing and whaling
Councillor Pearson asked the financial folks about financial scams. He’d seen a news story about how a person in a company fell for an email – allegedly from her boss – ordering her to submit a large payment, electronically. These are called ‘phishing’ scams in the lingo. Pearson said when they deal with really big amounts, they are now being called ‘whaling’ scams.
He brought it up because he wondered if the M.D. was aware and being careful about such threats.
Auditor Jeff Alliston said another client has faced such a scam. If you click on the link in the email, he said, it might result in somebody getting access to your passwords.
“But you pay by cheques,” he said.
Pearson was happy to hear it.
“Old school is pretty foolproof,” he said.
Not necessarily, said Winarski.
“People can still alter cheques,” he said. “And smash mailboxes and steal them.”
Compromise on gravel levy
Per a councillor Esau request, the matter of the higher levy on gravel taken out of pits in the M.D. was up for reconsideration. The M.D had raised the levy to $0.40 per tonne this year, from $0.25.
Esau’s contention was that this was unfair to haulers who were fulfilling contracts based on the lower rate. CAO Winarski had a compromise solution. It read like this:
“Allow the bylaw to stand as written, but allow for credits for contracts for delivery of gravel during 2019, executed prior to March 20.”
Council approved the proposal.
Land-Use Bylaw review coming
The M.D. is going to hire somebody to do public consultation prior to a re-write of the land-use bylaw. Council was presented with the broad concepts involved and asked for input.
One question was what the M.D. gains by hiring a consultant to do the job.
“The ability to get this thing done,” was Winarski’s answer. “We can’t do it in-house.”
Also discussed was how to get the public engaged, so they actually show up at consultation sessions.
“You have to make them feel it’s going to affect them,” said Pearson.
One thing to consider, said Ann Holden, making the presentation, is that, “It’s important to engage the people that could undermine you plans.”
She gave as an example potential conflicts between tourism operators and gravel pit developers.
“Two ideas that could collide,” she said.
That prompted the following, from CAO Winarski.
“If you want to see a bloodbath,” he said. “Clearwater County. A gun range.”
He was referring to land-use conflicts. The M.D. has a few of its own.
“Our problem for a very long time has been enforcement,” said councillor Jeff Commins.