Oct. 20, 2020 meeting
Council had presentations by three ‘delegations’ on its agenda. As it turned out, only two attended – one a plea for council to do something to restrict easy access of vaping products and the other having to do with plans for an industrial hemp operation.
Keeping vape stuff from kids?
Christina Ridley put the case to council for a bylaw that would make it more difficult for kids to get their hands on vaping products. As it is, non-nicotine vaping supplies are easily accessible. And the province has no rules on the matter. Could the town do something?
Ridley said she had spoken to the government agency in charge of such things, and the information didn’t provide much to be happy about.
“They told me there’s no age restriction for non-nicotine products.” But one thing can lead to the other, Ridley said (or implied). And apparently does.
“It’s very frustrating,” Ridley said. “It saddens me. Kids don’t think about their health.”
Councillors were generally supportive in their comments. However, as councillor Brice Ferguson pointed out, the province has legislation ready to go – it’s just a matter of proclaiming it. He suggested the town find out when that might happen, before going ahead with a bylaw that would just be superseded by the provincial law. If it turns out it’s not going to be for another two or three years, then he’d be in favour of the town doing something on its own. Ferguson made a motion to that effect, which was carried.
Industrial hemp comes to town
Kili Osadchuk shared her vision for an industrial hemp industry based in Slave Lake. She has a license (one of 800 in Canada, she said) to grow the stuff, which she did on a Widewater property this past summer, for the first time. The next step is a local processing facility, called a ‘decortication’ plant. Osadchuk said she expects it to be located in the industrial area of Slave Lake. Designs for the plant were included in council’s agenda package.
Osadchuk predicted a bright future for the industry in Slave Lake, with jobs created, etc. Hemp is sustainable and renewable, she said, with many applications, including an alternative to plastics, cloth, food and construction materials.
“What do you need from us?” asked councillor Joy McGregor.
“To have an open mind,” said Osadchuk, promising, “You’ll be seeing more of me.”
Osadchuk’s company is called Mother Hemp Inc.
Council encouraged Osadchuk to talk to the town’s new economic development officer, Leah Jones.
Another break-in at the town yard
Calvin Couturier, the town’s operations manager, reported on a break-in at the town yard. It was discovered on the morning of Sept. 28 when a neighbour noticed “items in the field south of the recycling depot.” Investigating, town staff found the chain link fence on the south side of the town’s public works yard had been cut from top to bottom (or vice versa). Somebody had been rummaging around inside the yard, hauled off some items and apparently dropped or discarded some of them along the way.
A Yamaha generator was missing, as were some privately-owned tools and equipment. They had been in a locked trailer in the yard.
Couturier added that the fence had just recently been repaired following the last break-in at the yard. That was the one from earlier in the summer where a pickup truck was stolen. Some extra security measures were put in place after that incident, including regular checks and cleaning of security cameras. But the cameras did not show anything, Couturier’s report said.
Councillor Rebecca King asked if having private vehicles parked in the yard might make it more attractive to thieves. It’s apparently quite common practice, and there is no specific town policy on it.
“It’s at their own risk,” Couturier said.
Costly but necessary
Couturier’s other report had to do with the town’s vacuum/sewer cleaning truck. It is not due for replacement this year, but is facing $135,000 in immediate repairs.
Not only that, Couturier continued, further repair costs on the existing 2009 unit are likely to crop up.
“It’s rotted right out,” he said. “Sewage is highly corrosive to metal.”
Couturier was asked about contracting the services out. Nobody else locally has a vac truck that also has the sewage-line snake accessory, he said.
The town has some money in reserve for equipment purchases, but it was earmarked for a new grader. Spending it on a new vac truck would push the grader purchase off by a year, at least. Would that be a problem? Manageable, said Couturier.
“I don’t love it, but I can live with it,” said mayor Tyler Warman.
Council approved the purchase of a demo model vac/sewer truck for $481,000.
FCSS grants undersubscribed
The town has $35,000 to give away through the Family and Community Support Services program. Unlike normal years, applications for funding through this program from community groups have not been coming in. Or, in some cases, they did apply, but then were unable to hold their events due to COVID.
The upshot, reported Serena Weipert to council, is lots of money is left. Only one response came in to the most recent call for applications; that was from Stage North, the organization that brings live music shows to the Legacy Centre. It had requested a $3,500 grant.
Weipert told council Stage North meets the criteria for FCSS funds and recommended approval. Council complied.
Council also directed administration to find out what happens to the remaining FCSS grant funds if they are not handed out by the end of the year. It’s possible they would have to be returned to the province.
What to talk about with Mr. Rehn
Council had an in-person meeting with Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn on Oct. 23. Warman said the list of topics council wanted to discuss was getting quite long. Should we pare it down to a more manageable number?
No, said councillor McGregor. He needs to hear the whole works.
“We need to nail everything down,” she added.
Councillor King agreed. Such meetings are few and far between, she said. Let’s make the most of it.
Warman noted that the number of issues to be discussed keeps getting longer, “because nothing comes off the list.”
It includes the closure of the Boreal Centre, beaches and parks, the affordable housing project, highways, the Family Care Clinic model, the ‘catch & release’ justice system, the need for a new ambulance facility and the huge size of the region being served by the Children’s Resource Network. Before council approved that list of topics, councillor Ferguson asked if the proclamation of the bill restricting the sale of vaping products to minors could be added to it.
Support for kids’ health
In council’s agenda package was a draft letter to Premier Jason Kenney, urging provincial support for children’s health. The letter does not say who it is from, or offer much in the way of specifics. Whoever it is seeks municipal support in lobbying the province to “invest in children’s health through policy development that will place the physical and mental health of kids and youth at the forefront.”
Council had no problem adding its name to such a cause and made a motion to send a letter to that effect.
Always a great discussion
Warman mentioned in his wrap-up remarks that budget season has arrived. It takes a lot of time, he said, but they are “always great discussions.” He added that the format for the sessions would be different this year, due to some ideas from the new CAO, but offered no details.
Warman’s final comment was to wish everyone a safe and fun Hallowe’en. He repeated his earlier remarks about how it seemed quite possible to both celebrate Halloween in more or less the usual manner, while staying safely apart from other people.