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Council back in session after summer break from regular meetings

ELK POINT - After their second month-long break of the summer, the Town of Elk Point’s Sept.
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ELK POINT - After their second month-long break of the summer, the Town of Elk Point’s Sept. 12 council meeting started out with a comprehensive rundown of recent activities by STEP Economic Development Alliance’s Economic Development Officer Linda Sallstrom, who said her listing of everything from grant updates to broadband internet to a partnership with Portage College was the past few weeks “in a nutshell.”

Public Works Superintendent Jay Duffee had a long lineup of activities to report at the meeting, among them that Nikiforuk Construction has arrived in town for the waterline replacement, and started off by installing some extra valves on Railway Ave.

Sewer mains on 50 and 51 St. and 50 Ave. have been cleaned and camera inspected, under a grant the town had applied for, and tree root problems on 50 St. have been dealt with and catch basins repaired where needed. Walking trail benches and the river deck have been power washed and resealed, and work has begun on the camping area at Elk Point airport, Duffee said.

The department report from Bylaw Enforcement Officer Niesen was much less positive, with multiple threats, including death threats, having been received by town administration and personnel, with the RCMP and bylaw officer at one point escorting the person out of the administration office. The person claimed harassment by the bylaw officer, pertaining to a dangerous dog that has reportedly been relocated out of town.

Burned building

The remains of a vacant home destroyed by fire in June are to be removed by Oct. 3, and at this point, very little has been removed from the site.  CAO Ken Gwozdz asked council for the ability to enter into an enforcement order for its removal if the removal is not done by that date.

Public hearing

New regulations for public hearings for municipalities with less than 5,999 population are to be held as part of a regular council meeting, and the hearing for the closure of a portion of laneway between 49 and 50 Streets south of 49 Ave. was held during the Sept. 12 meeting. A written response noted no objection to the closure, with a second response coming in the form of a lengthy phone call from the Sept. 6 purchaser of an adjoining property asked for a 12-foot access to that property. The purchaser will not only have that much access, the business owner asking for the closure has offered to provide a gate for the purchaser’s property.

Franchise fee

Council directed administration to inform ATCO Electric that the franchise fee the town receives will remain at five per cent for the coming year.

Training over budget

Elk Point Fire Department has advised the town that training for its members will be close to $20,000 over budget, due to a number of new recruits joining the department and the ability to access training during the COVID pandemic, The training is required for the firefighters to have the necessary certification.

A firefighter training facility to be located south of the Elk Point transfer station was also on the agenda, with the Town of Elk Point joining the County of St. Paul in supporting the project and providing landscaping for the site.

Custodian contract

With the FCSS department leaving the EcoCentre on Oct. 1 and planning to do their own custodial work in their new site, Gwozdz asked council’s permission to look into a reduced cost for custodial work, which had previously included the Eco Centre’s main floor as well as the administration building and library.

Bilingual nursing event

Coun. Wanda Cochrane reported that the Rural Health Professionals Action Plan (RhRAP) is bringing 25 third and fourth-year nursing students to the area from Oct. 21 to 23 and will be in Elk Point on Oc.t 23 to tour the community and the healthcare centre. Coun. Cochrane received permission to host a breakfast for the visitors and has booked the Seniors Recreation Centre kitchen and meeting room for the event.

Community Futures

Mayor Parrish Tung was given the go-ahead to attend the Community Futures Symposium on Sept. 26 to 29.

Asset management

Town of Elk Point staff will apply to take part in a grant funded asset management cohort program, with the Town providing funds for travel and accommodation.

Northern Lights

Northern Lights Library System (NLLS) director James MacDonald has asked for the town’s support for the system’s request to Alberta Municipal Affairs for additional funding for libraries, with the last increase in this funding coming in 2015, while municipalities have increased their funding by 29 cents per capita over that time.  Council agreed to send a letter of support.

Coun. Cochrane told council later in the meeting that “municipalities are picking up the tab” for increased expenses, and although NLLS has rented out unused offices in their headquarters, rerouted their deliveries to member libraries and “sharpened their pencils” as much as they can, an increase of up to six cents per capita in their requisitions from member municipalities is anticipated in the coming year.

Arena request

A request from the A. G. Ross Arena Operating Committee for help in paying the facility’s insurance was deferred to the Sept. 26 meeting.

Budget meetings set

The dates of Nov. 8 and 9 have been set for a special meeting for council’s 2023 budget deliberations.

Special meeting

Town council also held a special council meeting on Saturday, Aug 27, and after more than an hour of intensive discussion in closed session, passed a motion to have CAO Ken Gwozdz prepare a loan bylaw for Frog Lake First Nations for the purchase of three industrial lots. A second motion to have the CAO send a letter of support from the Mayor’s office to Frog Lake First Nations was also passed by council.