Municipal District of Lesser Slave River Council notebook

Aug. 12, 2020 meeting
Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Open spaces, and how the M.D. expects people to behave in them
Council gave all three readings to a bylaw establishing regulations for use of public land “owned, leased or managed” by the M.D.

The reason for needing such a set of regulations was covered by Ag Fieldman Russ Jassman in his introduction of the topic for council. There are certain behaviours on these M.D. lands that are problematic. Two examples he gave were fishing shacks left behind at boat launches and garbage left lying around.

Under the heading ‘General Conditions’ the bylaw deals with such matters as leaving M.D. open spaces in the same sort of condition as you found it, obeying signs, not interfering with the enjoyment of others, defacing property and so on.

There’s another section that deals with explosives and fireworks. Waste disposal also gets a section of its own.

Restraining pets is of course dealt with in the bylaw. So are fires – don’t leave them unattended and so on.

As you would expect, there’s a section of the bylaw on penalties. They are on the stiff side, starting at $2,500 for a first offence and going up from there.

Councillor Robert Esau had a question about permission to clean fish at the campsite by the Pembina River Bridge.

“That’s not our site,” said Jassman, so “It (the bylaw) doesn’t apply.”

Esau was surprised to hear that.

“I learned something today!” he said.

It’s also not an official campground, offered councillor Sandra Melzer.
“It used to be,” said Esau. “There used to be a gazebo thing there. It might not still be there.”

“They burned it down,” said reeve Murray Kerik.

Councillor Darcie Acton asked if the bylaw would apply to the municipal reserve land near Nine Mile Point. Yes, was the answer.

Signs need adjusting
A question arose about certain signs that give the impression the M.D. is solely responsible for cleaning and otherwise maintaining community playgrounds and such. One such facility in Smith has community members doing some of that work and apparently the M.D. has heard from someone who thinks the signs should reflect that.

There’s a similar situation in Canyon Creek, said councillor Brad Pearson.
We might have to come up with signs that recognize the partnership, said reeve Murray Kerik.

Ag Service Board: soil erosion
Councillor Melzer reported that contract spraying is done. One thing the ASB talked about at its last meeting was soil erosion. It’s been happening and “you can see it along the highway,” she said, “even in no-till fields.”

The Municipal Government Act has things to say about erosion control and there are mitigation measures that can (and should) be taken.

Melzer said the option of declaring an agricultural disaster (due to excess moisture) was discussed, but not done. She said an estimated 46 per cent of crops in the M.D. are considered to be in good condition. This compares to the 10-year average of 72 per cent.

Legacy Centre looking at deficit
Reeve Kerik said the Slave Lake Childcare Society has asked the Legacy Centre board to waive the rent for the daycare for the months of April and May, when it did no business. It is struggling financially, but so is the Legacy Centre, which already operates at a deficit that the town and M.D. have to cover.

“So we’re subsidizing daycare,” Kerik said. “So put another load on our ratepayers.”

There are all sorts of complications in this saga. One of them Kerik said, is the termination of the $25-per-day daycare program and the provincial subsidy that makes it work. So the daycare might lose some clients because of that. On the other hand, it has a waiting list of 100, he said. But if they have to charge what it would take for them to cover their costs, “daycare is not affordable. I don’t know what the answer is.”

Councillor Darcie Acton predicted that if there aren’t enough licensed spaces (and they aren’t affordable to many), “people are going to go unlicensed.”

Meeting with the MLA: ‘Enough paper to choke a horse’
The final item of the Aug. 12 meeting was a report on a recent meeting some of council had with Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn. At the top of the list of topics was the proposed new property value assessment model for linear and machinery and equipment (See the front-page story in last week’s Leader).

“We presented our position,” said Kerik. “We made it abundantly clear we are opposed, and why. We handed him enough paper to choke a horse.”

The next thing councillors made abundantly clear to Rehn was their unhappiness with the government’s decision to close the Boreal Centre for six months of the year and cut its funding in half.

“Councillor Acton presented the case,” said Kerik. “He got that one.”

“It opened his eyes,” said councillor Pearson.

The condition of Hwy. 88 also came up at the meeting.

“There are no problems with (it), according to Mr. McIver (Minister of Transportation),” Kerik said.

Councillor Esau said he’d driven recently to Fort Vermilion and noticed how much better the road is north of Red Earth Creek.

“The ditches are mowed right to the treeline and the pavement is smooth. But not on our end.”

Kerik: A lot of royalties are going to the provincial government (from the area served by Hwy. 88). They could put a little back.”

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