Town Council News – September 13, 2023

All members present.

Request For Decision (RFD)

Council reviewed eight RFDs:

· Atco Electric Franchise Fee: Council has the option to modify the franchise fees in this agreement every year. ATCO Electric distribution projections for next year’s estimates will be slightly higher than the present year’s budgeted numbers. Council passed a motion to leave the ATCO Electric Franchise Fee the same for 2024.

· Atco Gas Franchise Fee: Council has the option to modify the franchise fees in this agreement every year. The Atco Gas projected delivery tariff for 2024 is estimated to be slightly lower than the 2023 delivery tariff estimates. Council passed a motion to leave the yearly ATCO Gas franchise fee the same for 2024.

· 2023 Organizational Meeting Date: The Municipal Government Act specifies that Council must hold an organizational meeting annually not later than two weeks after the third Monday in October. Council passed a motion to hold the annual organizational meeting on Oct. 25 at 6:00 PM, prior to the regularly scheduled Council meeting.

· 2023 Tax Sale: Two properties will be up for auction: 131 Parklane, assessed at $15,000, and 5411 Plaza Avenue, assessed at $12,500. The Public Auction can be set for Nov. 30, allowing for advertising in The Grizzly Gazette for the Oct. 15 issue. Council is required to set a minimum reserve bid on each property, all of which are as close to market value as possible. The Town’s assessor, Kevin Lawrence, with KCL Consulting, has provided us with market values. Council must also set the terms and conditions regarding the potential sale of the properties. Council passed a motion to set the 2023 Tax Arrears Sale date for Nov. 30, 2023, at 2:00 PM and to set the reserve bid for the specified properties as listed; to set the terms and conditions regarding the potential sale of the properties as requiring payment to be made by cash or certified cheque and requiring a minimum of 10% of the sale price at the time of sale with remainder to be paid within 30 days before the title is released.

· Barrhead Victim Services Report: Barrhead Victim Services has submitted its 2022 annual report for Council to review. They have also requested that Council consider the yearly $1,000.00 contribution that Swan Hills has made in the past. This contribution was approved and budgeted for during the 2023 budget deliberations. Council passed a motion to receive the 2022 Barrhead Victim Services annual report as information and approve the yearly $1,000 contribution.

· FRIAA Expression Of Interest (EOI) Approval: The EOI for FRIAA requires Council support as part of the submission requirements. This project will include the vegetation management of some previous areas of FireSmart activity. The Town worked with Wildfire Technologists from the Whitecourt Forest Area to determine the project scope. The Town will be applying for $192,600.00. Council passed a motion approving the submission of the Expression of Interest to FRIAA for the FRIAA-FFP VEG JUNE 2023 vegetation management project.

· RCMP Quarterly Report: The RCMP submitted their quarterly report covering from Apr. 1 to Jun. 30, 2023. Some key takeaways include an increase in assault incidents, with eight instances reported in 2023 compared to only two reported last year for this quarter. Also of note was a rise in Fraud incidents, climbing to four in 2023 during this quarter compared to 1 in 2023. Fail to Comply & Breaches incidents (failing to meet the requirements of a probation order or bail conditions) remain high at eight incidents in both 2022 and 2023. Council received this report as information.

· Economic Development Committee (EDC) Tourism Map Review: The EDC has received the final proof of the tourism map for Swan Hills. The map highlights a list of attractions in town, including tourist areas, accommodations, services, restaurants, etc. There are two minor corrections needed. Council passed a motion to accept the tourism map presentation as presented.

CAO Report

· Staff continue to work on the Alberta Disaster Recovery Program paperwork and requirements.

· The CAO was on vacation from August 14 - 25.

· The Town’s Community Registration Night was held on September 5.

· Will be attending the Alberta Municipalities conference on September 27 - 29 in Edmonton.

· Will be meeting with a representative from Forestry and Parks on September 19 to discuss the potential for more support and assistance with maintaining the campgrounds. This has been initiated by Forestry and Parks.

· Yellowhead Regional Library Board will attend the October 11 Council meeting to present the YRL year-end report.

· The new RCMP Sergeant is scheduled to arrive in late October.

· The Town has received an extension from FRIAA until October 2024 for its Wildland Urban Interface Plan project. The extension is due to the aggressive wildfire season, causing a lack of resources and preventing the completion of the project this summer. The Town is also working with Whitecourt Forestry on an application for vegetation maintenance of previously FireSmarted areas within the community through FRIAA.

Operations And Infrastructure

· The Reservoir upgrade project continues to be delayed. We are currently awaiting word from the contractor on a date for completion.

· The culvert and catch basin replacement project for Freeman Dr. and Pan Am will be complete at the time of this reading.

· Operations is awaiting word from engineering for repairs to the Pool roof, which will be evaluated by a mechanical engineer.

· The Splash Park has been winterized for the end of the season.

· The cement contractor will repair the sidewalks in the new plaza park before mid-September.

· Sewer flushing will be ongoing throughout September.

· Asphalt crack sealing will continue throughout the season as manpower allows.

Protective Services

· The new Peace Officer vehicle should be built by mid-November, with a 2-week install for emergency equipment. The vehicle should be ready by the beginning of December.

· There were three calls for Fire Department during the month of August 2023.

· Fire meetings have been held every second week for the summer months and will resume back to normal in September.


· Mayor Craig Wilson reported attending a Barrhead District & Social Housing meeting.

· Councillors Liz Krawiec and Dean LaBerge reported attending an Economic Development Committee meeting on September 11. The final proof of the tourist map has come in, and it looks great. c

· Councillor Jeff Goebel reported attending a Tamarack Health Advisory Council meeting. The vacant CLXT position at the Swan Hills Healthcare Centre was discussed, including that the job posting for this position is listed as a .8 FTE (Full Time Equivalency). Councillor Goebel expressed concern that it may be quite difficult to attract someone to move to Swan Hills for a less than full-time position. He also checked with RhPAP (Rural Health Professions Action Plan) to inquire if there is any funding to help someone take the CLXT program but has not received word back yet.

· Councillors Daryn Watson and Terry Kuyek reported attending an Inter-Agency Board meeting, where they met Swan Hills School’s new principal, Sherry Pfannmuller.


· After an in-camera session Council passed a motion to approve the appointment of Shelley Witwer to the Municipal Library Board for a term of three years.

Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette