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Fire alarms, fire pits on Elk Point council agenda

Elk Point’s revised Fee Schedule Bylaw received a thorough study at the April 22 town council meeting, with the first revision being the addition of charges for false alarm calls to the fire department.
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ELK POINT – Elk Point’s revised Fee Schedule Bylaw received a thorough study at the April 22 town council meeting, with the first revision being the addition of charges for false alarm calls to the fire department.

The first false alarm from a location will not be charged, but subsequent calls will grow to $100 for a second response by the firefighters, $200 for a third response and $300 for the fourth and any subsequent calls. This will be reset each calendar year. 

Fire Chief Bryce Osinchuk commented that multiple calls from the same residence could be due to lack of care in getting the correct information to their alarm companies. “It doesn’t only get costly for us in wages, it puts a toll on our members, getting called out in the middle of the night because someone burned something cooking or was smoking in the house.”

He noted that the County of St. Paul and Town of St. Paul have similar fees and policies in place for multiple alarms at the same residence.

Mayor Parrish Tung suggested that the fire chief visit locations where multiple calls have been sent to discuss the reasons for the calls, such as faulty fire alarms.

“When the firefighters answer a call, we have to pay them, a minimum of two firefighters, and who pays for it is the public.”

Councillors agreed with the charges, feeling they were adequate, with Deputy Mayor Wanda Cochrane adding that “mistakes do happen, but the fee is appropriate.”

Fees for water used and delivery for filling swimming pools and hot tubs by the fire department were also added to the schedule, but there will be no charge for the firefighters’ time used to make the delivery.

The price to appeal both a subdivision application or a development permit application shot up from $250 to $1,500, with $1,250 to be refunded if the appeal is successful, a move the mayor says will “eliminate frivolous appeals. Appeals cost money. I would like people to do some thinking, that they will have a cost if their appeal is not successful. We want to safeguard operating costs.”

Fire pits

Open fire pits were back on the agenda, with a further request from a resident to put open fire pit procedures into a Town bylaw. Osinchuk has stated that he would support the requirements for adding fire pit regulations, similar to those in the Town of St. Paul Fire Services Bylaw, to Elk Point’s Fire Bylaw, open fire pits being a risk that should be regulated to ensure that common sense regarding control the fire.

Mayor Tung said that existing fire pits would be grandfathered, with Coun. Tim Smereka adding, “It’s hard to punish the 95 per cent who are doing things right, we don’t want to add legislation to them."

A motion was passed to consider bringing forth a fire bylaw similar to that of the Town of St. Paul. 

NSWA membership

The portion of the North Saskatchewan River that flows through Alberta has now been designated a Canadian Heritage River, and after several years of receiving as information the requests from the North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance for membership in that group, this year agreed that membership would be worthwhile, and passed a motion to pay the $705 membership fee, based on population. 

One meeting cancelled

Administration’s request to cancel both the July 22 and Aug. 12 council meetings was brought to council, but with a public hearing for the additional Municipal Controlled Corporations earlier in July, council was not in favour of cancelling both meetings. Coun. Tim Smereka understood council’s urge to have the meetings cancelled to provide time for staff vacations but said he was “somewhat opposed,” and later suggested a reduced agenda. 

Coun. Dwayne Yaremkevich agreed, saying the cancellation “would be holding people back with decisions,” while Coun. Jason Boorse predicted “a busy summer.” 

“It was extremely overwhelming last year,” Deputy Mayor Cochrane said. “Can we decide in June?” 

Mayor Tung said there are “pros and cons” to cancelling the meetings. “We have a lot of long meetings, but the staff need holidays.”

Council compromised, passing a motion to cancel the Aug. 12 meeting and leave the July 22 meeting on the schedule.

Golf tournament sponsorship

Council also discussed a request for sponsorship for the June 5 Elk Point Emergency Services Golf Tournament, and agreed to contribute $600 toward the golfers’ lunch. Last year, they approved a $500 donation. Coun. Boorse noted that this year, the proceeds from the tournament will go to support local emergency services, rather than STARS Air Rescue Service.

Any councillors or town staff taking part in the tournament will do so at their own expense.

Disability Workers Appreciation

Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services has declared May 20 to 26, Alberta Disability Services Professional Appreciation Week, and Mayor Tung complied with a request from the Alberta Disability Workers Association to declare that week in Elk Point, to raise awareness of the essential role these professionals play in enhancing the lives of the disabled in the community.

Tax adjustments

Two Elk Point properties will be subject to tax adjustment. An area of annexed farmland will continue to be taxed at the County of St. Paul taxation rate until it changes hands.

Council will once again cancel the municipal portion of taxes on a downtown property that continues to be under active renovation. These adjustments were also made last year and have been provided for in the 2024 operating budget.

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