April 24, 2019 meeting
Last week’s M.D. council meeting was held at the Widewater Complex. It’s the first of three spring meetings to be held in M.D. communities in the evening, to allow residents to attend and ask questions or air concerns. Attendance was light.
Let’s send some letters
Council decided to get off on the right foot with the newly-elected MLAs whose ridings cover parts of the M.D. Accordingly, they passed a motion to have letters of congratulation sent to Pat Rehn of Lesser Slave Lake and Glen van Dijken of Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock.
Council also will send a letter to outgoing Lesser Slave Lake MLA Danielle Larivee, thanking her for her hard work and advocacy for the M.D. over the past four years.
“She did her best for us,” said reeve Murray Kerik.
Default agreement for multi-parcel subdivisions
It’s unlikely anybody is planning any big subdivision developments these days. But just in case they are, the M.D. has come up with what it’s calling a ‘default agreement’ for such developments. The idea, said CAO Allan Winarski, presenting the report, is to reduce red tape for developers, “while protecting the public interest.”
The public interest means the taxpayers who are already here. The agreement reduces ambiguity, Winarski said. Most importantly, “it reduces upfront costs to the developer for security and deposits as risk is borne by the developer.” Winarski’s report goes on to say that this is “a significant control for the municipality and savings to the developer.”
In the past, risk was borne by the M.D.; hence the requirement of security deposits.
Councillors seemed pleased with the concept.
“I think this is just wonderful,” said councillor Brian Rosche. “It’s pro-development. Good job putting this together.”
Councillors proposed a few tweaks and then approved the amended version.
Coming soon: community consultation on land use
Council had another brainstorming session on land use issues. The bylaw that says what can be done in various zones is up for review, and M.D. admin. wants to make sure council has plenty of input on “areas of concern” before the ball is handed to a consultant.
The consultant’s job will be to consult: i.e. talk to the people in the M.D. and find out what their issues and preferences are. It’s a big, complicated and in some cases controversial topic.
For example: The matter of additional rental properties on single-family lots.
“It’s a contentious thing,” said councillor Rosche, “that should be discussed with ratepayers. It might fit in one area and not in another area.”
One thing that’s likely to get lots of attention is the mixing of business and residential uses.
New things are arising.
“Micro-houses,” said Russ Jassman, the M.D.’s director of rural services. “Where do they go? How do we deal with them?”
“Home is where you hang your hat,” observed councillor Robert Esau.
Another Esau observation was on the subject of second residences on acreages. It can be a deterrent to rural crime, he said.
“It’s a discussion I’d really like to bring forward.”
“What’s a ‘shouse?’ asked reeve Kerik, referring to an unfamiliar term in the written report.
“A shop house,” said Jassman.
Apparently it’s a thing. So are a lot of other things, and neighbours often complain about them. All that and more is expected to come out in the community consultations.
Council passed a motion to put the LUB review out for proposals.
Brush disposal dilemma
Grant Pearson of Canyon Creek asked council to consider setting up a place and a time once a year for residents to get rid of their brush. Many aren’t equipped to haul it to the landfill, he said, and it ends up being thrown in ditches, or piling up in corners and being a fire hazard.
Having a permanent place to pile it probably wouldn’t work, he said, because “everything ends up in it.”
Good job on roads
Pearson’s other point for council’s consideration was praise of the job M.D. roads people are doing.
“I don’t think the crews get enough recognition,” he said. “The M.D. roads are in better shape than the pavement on the highway.”
Park in Canyon
“Are we going to clean up that beach?” asked councillor Brian Rosche, referring to the one by Jean-Luc Debas Park in Canyon Creek.
Permission from the province to do that was sought about six years ago, with no noticeable result so far.
Grant Pearson said he and some local people were ready and willing to do the clean-up, but are reluctant to proceed without official permission.
“It won’t cost the M.D. a penny,” said Pearson. “It’s a one-day thing.”
Permission has to come from the province.
“We’ll talk to those people,” said CAO Allan Winarski.
Bridge re-hab goes to Griffin
A company called Griffin Contracting was the low bidder on some bridge re-habilitation work for the M.D. and gets the job. The bridges in the contract are on Sawridge Rd., Southshore Drive East, Poplar Lane, North Shore Drive (by Marten Beach), Township Rd. 740, and Muskeg Road. These are all as a result of flood damage from last year, and are covered under provincial disaster recovery funding.
The contract is for $323,297, plus engineering fees of $65,000 and a 10 per cent contingency.
Flatbush gravel haul
Council accepted the recommendation to award the Flatbush gravel haul contract to Complete Waste Solutions for $190,000. This was a revised price, following an initial bid of $333,000. The budgeted amount for the job was $166,000.
The job calls for 23,000 tonnes of M.D. gravel to be delivered to and spread on 66 kilometres of roads.
A third contract council was asked to approve was for pavement repairs in a couple of locations. The initial estimate had been $140,000 in total for the work, but the area on the West Mitsue Road is deteriorating fast and has pretty much doubled in size. Council approved the low bid, which was $213,000 from Paveit Construction of Slave Lake. The shortfall will come out of reserves.
Council approved the low bid on provision of a medium-duty truck. The budgeted amount was $90,000, but Slave Lake Chrysler’s bid came in at $61,880. Add $10,000 to that for a box and hoist, council was advised.
Ag Service Board
Reporting on this active organization, councillor Sandra Melzer said summer staff have been hired and will start on May 6. Two days before that (May 4) will be an information session on raising chickens at the Widewater Complex.
Other ASB stuff included the ominous news that higher costs of Class I driving training would make it difficult to recruit schoolbus drivers (already difficult enough).
Community Education Committee – councillor Becky Peiffer said the college is holding a free barbecue on May 16 in Slave Lake. It will be a way for people to meet with NLC folks and learn about programs and opportunities.
On May 28, Peiffer said, CTV is shooting a commercial at the college.
SL Regional Housing
“Flying colours,” is how councillor Pearson characterized the 2018 financials of this organization. On the pending ‘sea can’ housing complex coming to Slave Lake, Pearson said the board was presented with a couple of design options and preferred what he called the “stack concept,” as being easier to manage.
The complex is slated to displace 12 single-family units in the northwest part of Slave Lake. Seven of those are already vacant.
Speaking further on the design, councillor Jeff Commins said the board advised against a “central courtyard.” Past experience has shown that “it ended up as party central,” he said.
Water quality monitoring will be happening on various points in the Lesser Slave Lake watershed, councillor Rosche reported. The County of Big Lakes is contributing cash towards monitoring sites on the West Prairie River. The Swan River First Nation, he added, is funding similar testing on the Swan River.
Speaking of financial support for the work of the Lesser Slave Lake Watershed Council, Vanderwell Contractors is contributing $20,000 a year over five years, Rosche said.