Oct. 10, 2023 meeting

Temporary shelter breezes through

Council approved a temporary shelter for homeless people at the same location as last year – that being the southeast corner of the fire hall property.

The matter was dealt with quite quickly, with little discussion or debate. This is in contrast to last year’s process, which featured a packed gallery and plenty of opposition at the required public hearing.

This year? No hearing because of the recent change in zoning to Council Direct Control.

“There’s no ability to appeal,” said the director, making the report for council.

There were just two questions from council. One was from Councillor Brice Ferguson, who asked “if this passes (it did), what date will it be operational?”

We’re aiming for Nov. 1, said CAO Jeff Simpson. The work has already begun.

Councillor Ali Mouallem asked about the capacity of the shelter as proposed – which is for a maximum of 20 spots. Is that size based on previous numbers?

It is, Simpson confirmed. The numbers of people using the shelter last winter fluctuated, but never exceeded 20 in one night.

Partnership grant: better late than never

The town and M.D. of Lesser Slave River have been talking about development standards and procedures; specifically about the benefit of working together on a set of standards to provide clarity to developers. This would especially apply to areas on or near the borders between the two municipalities. This would be for new subdivisions and the associated infrastructure.

Grants are available for such inter-municipal cooperation, council heard. Council approval for an application for one such grant – called the Alberta Community Partnership Grant – was needed – after the fact.

“The due date was on October 2,” says the report. “We had to apply before getting a council motion in support.”

Better late than never, and council made the appropriate motion. If approved, the grant would be $200,000.

Ad rates for arenas, ball fields, etc.

Council dealt with a proposal to create a new advertising rates bylaw out of two existing ones, and to add ball field advertising, which hadn’t been covered in either.

On the ball diamond advertising, council heard that the ads on the Charity Park fence had been handled by the Slave Lake Minor Baseball Association (SLMBA, or ‘minor ball’). That group has asked the town to take it over, Ec/Dev manager Jason Swanson told council.

The town was starting from scratch, because no documentation or history was handed over. All Swanson knew is that minor ball had been charging $300 annually for the billboards on the highway side of the Charity Park fence. That’s a prime location, he said; I think we should charge $500. The same was proposed for the Sinclair Field fences.

On the hockey arena boards, Swanson was proposing to reduce the cost of ad space in Arena #2, due to the poor sales over there.

The other change Swanson proposed was to reduce the time of an ad on the outdoor digital signs (such as the one on the southwest corner of the Main St. S. and 6th Ave. intersection) from 10 seconds to eight seconds. That way, he said, when waiting for a green light, the whole ad series can cycle through.

“I like the ball diamonds (proposal),” said councillor Mouallem. “I’ve spent a lot of time there the past two years and always wondered why we did not use it more effectively.”

Councillor Shawn Gramlich asked what the plan was for starting over with the ball diamond signs.

We’re going to let the current ones run for a year, Swanson said, due to not knowing what the status is. In the meantime, the companies will be contacted and advised about the new rate. At least a couple of the existing signs are for companies that no longer exist.

Open positions

In CAO Jeff Simpson’s report included the usual info on positions the town is trying to fill. This time it included an operator for the Multi Rec Centre, a firefighter, shelter workers, shelter manager, guest experience assistant, public works operator and manager of human resources.

Two junior lifeguards have recently been hired. Also something called ‘ERP IT Portfolio Assistant.’

EV charging station

Since the town’s electric vehicle charging station was launched on July 6, 38 unique users have plugged in. Between Sept. 8 and Oct. 5, charging took place to the tune of 895 kilowatt hours, which generated revenue of $312.24.

P&D

In planning and development news, the CAO reported that the town is looking into the purchase of two parcels of provincial land. What land, and what the town wants the land for were not mentioned in the report.

The town is working with the Regional Housing Authority on the lease of some town land. Also in the report was the news the town is working with a developer on designing an approach.

The town is also talking with Telus about a location for a telecommunications tower.

Fire department

As of Oct. 5, the Regional Fire Service had already surpassed last year’s total of as of the same date by 137 calls for service. Sixty-six of these were in the month of September.

Three of the September calls were to outdoor fires, 28 in response to alarms and a dozen for motor vehicle collisions. Medical co-response calls numbered 18.

Peace officer stats

In September, the town peace officers responded to 74 calls for service. Seventeen of the calls had to do with ‘community standards.’ Ten were for noisy dogs and 17 were ‘other animal call responses.’

“Obviously there’s an issue with animal control,” said Mayor Ward.

Six calls were ‘homelessness related.’

Recreation

Simpson reported that drop-in programs at the MRC so far this fall have seen strong attendance. Unsold ice is being advertised weekly.

Councillor Mouallem asked how widely that available ice is being advertised. He said he knows people in the city that can’t find ice time anywhere. They wouldn’t come to Slave Lake during the week, but they might on a weekend, he said.

The trouble with that, Simpson said, is that ice availability fluctuates, day by day and week by week.

Legacy Centre

Simpson wrapped up his report with the good news that the Legacy Centre is on track for is busiest year of bookings ever – or at least since the town has been looking after the building. Upcoming events at the Legacy include a mindfulness workshop on Oct. 14, a ‘paint and sip’ workshop on Oct. 19, private events on Oct. 20, 25 and 26 and the first Stage North concert of the season on Oct. 28.

Alberta North Central Alliance

This group had its most recent meeting in Wabasca.

It was “a great turnout,” reported Mayor Ward. There was talk about tourism partnerships, housing challenges and advocacy in general.

There’s a new website, albertanca.ca.

Airport

“Extremely good news,” said Councillor Ferguson, and proceeded to tell about an estimated $150,000 surplus this year at the Slave Lake airport. A busy forest fire season is the main reason the airport was so busy. As a result, the town and M.D. will likely not receive a request for an increase in their contribution for 2024. The municipalities contribute $114,000 apiece, annually.

On the shoreline stabilization project, Ferguson said it’s looking as if it might happen next year and involve bags filled with rip rap. Meanwhile, the Airport Commission awarded a contract to a firm to produce an airport master plan.

State of the Lake

Be sure to check out the fire hall open house on Saturday, Oct. 14, said councillor Mouallem.

Councillor Gramlich said a representative from the Ministry of Health was in town, did a tour, spoke with people and asked questions. He didn’t say exactly what was discussed, but there is no shortage of issues when it comes to health care.

“The government is listening,” Gramlich said. “I’m sure change will be coming.”

Mayor Ward had a few items to mention: one was about the Coats for Kids, program which is being run by the Friendship Centre. She encouraged people to participate.

Another Ward plug was for the upcoming byelection to fill a vacant seat on town council. If you’re interested in running, she said, pick up your nomination package at the town office.

Joe McWilliams

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