The Village of Alix council accepted the amended version of an emergency evacuation plan during their regular council meeting June 1.
The draft plan was presented to councillors by Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michelle White, who noted the municipality with a burgeoning tourism industry and several major highways was putting in place tools needed in the case of a community problem.
“Work is ongoing by Director of Emergency Management Janene Anderson to make sure Alix is prepared in the event of an emergency,” stated White in her agenda memo.
“Even though Alix is not a large city there is a definite benefit to having an evacuation plan in place, especially since Hwy. 12 bisects the community.
Janene worked closely with the Alix Fire Department on developing the different evacuation zones.”
During discussion Mayor Rob Fehr stated he liked the plan and felt it was quality work, but also asked if external experts provided their opinion on it.
The CAO responded that external eyes definitely examined the plan, but noted some external experts who live in cities don’t always understand a smaller community and its desire for plans like this one.
Councillors examined the draft plan and noted a few corrections, including the boat launch location, a mistaken residential address and some wordsmithing.
Coun. Tim Besuijen asked that some acronyms, such as ICE, be spelled out or explained so the public knows what they are. Fehr answered that it stands for an incident command system, but White assured Besuijen acronyms would be defined.
It was also noted the map didn’t have a north-south indicator, and White stated it would be added.
Besuijen also pointed out community churches would probably be happy to host people in an emergency and it was noted at the meeting most if not all churches in Alix have bathrooms and kitchens.
He also pointed out an evacuation plan should be as simple and straightforward as possible because in the event of an emergency people will be emotional and stressed out. White answered that some village staff who did not participate in the writing the plan are going to read it to ensure it’s clear and concise.
The CAO also noted the plan isn’t a bylaw or policy so it can be easily tweaked if changes are needed.
White noted she felt it was a boon to the village to have such a plan so the public knows Alix takes emergencies seriously.
Councillors unanimously accepted the amended evacuation plan.
Councillors unanimously accepted the Local Government Fiscal Framework survey as it was presented to them after discussing it.
White explained the survey had been developed by the provincial government to get feedback from municipalities regarding predictable, long-term infrastructure funding.
The province currently does this through a program called Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) that will eventually be phased out and replaced.
Councillors discussed certain issues facing the village, including the ability to “save up” grants; the village won’t get enough grant money for a project in one year so it saves up the grants for a project in the future.
Besuijen felt five years was a good amount of time for that strategy.
Councillors unanimously agreed to grant $500 to the Alix Public Library for July 1 activities. White’s memo noted the library took over the event from the Wagon Wheel Museum, which in turn took it over from the village’s now-defunct recreation department.
During discussion it was revealed Alix would definitely have fireworks on Canada Day.
Councillors read a letter from Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIvor noting the village will receive about $180,000 in MSI grants in 2022.
Coun. Ed Cole asked if those funds can be used for the ailing Alix lagoon and the CAO answered yes.
Discrepancy in numbers
During the meeting the topic of provincial and federal census numbers came up and how those numbers are used to calculate funding for certain programs.
It was noted in Alberta the treasury board numbers are often used, as opposed to the federal government’s and that these two populations numbers are different, hence different levels of funding.
Coun. Barb Gilliat stated this has been an area of concern for library boards who receive funding per capita.
White confirmed this discrepancy has been “...a big thing” in municipal circles for a while, adding that water commissions are also concerned about this problem.
Councillors read a letter from the Town of Fox Creek which stated that municipality was in favour of retaining the RCMP as the provincial police force, and eschewed any proposal for an Alberta police force.
During discussion Coun. Cole pondered that, considering Premier Jason Kenney's recent decision to step down from that position, the provincial government’s Alberta police force proposal might fade away. Ominously, no councillors responded to his comments.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review