Town Council News – Mar. 24, 2021

·6 min read

Request For Decision (RFD)

Four RFDs were reviewed and then passed:

· Appointment of Inspectors under the Agricultural Pests Act: As per the Agricultural Pests Act and Weed Control Act, the local authority is required to appoint inspectors to carry out, monitor, and enforce the aforementioned Acts and associated regulations. Big Lakes County has qualified people for weed and pest inspection within their organization, and they will assist with inspections in our area. Council passed a motion to appoint the inspectors from Big Lakes County and Clint Baker from Swan Hills.

· The Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) Spring Municipal Leaders Caucus: This year's AUMA Spring Municipal Leaders Caucus will be held virtually from Apr. 14 to 16. There is a $50 fee to attend, but attendance is not required. Any Councillors that want to go can contact the CAO. Council passed a motion to accept this notice as information.

· Deputy Director of Emergency Management Appointment: This appointment fulfills the Town's Emergency Management Bylaw requirement. Council passed a motion to appoint John Gibbins as the Deputy Director of Emergency Management for the Town of Swan Hills.

· Bylaw 2021-03 Emergency Management Bylaw: The proposed Bylaw 2021-03 covers the Emergency Management Act and the Local Authority Emergency Management Regulation requirements and will replace Bylaw 2012-07. Council gave Bylaw 2021-03 three readings and then passed a motion to adopt it.

CAO Report

· The Safety Codes yearly self-audit has been completed and submitted. The Town has recently received word that everything is satisfactory.

· The fireguard project continues, although progress has slowed due to the warmer weather conditions.

· Sea Hawk Consulting will be holding an Emergency Management training/information session on April 19 – 20 for those involved in the Town's emergency management system.

· The work continues on reviewing and upgrading the Town's emergency management system.

· Working on the final budget and taxation requirements, hoping to have it completed by the next council meeting.

· Dr. Hinshaw will give a vaccine update on (Mar. 26).

· CAO Bill Lewis and Councilors Elizabeth Krawiec and Carol Webster met with the company working on the new Town website to review a couple of designs.

Operations and Infrastructure

· There has been high debris loading in the sewage lift station over the last three weeks, which has led to the system plugging off multiple times. Much of the team's labour has been focused on unplugging the system; they will continue to work through this issue until it has been resolved.

· Blue Ridge Lumber has donated a load of wood for the town to use for firewood at the campgrounds.

· There is a temporary PH control system installed at the WTP until the new build arrives. They anticipate having this repair completed by the second week of April.

· The roof heater at the Community College has been repaired.

· The Supervisory position has been filled with a local resident who will begin on Monday, Mar. 22.


· Councillor Terry Kuyek reported on the Swan Hills School Council meeting from Mar. 17. Willow Feduniak received a Citizenship Award. Vista Virtual is offering summer school programs. Transportation (school busing) has been costing $50,000 to $70,000 a year. The Swan Hills school bus will be downsized from a 66 passenger bus to a 58 passenger bus to help recover costs, and busing fees will be raised to $415 a year. If the bus utilization rate falls below 35%, the bus will be cancelled. If the busing program were not subsidized, the transportation fees would be $800 per student. The Pembina Hills School Division board is advocating for school buses to be able to drive at the posted speed limits on highways instead of being restricted to a maximum of 90 km/hr. There has been a development in Manitoba where the 37 school boards have been dissolved, with their trustee duties being moved to local school councils. This move is supposed to save $40 million a year. A candidate from Swan Hills is still being sought for the upcoming School Board Trustee election.

· Councillor Jeff Goebel reported that Mar. 30 is Doctor Appreciation Day, and May 12 is Nurses Day. Usually, this is celebrated with a luncheon, but that won't be possible at this time because of COVID-19. The current plan is to possibly push this to September to coincide with World Pharmacist Day, hoping that conditions concerning the public health restrictions may be more favourable.

· Councillor Daryn Watson reported on the Community Matters meeting. They discussed a "take it or leave it" concept for the landfill, looking for a shelter for the outdoor skating rink, fencing off parts of Main Street to hide some of the more unsightly areas, and having garbage bins at the trailheads for the walking trails.

· Councillor Elizabeth Krawiec reported on an EDC working group meeting where they discussed who will take video training.

· Councillor Carol Webster reported that after Wild Alberta (WA) had conducted a few online meetings with tourism industry members, WA discussed becoming a stand-alone DMO (Destination Marketing Organization). This may include restructuring to a 12 member board comprised of 6 industry partners and 6 municipal elected officials.

-GROWTH is moving ahead with its restructuring efforts. They have received a $20,000 grant from Travel Alberta, which will be used in setting up Wild AB.

-Community Futures Yellowhead East (CFYE) has lent out all of their RRRF funds, comprising of just over $2 million dispersed to over 30 businesses. The program ends on Mar. 31. CFYE has been contacted by municipalities and clients in the region looking for a regional resiliency initiative that can be partnered with the municipalities; they will be investing $50,000 (with the option of increasing to $100,000) in this endeavour.

-Councillor Webster attended the Alberta Connectivity Seminar. There were presentations on the Supernet. They discussed current and upcoming satellite internet providers, which may be how much of rural Canada will be able to access high-speed internet.

-There was an Alberta Distance Learning Centre (ADLC) meeting today regarding the centre's closing. Without warning, the ADLC had received a letter from the Government of Alberta that their funding would be cut from $15.8 million to $14 million in 2021 and then down to $7 million in 2022. Pembina Hills decided that they would not be able to operate with a $7 million budget, so the government decided to close the ADLC. There were numerous attempts to reverse this decision. Pembina Hills is receiving calls from schools across the province about what they will do because the ADLC provides distance learning to students all over the province.

Committee Appointments

Council made the following Committee Appointments: Kerra VonSaldern to the Community Matters Committee for a 3-year term and to appoint Carmelle Seabrook to the Economic Development Committee for a 3-year term.

Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette