Town Council News – February 22, 2023

All members present.

Request For Decision (RFD)

Council reviewed two RFDs:

· GROWTH Support Letter: GROWTH Alberta is applying to become a designated community for the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program (AAIP) – Rural Renewal Stream for the GROWTH region. The AAIP nominates skilled or professional workers for permanent residence in Alberta. Candidates for nomination through AAIP must have the skills to fill existing job shortages or plan on buying or starting a new business in the province. Designated communities could attract and recruit newcomers to fill skilled or professional worker shortages through this program. GROWTH is looking for support letters from its member municipalities. Council passed a motion to submit a letter of support for GROWTH’s application for the AAIP.

· Site Link Forum Attendance: The Economic Development Committee (EDC) has requested to send two members to the Site Link Forum in Lac La Biche on May 31 – June 2, 2023. This event allows attendees to interact with and learn from experienced site selectors and economic development professionals. Attendees would gain valuable knowledge of best practices and strategies for attracting and expanding businesses in their communities. The EDC already has the funds within its budget to pay for the expenses related to this conference and would not require further funding from the Town of Swan Hills. Council passed a motion to approve two Economic Development Committee members to attend the Site Link Forum in Lac La Biche from May 31 – June 2, 2023.

By-Laws And Policies

· Peace Officer Policy Update: These policy updates include additions now required by the provincial Peace Officer Program and must be submitted to that program. The updates will be added to Schedule “A” of Policy 21-001, pertaining to Peace Officer Duties & Responsibilities, Program Reporting Requirements, Disciplinary, Weapons, Known Risk, and Communications policies. Council passed a motion approving the addition of the listed policies and procedures to schedule “A” of Policy 21-001.

CAO Report

· The Town has submitted its Expression of Interest application to the Forest Resource Improvement Association of Alberta (FRIAA). This application is to develop a structure protection plan with an emphasis on sprinkler deployment. The Town is requesting $20,000.00 for the development of this plan, with the majority to be completed by a consultant, in line with the existing mitigation strategy and guide.

· Working on the year end Safety Codes Council audit due at the end of March.

· Continued working with Protective Services on updating and creating new required policies through the Alberta Peace Officer Program.

· Met with Charity Vollmann (Careers) and Kim Hooey (Swan Hills School) on Feb. 16 regarding apprenticeships, interns, and grants.

· Met with the Town’s auditor (Wayne Ellerington) on Feb. 21 to begin preparation for the year-end financial audit and preparation of financial statements.

· The Provincial Budget will be released on Feb. 28.

Operations And Infrastructure

· The reservoir project remains on schedule. The new generator will be brought online on Feb. 22. The new pump will be installed the following week, at which point commissioning will begin.

· PW has been focused on snow removal during this reporting period.

· One CC Valve was replaced on the corner of Pan Am and Centennial.

· PW is currently recruiting for the Supervisor position.


· Mayor Craig Wilson reported that the other towns in the Golden Triangle (Whitecourt and Fox Creek) have had to postpone their snowmobile rallies due to not having enough snow. The Swan Hills rally is on track to occur on Feb. 25. The planned route for the rally has been altered due to muddy conditions in some areas.

· Councillors Dean LaBerge and Terry Kuyek attended a Chamber of Commerce meeting on Feb. 9. There was a suggestion to add a solar light to the highway signs maintained by the Chamber to increase their visibility. The Chamber will be offering a pancake breakfast during Swancicle Days. There is a New Year’s baby; the Chamber will invite the lucky family to the next meeting to congratulate them and present them with gifts from the Chamber, local businesses, and town residents.

· Councillors Kuyek, Krawiec, and LaBerge attended the WILD Alberta networking event for tourism operators in Fort Assiniboine on Feb. 18. There was a great turnout with 19 people altogether. The participants learned about effective marketing and working with each other to offer their guests a better experience.

· Councillor Liz Krawiec attended a regional Community Futures meeting for Northern Alberta, where Community Futures Alberta presented their strategic plan. Community Futures Yellowhead East (CFYE) held training sessions for Board members. They have also submitted a proposal to extend the Digital Service Squad program. It is speculated that most businesses that received funding through the RRRF (Regional Relief and Recovery Fund) program will not be able to pay these loans back, so CFYE is proactively trying to engage with the government to look for a solution.

· Councillors Kuyek, Krawiec, and LaBerge attended an Economic Development Committee (EDC) meeting on Feb. 13. The EDC is exploring different options for a project to work towards; they will be sending two members to the Site Link Forum conference to network with and learn from experienced site selectors and economic development professionals. They also discussed having proper tourism maps made to showcase Swan Hills’ features and make them more accessible to visitors.

· Councillor Bob Clermont completed the Municipal Elected Official Emergency Management training.

· Councillor Jeff Goebel reported that security concerns have been raised at the hospital. The Community Peace Officer will visit randomly during the day to maintain a presence, and the RCMP will do the same after hours. Preparations continue to hold an event on Apr. 6 for the grade 9 – 12 students from the school, focussing on rural health career opportunities, including; combined Lab and X-Ray Techs, Licenced Practical Nurses, Registered Nurses, and EMS. The plan is to bring a group of students to the hospital for a skills workshop.

- Councillor Goebel is also working on arranging a bear awareness event for the spring.

· Councillor Daryn Watson reported on a Fire Department meeting on Feb. 21. They worked on getting the Department’s snowmobile and rescue sled ready for the upcoming snowmobile rally.

Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette