ELK POINT - It was a night of change at Elk Point Town Council on Oct. 11, with three bylaws and one policy on the table for revision, deletion and approval.
Council agreed at the Sept. 26 meeting to provide the Elk Point and District Chamber of Commerce with the town’s business license revenue, as the chamber offered to establish and operate its own economic development committee (EDC), replacing the EDC formerly under the town’s umbrella. With the chamber proposing that policies on criteria, processes and procedures will be set for the new committee by the end of 2022, council moved ahead by rescinding Economic Development Committee Bylaw 839/21, as it is no longer required.
The town’s Civic Partnership, Community Grants and Arts and Culture Endowment Fund Policy was also amended with the addition of a clause approving distribution of annual business license fees to the Elk Point and District Chamber of Commerce for its operations, with a year end report and financial statement to be provided to council annually.
Business licensing revision
A big change came to Business Licensing Bylaw 861/22 with the addition of a ‘Single Project Business’ where a person, partnership or corporation that conducts business in town for a period of seven days or less, with a license fee of $50 per project for a non-resident business, which previously would have been required to pay the annual fee of $300, even for a short term project. For a resident business with a project of less than 30 days, the fee is also $50. Because the cost of such projects of installing refrigeration equipment, etc., is often passed on to the customer, Mayor Parrish Tung said the change will be “helping our own residents” by lowering that cost.
FCSS Regional Board
Following the creation of St. Paul Regional FCSS formed by the Town of Elk Point and St. Paul and the County of St. Paul, with the agreement that the Town of St. Paul would oversee grant financials, the Province has requested resolutions from each of the three municipalities asking to join the Provincial FCSS Grant Program as part of the Multi-Municipality program. Council moved approval of joining the program, and to authorize the Town of St. Paul to enter into the grant program on behalf of the Town of Elk Point. They also approved entering into the Regional FCSS Agreement, and gave all four readings to Bylaw 862/22 establishing a Family and Community Support Services Regional Board.
Northern Lights Library System executive director James McDonald visited council in person and was joined on ZOOM by board chair Vicky Lefebvre to provide an update on the system’s activities. The system now includes a total of 50 libraries, and provides a wide range of services as well as saving all of the libraries a considerable amount of cost on purchases of books and other materials.
McDonald said that currently, both municipalities and local library boards each pay a $5.23 per capita levy which is added to a $4.70 provincial grant to finance the system’s operation. Each library gets $2.15 per capita back in the form of a book purchase allotment, with the system also offering all 50 libraries “a ton of services. It would cost $326,000 for the resources your town uses from Northern Lights.” Those services include professional help from information technology to counseling of library managers in addition to material ordering and processing and the delivery of interlibrary loan materials. The levy paid by both the municipalities and boards will increase to $5.31 in 2023, he noted, the first increase in recent years.
The meeting also saw a resolution brought forward from the Sept. 26 meeting, with council approving the funding request by A. G. Ross Arena for $9.000 to assist with insurance costs. The funds will come from the Grants to Organizations portion of the town’s budget, and will match the amount being contributed by the County of St. Paul, the two municipalities sharing the financial load to assist the arena in
Offsetting the costs of replacing its aging ice plant.
Airport Structure Plan
County and Town administration interviewed two of four consulting firms that submitted proposals for the Elk Point Airport Intermunicipal Area Structure Plan, with their selection of HM Aero Aviation Consulting, with a quote of $183,920 plus GST approved by council. The cost of the plan will come from the Alberta Collaboration Grant.
With exactly one month following last week’s council meeting until Remembrance Day, Couns. Wanda Cochrane and Tim Smereka, who spearheaded last year’s ceremonies, agreed to once again make the arrangements, with Coun. Jason Boorse added to the lineup.
The public auction of a residential property for tax arrears held on Oct. 4 did not receive a single bid, despite being advertised both locally and in the Alberta Gazette. Council agreed to register a ‘Tax Forfeiture Instrument’ on the title of the property which allows the Town to rent, lease or dispose of the property at a price as close to market value as possible in an effort to recoup the arrears and taxes, This same procedure was done on a property last year.
Council was made aware of a planned subdivision of a rural property north and west of Elk Point and agreed that they had no issues with this.
Rural Renewal Stream Designation
At the joint municipalities meeting in September, elected officials from the Town and County of St. Paul, Town of Elk Point and Summer Village of Horseshoe Bay agreed to apply for designation under the Rural Renewal Stream program with Alberta Labour and Immigration through the STEP Economic Development Alliance, with the County as the managing partner. This program addresses labour needs and skill shortages and helps newcomers settle into the community. Council moved to support the application.
Council approved the Memorandum of Understanding for the management of the STEP Economic Development Alliance for a five-year term and STEP’s 2023 preliminary budget.