Malfunction at the junction: the latest delay on the regional waterline
May 14, 2019 meeting
What’s holding up the regional waterline is the final connection with the water treatment plant. As explained to council by town project manager Doug Baird, it comes down to connecting a 16-inch line (the new one) with a 14-inch line (the old one coming in from the river). Apparently the contractor was expecting to find another 16-inch line. The fittings will take about two weeks to arrive, Baird said.
This gravel street in the northeast industrial area is in bad shape due to frost coming out, said councillor Darin Busk. Can we run a grader over it?
Jeff Fetter of Associated Engineering updated council on three infrastructure projects/plans. One was the Infrastructure Recovery Project – $29 million-worth of rebuilt streets and utilities done between 2013 and 2018. Nothing new there – just a reminder of what had been done and how.
Commenting on the accomplishment, mayor Tyler Warman said, “I can’t forget how big of a mountain that was.” He added, “There’s no other community of our size that could do as much in that amount of time.”
Drainage Master Plan
Fetter’s second update was on the 2010 Drainage Master Plan. This lays out how drainage works in Slave Lake, where its weak points are and suggests remedies. Not much was done about it – for one reason because the wildfire disaster intervened a year later. However, an improvement of the drainage from the Sinclair Fields area across Hwy. 88 and off to the east was implemented as part of the disaster recovery work.
One proposal in the 2010 report that might get dusted off is the establishment of a storm water pond somewhere in the vicinity of Big Fish Bay. The system in place has water from the west side of town draining off in the direction of Mooney Creek. It’s inefficient, Fetter said, and the suggested pond, with an outflow into the lake would work better.
In the meantime, the new owner of Big Fish Bay has ambitions of putting in a marina in the same general area.
“There’s a possibility these things could work together,” said Warman.
The town isn’t likely to do much about drainage before Alberta Environment completes a flood plain hazard assessment on Sawridge Creek. That has apparently just started and is expected to take at least a year.
Roads and sidewalks
Fetter’s third item was a report on the 2015 Road and Sidewalk Assessment done by his firm. It involved a technician walking every one of the 26,792 metres of Slave Lake streets and making notes on every crack and pothole. It took two weeks, and the result was a comprehensive rating of each street and section of sidewalk. These were then compiled into a priority list for action for council’s consideration. Out of that came the town’s 10-year Capital Plan. Council played around with the order of the items at the top of the list, which is how the two 5th Ave (NE and NW) projects got to the top. Also some work on 6th Ave. SW that happened in the past year or two.
Fetter’s report included something called an ‘asphalt life cycle’ graph. Asphalt tends to last about 20 years. Maintenance (such as crack-sealing) and re-surfacing can stretch the lifespan. It all costs money.
“You’re trying to stay a bit ahead of the degradation curve,” is how Fetter put it.
Underground pipes should last 40 – 50 years, Fetter said, and there are new ways to refurbish them without digging them up.
Council is due for a review of the 10-year capital plan sometime soon. No street re-hab projects are scheduled for 2019, but it’s likely one or two will be in the 2020 budget.
A clean-up of Devonshire Beach organized by the town is scheduled for Saturday, June 1. Jill Hutchings presented a report to council on the event. She said the hope is to do one or two other similar clean-ups during the summer.
But the first one will probably be the big one. Alberta Parks is involved and will be doing some disking of designated ‘open’ areas of the beach.
The event starts at 11:00 a.m. and runs until 2:00 p.m. Water and snacks are provided.
Signs for Allarie Trails
With the paved trail system having been recently named for former mayor Gerry Allarie, the town is proceeding with a plan to install signs showing the new name. Community services director Garry Roth said the plan is to put up one or two larger signs; the rest would be smaller ones at about a dozen locations throughout the system.
“This summer?” asked mayor Warman.
“Yes,” said Roth. “That’s what I’m working on.”
Coffee with council?
In his never-ending quest to better communicate town business with residents, mayor Warman had a new idea for his colleagues:
“Other municipalities have these ‘meet-council-for coffee’ things,” he said. How about doing something like that here?
His fellow councillors seemed generally in favour. There was a difference of opinions on where might be the most effective venue. But they settled on town council chambers. The first one is to be Tuesday, May 21, from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Expenditures to date
Director of finance Roland Schmidt provided council with a snapshot of town expenditures vs. the budget for the first quarter of 2019. Skipping the details and going right to the conclusion, spending is “mostly in line with expectations.”
“How about revenues?” asked councillor Busk.
“Mostly on track,” said Schmidt. Past experience suggests there will be a “minor issue,” he added, with parents not paying for their kids’ participation in the Summer Splash program.
Slave Lake is down to five physicians lately, with a goal of getting up to nine. This news came from mayor Warman, via a meeting he and councillor McGregor had had with local doctors and other Alberta Health Services folks.
Calling it “a good discussion (that lasted three hours),” Warman said one physician-recruit is “tied up with immigration stuff,” and another is on maternity leave. AHS continues to recruit doctors.
Councillor Ferguson suggested that like businesses, AHS should be ‘over-recruiting,’ knowing that they will regularly lose people and be short-staffed.
Warman took a moment to acknowledge the eight-year anniversary of the start of a fire that ended up destroying a large part of Slave Lake.
“I’m not one to dwell on it,” he said. “The scars are still there. I’m proud of the community and council now and in the past to get us to here. I’m thankful we’re leaps and bounds ahead of other communities in recovery efforts.”