Oct. 12, 2021

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

The final meeting of the ‘old’ council took place last week.

Downtown work won’t be finished

One item in acting CAO Garry Roth’s report for council was that the downtown revitalization work will likely be grinding to a halt for winter. The latest is that the new curbs won’t even be in place before the snow flies, as was hoped. Roth said the plan is to lay down some gravel and move the fence further from the street, so as to reduce the impression of a restricted space for driving there. The fence will also be shifted to restore the full parking and access to the credit union, he said.

Creek crossing

The other item highlighted in Roth’s report was the waterline crossing by Schurter Park. This one will be finished this fall, he said. It’s important to have that connection between the northeast and southeast parts of town, which was broken by a line failure earlier this year. The new line under the creek is being moved west, to be installed somewhere near the pedestrian bridge.

Walking, pickle ball

Councillor Shawn Gramlich made a point of thanking Roth and his staff for opening up the field house in the MRC for drop-in soccer and pickle ball use. It’s just a start, Gramlich said, but it’s a good one and much appreciated.

Adding ‘medical’ to Highway Commercial

Somebody wants to rent space to businesses offering medical services, in the Highway Commercial District in Slave Lake. The problem is, such uses are not permitted in that zone. Somebody is asking the town to change that.
Accordingly, council gave first reading to a bylaw change that proposes to add ‘medical offices – outpatient’ as a permitted use in the C3 District.
In a letter to the town included in the agenda package, the applicant (Canadian Property Holdings Inc. & Crestpoint) said the purpose is “to address existing/future vacancy challenges…..” and to “contribute to the overall economic viability of Slave Lake.”
Council gave first reading to the bylaw change and set the required public hearing for Nov. 2, 2021.

Year to date financials

Council heard about the financial status of the town as of Sept. 30. One notable item from the report was about expenditures on staff salaries and wages. Thanks to being short-staffed for lengthy periods of time, these are well under the budgeted amount. A budget surplus for 2021 is therefore likely.
Council also heard as of that date $2.6 million in property taxes were as yet unpaid. Penalties for late payment “are significantly up over prior years,” says the written report.

Regional housing

Councillor Brandle’s report on this organization included the news that there had been “a couple of cases of COVID” at the seniors’ lodge in Slave Lake. Nobody has died, she added, and appropriate measures are being taken.

Tri-Council health committee

Councillor Joy McGregor reported it is taking about 13 days to get a doctor’s appointment these days at the Family Care Clinic in Slave Lake. Walk-ins are still being accepted, but not on evenings or weekends for the time being, “so staff don’t get burnt out.”

Tourism: Ice fishing?

Councillor Julie Brandle said the tourism group is working on an ‘All-In’ winter event. One idea is to have an ice-fishing competition.
“Stay tuned for more on that,” she said.

Devonshire Beach

Councillor Brice Ferguson mentioned a recent meeting on (also at) Devonshire Beach with Parks officials and people from the M.D. What’s needed now, he said, is some sort of formal agreement between the three parties on beach grooming and maintenance. He made a motion to that effect, which was carried.

Mayor’s corner

Commenting on the end of council’s term, Warman said it was one of the more challenging ones he’s seen since he’s been on council. But even more challenging for administration, he said.
“I appreciate all of it.”