Town of Slave Lake Council notebook

Sept. 1, 2020 meeting
Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Advocating for the Boreal Centre
Patti Campsall of the Boreal Centre for Bird Conservation made the same plea to town council as she had to M.D. council back in August (See Aug. 19 Lakeside Leader). Faced with having to close the centre for six months of the year, the board is hoping municipal pressure can induce the government to change its mind.
Councillors didn’t need much convincing; apparently they are already on it
“Council is very concerned about this,” said mayor Tyler Warman. “We have been advocating with the MLA and various ministers.”
It appears the government is making the move to save half of its $70,000 annual contribution to the BCBC’s operations. It pays also for the upkeep of the building, but it isn’t closing in the winter; only to the public. Campsall made plain how shutting down from October through March would eviscerate many of the programs that have worked well and given the Boreal Centre (and its companion organization the Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory) such a good reputation.
“It’s just silly,” Warman said, of the move to close the centre for a $35,000 saving. “We’ll keep fighting.”

Hello, Ms. Jones
Council was introduced to the town’s recently-hired director of economic development, Leah Jones (and vice versa). CAO David Kim (recently arrived himself) did the honours, telling council Jones is in an orientation period and will soon be out and meeting various “stakeholders” in the community.
“Very excited,” said Jones, in her remarks.
Jones had provided a few biographical details, which were included in council’s agenda package. She grew up in the Dapp area, has a BSc from the U of A in agricultural economics and rural community development and has worked with the Calgary Stampede, UFA and Northlands, not to mention the 4-H Foundation of Alberta.

Pet peeve paved
CAO David Kim’s report for council included an update on the road maintenance program, which includes milling and re-paving some rough spots around town. One of them was a stretch of the southbound of Main St. south of the railway tracks.
Councillor Darin Busk made a point of saying how pleased he is to see that done. It had been “a pet peeve of mine,” he said.

Change rooms back on
Mayor Warman asked for clarification on the use of change rooms at the MRC. The plan was to not open them due to COVID consideration; now that’s changed?
That’s right, said Tasha Albert, who is working on the protocols for the re-launch. They’ve got it worked out so with existing staff, change rooms can be sanitized and ready for re-use in under 15 minutes. The big thing for us, she continued, was defining what a “cohort” is. (See more on this on Page 15)

Tree on fence
Councillor Busk said he’d heard from a property owner in the southeast part of town who is worried about another tree falling on his place. One did already, damaging his fence. There are a couple of other trees on town property that if they blow over could land on his house. Can the town do something about it?

Aircraft response
Apparently if the Regional Fire Service wants to add anything to its ‘service levels’ document, it has to have council’s permission. This is probably because of possible cost implications, but in the case of ‘aircraft response,’ there aren’t any.
“It’s something that’s already done,” fire chief Alex Pavcek told council in his presentation.
‘Aircraft response’ refers to the fire department responding to any call involving an aircraft. An example is the plane crash at last year’s fall fair at Smith. Pavcek’s written report said the department responds to such incidents “under the RCMP assist umbrella.” Since it does, it makes sense to include it in the service levels description.
The other amendment Pavcek was requesting was to change the wording of ‘motor vehicle accident’ to motor vehicle collision. He said it is “common terminology across agencies.”
Council approved the request.
The addition of aircraft response makes 16 types of response listed in the LSRFS service levels document. It starts with ‘life safety and fire prevention’ and runs through different types of fires (structure, vehicle, wildland, etc.), dangerous goods, collisions, railroad emergency, water or ice rescue, industrial rescue, search and rescue and a handful of others.

Thefts and what to do about them
Fire chief Alex Pavcek’s second item on the agenda had to do with a series of thefts from the fire hall property in Slave Lake, and proposed measures to discourage them. Since July 1 of this year, he said, there have been four such incidents. Stolen so far have been a socket set, a light bar off an ATV and a generator. The generator had been bolted to a trailer.
Some steps have been taken and others contemplated, with costs attached. Adding barbed wire to the top of the perimeter fence? $63,000. Upgraded lighting for the yard is estimated at $10,000.
Pavcek said a demo security system was set up, but it did not detect the generator theft. Some things are now being stored indoors instead of out.
Another suggestion was to move a building from the old training centre (east of Hwy. 88) to the fire hall property, and set it up for secure (or at least more secure) storage. It would be a cost-effective solution, said Pavcek in his written report.
Council accepted the report as information.

More theft
Reporting on another case of theft from town property was Calvin Couturier, the town’s public works manager. Somebody swiped a town truck from the yard on Birch Rd. NE on the night of July 5/6. It was already reported that the vehicle was found, in reasonably good shape, three days later in Wabasca.
Couturier’s report was mainly about what steps he and his staff have taken since then to reduce the likelihood of something similar happening again. Quite a bit, as it turns out. Couturier told council new standard operating procedures have been developed. They include regular checks on security cameras and fences and cleaning/repairing them when necessary. Another thing is not leaving keys in parked vehicles.
Couturier said he is also looking into the cost of a higher fence and better security cameras.
Commenting on the situation, mayor Tyler Warman called it “a learning experience,” adding “we got lucky.”
He said there appear to be two types of criminals – the highly organized type and the ones who are the opposite of that; the truck thief appears to belong in the second category.
Council accepted the report as information.

Mayor’s corner
Mayor Warman began his wrap-up remarks by congratulating his council colleagues Shawn Gramlich and Julie Brandle – along with the rest of the regional tourism committee – for the success of the Gord Bamford ‘drive-in concert,’ held last month. Town staff and event sponsors also deserve congratulations and thanks, he said.
Warman said he and councillors Joy McGregor and Rebecca King had been “doing advocacy for physicians,” who are worried about changes to the compensation model. “We’re making a bit of headway there,” he said.
Warman said the town is “chomping at the bit to move forward” on economic development.

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