June 11, 2019 meeting
Working away at things
CAO Brian Vance, in his update for council, talked about how after hosting evacuees from High Level for a couple of weeks, things have returned more or less to normal. Except that “there’s a lot of catch-up work to do. Also with claims. We’ll be busy for many weeks on that.”
In other administration news, the town is applying for a $1 million grant from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, to help pay for the sewage lagoon upgrade.
“They’ve been asking lots of questions,” said Vance. “Hopefully that means we’re in the running.”
Food truck policy
Slave Lake has had food trucks in times past, but no policy to regulate how and where they operate. Having receive a request for permission to set one of these up on town streets, town staff worked up a draft policy for council’s consideration.
As proposed, the policy would allow food trucks on certain town streets and public parking lots, but the list is quite short. That’s because it wouldn’t be considered safe on a lot of streets. It would be permitted (should the policy be approved) on 1A St. SE, 15 Ave. SE, 1st St. SE, 14 Ave. SW and two downtown parking lots.
“The list seems quite restrictive,” said councillor Julie Brandle.
“They can park on private property,” said Vance. In fact that’s what usually happens.
“They still have to have a business license,” said the director.
The policy will get some tweaks and come back to council at a later date.
Summer council meetings
As usual, council has curtailed its meeting load for the months of July and August. The Aug. 6 meeting has been dropped.
Emergency siren: questions, questions
Council received a brief report on the emergency siren ‘services levels,’ per the current policy. It came as a surprise to some to find the siren is to be used not only to warn of an actual evacuation, but of an evacuation alert. The policy calls for the siren to be used to announce if there is a risk of evacuation within 24 to 48 hours. The obvious question is why it wasn’t used recently when Slave Lake was under an eight-hour evac. alert.
“We decided not to use it,” said mayor Tyler Warman. “I think it was a good decision.”
A discussion ensued. Should the policy stay the same? Councillor Rebecca King thought not.
“Keep it simple,” she said. “Siren goes – get out.”
“I agree,” said councillor Darin Busk.
Councillors asked admin. to bring an amended policy back, accompanied by a communication plan.
Any report on lot-grading begs to be simplified. To their credit, the town’s planning and development people had done just that in their latest report on the subject. We’ll reduce it even further for the purposes of this week’s Council Notebook.
- Proper lot grading allows water to run off the way it should.
- Poor lot grading results in damage to structures and often bad relations with the neighbours. Therefore:
- Any new development has to have a lot grading plan and earn a lot-grading certificate by following the plan.
Need more details? The Town of Slave Lake website has lots, including handy tips on lot-grading in the form of 30-second videos, borrowed from the City of Edmonton.
Fifth Ave. NW paving: getting it done
The town is poised to go ahead with the paving of 5th Ave. NW, in spite of other unfinished business in the neighbourhood. It was reported a couple of weeks ago that the paving would be held up to allow the Housing Authority to install sewer and water tie-ins for an apartment complex it is building. The idea was to avoid having to tear up new pavement for those connections. But the thinking on it has changed.
“We’re tired of waiting,” project manager Doug Baird told council. “We’ll just give them one tie-in point,” and get the paving done. If it turns out they need a second tie-in, that can be done on the 6th Ave. side.
“They’d have to dig it up,” Baird said. “But it’s old pavement.”
Baird added that the latest indication from the housing authority is that the design concept for the housing complex has changed again – from an apartment building to a rowhouse type of idea. Hearing that was probably what induced the town to stop waiting and get on with the paving job. That and some grumbling in the neighbourhood.
“We’ve been getting some complaints,” he said.
‘Hell of an axle-buster’
Council’s discussions on the capital plan inevitably led to councillors bringing up various pet peeves. For councillor Busk, the deteriorating condition of the Hwy. 88 rail crossing is a festering sore point. He asked if a meeting with CN Rail could be set up.
“I’m getting tired of bringing this up at every meeting,” he said.
Another Busk bugbear is a rough transition from pavement to gravel when you turn off Birch Rd. onto Balsam Rd. by Heavy Equipment Repair.
“It’s a hell of an axle-buster,” he said.
Regional Housing Authority
Councillor Brandle, reporting on the SLRHA, said the M.D. of Opportunity plans to withdraw from the organization, due to a seniors lodge opening in Wabasca. It’s anticipated eight to 10 residents of the lodge in Slave Lake will move out. That’s one thing; the other is that Opportunity wants “to cut off their requisition completely,” Brandle said. “We don’t think that’s realistic,” she added. “We’re going to get residents from there.”
If Opportunity does stop funding the SLRHA, it would represent “a significant impact to the town and M.D.,” Brandle predicted.
Town reviews capital plan
Slave Lake town council ran through the town’s 10-year capital plan at its June 11 meeting. The list of things needing upgrading or building is long and represents far more than the town can afford. So it’s a matter of prioritizing. To that end, council organized a ‘road tour’ for later in the month. That should give them a better idea which streets are most in need of attention.
Generally, speaking, said CAO Brian Vance, “There’s no end to the amount you could do.”
One problem with that, he added, “You never know what grants you’re getting. We don’t even know from year to year what our MSI is going to be.” That’s MSI as in Municipal Sustainability Initiative, a government program for funding municipal infrastructure projects that is supposed to be reliable.
The matter will come back to council for further discussion.
“What’s the next step?” asked mayor Tyler Warman.
“Add more” to the list, said Vance.
In other council news, councillor Darin Busk asked if a rough intersection in the northeast industrial could get some attention. The transition from the pavement on Birch Rd. onto the gravel of Balsam Rd. is “a hell of an axle-buster,” he said.
Busk again raised the issue of the rough railway crossing at Hwy. 88.
“I’m getting tired of bringing this up at every meeting,” he said, asking if a meeting with CN Rail could be set up.