Social housing on hold in Sexsmith

·6 min read

Town of Sexsmith

Regular Meeting of Council

September 7, 2021

In Attendance: Mayor Kate Potter,

councillors Dennis Stredulinsky, Ken Hildebrand,

Bruce Black, Isak Skjaveland, Jonathan Siggelkow,

Clint Froehlick.

Grande Spirit Housing: The town received an estimate of $1,812,550 for the cost of six social housing units from the Grande Spirit Foundation in Sexsmith.

Grande Spirit is currently in the process of selling six former social houses in Sexsmith, which will help fund the new build. They estimate the sales will bring in about $1,215,000.

Grande Spirit is asking the town to provide a cash contribution of $500,000 along with the land.

The land was assessed at a value of $97,550.

The lot is currently zoned as an urban reserve, and Grande Spirit is asking the town to ensure the lot is suitable for development.

“The due diligence shall include an environmental site assessment, geotechnical investigation, site survey and rezoning for multi-residential,” said Steve Madden, CAO of Grande Spirit, in a letter to council.

“I don’t think we have the money,” said Coun. Skjaveland.

Coun. Siggelkow said he believes that many people who need these supports may be better served in the city.

Many councillors were surprised at the amount of money needed to move the project forward.

“I think the reality of being a growing community is that these things will become more and more necessary,” said Mayor Potter.

“When we had this discussion at the last council meeting this was (discussed) we specifically said, we actually want social housing here, if we can afford it.”

“It is crucially important to have this in our community,” said Coun. Froehlick, although he admitted it's expensive but still wanted to see it move forward.

“I will never support spending $600,000 of taxpayer money for six houses,” said Coun. Siggelkow.

Council decided to discuss the social housing project in upcoming budget discussions.

If council cannot make a decision, Grande Spirit wants to move the funds into another community.

The housing unit is planned to be built south of the medical clinic at 10302 98 Avenue.

Fibre installation: GP Networks has shown an interest in expanding its fibre optic network into the community and is asking the town for a municipal access agreement to begin construction.

“They are looking for no financial assistance,” said Rachel Wueschner, Sexsmith chief administration officer (CAO).

Coun. Hildebrand said he believes it will create a good competition in Sexsmith.

The construction would be at the cost of GP Networks.

Council accepted the motion for information and will have administration move forward on it.

A final agreement will be brought before council for approval.

Municipal election signage: Due to a lack of interest from residents to run in the municipal election town administration wants to install temporary signage to encourage community members to submit their nomination papers.

Council approval is required for that type of signage following the land use by-law.

The cost for the signage will come from the current election supplies budget.

Currently, only one person has submitted their nomination papers for mayor and four people for councillor positions in Sexsmith. The town will be electing a mayor and six councillors.

Some sitting councillors have said they plan to submit their papers but still have yet to do so.

“There's still lots of time for people to submit nomination papers,” said Coun. Froehlick, who has also not submitted his nomination papers but plans to run in the upcoming election.

“The role of administration in this is to make sure that the election has been promoted adequately,” said mayor Potter.

Council decided it will not install temporary election signage.

Tax break: i3 Energy Canada sent a letter to the town requesting they cancel or reduce tax arrears from its outstanding 2019 and 2020 property taxes.

The company is asking the town to forgive $64,283.83 if they pay $33,554.39 in installments over the next five months.

Town administration informed council that if they did forgive the amount owing, they could recuperate the cost by using the Municipal Operating Support Transfer (MOST). However, the funds could still be used in other areas.

Even if council decided to make i3 pay for the taxes, the MOST funding would not have to be returned, explained the CAO.

“I’m completely against giving them a break,” said the mayor.

“We know it's been tough, but we have come down hard and fast on every other person who has asked for forgiveness of penalties or a break, and we said no.”

The company also said in its letter that it paid $36,000 on July 30.

Council decided not to approve the request from i3 Energy Canada for the reduction of penalties on taxes.

Sexsmith football sponsorship: The Sexsmith Football Club is looking to create a new sponsorship program that would see signs along the fence of the football field.

“The chosen fence spaces would be from the east gate area surrounding the old score clock, around behind the new score clock, the south end goal post and around to the end of the bleachers. Continuously throughout these spaces,” said Karma Stark, president of the Sexsmith Football Club, in her letter.

Signs would be 4 feet by 8 feet and cost $500 annually to the Sexsmith Football Club.

The fund would help fund ongoing equipment costs.

“Our club provides the majority of the equipment for all players each season, and with helmets regularly expiring due to safety, equipment is always something we are purchasing,” said Stark.

Public works were consulted and advised that signs be made by diabond and not plywood, to not cause stress on the fence.

Council decided to approve the request to allow businesses to advertise on the community center fence in collaboration with public works for the signage that won’t damage the fence.

Rail Safety Week 2021: Council decided to declare Sept. 20 to 26 as Rail Safety Week in the Town of Sexsmith.

The town will add posts to their social media accounts to help educate residents about the hazards surrounding railways and trains.

Additional council meeting: Council will meet on Sept. 20 for an additional council meeting that was not previously scheduled.

Four items were removed from the Sept. 7 meeting agenda, said Wueschner, and those items will be brought up in the additional meeting.

A Corporate Services meeting has also been set for Sept. 13 to host the fire department administration.

Council had previously decided to keep the latter half of September free of council meetings due to the upcoming election on Oct. 18 with nomination day on Sept. 20.

Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News

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