M.D. council notebook
Oct. 24, 2018
M.D. Director of Transportation Bill Klassen told council the changeover of addresses is proceeding, with 1,300 done and with about 200 more to go in the Flatbush area. Slowing it down some is the fact that signposts from the previous version have gone missing in about 200 cases.
Getting the proper signs up is one thing – getting the addresses registered in the appropriate databases is another. Councillor Brad Pearson said no matter what he does, as far as searching for his Canyon Creek address on the Internet, “I still end up in Michigan.”
Klassen said it’s getting better, but added “Google isn’t doing anything with rural addressing.”
Sideways in Smith
A sign-installation job in Smith “went sideways,” said M.D. Director of Rural Services Russ Jassman, when post-hole digging damaged a water line. SHARA is on the hook for the cost of repairs. Councillor Becky Peiffer questioned this – citing certain emails – but CAO Winarski said if it isn’t the M.D.’s fault, “the person that hits it gets the bill.”
Apparently the repair entails digging up some brand-new pavement at the community hall.
Bye, bye to numbers guy
Jason Warawa, who has made a good impression in his tenure as director of finance for the M.D. the past three years or so, is resigning. Council heard Warawa will however stick around through the budget process and efforts to find a replacement will commence.
“This is a real lousy time of year to try and recruit,” he cautioned.
Speaking of recruitment, the planning and development office is vacant these days, with Jill Tapp having resigned. CAO Allan Winarski said feelers are out and a “potential candidate” has been identified. It’s not a sure thing, he added, because a lot of people – once they find out how much highway there is between home and Slave Lake – lose their enthusiasm.
In the meantime, Winarski continued, Jassman is helping out with P&D files.
No thanks on joint SDAB offer
Thanks but no thanks was council’s response to a proposal from two nearby municipalities to set up a joint subdivision and development appeal board. They seemed to regard the notion as endangering M.D. autonomy – or at least CAO Winarski did in his report, and nobody disagreed with him.
The reasoning behind the proposal from the Town of Slave Lake and the County of Big Lakes was that SDABs are hard to maintain; broadening the pool of available panelists would make it easier to keep the board viable.
But Winarski didn’t see it that way.
“Beware of harmonization efforts,” he said.
Besides, Winarski added, who can be expected to learn three different land-use bylaws?
“My advice: train up your own people.”
Chamber requests support
The Slave Lake & District Chamber of Commerce made a pitch for M.D. funding in support of Chamber events. Chamber president Frankie Giroux, making the request, asked for $7,500. She outlined how such events as Riverboat Daze, the spring trade show, farmers’ markets and others benefit the whole community. These are relying on hundreds of hours of volunteer effort, she said. They can perhaps be maintained, but not expanded or improved, without financial help; hence the request from municipalities.
Councillor Jeff Commins praised the recent successes of the Chamber – particular the Block Party during Riverboat Daze. He asked if the Chamber had considered ways of making some money for itself off that event.
“We’re working on it,” said Giroux. “But Riverboat Daze is a community event,” and making money on the Block Party is not a goal of the Chamber.
“Our board is really motivated,” Giroux said in closing. “We would really appreciate support from the M.D. for our events.”
More work at the admin. building
The list of work in need of doing at the main M.D. administration building keeps growing.
“They keep finding things,” said Winarski.
Water damage; black mould; an uninsulated section of wall, “mouse traffic and bats in Al’s office,” added Bill Klassen.
Council was being asked to approve a change order on the reno job – entailing the removal of the carpet flooring and replacing it with vinyl planking. Also painting the entire interior walls. This would come to about $116,000.
“The carpets are more or less ready to go anyway,” said Winarski. “Since staff is out of the building you may as well get that done.”
No dice on tax penalty relief
Wary of setting a precedent, council voted down a proposal to forgive a penalty to a Flatbush property owner for late payment of property taxes. The amount was $239.
If we do this, said reeve Murray Kerik, “next spring we’ll have 500 people lined up.”
Councillor Jeff Commins wasn’t too impressed.
“Two hundred thirty-nine dollars is going to destroy them?”
Commins, however, made the motion to forgive that amount. It was defeated by a 4 – 2 vote, with councillors Sandra Melzer and Robert Esau voting in favour.
“I don’t believe in kicking somebody when they’re down,” said Esau.
Ag Service Board – “I think we hired a really good man,” said Esau, referring to new ag fieldman Barry Kolenosky. Councillor Melzer mentioned a couple of workshops on new rules regarding antibiotics for livestock that are coming up on Nov. 14 in Smith and Flatbush. Prescriptions will be required.
“We fought that for years,” said Kerik. “It’s going to cost us dearly, as producers.”
Athabasca Regional Waste – The budget “looks really good,” said Esau. Not looking as good is the market for plastic recycling, which has taken a hit due to China deciding to cut back on its imports. Councillor Melzer mentioned that summer villages “don’t want burn barrels in their area.”
Community Education Committee – councillor Becky Peiffer said about 50 attended the recent wellness conference at the college in Slave Lake. In other college news, the cafeteria isn’t operating because nobody can be found who wants to run it. Some students reportedly don’t have enough to eat and solutions are being discussed.
Lesser Slave Regional Housing – The budget is looking good, said councillor Commins. In other news consultants on the proposed apartment building were to visit on Oct. 30. They’ll be putting together a request for proposals. This would include the demolition of the old Forestry/Fish & Wildlife building on 4th Ave. NE.
The attitude of the M.D. on this topic is mainly that it’s not their business. But it was a topic of discussion at a recent regional gathering of Alberta Municipalities Association members. A law firm rep advised attendees to expect any bylaws on cannabis to be challenged in the courts. The M.D. doesn’t plan on making any, but – said CAO Winarski – “If you’re impaired you shouldn’t be at work. We do have the ability to send you home.”
“But impairment is open to interpretation,” said councillor Pearson.
True enough, said Winarski, adding that any decision or action regarding impairment by cannabis could be challenged. But he thought it unlikely.
Pearson was also wondering about consumption in public.
“If I’m on the dock at Canyon trying to catch a fish – I can’t drink a beer; can I smoke a joint?”
The answer to that question won’t be coming from the M.D.