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Elk Point Town Council shows support for historical preservation plans

ELK POINT – Elk Point Town Council showed keen interest in the preservation of Elk Point and area’s history when Marvin Bjornstad and Lawrence Zarowny of the Elk Point Historical Society attended the Nov. 27 council meeting.
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ELK POINT – Elk Point Town Council showed keen interest in the preservation of Elk Point and area’s history when Marvin Bjornstad and Lawrence Zarowny of the Elk Point Historical Society attended the Nov. 27 council meeting. 

With the Historical Society entering its 48th year, Bjornstad said, “We are looking at lots of little projects. We’re good at starting things, and not so good at keeping on track, and information from organizations is disappearing, and we are proposing that the town and county work with us to start a digital archives society,” to prevent further loss.

“When organizations shut down, where do the archives go? Into someone’s basement,” he said. “We are not looking to form a museum, just to digitize the records. We can probably get our volunteers to do that, but it’s not just the files. We need a place to store those and the records. In 48 years, we’ve never had the space.”

Bjornstad told council that archival groups have to have policies and procedures laid out, “but space is our biggest concern and we need to solve some problems.” He recently visited the Lac La Biche archives, housed in a basement of their museum, “and that’s what we’d like to do, but how do we deal with that stuff? We’re looking for a space to work out of.”

“We’re all volunteers,” Zarowny said, “And we need younger members. We need people who are interested.” He noted that Elk Point Municipal Library manager Daphne Schnurer is often asked for historical information regarding the community and its residents, “And the library only has so much.” 

Coun. Jason Boorse commented that the history would benefit from “being stored in an organized way. I like your initiative, do you have any idea how much area is needed?”

Coun. Tim Smereka posed another question, this time regarding funding, with Bjornstad indicating that the society plans to check on accessibility grants.

Mayor Parrish Tung, who attended the meeting via ZOOM, asked about the availability of a building owned by Bjornstad’s family, but learned that with that property listed for sale, it would not be a permanent solution.

“We also need to think about forming a board, and we need to give some thought about getting a board together,” Bjornstad said in conclusion. 

Council discussed the society’s presentation later in the meeting, with Coun. Smereka recalling that the reason the EcoCentre, "a building we struggle with,” was built was to preserve part of the community’s history. 

“They’re looking for a board first,” Coun. Boorse said. “To get their policies, then look for space.” The EcoCentre, he added, “would be a way to afford the cost.”

Deputy Mayor Wanda Cochrane, who chaired the meeting, said she “would like to see what the county says. I look forward to a board, and I wonder what they would want.”

Use of the EcoCentre “is a great idea,” the mayor said. “It was built when we didn’t get a museum. I can see it being successful. Let us hold it in our thoughts.” He then put forth a motion that the town supports the Historical Society in the formation of a committee or board, which was carried, with Coun. Smereka agreeing to become part of that board, and Coun. Boorse cautioning, “We have to be part of it but not take over. They do the groundwork, let them form the board first.”

The Historical Society planned to make a similar presentation to the County of St. Paul council at Tuesday’s meeting to determine their thoughts on collaboration.

Airport purchase tabled to 2024

CAO Ken Gwozdz told council the CAOs had met to discuss the purchase of Elk Point airport and were split on the idea. He suggested a meeting be held with both councils and Grog Lake First Nations prior to making a decision.

Town council passed a motion to table the item to March 2024 and to schedule a meeting with Frog Lake First Nations chief and council and both the Town of Elk Point and County of St. Paul councils early in the new year to discuss the matter.

Franchise fee renewal

Town council agreed to renew the Apex Utilities franchise for a 10-year period starting in January 2024, with the franchise fee remaining at 16 per cent and passed first reading of a bylaw to that effect.

Input needed on bylaw amendment

Amendments to the Prohibitions Regarding Outdoor Fireplaces and Fire Pits portion of the Nuisance and Unsightly Premises Bylaw will be going to Public Works for input and seeking more research before any decision is made. The proposed amendments came from research of similar regulations in three other municipalities and include a clause that would require mesh screen or spark guards with gaps no larger than a half inch, among other upgrades.

The upgraded bylaw will be posted on Facebook and will be included in the water bills before a decision is made. 

“This is not time sensitive,” Mayor Tung said, suggesting the decision be deferred until closer to spring “to give the public more time to discuss it.”

Fee schedule sees increases.

A new fee schedule bylaw brought to council passed all required readings, with the increases in water, sewer and garbage collection discussed at the budget meeting earlier in November now to be put in place at the beginning of 2024. Rates for two months are as follows: Basic water (includes 28 cu. M): Residential $126, Non- Residential $132; Basic Sewer: Residential $36, Non-Residential $40; Garbage $44 for both, Residential Garbage Bins $6, Water Meter Replacement and Reserves, $14 for both, for a basic total of $226 Residential and $230 Non-Residential 

Other town departments will also increase fees, from colour photocopying and tax certificates and searches in Administration, to increases across the board for equipment use in Public Works and for planning documents in Planning and Development.

Asset retirement obligations

Council approved an additional $3,500 in expenditures for hired services to hire a professional contractor to assess asset retirement obligations as required by the Public Sector Accounting Board.

Christmas closure

Council passed motions for a Christmas Holiday Closure from Dec. 25 to Dec. 29, and to cancel the regular council meeting on Dec. 26.

Family School Liaison Worker

A request from St. Paul Education for support of the Family School Liaison Worker program was received as information. The Town last contributed to the FSLW program in 2016-17.

Water reservoir

The Town is seeking grants to assist with building a water reservoir and pumping station for future industrial development, estimated to cost in the neighborhood of $7.6 million, and approved application for a 2023/24 Alberta Municipal Water/Wastewater Partnership Program grant which based on the 2022 population of 1,399, could equal $5,218, 203, with the balance, if that grant is approved, coming from the capital budget, debentures and possible other grants. Those could include a Community Opportunity Readiness Program with Frog Lake First Nations in support of the project, that federal grant available through Indigenous Services Canada.

About the Author: Vicki Brooker

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