RM of Dufferin October - Long day, slow connection, resignation

·5 min read

Councillors actively contributed to every discussion before coming to a decision. Councillors frequently got up from the table, looking at maps, reading through records and documents provided by the A/CAO. There were moments of levity as they worked together dealing with the business of the RM.

The meeting would be the first for Acting Chief Administrative Officer (A/CAO) Michelle Cruise-Pratchler since Council hired her in September. The agenda format was noticeably different, with a notation of whether each item was for “information” purposes or if “decisions” were required. The Council had previously tabled many of the decisions until the A/CAO could be brought to speed.

Several items were moved up on the agenda with the anticipation that Councillor Sheila Fishley would not be present later in the meeting.

IT Security and Support - Council made a motion for the A/CAO to investigate costs and look for a provider for Information Technology Security and Support services. The services will include backup servers and in-house email. Council made another motion to increase the RM’s office internet speed to 25/MB. The RM has been running at the lowest speed of 5/mb. The slow speed explains why zoom and sound quality are so low, and the Council had issues using their iPads during meetings.

Division 2 Councillor Hoyt Colven resigns- Reeve Kirzinger read the letter of resignation from Councillor Hoyt Colvin. Colvin said it was an honour to serve his community and was thankful for the opportunity but could not commit the time required to the position. Council discussed at length when to hold an election for the division. Council agreed to set February 23rd as the byelection day and January 10th as the cut-off for nominations.

Servicing Agreements – The A/CAO explained how servicing agreements are put in place and the parameters where the Council can decide on what their needs are. Reeve Russ Kirzinger said that it was explained to him that CAO’s were never trained to be community planners. He said that is why it’s important to have the right consultants helping the RM. Council went into closed session. After returning from the closed session, Council made a motion to refer the servicing agreement for the Buffalo Vista subdivision to consultants Urban Systems for review.

Temporary Staff - Council also made a motion to allow the A/CAO to investigate hiring an employee with municipal experience to assist with admin support temporarily. Council approved a maximum wage range of up to $50/hour plus mileage at the discretion of the A/CAO. Council made a motion for the A/CAO to explore the costs of updating the RM’s website.

Stop Work Orders - Council discussed two stop-work orders. Reeve Russ Kirzinger declared a conflict of interest for discussion on Buffalo Plains Cattle Company, and deputy Reeve Sheila Fishley stepped in during the Reeve’s absence. Councillor Bob Bennett noted he had been asked by ratepayers what was happening after people noticed work being done. Council decided to give authority to the A/CAO to issue a stop-work order if required after she contacts the company.

The Reeve returned to the meeting to take part in a second stop-work order over a property at Highwood Beach. A ratepayer issued a complaint about work taking place at the property. The Reeve said Council had also discussed the matter in the closed session. Council decided to authorize the CAO to issue a stop-work order. The RM would also commission a geotechnical engineer to complete a site-specific investigation with the costs paid by the property owner.

Bridge Repairs - Water Security Agency has approved the permits for the RM’s unsafe bridge. Council passed a motion to contract Dynamic Earth Solutions to provide engineering services for the installation of the bridge to culvert replacement located by Findlater at the cost of $18,100 including tax.

Speed Signs - The Council received a request for speed signs in an area zoned Country Residential because people use the road for walking. The request was to reduce the speed from 80 to 60. After discussion, the Council made a motion that the RM will monitor the area and consider signs if necessary in the future.

Waste Disposal Contract Termination - The CAO informed Council they would need to rescind a previous motion to terminate a waste disposal contract with Super-Save Bins because the RM sent the letter of termination six days outside the 120-day window stated in the contract. Because of this, the company refused to terminate the contract. The A/CAO added that the contract also stated that it automatically renews for five years if the contract is not terminated. A decision has been put on pause while they looked into further.

Long Service Awards - Council discussed long service awards to be presented to long-serving members of the Council. George Riche, Lorrie Zinn, Brian Weisbrod, Terry Neugebaur and Brent Smith.

Council said it would be nice to present the awards to the former councillors at a social function but recognized the potential difficulty under changing COVID-19 health regulations. The Council suggested that the RM look at a policy that set the parameters for receiving a long service award. Councillor Bob Bennett acknowledged that they could miss people and don’t want to miss anyone.

Reeve Russ Kirzinger acknowledged the sacrifices councillors make when providing a public service to their community. He said many take time away from higher-paying jobs to serve the community on councils. He said, presenting people with a token of appreciation and saying, “thank you for taking the time out of your life to serve the community to the best of your ability. Whether people like that or not, when no one else stepped up to the plate. At least somebody did.” Kirzinger said, “That makes sense to me.”

The next meeting is on Wednesday, November 10th at 8:00 am. The public can attend in person and wear a mask or via a Zoom link by contacting the office.

Jennifer Argue, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Last Mountain Times

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