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Storm water drainage project tops long Elk Point town council agenda

Satellite RCMP office opens in Frog Lake
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ELK POINT - Elk Point town council faced a lengthy agenda on Oct. 13, with the first delegation providing quick completion to a long-awaited project. 

Mirek Grzeszczuk from MPR Engineering presented quotes from three of four area companies for replacement and upgrading of storm water disposal with the installation of two concrete box culverts, one at 50 St. and Railway Ave. and one under the Iron Horse Trail just east of Highway 41. The fourth company did not submit a quote. 

The successful quote came from Shamrock Valley Enterprises, with the price of $231,227.80 plus GST including a $5,000 contingency allowance. MPE “hasn’t worked with Shamrock,” Grzeszczuk said, “but the town has, and I recommend awarding the culvert installation contract to them.” He pointed out that Shamrock has provided “a very aggressive time frame” for the project, starting on Oct 15 and taking only a week to complete both installations. 

Council later voted to award the contract, with funds coming from the 2020 Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) grant. 

Increased policing 

The second delegation brought even more good news, with Sgt. David Henry of Elk Point RCMP reporting that a new satellite RCMP office has opened in Frog Lake with a full-time member approved for that post, “and two extra members for Elk Point,” bringing the detachment to a full staff.

“Last year there were just four members and me,” he said. 

The detachment has been “pretty busy,” but Henry says that the additional staff has decreased the 525 calls per member to this point in 2019 to between 325 and 350 calls per member this year. Calls, however, are up, with a total of 2,812 for all of 2019 and already 3,029 in 2020, an increase he blames on COVID, with “people at home and not getting along.” Flights from police are up to 80 this year compared to 45 last year, but Henry said that most of those involve vehicles stolen in other areas, while local vehicle thefts decreased. Rural break-and-enters also decreased, but he added that the detachment’s major call volume comes from the rural area as compared to town. 

Although there are less in-town calls, “We’re spending more time in town and are more visible.” 

Mayor Young said he is aware of the police presence, having been stopped while riding his ATV on the Iron Horse Trail and asked for registration and insurance documents. He reminded the public that if they are going on the trail, those documents are necessary. 

Deputy Mayor Terri Hampson felt the RCMP’s presence has made a difference in town, while CAO Ken Gwozdz noted that local members work in conjunction with the North East Alberta Crime Reduction Unit to successfully cut down on crime in the area. 

Henry said in closing that while other areas are urging defunding of the police, in this area he feels his detachment enjoys the residents’ full support and camaraderie. 

Bylaw Enforcement 

Bylaw enforcement officer Tammy Goddu gave her monthly report, noting that overgrown trees obstructing vision had not yet been remedied and enforcement procedures are underway. Complaints regarding unattached trailers and RVs were addressed, with all removed or attached with the 24-hour timeline allowed.

Residents are now paying heed to the 24-hour deadline to move garbage receptacles off the street after garbage pickup, she reported. 

Public Works 

Public Works superintendent Jay Duffee said his equipment is winterized, and the street sander is “installed and ready to go.” Public Works staff has removed and replaced 110 feet of sidewalks and 30 feet of curb, with more to be done in spring. Blue Sky Coatings completed the paving overlay on 58 Ave.  The repainted south entrance sign has been installed with new framework hardware. Installing posts for snow fence and trimming trees in alleys were on the week’s to-do list. “And culvert cleaning finally got done this year,” he said. 

Duffee noted a good working relationship with a variety of companies, which saw Shamrock screening topsoil and assisting with concrete pouring, Blue Sky installing geogrid, Flow Point covering the cost of the meter chamber at the bulk station, Nikiforuk stepping up to help with cast iron replacement and FCSS providing playground equipment, all at no cost to the town. “I am a firm believer in  ‘what goes around comes around.’ This is a tough economy right now and we need to help out where we can.” 

Trap agreement vetoed 

A proposed animal trap agreement, based on one from St. Paul, contained “a lot that doesn’t apply” to Elk Point, for example, taking a trapped animal to a veterinary clinic, council agreed. The town is currently recruiting a new animal control person, which would make the agreement unnecessary, and will not go forward. 

NLLS budget 

Council received a letter from the Northern Lights Library System asking that they approve the NLLS budget, however the town has never done so in the past and feels it is not necessary to do so. “We don’t approve the budgets of groups,” Mayor Young said. 

Deputy Mayor Terri Hampson, who is the interim director of NLLS, said the request had “come back to municipalities because one person (who represents the municipality on the NLLS board) doesn’t have the authority to approve it on the municipality’s behalf.” 

 This year’s NLLS levy remains the same as last year, and council passed a motion to approve. 

FCSS service agreement 

While Elk Point approved a five-year service agreement for the County of St. Paul and Elk Point FCSS, the county did not, opting for a two-year agreement and two days a week rather than the current three. 

“I didn’t know there would be changes,” Coun. Debra McQuinn said. “How is this a joint agreement? The county decided it with no heads-up.”

Coun. Tim Smereka agreed that he would have liked to see more information before town council gave their approval.  

Deputy Mayor Hampson, who sits on the FCSS board, said there has been an increase in counseling service, which takes place when the office is closed, and has never been part of the clerk’s duty. She added that she had made her disagreement with the decrease in service clear at the last board meeting. 

The mayor noted that determining the days of service was in the original agreement, “and they are the managing partner, and were given that authority. We would have to write to county council if we have a problem with it.” He also said that funding is in place for this year, “but it may be that the future is uncertain,” and reminded council that the town of Elk Point “had very strong reasons to move from a stand alone FCSS” when the merger took place. 

The motion to approve the agreement for two years, with an option for both parties to consider a further renewal period of one to five years, was passed, with the deputy mayor asking that a letter be written to the county asking that the days of operation be reassessed early in 2021. 

Budget time 

Council approved the 2021 Capital Budget, the 10-year Capital Plan and the 20-year Equipment Replacement Plan.  Operating budget meetings will take place in early November and will be broadcast for public viewing. The third quarter update of the Strategic Plan and Capital Plan were also approved. 

Policing survey 

Council had the opportunity to voice their opinions on a survey from Alberta Urban Municipalities Association regarding policing priorities and the buildup of the provincial police service. The results will be submitted to the AUMA to fulfill a request from the Interim Alberta Police Advisory Board. 

Unbudgeted expenditure 

The town of Elk Point’s share of the operating costs of the Allied Arts, as outlined in the 2018 Bilateral and Multilateral Recreation Agreement for Class A Facilities, was somehow not included in the 2020 budget. After some discussion, it was agreed to approve the unbudgeted expense of $21,668.79.  

Public Auction 

Five of nine properties went up for public auction for unpaid taxes on Oct. 7, after the taxes on three were paid in full and the tax arrears paid on a fourth prior to the auction. None of the five were sold, and council passed a motion to acquire title on all five.