June 11, 2024 meeting

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Waste and recycling ambassador

Molly Fyten, a contract employee of the M.D. of Lesser Slave River, was on the agenda to pitch the idea of a new position for the LSL Regional Waste Management Commission. Called a ‘waste & recycling ambassador,’ this person would be involved in education and outreach, with a focus on waste and recycling practices, public relations, site visits and so on.

The proposal follows a decision by the landfill commission to create a ‘regional recycling hub’ at the landfill south of Wagner. It is envisioned as serving the town, the M.D. and Athabasca County, possibly among others. The cost would be covered by the three municipalities, plus the commission, Fyten told council.

The suggestion was to try it as a pilot project, either for six months or a year.

Council wasn’t being asked to make a decision on the spot, and didn’t.

Citizens On Patrol

The next delegation was from the newly revived Slave Lake Citizens On Patrol program, which is a project of a group calling itself ‘Slave Lake On Watch Association.’ Mercedes Berger and Lynn Bowes described for council what has happened so far, and what the group anticipates as far as actual COP patrols and then answered questions. There were quite a few of them.

About 30 people are signed up to participate, council heard, and more would be welcome. They all will receive training through the provincial association that oversees and regulates COP groups. One training session has already happened. They’ll always work in pairs, and never get out of their vehicles. Their role is to observe, document and report, and they’ll have a dedicated liaison officer with the local RCMP.

Asked about costs, Bowes said something around $3,000 per year, with insurance and ‘gear.’ But the group has already received many generous donations, she said.

What will the shifts be like? Asked Councillor Steve Adams.

“Whatever people are able to provide,” said Berger.

How about four in the morning? Adams said.

“A lot of volunteers are willing to accommodate those hours,” said Berger.

“Is anything holding you back?” asked Councillor Shawn Gramlich.

We could use more volunteers, said Bowes.

Anyone interested can contact the group at slavelakeonwatch@gmail.com.

FCSS grant for mural mosaic project

Council approved the only eligible application for a Family and Community Support Services grant, although at a third of what had been requested.

The application was from the Slave Lake Catholic Parent Advisory Committee, for help covering the cost of a mural mosaic at St. Mary of the Lake School.

The group had applied for $12,000. The recommendation from the FCSS Coordinator was to approve $4,000, which council accepted.

The other application was from a group offering a ‘parent and child assistance program.’ This does not qualify under the FCSS eligibility rules, council heard, because such programs are funded federally.

Service levels for playgrounds and parks

This was just an annual update on what the service levels are; no changes were proposed by administration, nor were any requested by council. It deals with how often mowing is done in various areas, how often parks and playgrounds are checked and so on.

What the policy says and what actually happen may not be exactly the same, week to week, but council didn’t ask any questions about that.

One question that was asked came from Councillor Ferguson, about when weeds along Main St. will be dealt with. He didn’t say what weeds, or what sort of treatment.

Not sure when, said Community Services Director Joe Dixon, but it’s on the list and will get done.

More service levels: Dust control, sweeping, gravel

Calvin Couturier, the Director of Operations, was up next, to remind council of what his people typically do in the way of sweeping streets, keeping dust under control and applying gravel on certain streets. All standard stuff and council had no questions about any of it.

Councillor Adams, however, did ask about line-painting. Specifically, he wanted to know “where we going with grinding down the lines and filling them with paint,” something that must have been suggested at some earlier date.

We’ve been talking to contractors, Couturier said, and “are just in the middle of getting quotes.”

CAO update

CAO Jeff Simpson’s report for council started off on the communications front, with ‘audience growth’ figures. For example, since the last report, 103 people had signed up with engageslavelake.ca, bringing the total to 538. Voyent Alert subscribers went up by 43, to 2,560 in the same period.

Recruitment seems to be going well. Simpson reported an IT support analyst, an admin assistant, day camp counsellors, a parks activity leader and a municipal intern have all been hired (though not all have started) recently. Applicants for a six-month position as a peace officer are being evaluated.

Tax deadline, extended, a bit

This is “fast approaching,” said Simpson. The deadline for payment of property taxes is June 30. As this falls on a weekend, the decision has been made to move it to July 2, at 5 p.m.

From June 17 through July 2, the town will expand its office hours, to better enable people to pay their taxes. Office hours during that period will be from 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Tax auction canceled

The June 7 auction of various properties to collect unpaid property taxes was called off, after payment arrangements were made for all but one of the properties.

Mayor Ward asked which one that is. She had in mind a certain dwelling that has been the subject of complaints about illegal activity, and is hoping the ownership might change, or fall to the town, so it can be cleaned up.

Simpson didn’t confirm (or deny) that it was the one in question, but said what happens to the property in the event taxes continue to be unpaid isn’t as simple as the town taking ownership. There are “a number of registered interests” on the property, he said.

Ice

Councillor Gramlich said he was shocked when he found out that the ice in the MRC (before it was lost due to a power failure) was not available for rent some weekends. He asked why or how that could happen, when the whole idea of having summer ice was to provide opportunities and generate extra revenue.

“We’ve had a couple of weekends where we didn’t have staff,” said Community Services Director Joe Dixon.

“That kills us,” said Gramlich. “Hire extra staff!”

At that, Mayor Ward spoke about how the town had solved the shortage of employees at the swimming pool a year or two ago. She recommended a similar sort of innovative effort might help the MRC.

COVID barriers

Mayor Ward brought up the continued presence of the Plexiglas barrier at the front desk of the town office. She called it “unfriendly” and asked why the town still has it. Banks have gotten rid of theirs, she pointed out.

“It’s not our best foot forward,” Ward said.

Simpson said he didn’t know for sure, but knows in some cases it’s what the employees prefer.

Tri-Council health committee

Councillor Ali Mouallem had the details from the most recent meeting of this group, including the good news that AHS Emergency Medical Services (ambulance) recently hired 13 people for the northern region. Four more internationally-trained nurses have also been hired for Slave Lake, Mouallem said, and will be arriving over the next few months. Housing them continues to be a challenge.

Tourism Society

Beach Fest schedule will be released next week, said Councillor Hughes. Other news is a “self-serve kayak kiosk,” is arriving soon. Two of them, actually – one to be at Devonshire Beach and the other at the Marten River Campground.

“How much?” asked Gramlich.

I believe it is $40, said Hughes. For two hours.

State of the Lake

Councillor Mouallem reported his participation in a recent clean-up session with a group of volunteers who have taken on that task. He said he was very impressed with the group. Mouallem then wished his son Zayn a happy birthday.

On that note, said Councillor Andrew Achoba, “it’s only appropriate to wish my colleague Councillor Hughes a happy birthday,” as well.