Recycling survey results: ‘Leave well enough alone’

Town of Slave Lake Council notebook

Feb. 19, 2019 meeting

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Councillors admitted to being surprised about the results of a public survey on recycling services. They also seemed willing to bow to the majority opinion expressed in the survey, which was to leave well enough alone.

Looking to save some money, council had posed a question consisting of several scenarios on recycling services. Getting rid of the recycle depot by the airport, for example, or getting rid of curbside recycling pickup, or both, and here’s how much it would knock off your monthly town bill.

Sixty-six per cent of respondents said ‘no’ to eliminating curbside recycling. The same percentage nixed the notion of shutting down the recycle centre.

“Obviously, people want the service versus saving money,” said mayor Tyler Warman. “I was quite shocked people want to keep all three. My vote will be not to play with those.”

Agreed, said councillor Brice Ferguson, who had been strongly in favour of saving money by cutting back recycling services.

“I’ll admit I was wrong,” he said.

According to the report presented by town communications officer Christopher Brown, the survey results consisted of 421 submissions. Of those, 365 came in via social media, the town website and the town’s electronic newsletter. Fifty-six were via utility bills. Brown added that another bundle of responses had been dropped off subsequent to the deadline, but they were not included in the report. The survey ran from Jan. 30 through Feb. 14.

Some councillors had been under the impression from the evidence on the streets where they live, that not a lot of residents actually use curbside recycling. And given that recycling services exist at the landfill, is the town recycling depot really needed?

Of those who responded, 28 per cent said they don’t use curbside recycling at all. Half said they use it weekly. Twelve per cent said twice a month.

Just under 10 per cent of respondents said they don’t use the town recycling depot at all. The majority do, though how often varies quite a bit.
The report before council included samples of comments made by survey respondents.

“I’m fine with closing recycle by airport if they keep grass clippings and tree clippings there,” was one of them. Another read, “If you accept grass clippings at the curbside… cut out the recycling centre.”

Inconvenient hours at the landfill was mentioned.

“Don’t fix what isn’t broken,” said one respondent, in part.

The town’s recycle centre is safe for the time being, based on survey responses.

Meter change appointments needed

Faulty components on about half the water meters in town have been changed out, reported acting CAO Garry Roth. Apparently that was the easy half, because making appointments with residents to get the rest done is proving difficult. Efforts continue.

Down to the last 400 metres

Roth reported that the contractor on the troublesome regional water line has “got it down to a 400-metre section.” That’s where the loss of pressure is located. The plan is to further narrow it down, find the leaky spot and fix it once and for all.
“They were digging today,” Roth said.

Rough crossings

Councillor Julie Brandle asked if town admin. could have a word with CN Rail. A couple of the crossings in town are “really rough,” she said.

Automated traffic enforcement

The contract with Global Traffic Services (GTS) is up at the end of February. Representatives of that company were before council to make their pitch for a renewal and to answer questions.
The bottom line is that having the service in town has produced results, at least among local drivers. GTS has the stats to prove it, and even councillors who haven’t liked it accept that. On the other hand, with 60 per cent of tickets going to out-of-town drivers, the question is whether that is doing anything to improve safety in Slave Lake.
“I struggle with hammering people from out of town,” said Warman.
Warman said he’s also been hearing some complaints about “what happens in court” when tickets are challenged. (He didn’t elaborate).
Councillor Darin Busk has been a vocal skeptic of the program for years.
“Sixty per cent non-residents seems like a cash grab,” he said.
However, Busk appeared sold by the effectiveness of the program on driver behaviour in previously bad spots in town. He said he was not in support of reducing the number of hours per week to 22 from 40. GTS had proposed this, due to a downward trend in violations.
Council did not vote on the contract renewal, deferring it to the March 5 meeting. They did vote to extend the existing contract a month, so as to not have a gap between the end of one and the beginning of the next. The new term (assuming it’s renewed) could be two years, if council goes with a suggestion made by councillor Ferguson. The term just ending was four years.
The town’s portion of fines generated by automated traffic enforcement in 2018 was $133,000.
On a related note, using ATE in ‘transition zones’ might not be allowed for much longer. Alberta’s Minister of Transportation, Brian Mason, said last week the province is looking into ‘cash cow’ complaints with a view to imposing restrictions on its use. He specifically mentioned transition zones (where speed limits drop from say 100 to 80 to 60 kph over a short stretch) as being a likely target of new restrictions.

Rough stuff…. the rail crossing at 7th St. SE/NE. People are complaining.

Lease agreement with Junior A group

After closing the doors to discuss some legal aspects of the case, council emerged and voted in favour of a lease agreement with a group proposing Junior hockey in Slave Lake, starting next season. Representatives of the Western Provinces Hockey Association (WPHA) and the as-yet-unnamed team were in attendance.
The agreement, hammered out in recent days by town staff and the WPHA, proposes $35,000 in additional revenue to the town. The team gets some advertising rights and agrees to rental rates for ice, dressing rooms and office space.
Councillor Joy McGregor spoke against the agreement.
“I don’t feel this is something our community can handle,” she said. “We couldn’t keep the Wolves and Winterhawks. “Businesses are hit hard every day for donations.”
Mayor Tyler Warman looked it from a different point of view.
“I think for the town it’s extremely low-risk,” he said. “The risk is mostly on the entrepreneur, as it usually is.”

Mayor’s corner

Warman took the opportunity to congratulate Sawridge Chief Roland Twinn on his Feb. 15 re-election as chief. Saying he now considers Twinn a friend, Warman said, “I think the town has benefited from working with the Sawridge. I’m looking forward to working with him again.”

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