M.D. of Lesser Slave River Council notebook

Flood mitigation plan for Marten Beach delayed for a bit

May 8, 2019 meeting

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

The Lesser Slave Regional Fire Service responded to 121 calls in the first four months of 2019, council heard. Chief Jamie Coutts, making the report, broke those down: 92 were to Hall #1 in Slave Lake, six at Widewater, 15 at Smith, five at Flatbush and three at Mitsue. The bulk of them were motor vehicle accidents.

Coutts went on to report the breakdown of firefighters at each station: 40 at Slave Lake, eight at Widewater, 11 at Smith, 16 at Flatbush and six at Mitsue. Mitsue now operates as a satellite hall to Hall #1, he said, due to the low numbers. As such, its training sessions are combined with the ones in Slave Lake.

Speaking of training, June 8 is something called ‘Water Day.’ Don’t be alarmed if you see a lot of trucks driving around, Coutts said. “We’re just training.”

Where the FireSmart program is concerned, its future is a bit up in the air, with three scenarios possible – summarized as no funding, half funding or full funding.

“We’re waiting,” Coutts said (on the new government).

Support for NLC

Northern Lakes College is launching a couple of new programs in the computer networking line. The college was asking council for a letter of support for the programs. That council gladly gave, voting in favour of a Sandra Melzer motion.

Marten Beach flood mitigation

Council was expecting the results of a request for proposals on ‘flood mitigation scoping and design’ for Marten Beach, but will have to wait. Council heard that the bidders on the short list need more time to firm up their pricing. The report will (or should) come back to the next council meeting.

Klassen said expressions of interest were received from eight companies.

Klassen added that he met with members of the Marten Beach group.

“They want some input,” he said. “But we need to make sure they’re not driving the project.”

Safety first

An audit of the M.D.’s safety procedures produced an 84 per cent score. This is a pass, council heard, but down from 2017’s 94 per cent result.

Presenting the report, Angeline Blackmore said there were 64 incidents in 2018, and 18 near misses.

The background on the report (which council isn’t used to getting), is that last year the provincial government did the first OH&S code update in 40 years. Audit standards went up, roles were more clearly defined, training requirements were clarified and action plans mandated.

One new area the M.D. had to formally consider in 2018 (and report on) is the safety of ‘other parties’ at work sites. This area had the lowest score in all categories in the audit, at 59 per cent. Work needs to be done.

At the conclusion of Blackmore’s report, reeve Kerik asked her to comment on the “attitude” of the M.D. workforce.

“I’m proud of our people,” she said. “I work with them very closely. “I feel they’re ahead of the game, and so do they.”

Inspectors duly appointed

As required under the pertinent provincial legislation, council officially appointed two weed and pest inspectors. They are Chantelle Whyte and Michael Vance. Whyte has done the job before; Vance is new to it.

“We’re really happy to have her back,” said Russ Jassman, presenting the report.

“Nothing but good news,” said Kerik.

The job of the two inspectors will be to monitor compliance with the Weed Control Act and the Agricultural Pests Act. The purpose is to check the spread of prohibited and noxious weeds as well as certain pests. These include grasshoppers, clubroot of canola and fusarium graminearum – a fungal disease of wheat and barley.

Widewater Sports Days

Harry and Heather Bartlett of the Widewater Athletic Association reported that the 60th annual edition of the event keeps getting bigger. Specifically, the ‘homecoming’ portion of it keeps adjusting upwards its expectations of how many will attend. It started at around 50, Harry said, and is now at around 200. There’s a section of the grounds reserved for those folks to park their RVs, and much socializing is anticipated.

Heather Bartlett gave credit to the M.D.’s Community Assistance Board for its help. It “allows us to not charge admission,” she said.

Athabasca Regional Waste Commission

Councillor Esau said the auditor’s report was favourable. A couple more test holes have to be bored at the Boyle landfill. The CARE conference (on recycling) is in Peace River this September.

Councillor Melzer said the Ag Service Board in Athabasca County is looking at a baler for plastic grain bags. Other types of plastic are not recyclable, she said, which is a shame.

“The plastic market is a nightmare,” Esau added.

“Why in the hell don’t they limit the type of plastics they make?” asked Kerik.

Esau wondered why the people who supply agricultural plastics can’t take back and recycle what they sell.

Homeland Housing

Melzer reported an eyebrow-raising statistic she’d heard from a recent meeting: by 2040, “more than 1.1 million people in Alberta will be seniors. And Alberta is not ready for that.”

CAO Winarski observed that by supporting two housing authorities, the M.D. provides more options for its seniors than do some other communities.
“It only becomes an issue when you have limited space for seniors,” he said.

“I think it will come,” said Esau.

Get to know your cabinet ministers

Reeve Kerik reported on a recent get-together of municipal reps and people from the new provincial government. He said he’d been put out about the relative lack of northern presence in the Jason Kenney cabinet, but came out of the meeting feeling better about it.

“These guys are all in there for a reason,” he said. “It really looks good.”

Kerik mentioned Travis Toews, the only minister from the northern part of the province.

“He’s going to be good,” he said. “He doesn’t fool around.”

On a less rosy note, Winarski added that the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) is on uncertain ground, with no assurances coming out of the meeting. MSI is a provincial funding program for municipal infrastructure.

“Wasn’t MSI guaranteed to 2022?” asked councillor Melzer.

“We’re checking,” said Winarski. “But it’s all unresolved.”

“How about for 2019?” asked Melzer.

“We don’t know,” said Winarski.

The M.D. did budget for MSI funding, to be applied against the job of relocating a chunk of the Old Smith Highway.

Community Assistance Board: something had to give

Reconvening as the Community Assistance Board, council reviewed applications for support from various organizations. The discussions were in camera, so we can report only the results, as follows:

The Smith Community Development Council gets $1,000 ($4,096.11 requested)

The Chisholm Community Club gets $1,000 ($2,300 requested)

Gentle Ben Care Society gets $10,000 ($12,538.50 requested)

Three applications were denied. These were from the organizers of a ball hockey tournament, Smith School for floor curling supplies and Gilwood Golf Club for its junior golf program.

The applications for this round totaled almost $33,000, so something was bound to give. The CAB has $40,000 to give away, with four rounds in the year. This was the second-quarter one, with $28,000 left after an earlier set of disbursements.

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