Town Council News - Nov 25, 2020

·5 min read

Councillor Goelbel Absent, Councillor Watson Participated by Phone

Discussion on Recent COVID-19 Restrictions

Lead by CAO Bill Lewis, Council discussed the recently announced COVID-19 health restrictions.

Here are some highlights as to how these restrictions affect Swan Hills:

· There had been some confusion about when the restrictions would be in place, with some people in town thinking that all of the restrictions were effective on Nov 27. CAO Lewis clarified that the restrictions on social gatherings were effective immediately across the province.

· Local non-profit organization board meetings are classified as work or mutual support groups and can continue going forward, as long as health measures such as social distancing are followed.

· The town pool and arena are already following the guidelines for our area and can continue to operate going forward, but this will change if Swan Hills becomes an enhanced status area. The pool and arena cannot be privately rented at this time.

· The Community Club is going to close until the New Year due to the ban on social gatherings.

· Swan Hills is not under any provincial masking requirements at this time.

· In regards to Lite Up, the direction from AHS is that Lite Up can proceed as planned but it is very important for people to remain in their vehicles when visiting Santa. If people come out of their vehicles and begin to crowd around Santa, the event must end immediately.

Budget Review and Discussion

Cao Bill Lewis gave an extremely thorough review of the proposed budget for 2021. The proposed budget will be very lean due to attempting to balance significant losses in revenue with increased costs in some areas of expenditures. After discussing these issues, Council voted to table approving the budget until the next Town Council meeting. The Grizzly Gazette will be able to report on the 2021 budget in greater detail once it has been finalized for the next Council meeting.

CAO Report

· A pre-project meeting with the Fire Chief, Forestry, and Blue ridge Lumber was held on Nov 24th regarding the Fire Guard project.

· Staff worked on preparations for the modified Christmas Lite Up event.

· A Tax Auction was held on Nov 17th.

· Had a conference call with the Premier, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, the Minister of Finance, and the Chief Medical Officer of Health regarding COVID-19 on Nov 18th.

· Met with Sea Hawk Consulting (the group doing the Emergency Management Regional Audit).

· Working on 2021 Budget preparation.

· Working on the 5-year Capital Plan and 3-year operating plan.

· Working on the new website upgrade.

· Preparing for the strategic planning session with Community Futures Yellowhead East.

· Working on the Municipality Accountability Program (MAP) Audit preparation.

Operations and Infrastructure

· The Flash Mixer at the Water Treatment Plant (WTP) is still awaiting parts.

· Waiting for the Reservoir Fire Water Pump motor replacement. Hoping to get a start date for this project for early December.

· The sewage lift station pump that is currently out for service should be back in the first week of December. When it returns, the second pump will be sent out to be serviced as well.

· There was a heater failure in the sewage lift station. A heater that had been salvaged from the PRV was repurposed for this application.

· The roofing contractor has indicated that all repairs will be complete the week of Nov 23rd.

· The Arena will be open for business on Nov 20th.

· All of the Public Works and WTP procedures are currently being re-written and re-formatted as the previous versions were antiquated.

· Public Works has been focusing on snow removal.

· Public Works and WTP staff are in the process of qualification for Basic Emergency Management as well as Incident Command System 100. Should be completed by Jan 30th, 2021.

· All safety training for Public Works staff is now up to date.

Reports

· Councillor Carol Webster reported on the first meeting of the regional Chamber of Commerce on Nov 13th. Representatives from Mayerthorpe, Whitecourt, Swan Hills, Edson, Fox Creek, and Barrhead attended. The discussions included helping Barrhead with the closure of ADLC and Swan Hills with the closure of the SHTC. Ways of providing benefits to the regional Chamber members were also discussed. The next meeting will be on Dec 4th.

· Councillor Carol Webster reported that GROWTH Alberta held two executive meetings, on Nov 18th and Nov 24th. The GROWTH chairman will be resigning, meaning that a new chairman will need to be appointed. The Village of Wabamun has voted to dissolve their municipality and will become a Hamlet on January 1st, so this alliance will be losing a member. The next GROWTH Meeting will be on Nov 27th.

· Councillor Carol Webster detailed Community Futures Yellowhead East’s (CFYE) meeting on Nov 19th, which focused on succession planning. One of CFYE’s members is approaching their eight-year term limit and will need to step down within the next year.

· Councillor Elizabeth Krawiec reported having a promising Zoom meeting with a member of Community Futures that is very interested in helping Swan Hills with our Economic development. They hope to meet again soon.

· Councillor Terry Kuyek reported on the Nov 18th school council meeting. With the impending closure of the ADLC threatening a major reorganization of staff, 44 teachers have chosen retirement rather than “bumping” their coworkers. The school council will move from monthly meetings to meeting every two months due to a lack of participation from the community. Jenny Kilpatrick – Life &Health Coach – has offered support services for staff and parents feeling excessive strain and stress during these times.

Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette