Dec. 18, 2018 meeting
Food bank, homeless shelter
Barb Courtorielle, the Executive Director of the Slave Lake Native Friendship Centre, reported to council on some of the programs the Centre runs. First was some good news: she said donations for Christmas food hampers – after a slow start – had poured in. She expected the cost of the food to be $23,000 and the way it looked there would be some money left in the account for next year’s program.
Courtorielle added there were 179 applications for hampers, but she expected a few more.
Moving on to the not-so-good news, Courtorielle told council things seem to be changing at the Mat Program. That’s the overnight shelter.
“There’s a totally different type of guest staying there,” she said. “We’re seeing drug use. More medical issues.”
Besides that, money for the program is low.
“I don’t know if we’re going to be able to keep our doors open,” Courtorielle said.
A lot of what the Friendship Centre does is made possible by volunteers. Courtorielle told council that’s why the position of volunteer coordinator is so important. And it’s not funded, she said, which is why she hoped the town could help.
“We’re asking for $15,000,” she said.
Mayor Tyler Warman thanked Courtorielle, and encouraged her to apply at the next intake for FCSS grants. As for approving “ongoing funding” for a program, he said council is “terrified” of that sort of thing. More attractive would be something that would actually solve a problem, such as homelessness.
“I would lobby hard for something that would change the outcome,” he said.
Courtorielle mentioned that the ‘Housing First’ project “fell through” in Slave Lake.
“Rural Alberta is seeing nothing,” said Warman, referring to government funding for homelessness solutions.
“They’re starting to recognize it,” Courtorielle said.
However, she still hasn’t heard back from the province on a funding request for the Mat Program.
Council was asked to consider a policy on alcohol being served in town facilities at special events. As with other situations, there has been a practice, but no formal policy to follow. The policy formalizes that, explained community services director Garry Roth.
Council voted in favour with little or no discussion.
Council passed an interim budget, which allows the town to continue its base operations into the new year until the operating budget is formalized. As proposed, and accepted, the interim budget amounts to just under $5 million in expenditures over the first two months of 2019.
Business license bylaw
Council approved an updated version of the 20-year-old bylaw that deals with business licenses. Roland Schmidt, presenting the report, told council that not a lot had been changed, since it has worked well over the years. But some new definitions were added, and things clarified. An exemption was added for kids (lemonades stands and such).
Cannabis sales is a new addition, at the same rate as other businesses. Some municipalities have a separate class for cannabis retail and charge a lot more, Schmidt said.
CAO Brian Vance added that the Chamber of Commerce had been consulted in the development of the bylaw, and some suggestions incorporated.
‘Here for the right reasons’
Mayor Warman reported on a lengthy meeting on economic development with council members from the M.D. of Lesser Slave River. Sawridge First Nation council members were expected, but couldn’t attend.
“Finding what works for all of us is tough,” he said, “but we want to do it together, rather than separately.”
Other news: The town’s online survey on budget-cutting measures had produced 250 responses so far, Warman said, which he took as an encouraging sign.
Warman spoke about how his kid’s hockey team helped Brenna Emes with her Santas for Seniors project, transporting gifts to seniors’ residences in town.
Warman finished off council’s final meeting of the year with some praise for the people he works with.
“I’m truly blessed to work with such a great group of people,” he said. “Council and administration. They’re here for the right reasons. What more could you ask?”