The Village of Alix council chose not to adopt a federal statutory holiday in what has turned into a patchwork of municipal decisions across the province over this holiday.
Alix council made their decision at the regular council meeting Sept. 15.
Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michelle White provided councillors with a memo on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, also known as Orange Shirt Day, Sept. 30, asking whether the village would recognize it as a paid stat holiday.
The village’s personnel policy states all federal, provincial and municipal stats are observed.
White noted it is a federal stat holiday so federal employees get the day off, but the Alberta provincial government didn’t adopt it but rather left it up to municipalities to decide if it’s officially recognized or not.
Coun. Ed Cole read a prepared statement which he provided to the ECA Review. It stated, “Residential schools and the treatment of indigenous Canadians has been a stain on Canadian history, and is something that needs to be addressed and somehow rectified. How it can be rectified, I do not have an answer to.
“However having said that, a paid statutory holiday is not the answer. During a global COVID pandemic, businesses, especially small business are struggling to survive. Adding another paid holiday in September by the federal government is irresponsible, it puts an unfair burden on small businesses and in our case, small municipalities, and does nothing to address the issue.
“I submit, it is simply window dressing by the federal Liberals in an election year. This is something we could revisit, once the pandemic is over, and things have returned to normal, but this is not the time,” concluded Cole.
The CAO noted a stat holiday at the end of the month would affect things like utility billing and other work.
Councillors decided not to adopt the holiday, opted to change the village policy to remove federal stat holidays and investigate internal training for staff about indigenous issues.
Plan for the future
The village began its strategic plan review, what CAO White describes as a “precursor to the budget.”
White stated the strategic plan informs budget choices and is usually developed early in a council’s four-year term, then followed to the next election.
White noted the previous council chose to steer the village away from providing recreational programming and their strategic plan reflected that choice.
The new council elected after Oct. 18 will have a chance to give input into the new strategic plan. The plan will return to a future council meeting.
Fire department budget
Councillors accepted the Alix Fire Department’s proposed 2022 budget as it was presented.
The CAO noted the only substantial change was the price of a thermal imaging camera, which rose from $10,000 to $14,000. Such cameras are used by firefighters to search emergency scenes for survivors.
Councillors unanimously approved some terms of reference for the Village of Alix and Lacombe County intermunicipal development plan (IDP) and intermunicipal collaboration framework (ICF) as presented.
The CAO noted in her report the two municipalities met in July and drafted terms of reference that were also included for councillors.
IDP’s and ICF’s are used by municipalities when developments and other activities occur where the municipal boundaries meet.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review