The July 12 meeting was held in council chambers in Wabasca. Council approved the agenda with the following additions:
OHV & RCMP, golf course, Alberta Indigenous Games, Calling Lake Seniors Housing Project, Calling Lake cemeteries and labour – council expenses.
Council was asked to look at several examples of new logos for the M.D., as well as ‘taglines’ to along with it.
An example of a suggested tagline was; ‘Band Together,’ which is described in the agenda package as ‘A rallying cry promising inclusion, encouraging cooperation and implying cultural value proposition.’ This is from a report by a consultancy firm called ‘Unfussy,’ that the M.D. hired for the rebranding exercise.
The proposed logos were all versions of a multi-coloured circle, some including a feather; others with eagle images. Still others had both.
Council tabled the matter.
Continuing care grant: further requirements
The M.D., along with Bigstone Cree Nation and the Wabasca-Desmarais Housing Authority, has applied for a grant to help fund continuing care spaces (15 of them) at the Keekenow Seniors Facility in Wabasca. It had received conditional approval for the $6.1 million grant, council heard. But the Minister of Health wanted a few things first. Namely: the signatures of all three parties on something called the ‘lease assignment agreement,’ the signatures of Bigstone and Opportunity on ‘confirmation of completion’ of the seniors facility and finally, ‘confirmation of compliance with AHS design requirements.’ The latter also to be signed by Bigstone and Opportunity.
Council voted in favour of a motion to comply with the ministerial request.
OHVs ‘driving around’
A concern was brought up at the meeting about off-highway vehicles driving around the community of Calling Lake. No motions were made and if council discussed the matter, no details made it into the minutes.
The M.D has a lot of things on the go this summer and council got an update on several of them from the director, Jason Supernault.
The projects include Sandy Lake gasification, the Calling Lake seniors housing complex, Wabasca animal shelter, Sandy Lake lagoon, Red Earth gazebo and Wabasca arena.
The last one has to do with improvements to the scoreboard, sound system and seating, but only details about the sound system were in the written report. Three speakers aren’t working; also some amplifiers aren’t functioning. The recommendation is to replace the malfunctioning units, and add a speaker in the upstairs viewing area as well as two Bluetooth speakers in the dressing rooms.
Council heard that revenue to date was at $68.3 million and expenditures stood at $27.5 million.
In other financial news, council approved the purchase of furnaces and water heaters for installation as part of the Sandy Lake gasification appliance conversion project.
The M.D. is looking for (or was, as of July 12) a senior guard, admin. support in Calling Lake, an asset management officer, equipment operators in Calling Lake and Wabasca and lifeguards.
Safety and fire services
Fire department personnel had been deployed outside the M.D.; all were back, except for the Red Earth Creek SPU unit, which was posted at Worsely.
Year-to-date calls for service to the Wabasca fire department were 46; Calling Lake had 51 calls and Red Earth 17.
There’s a ‘big focus’ on educating community members on the need to ‘contain’ their dogs, council heard. This includes explanations of how the written warning system works, and what happens next when these warnings aren’t heeded.
The M.D. transferred nine dogs and three cats to the Second Chance Animal Rescue Society, via the Westlock vet.
Re-tender for Sandy Lake
Sandy Lake needs an upgrade to its sewage lagoon and lift station. It was recommended that council approve the re-tendering of the project, implying that the results of the first tendering had been unsatisfactory.
A motion to that effect was carried unanimously. The project will go out to tender in late 2023 and be awarded (hopefully) in 2024. The motion included the intention to apply for additional funding from the province and Ottawa.
Council voted in favour of awarding the contract to supply generators for ‘the water treatment plant’ (minutes don’t say which one) to a company called Stalwart Electric Ltd. of Westlock. The contract is for $128,700.
In a separate motion, council awarded the same company a $50,000 contract for a generator for ‘I.T.’
A third and related motion was to increase the generators project budget by $30,000 to cover ‘the weatherproof.’
Mileage rate goes up
Council went into closed session at 4:11 p.m., to discuss ‘council expenses.’ Coming back into open session 38 minutes later, council approved a motion to change the mileage rate for councillors, from 68 cents per kilometre to 80 cents, effective July 2023.
During the month of June, the M.D.’s bylaw office dealt with four complaints for unsightly premises, traffic or other land use contraventions. The office hopes to have most of the 2022 unsightly property files “close to concluded by remaining in consistent contact with ROs,” says the report’s author (assuming any readers would be familiar with the acronym).
Golfing for a good cause
Council approved the registration of six teams, at $400 per team, in a fundraising golf tournament, scheduled for July 29. The tournament was in aid of the Wabasca Rodeo Association, and was to be held at the Eagle Point Golf Course.
The Grants Committee had recommended that council approve the following: $5,000 to the Calling Lake Community Society for a September long weekend pancake breakfast (plus two loads of gravel), $5,000 to the Wabasca Rodeo Association for its July 29 fundraising golf tournament, $10,000 for the Red Earth Creek School field trip to Greece and $1,000 to the Calling Lake Sailing Club, plus four loads of gravel.
Councillor Brendan Powell did not take part in the discussion or the voting.
With Powell back, council dealt with a couple more grant recommendations. One was from Wayne Decoine for $6,000, to go towards an international hockey tournament, running from July 29 through Aug. 7. The other was a request from the Wabasca Rodeo Association for $20,000, to go towards its rodeo, gymkhana and chuckwagon and chariot racing events. These were also approved.
Eagle Point repairs
This was one of the late additions to the agenda. A hole in a cart path at the golf course was in need of attention. Also, a fountain needed to be fixed. Council directed administration to get it done.
Furnishings for Calling Lake
Council needed to decide how seniors’ homes in Calling Lake would be furnished, once they are built. The decision was to provide window blinds, a couch and armchair, table and chairs, a mounted television, an end table a queen bed and a dresser. Administration was directed to provide the cost of these items.
First reading on truck parking bylaw
Council gave first reading to a bylaw change aimed at regulating heavy truck parking in hamlets in the M.D. The bylaw will have to go through a public hearing first, but if it passes as proposed, it will ban the parking of a heavy truck on a residential lot smaller than 0.5 acres, among other clauses.
As it stands, heavy truck parking is not listed as a permitted use in any land-use district. The new bylaw would get specific about what can be done and where.
Hydrant repairs in Red Earth
Council authorized the repair of three fire hydrants in Red Earth Creek, at a cost of $61,425. The job goes to Remote Oil & Gas.
Remote’s was the highest of the three bids on the work. Neither the report in council’s agenda package nor the minutes give any indication as to why it was the preferred bid. It does note that Remote is local. But so is one of the other companies and the third is from Wabasca.
Hydrant for Auger Rd.
Council again opted for the highest bid on a project that calls for the installation of a fire hydrant on Auger Rd. in Wabasca. Spruce Ridge Industries bid $29,715; the other bid was $7,113.
The report for council said the lower bid didn’t include mobilization costs. Also that Spruce Ridge is local and has done good work.
Hydrant repair in Chipewyan Lake
Council did go with the lower of two bids on this job, which is to repair a leaky hydrant by the school in Chip Lake. It had been damaged during the wildfire and evacuation event of this past spring.
The job goes to Spruce Ridge Industries, for $13,960.
Population inching up
One of the attachments to council’s agenda package had census statistics for M.D. communities in three years – 2007, 2010 and 2015.
No discussion on the topic appears in the minutes, but council voted in favour of a motion to add “a potential” $150,000 to the 2024 budget for a municipal census.
The population of Wabasca/Desmarais, for example, grew by just two people between 2007 and 2015, from 1,410 to 1,412.
Red Earth Creek, on the other hand, swelled from 398 to 501.
Calling Lake inched up from 415 to 429. Trout Lake in the same eight-year span grew from 369 to 385.
Peerless Lake, for reasons not explained, fell in population from 447 in 2007 (same in 2010) to 237 in 2015.
Sandy Lake went from 130 to 135. Chipewyan Lake’s population grew by 25, from 90 to 115.
Total population of the M.D. in 2015 is listed as 3,214, as compared to 3,259 in 2007. In handwriting across the bottom of the page it says the 2021 federal census for Opportunity found 3,382 residents.
by Joe McWilliams