Town Council News – March 8, 2023

All members present.

Request For Decision (RFD)

Council reviewed four RFDs:

· Alberta Municipalities (AM) Analysis of Provincial Budget: AM has released its preliminary analysis of the Provincial Budget. They have focused on the positive and negative implications it will have for municipalities. AM seems pleased with the budget overall. Some of the highlights include: the education property tax has been frozen and will not increase; the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) Operating fund has been doubled, which is excellent news for small municipalities; and libraries, FCSS programs, and Regional Economic Development Alliances (REDAs) all received funding increases. Council passed a motion to accept the Alberta Municipalities Analysis of Provincial Budget as information.

· Assessment – Requisition Comparison: The town has received the preliminary property assessment numbers. Altogether, Swan Hills is seeing an $8,734,030 decline in assessed value from last year, a drop of 10.25%. Residential properties are seeing the largest decrease by a significant margin. Council passed a motion to accept the Assessment – Requisition Comparison as information.

· Lemonade Day Local Entrepreneur Of The Year Sponsorship: The Town of Swan Hills has sponsored this $500 award in previous years. Community Futures Yellowhead East has requested that the Town sponsor this award again for Lemonade Day 2023. Other requirements, such as supplying judges and event training spaces, will also be required. Council passed a motion to sponsor the Local Entrepreneur Of The Year award for Lemonade Day 2023.

· Lemonade Day Proclamation: Council has been requested to proclaim June 17, 2023, as Lemonade Day in Swan Hills. Council passed a motion to proclaim June 17, 2023, as Lemonade Day in Swan Hills.

Fire Department Equipment Requests

The Swan Hills Fire Department (SHFD) has received a large donation of $25,000 from Pembina Pipeline to be used on training and equipment. They would like to use part of this donation to purchase an Argo. There is a second-hand Argo available that has seen little use and is in excellent condition that they can buy for $20,000. As the vehicle would be purchased under the Town of Swan Hill’s name, the SHFD has requested that Council approve this purchase. The SHFD is in possession of a side-by-side club car that hasn’t performed as expected and gets stuck fairly easily. As such, this vehicle does not get used very often. The SHFD has requested approval to sell this vehicle. Council passed a motion approving the Fire Department’s purchase of an Argo using donated funds. Council also passed a motion approving the Fire Department’s sale of their side-by-side club car through a public tender process, with the proceeds added to the Fire Department’s funds.

CAO Report

· Working on the joint use and planning agreement with Pembina Hills that is now required through amendments to the MGA and School Act, due this spring.

· Continued working on the year-end Safety Codes Council audit due at the end of March.

· All outstanding items have been sent to the Alberta Peace Officer Program.

· Continued working with the Town’s financial auditor on the year-end financial statements.

· Began reviewing assessments and working on property tax-related items.

· The Provincial Budget was tabled on Feb. 28.

· Attended a conference call on Mar. 1 with Rebecca Schulz, Minister of Municipal Affairs, to receive information about Budget 2023.

Operations And Infrastructure

· There has been a delay in the reservoir project. We will be installing a larger capacity gas regulator to compensate for the additional usage required by the generator. This delay should take no longer than two weeks and will not affect the water supply in any way.

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

· PW is currently recruiting for the Supervisor position.

Protective Services

· Submitted FRIAA FireSmart Expression of Interest. This grant money will be focused on developing a sprinkler deployment plan for the town of Swan Hills. Clint Baker will be working closely with Agriculture and Forestry on this project if successful on the grant.

· Submitted updated policies and documentation for the Peace Officer Program to the Justice and Solicitor General.

· Received quotes for a new Peace Officer vehicle. Waiting to see if Capital funding is available to order a new vehicle.

· The Peace Officer Patrolled the snowmobile Rally on Feb. 25 in Swan Hills.

· The Peace Officer is now making check-ins at the Swan Hills Hospital as part of daily rounds.

· There were four Fire Department calls for the month of February.

· SHFD helped out with Family Day activities.

· SHFD participated in Mental Health First Aid. (12 hr course designed to teach individuals how to support someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis).


· Councillors Bob Clermont and Daryn Watson attended a Community Matters meeting. They discussed removing the damaged sign at the vehicle pull-out at the top of the hill north of town if they cannot get it fixed or replaced.

· Councillor Goebel reported that preparations continue for holding 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 continuing to work with Fish and Wildlife to attempt to arrange a bear awareness event for the school.

· Councillors Dean LaBerge and Terry Kuyek attended a GROWTH Alberta Zoom meeting on Mar. 2. They discussed how best to use the funding from the Tourism Recovery Fund before the Mar. 31 deadline. They may also be getting close to finding an Executive Director. WILD Alberta has added a fourth Tourism Operator Networking Session in Mayerthorpe on Mar. 25.

· Councillors Terry Kuyek, Liz Krawiec, and Dean LaBerge attended the Economic Development Meeting on Mar. 6. Councillor LaBerge and Brent Cmoc will attend the SiteLink conference in Lac La Biche from May 31 – Jun. 2 on behalf of the EDC. They would like to gather information about Swan Hills’ readiness for investment to prepare for this conference. Councillor Krawiec has found a map-making company in the UK and has corresponded with them about making a tourism map of Swan Hills. The EDC is exploring having digital files of a tourism map created that could be printed out on demand. The EDC reviewed a list of attractions in Swan Hills, including tourist areas, accommodations, services, restaurants, etc. The EDC approved the use of up to $4500 to have a tourist map created. The group also discussed the name of The Four Seasons Campground. From a tourism-centred perspective, the name doesn’t quite fit when it is only open from May 15 – Sep. 15 and the EDC would like to explore options for renaming the site.

Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette