Nov. 19, 2019 meeting
Work continues on the final connection at the water plant of the new line coming in from Wagner. But the temporary connection is working and “we have been using water from Widewater for about 10 days,” CAO Brian Vance told council. “You may notice how nice it tastes.”
“I didn’t notice a thing,” said councillor Julie Brandle. “Sorry.”
That actually may be a good thing, Vance said.
Old daycare demolition
Tests on the vermiculite insulation shows it does contain asbestos, Vance reported. He remembers getting it tested years ago and getting the opposite result. But now that it’s been identified, it complicates the demolition of the building, making it more expensive. Council will have a report on the demolition cost at an upcoming meeting.
As for the two motel demolition projects, council heard that both will be fully completed by Christmas.
Working group on crime
A provincial working group on crime is being organized and the town has expressed an interest in being part of it. It’s a project of ARDN, the Alberta Rural Development Network. Commenting on it, mayor Tyler Warman said any help the town can get on rural crime would be welcome.
Councillor Darin Busk added that the town should keep up the lobby on the RCMP’s ‘K’ Division to locate one of its rural crime units in Slave Lake.
“I have information to share in camera on some of that stuff,” said Warman, somewhat mysteriously.
Enhanced authority for town peace officers being discussed
Speaking of policing, a proposal is in the works to add to the authority of the municipal peace officers. The idea there is if their authority would extend to certain areas of enforcement now reserved for the RCMP, it could free up the RCMP to focus on more serious crimes. The ‘business case’ for it has been submitted to the RCMP, council heard. This is the first step, before applying to the Solicitor General.
In other bylaw enforcement news, peace officers are looking into a case of a Canada Post employee being attacked by a dog. Complaints about homeless people are on the rise, council heard. Peace officers responded to a couple of calls for service from the library, where “persons needed to be escorted off the property due to abuse of staff….”
Parent Link losing its funding, but other possibilities appear
The town has received formal notice that provincial funding for the Parent Link program will end on March 31 of 2020. But that may not be the end of the story. There is “a new pot of funding,” community services director Garry Roth told council. Administration is looking into what sort of programs are eligible, and how to apply for them. Some collaboration with municipal neighbours may be required.
Slowing down the process on development approvals
Guess what? It turns out the town’s planning department has been exceeding its authority for the past 20 years or so. Having been alerted to it, this is no longer going to happen. Due process must be followed, with the net result some variance applications are going to take two or three weeks longer to get through the system.
According to the report before council, here’s what’s been happening (more or less): When somebody applies for a variance on a development project, and it exceeds the authority of the Municipal Planning Commission, the director has been automatically refusing the application. This expedites the process by sending it directly to the appeal board (SDAB).
Legal counsel, in a review of the process, has said that’s a no-no. Due process must be followed. This means the MPC must hear the case, and make its own determination about its eligibility to rule on it. It will add quite a bit of time to the process, which council is loath to do.
“We’re creating red tape,” said councillor Shawn Gramlich.
But it’s what the Municipal Government Act requires, he was advised.
“We’re enabling red tape,” Gramlich countered.
Nevertheless, if the director is making decisions the MPC is supposed to make, it opens the town up to legal risk.
In practice, such situations arise seldom, council was advised. Three to five per year was the number given.
Council accepted the report as information, meaning the change in practice, as proposed, goes into effect.