May 21, 2019 meeting
Fed up and frustrated: industrial area thefts prompt visit to council
As reported elsewhere, there has been a lot of theft from industrial yards in Slave Lake in recent weeks and months. Some of the victims of those crimes attended the council meeting to share their frustration with council and propose solutions.
Duane Hodge of Eagletech Electric was their spokesperson. Eagletech has been broken into more than once – most recently in a brazen manner by someone who drove off with a trailerload of electrical cable, after cutting off a lock on the gate. The trailer and spools were later recovered, Hodge said; the cable – worth about $30,000 – long gone.
“We’re fed up,” he said. “Every business has a similar story.”
One beef the group has is what they perceive to be a slow police response; Hodge gave examples. Word is, he said, there are no RCMP officers on duty between 3:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. Is that the case?
“Sometimes yes and sometimes no,” said mayor Tyler Warman, adding, however, that somebody is always on call.
Hodge had some suggestions for improving the situation. Hiring more RCMP officers was one; another was to make better use of the town peace officers.
“Give us back 50 per cent of our tax dollars,” he suggested, “and I’ll start a security business.”
More patrols in the industrial area would be helpful, Hodge said.
“There should be 24/7 policing,” he added.
Mayor Tyler Warman said the town would pass on the suggestions and concerns to the RCMP staff sergeant.
Special events policy
It’s high time the town had a policy regarding the issuance of permits for special events, council heard. These have been done in the past few years as development permits, but it doesn’t quite fit.
Accordingly, a new policy was before council, developed after looking into what other municipalities have on the books. It should make the process of applying “easier and faster,” observed mayor Warman. “Great job.”
Council approved the new policy.
Utility bill receivables
The town is owed just under $600,000 in utility payments, as of April 30th of this year. Sixteen per cent of that amount has been unpaid for 121 days or longer, council heard. Some of these are the ones that get handed over to a collection agency. In other cases the amounts owed get added to property taxes.
Council heard the town is getting between $1,000 and $5,000 per month from the collection agent. This represents a percentage of what is owed of between 45 and 77.
At some point, where utility bills are not paid for a period of time, the town will shut the water off. Some residents have been finding ways to get around this, as previously reported.
“There are difficult ones,” said CAO Brian Vance. “There’s no cc valve on rental trailers. We can’t put a lien on a (rented) trailer. That’s where the collection agency comes in.”
Water meter replacements
Council heard there were still 460 water metres to be upgraded. Appointments are needed for town staff to do this work. The town has been warning people there’ll be a penalty for not making an appointment. It has been producing results, with an upswing in interest from account holders.
“We’ve been booked steady,” said Vance.
Out with the old
Council got rid of some outdated bylaws in one fell swoop, approving a ‘rescinding bylaw’ that included 25 or 30 bylaws that no longer made sense. This was to save the time of going over them individually.
The rescinded items ranged from one established in 1962 (‘Providing Sanitation Requirements of Restaurants in Village’), to a couple from June of 2011 that had something to do with disaster aftermath.
“Most of these are slam dunks,” said Vance. “We didn’t find the one about the horse tied to the front of the building, but almost.”
Mayor Warman spoke of how proud he was of the support from the community in accommodating evacuees from High Level. The situation was developing, but the number of people had been “manageable” so far, he said.
Warman mentioned that new Minister of Municipal Affairs (Kaycee Madu) and MLA Pat Rehn had dropped by to speak with council prior to the meeting.