April 2, 2019 meeting
Portable toilets: they’re back!
Not so fast on the port-a-potties. Council had decided earlier to shave $15,000 off the 2019 expenses by cutting back on the provision of outdoor toilets at parks. But some pretty strong pushback from the public caused them to re-think the position. Accordingly, the matter was back on the agenda for discussion, with a new proposal.
The alternative idea was to cut back only a bit, with a contract to the provider costing $9,775.
“We found this a happy middle ground,” community services director Garry Roth told council.
Councillor Brice Ferguson asked what sort of feedback the town got on the matter.
After the decision to cut the toilets was posted on social media, Roth said, “We got 16 negative phone-in complaints. Very upset people.”
Mayor Tyler Warman chimed in, noting that the decision to cut the portable toilet expense was a contentious one during budget deliberations, passing by a 4 – 3 vote.
“We hear loud and clear,” he said. “We worked with the contractor to reduce the cost.” He added that they got “what appears to be a very good deal.”
A couple of councillors used the occasion to vent their frustrations about the way some of the toilets are treated.
“They’re not there to be abused,” said councillor Darin Busk.
Councillor Joy McGregor said she’d “rather pee behind a tree,” than use some of the toilets, the kind of shape they are in at times.
The contract calls for the provider to clean the units weekly.
Regional water line
In his CAO report, Brian Vance said efforts to solve problems with the regional water line continue. This is the new line in from Wagner to Slave Lake that was supposed to be finished months ago. A leak was found and fixed, Vance said. A couple of stuck pigs were freed and then another one got stuck.
“I would say the contractor is doing better now,” he said.
Questions about sidewalk cleaning
Councillor Busk asked Vance who is responsible for clearing sidewalks of sand and grit accumulated over the winter. Answer: the town sweepers will look after the same sections of sidewalk they plow in the winter. Otherwise, adjacent property owners are responsible. This includes the downtown area.
How about road grit on people’s lawns? was another question. The town will eventually get around and sweep it back onto the street – that is, from the side where snow was stored during the winter. Not on the other side.
As for sweeping off the paved trails, staff will get to those. Those people were in transition last week, from their winter jobs at the MRC to parks duties. They’ll also be doing some litter pick-up on the boulevards and parks.
Misbehaviour at the park
Councillor McGregor asked if the town has any responsibility for patrolling or enforcing the law at the Devonshire Beach parking lot. Apparently there has been some misbehaviour there, with drinking and vandalism and general mess-making.
Vance said the RCMP have a plan to patrol regularly out there. Otherwise, it’s up to Provincial Parks personnel.
New rules and rates for advertising on electronic signs
Council accepted a new set of rules and rates for advertising on town-owned electronic signs. It separates these into two sets – the two big outdoor signs and several indoor ones. The new rates are a bit more favourable for non-profit groups.
Green light on speed-display signs
Those signs that tell you how fast you are going….. Council had indicated a willingness to consider purchasing a few of them. Accordingly, admin. had a report on it. Doing it properly would require four signs – two each for Hwys. 2 and 88. Of the wide variety of makes and models, one with a fairly large display was favoured, but with basic options. The proposal was to put them in the 60 kph zones, to give highway drivers a better chance of realizing they are over the limit, so as to avoid the dreaded traffic ticket in the mail.
The cost would be around $20,000, reported Garry Roth. The money would come out of the automated traffic enforcement reserve.
“I’m in favour of it,” said councillor Julie Brandle. “I was in favour last time but I was out-voted and it was cheaper last time.”
Council voted in favour of the unbudgeted expenditure.
The matter came up earlier this year when council was discussing whether to renew the contract with the automated traffic enforcement provider. A contentious issue was the ‘cash cow’ notion; i.e. most of the tickets were being issued to out-of-town drivers passing through.
Changing zoning in downtown area
Council gave first reading to a bylaw that would change the zoning of several blocks adjacent to downtown. The idea is to shift them from C1A – Mixed Commercial/Residential District – to C1 – Downtown Commercial Mixed Use District.
Because it was just first reading, councillors did not discuss the matter. A public hearing on the bylaw will be held on May 7.
The change is more or less a housekeeping issue. It was redundant to have both districts and the change won’t create any issues for the affected property owners, says the department director.
Spiffing up the parks bylaw
Yes, there’s a town bylaw regarding parks. It lays out maintenance protocols, behaviour expectations and such. It was enacted in 1999 and due for an update, council heard.
One of the changes is fires in town parks are only permitted in an appliance or ‘approved burning device’ and only with a special permit. This represented a considerable change, and some councillors balked at it.
“I think we have to trust people to be responsible,” said councillor Ferguson.
Garry Roth explained it came about as a result of consultations with the fire department.
“We had some challenges last year,” he said.
Another provision sparked some questions. It has to do with prohibiting swimming or boating in storm water ponds. Roth explained that for health reasons, Alberta Health Services doesn’t want people playing in storm water. There are no permanent storm water ponds in town, but there are ‘dry ponds’ that are designed for storage of water. Schurter Park is one, as is the grassy area on 6th Ave. SE just across the Sawridge Creek bridge.
Council passed the updated bylaw as recommended. Councillor Ferguson followed it up with a motion directing administration to look into a revision regarding the use of outdoor cooking equipment in parks.
Mayor Warman didn’t have a lot to report, since he’d been away on a holiday. He thanked councillor Ferguson for standing in as deputy mayor. Warman is dealing with a bad back and showed up limping and in bare feet. At one point he lay down on the floor, saying it made a big difference.
“I have a whole new appreciation for people with disabilities,” he said.
Warman also offered congratulations to the Slave Lake Pee Wee hockey team that recently won a provincial championship on home ice.
“It was great to see the community come out and support that team,” he said. “We’ll have them here.”