LAC LA BICHE - Four Lac La Biche County councillors who missed the first council meeting of 2023, also missed discussions on several hot-button topics — and a pointed comment directed their way from the deputy mayor.
During a discussion about reducing speeds along Highway 55 on the outskirts of the Lac La Biche hamlet, including an area where Mayor Paul Reutov owns a business and property, Deputy Mayor Kevin Pare said he didn't want to wait for a full council table before moving ahead with a vote.
"I'm prepared to make that motion. That's their decision not to be here — Let's do business," Pare firmly stated when asked by senior administration if he'd like to hit the brakes on the request.
Five council members out of the nine elected officials voted in favour of sending the speed reduction request to Alberta Transportation officials.
Following the meeting, the Lac La Biche POST newsroom contacted the absent four council members, asking if they would like to respond to Pare's comment, or offer a reason for their absences.
Birthday, holiday, busy day
Councillor Lorin Tkachuk's wife gave birth to their son just 12 hours before the January 10 meeting, he explained.
Councillor Charlyn Moore responded to the POST, saying she was on a pre-scheduled vacation in Mexico, with advance notice given on council's calendar since early December.
Councillor Jason Stedman did join a portion of the January 10 meeting through an online connection, but only for a short time near the end of the meeting. Just a few minutes after signing in, Stedman apologized to council, said he had to go, and signed off.
Stedman, a full-time paramedic, later explained to the POST that he was working an extra shift with the local ambulance due to staffing shortages, and couldn't make the full meeting.
'Most of the time if I’m on call, I can Zoom in and participate, unfortunately that day I was particularly busy as we were once again a single ambulance community," he explained.
Councillor Darlene Beniuk had yet to respond to the POST's request by the first version of this article.
At the Lac La Biche meeting, Mayor Reutov commented several times during the six-hour public session about the delicate balance, keeping quorum with just five members. He even said at one point that if a councillor needed a bathroom break, the entire proceedings would have to be halted as they needed all five in attendance to officially vote.