Town of Bashaw council talks water conservation

Bashaw town council discussed water pricing and conservation at their regular meeting April 10.

Councillors heard a report on water pricing from Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Theresa Fuller, who noted in her summary that the Town of Bashaw was also looking at how much water they wished to requisition from the Hwy. 12/21 Water Commission this year.

Fuller noted town staff are estimating Bashaw will requisition 90,000 metres cubed from the commission, down substantially from last year’s roughly 97,000.

The CAO noted the substantial effort the Town of Bashaw has made over the past year to locate and stop water leaks in infrastructure are having an effect on this drop.

Fuller also told councillors that in 2023 the town water department expenses were greater than the revenues it brought in. Again, the CAO suggested stopping of leaks may have a significant effect on this deficit.

Coun. Kyle McIntosh noted the Government of Alberta is encouraging municipalities to cut their water use by 10 per cent in 2024, as fears of drought loom; McIntosh stated Bashaw appears well on its way to doing that.

Political Parties on local councils

Councillors, as part of their consent agenda items, read a letter from Alberta Municipalities (AM) President Tyler Gandam regarding the Government of Alberta’s proposal to introduce political parties into municipal politics.

“During dialogue with the Minister and Premier at our recent spring municipal leaders caucus, they confirmed their intention to bring in legislation that would pave the way for political parties to formally participate in local elections,” stated Gandam’s April 3 letter.

He went on to explain Premier Danielle Smith noted the provincial government was collecting alternate ideas as well. He added Alberta Municipalities opposes political parties in local elections for several reasons, including the idea may increase divisiveness and take decision-making authority out of local hands and give it to parties instead.

“It will contribute to a more adversarial and combative environment on council in which councillors will vote along party lines,” stated the AM letter.

Gandam’s letter suggested town councils contact their MLA, discuss this proposal openly with the public and pass a resolution in council opposing political parties in municipal politics.

Arena availability to public

Councillors also read a staff report regarding a March 26 meeting between the Town of Bashaw and Bashaw Minor Hockey to discuss the local arena.

“The arena operation costs continue to increase and staff are looking to implement an administrative/operational change,” stated the report. “We are exploring the possibility of contracting a caretaker for the 2024-25 season. This is an effort to reduce operating costs.”

The report noted several options were being looked at to reduce costs at the arena, including hiking user fees for out-of-town groups who want to book ice time, advertising available ice time and approaching other stakeholders about increased funding.

The report included a breakdown of net financial losses at the arena, with 2023 seeing a $124,025.70 loss with the 2024 loss estimated at $132,968.60.

More clarity needed

Councillors decided to request more information from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs regarding a proposed joint-use agreement between the municipality and Battle River School Division.

Before discussion, Coun. McIntosh declared a pecuniary interest and excused himself from the meeting.

While examining the draft agreement several councillors stated they didn’t understand why this was necessary.

Mayor McDonald noted it wasn't clear to him how some students who don’t attend school facilities, such as homeschooled kids, would fit under this agreement.

Councillors passed a resolution for town staff to request clarification about this draft agreement from the provincial government.

Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review