M.D. of Lesser Slave River Council notebook

June 12, 2019 meeting
Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Pitch from Smith School

Council heard from the Smith School principal and a rep from the school division on the importance of funding for the family/school liaison position at the school.

Diana Thomas has been doing this job at the school for the past few years and is making a big impact, council heard. The cost of the position has been shared by the M.D. and Aspen View School Division.

The request was for funding for the period August to December of this year. The amount is around $14,000.

“We know she’s doing good things,” said reeve Murray Kerik.

Council will make a decision on the matter at an upcoming meeting.

Pepper spray and batons

Council approved a couple of policies with regard to tools municipal peace officers use, per a government recommendation. The policies set out when and how pepper spray and batons are to be used, and the follow-up actions required. Council passed the two policies with little discussion.

Rural addressing: slowly but surely

Director of Transportation Bill Klassen – all smiles because this was his last meeting – presented his final report on the rural address system. It’s coming along, he said. There’s a defensible logic to the way the numbers are set up, having a lot to do with the township grid system. This was explained in an agenda attachment called ‘Alberta Municipal Affairs Addressing Project, 2004,’ which is probably available for anyone who wants to read it. Councillor Jeff Commins had done so, without a great deal of enlightenment.

“I spent two hours going through this thing and when I finished I was just as ignorant as when I started,” he said.

Klassen tried to explain it by way of example. Given the address number 72049, the seven is the range number and the two is the number of miles from the eastern boundary, he said. The 49 is the number of metres from the southern boundary.

“It’s actually quite scientific,” he said.

Klassen added that the “physical side” of the job is completed, with just “tidying up paperwork” left on the M.D. plate.

The main thing councillor Brad Pearson was interested in was when he Googles his address, whether it shows his place in Canyon Creek or someplace in Michigan.

“Eventually,” said Klassen. “The uptake of Google is slow on rural addresses.”

Smith arena

In a conference call with SHARA President Fred Laughy, council once again wrestled with what to do about the arena in Smith. SHARA wants to do what has to be done to make it legal to have kids in there skating this winter. Laughy figures with local volunteer effort and fundraising it shouldn’t cost more than $20,000. The engineering consultant says more like $200,000. What to do?

Some councillors leaned toward the SHARA solution. Others were leery about liability and other implications. Brad Pearson was one of the latter.

“We’ve gone through this in Canyon,” he said. “You have to have things done properly by people that have the expertise. We have to evaluate it at budget time.”

That of course would mean it doesn’t get done for the coming winter.

Laughy’s point is that people with the expertise are willing to pitch in.

“We’re not asking the M.D. to fund the project,” he said.

It comes down to how much risk the M.D. is willing to assume – that was the caution from the administration side. Another caution from the outgoing public works manager; the M.D. does not have enough time to supervise yet another project.

“Can we at least give them approval to paint?” asked councillor Brian Rosche.

CAO Allan Winarski said he’d like an “overall war plan,” before giving the green light. He also urged professional supervision for the project, however it happens.

Council passed a motion to defer the matter to the 2020 budget by a 4 – 3 vote, with councillors Rosche, Melzer and Peiffer opposed.

Councillor Robert Esau urged SHARA to start its fundraising.

Bridge culverts

Having heard from a neighbouring municipality about a scheme to reduce the cost of replacing certain culverts, councillor Sandra Melzer brought it up for discussion. I.E. why don’t we do this?

The issue: if a culvert is of a certain diameter, its rating triggers the need for all sorts of special approvals, which brings engineering into the picture. Replacing one of these ‘bridge culverts’ can cost up to $360,000. If it was just a regular culvert, replacement would cost much less. But not so fast.

“We’re still supposed to go to the government and get approval,” said Klassen. And, “You have to get an engineer to calculate the flow.”

Winarski chimed in to say that the new Environment and Parks Minister wants to reduce red tape, so stay tuned.

Signs in Flatbush

Councillor Melzer was approached in the post office one day recently, but a person who thinks there should be more stop and yield signs in and around Flatbush.

“We’re aware of this,” said Klassen, and working on a plan. He added that ‘oral history’ has it that such a plan was once proposed and shot down by people in the area that did not want more stop and yield signs.

Board reports

Athabasca Regional Waste – the carbon tax portion of the invoices has been knocked off reported councillor Melzer, to the tune of 1.5 per cent. The fall appliance ‘round-up’ goes from Sept. 6 – Sept. 16.

Athabasca Watershed Council

Brian Deheer was re-elected as chair of this organization, but it took three votes to do it, reported councillor Esau. The first two resulted in a tie.
Turnout was very high for the meeting, Esau said.

Peace Library System

“I don’t know why, but they like me over there,” said councillor Pearson.

The PLS has 46 member libraries in its region, serving about 175,000 people. Internet bandwidth is better at some libraries than others, Pearson reported. The PLS doesn’t have money for improvements.

Homeland Housing

The office of this organization is in Morinville, but the board is willing to listen to proposals from other towns to have it relocated, reported councillor Melzer.

In other news, the board wants to put in more supportive housing in Westlock, but it’s “quite a few years out.”

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