The July 7th meeting ended in the early afternoon, and council covered a lot of ground.
Public Health Rules not Being Followed on Cusp of Provincial Regulations being Removed
The camera allowing the public gallery to view the proceedings is typically turned on at the start of the meeting. However, this time, the CAO turned it on 5 minutes before the mic was turned on and the meeting commenced. Before the meeting, most councillors and an employee were not wearing masks in violation of current public health regulations. Only two councillors and the CAO were wearing their mask. As the meeting began, all of the council pulled their masks up. Later in the meeting, after returning from a closed session, the CAO Rodney Audette was also not masked.
* Saskatchewan’s Public Health restrictions are coming off on Sunday, July 11th, when masking and social distancing will no longer be required.
RM Council continues to Educate Themselves on their Responsibilities
In an effort for the council to become familiar with their responsibilities, the meeting began with the CAO and two councillors reading from the RM’s policy manual on the duties of councillors. In part, the reading spoke to the responsibility around bylaws and the council’s duties to maintain a high level of responsibility to the safe administration of funds and financial accountability to the taxpayers.
Public Agenda Items Not Listed
There were nine agenda items under Business Arising From Minutes/Unfinished Business, which the council addressed yet were not on the public’s copy of the agenda. Those items were; Antosh Expropriation Matter, Tokar Legal Matter, NS Lands Washroom Building, HB Boat Launch Dredging, K+S Potash Well Licence Payment, Lumsden Heritage refund of roof repair project, PST collection from WF Botkin, Clearing the Path – SARM, and another outstanding expropriation matter.
2 Closed Session Meetings
There were two closed session meetings in the meeting, one at the beginning and one at the end. After which council made no resolutions after each.
Council reviewed the June financial statements and accounts ratified/approved, asking several questions for clarification before approval.
Discretionary Use Development Application not on agenda
The CAO brought forward and recommended a discretionary use application from Northshore Lands that was not on the agenda to build a laundry and washroom facility. Council discussed if the facility would be public or private. It would be private because it is on private land.
Council again reiterated that the boat launch at Glamping Resorts is a public boat launch as is the road is a municipal road leading to it.
Based on the information provided by the CAO, the council approved the application.
Outstanding Expropriation Matter
Not on the agenda was an outstanding expropriation matter for the right of way agreements with three previous right of way landowners along the mine road. Council discussed where this is at to conclude the matter.
Reserve for Grant Monies
Council discussed grant monies that have come into the RM. Currently, the money has been put into the general revenue account. Council discussed setting up a separate reserve so that they are aware of what is in there. Councillor Bob Bennett questioned why the auditor hadn’t brought it up. The RM of Dufferin hasn’t had reserves set up and has just used one account for all revenue.
All money going into a general revenue accounts creates the problem that council is only aware that there is an account with money in it and are not aware if there are allocations for the money. For example, there wasn’t a required dedicated lands account. The account is to identify money from the leases and sales of municipal land, which can only be for specific uses. This was recently identified after the sale of municipal land occurred, and further questions arose around how much revenue from leases was brought in by the RM.
Bridge Inspector Presentation
Greg Anderson, a Level 2 Bridge Inspector who works with Harbuilt Construction, made a presentation to council regarding the bridge in the RM that was deemed unsafe and closed. Mr. Anderson said the presentation would outline the best way to replace their bridge cost-effectively. During the meeting, Councillor Bob Bennett said the problem with the bridge was that no one lived near the bridge. A gallery member observing the meeting in chambers spoke up, saying that she lived there before the Reeve reminded the gallery that comments are not allowed during a meeting.
Questionable Bylaw Process
Council passed Council Procedural Bylaw 06-2021, repealing and replacing the former bylaw in three readings without what appears to be under a questionable bylaw process. More to come on this.
Council discussed including an open forum at the end of their meeting. The Reeve said he discussed with the Reeve of McKillop Bob Schmidt, where the RM allows questions from the gallery.
The council discussed not allowing members of the gallery to discuss with council RM business during council breaks as they do not allow the gallery to comment during the meeting. Reeve Kirzinger referenced an instance where Glamping President and Founder Cameron Wyatt approached the council to discuss RM business during a break in the meeting.
There was some confusion around the RM’s bylaw as to when people could speak during the open forum as it identified speakers needing to register by noon that they wished to address the council during the forum.
Request to sell MR Land
Council decided, overwhelmingly, not to sell MR land to a ratepayer who had requested it. Council has decided to stick with their policy not to sell any more MR land.
Sale of Dedicated Land Approval
The RM received notification from the Ministry of Government Relations that they had approved the sale of a contentious sale of municipal reserve at the resort community of Highwood Beach.
Dorry Street Boathouse Inspection
The RM’s bylaw enforcement officer attended a dilapidated boathouse in the community of Highwood Beach on the Dorry Street right of way.
The Reeve and division councillor looked at the property and determined it was in a state that wasn’t safe and had asked the bylaw officer to attend.
The CAO recommended that council provide the owner with an opportunity to remedy the situation.
Council decided to send a letter to the owner informing them that the council intends to demolish the building as it’s unsafe, dilapidated. The building is on municipal land, which allows them to take action.
The next meeting is on August 11th at 8 am.
Jennifer Argue, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Last Mountain Times