Town Council News – April 26, 2023

·6 min read

All Members Present.


· Rita Foster, Site Manager for the Swan Hills and Barrhead Healthcare Centres, addressed Council with an update for the local hospital. See the full story on page xx.

· Sergeant Devron Dittmer, Swan Hills RCMP Detachment Commander, updated Council on the detachment's current and upcoming staffing changes. April 25 was Sgt. Dittmer’s last shift with the Swan Hills detachment as he has been transferred to High Level. Sgt. Dittmer reports that the job posting for his replacement had already been posted and closes on Apr. 26. He has personally received two phone calls and one email inquiring about the position so far and anticipates that the hiring process may take up to two months. Cst. Russell Hoffman will be acting Detachment Commander until a replacement has been hired. Sgt. Dittmer thanks Swan Hills for the support that the community has shown to him and the RCMP detachment as a whole; he reports that Swan Hills has a “really good reputation as a pro-police community.” Cst. Zack Riddell will also be transferring to High Level later in the year. A new recruit has been selected to replace Cst. Riddell upon completing their training. Council thanked Sgt. Dittmer for his service to the Swan Hills community and presented him with some parting mementos from the Town.

Request For Decision (RFD)

Council reviewed four RFDs:

· Communities in Bloom Week: Communities in Bloom Canada is recognizing the week of May 1 as Communities in Bloom Week and is requesting municipalities recognize this as well. Council passed a motion to proclaim the week of May 1 as Communities in Bloom Week in Swan Hills.

· Indigenous Culture Awareness Training: The Whitecourt Indigenous Friends Society and Community Futures Yellowhead East (CFYE) are sponsoring A Regional Indigenous Cultural Awareness Training Workshop on Monday, May 8, at the Eagle River Casino & Travel Plaza from 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM. Council passed a motion to send Councillors Goebel, Clermont, Krawiec, and CAO Lewis (if he is available) to the Indigenous Culture Awareness Training Workshop on May 8 at the Eagle River Casino.

· New Community Peace Officer (CPO) Vehicle: The current Town of Swan Hills CPO vehicle is a 2011 Dodge Ram 1500, with over 102,000 km and lots of hours on the engine. This vehicle is showing rust on the body and has required a lot of work on the front end. The technology and requirements needed for CPO vehicles have also changed substantially since the current vehicle went into service. The Town received quotes from Stephani Motors (Barrhead, AB) for a 2023 Doge Durango (Police Enforcer Package, $56,995 + GST) and WOLF Chevrolet (Edmonton, AB) for a Chevrolet Tahoe with the Police Package (MSRP $64,000 + GST). The Town receives a municipal discount for purchasing Dodge vehicles, included in the given quote. The Dodge Durango is available for delivery within 3 – 6 months, and the Chevrolet Tahoe is currently back-ordered. The Town has also contacted two vendors (Mega-Tech and WCI Communications, both in Edmonton) for quotes to outfit the CPO vehicle with the necessary accessories (radar, ticketing equipment, etc.) and to The Patchman for the decal work. Council passed a motion to approve the purchase of a 2023 Dodge Durango (Police Enforcer Package) from Stepani Motors to replace the current CPO vehicle.

· Decision RCMP Retroactive Salary Cost: With the Federal Budget passed, RCMP retroactive salary costs will be passed on to municipalities. In conversation with the Province, Alberta Municipalities has received verbal communication that communities under 5000 who receive their RCMP policing under the Provincial Police Service Agreement (which would include Swan Hills) will not have these costs passed on to them. Council passed a motion to receive the update from FCM and Alberta Municipalities on RCMP retroactive salary costs as information.

CAO Report

· Trinus and Bell are working on internal system preparation for the office changeover to SuperNet.

· Working on the statements of funding and expenditures (SFEs) for the MSI and CCBF 2022 grants. These will be submitted to the province before the May 1 deadline.

· Final Budget changes have been updated in iCity.

· Tax information has been entered, and notices have been prepped. They will be mailed out by the end of the month.

· Protective Services is working with Whitecourt Forestry on finalizing and submitting the Structure Protection Plan full proposal with FRIAA.

· Wildfire prevention update; Swan Dive Tower: Opens on April 24; Goose Mountain Tower: Closed for the 2023 Fire Season; House Mountain Tower: Open for the season; Deer Mountain Tower: Open for the season; Swan Hills Fire Base: Opened on April 13

-The Swan Hills Firebase is currently staffed with an 11-person Unit Crew and an 8-person Firetack crew. One 3-person Helitack (HAC) crew will start on April 27. By mid-May, there should be three 4-Person HAC Crews and one 20-person Unit Crew.

Operations And Infrastructure

· The reservoir project is still at a standstill as we await the new gas regulator due to a supply chain issue.

· PW has been focused on spring runoff and culvert clearing during this reporting period.

· Campground preparations are underway to ensure we are ready for the season.

· One CC valve repair.

· Pothole patching and road tarring will begin the week of April 24.

· PW is currently awaiting parts for the street sweeper. Street sweeping will commence once the unit has been repaired.

· The Arena seasonal shutdown activity will be completed the week of April 24. The staff will then move on to Parks and Rec for the season.

· The annual Water Treatment Plant instrumentation calibrations were performed with no issues.

· Repairs were undertaken at the Lagoon Pond Pump building and access road. Two new culverts were installed, and proper drainage was established to preserve the road.

· PW is currently recruiting for the Supervisor position.


· Mayor Craig Wilson attended a Golden Triangle meeting. The Golden Triangle had a successful year and is in good shape for next season.

· Councillors Bob Clermont and Daryn Watson reported on a Community Matters meeting. They discussed installing bike racks downtown and the upcoming annual Town Cleanup, which will be on the weekend of May 11.

· Councillor Jeff Goebel reported that he is still working on setting up a Bear Awareness event for the school.

-Councillor Goebel also reported that May 6 – 12 is National Nurse Appreciation Week, with May 12 being National Nurse Appreciation Day. Plans are still in progress for a Medical Professional Luncheon while respecting the observance of Ramadan. The Luncheon may be postponed to coincide with World Pharmacist Appreciation Day in September.

· Councillor Dean LaBerge reported on a Chamber of Commerce meeting on Apr 20. They discussed the Junior Achievement grant through the provincial government. This grant works with schools to teach financial literacy and business management. Participating students can also earn school credit. Volunteers would be trained on how to run this program and will be able to deliver it year after year.

· Councillor Liz Kraweic reported on a CFYE meeting. Some significant concerns exist for businesses in the region that received RRRF grants during the pandemic; the deadline for repayment is approaching, and many of them are not in a position to be able to meet this deadline.


· After an in-camera session Council passed a motion to approve the appointment of Vickie Hickie to the Community Matters Committee for a term of three years.

Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette