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Town of Elk Point opens parks campgrounds June 1

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ELK POINT - The Town of Elk Point agreed last week to follow the Province of Alberta’s lead and open its campgrounds on June 1, following restrictions imposed by Alberta Health regarding spacing and sanitation. Town playgrounds are also now open to the public, although the water spray park will remain closed at this time, and will most likely open when the province moves to Phase 3, which includes swimming pools. 

Town of St. Paul campgrounds are already open, with their playgrounds to open once signage is in place, but the County of St. Paul campgrounds are only tentatively set to open June 25.

The Town of Elk Point is “in the process of getting signs made” for the playgrounds, CAO Ken Gwozdz told council at the May 25 meeting. 

No washroom facilities will be available at either the Elk Point Recreation Park campground or the River Park, and only every second campsite can be occupied, to facilitate social distancing, council agreed.  

“I don’t see a need to drag this out,” Coun. Tim Smereka, who put forward the motion to open both the campgrounds and playgrounds, said, with Coun. Debra McQuinn noting that much of the caution tape closing the playgrounds is already missing, and would have to be replaced if they were to remain closed. 

“Let’s be a leader in this,” Deputy Mayor Terri Hampson urged council. 

Back in business 

While other Elk Point restaurants have been open for takeout only during the pandemic, the Empress Family Restaurant was closed for several weeks, and is now not only resuming takeout service but is also hoping to open a temporary sidewalk café that would allow table service compliant with the provincial guidelines. Gwozdz was requested to speak with the city of Edmonton regarding their regulations, and the request was added to this week’s Public Works agenda. 

New businesses 

A new entrepreneur for Elk Point has also come forward with an innovative idea that would turn the former United Church rummage store into an old-time market where vendors could sell their products.  

The proposal was put before council at their May 12 meeting, but at that time, council was concerned that changing the zoning of the property from the current Institutional to CI – Central Commercial would increase taxes substantially, which could derail the project, but the property now sports ‘SOLD’ on the real estate sign and purchaser Stewart Povaschuk requested council to go ahead with the rezoning. Council gave first reading to the rezoning bylaw and set Monday, June 22 for the required public hearing before the bylaw can receive final approval.   

In his initial request to council, Povaschuk said his plans are to renovate the inside of the building, “yet keep it original in every way I can.” He also noted that the building, which was the original Elk Point School and was moved into town from its original location two miles east, “has been part of Elk Point’s landscape for nearly a century.” 

Another new business, Lakeland Cannabis Corp., has asked the town to lower the town’s portion of the building permit fees for their planned construction, after funds for their venture “have severely dried up” with dropping oil prices and the COVID-19 issue. Council passed a motion to reduce the town’s portion of the fees by 50 per cent. 

Pothole problem 

A frost heave on an Elk Point appeared so quickly that the town wasn’t aware of it by the time a resident experienced damage to a vehicle while traveling over it. After hearing about the incident, the street was quickly repaired, but the town is not liable for the damage, council learned, and passed a motion to deny the request. The vehicle owner’s insurance company, however, can contact the town’s insurer regarding repair costs. 

Transfer station 

A request for a County of St. Paul-funded employee to assist at the Elk Point Transfer Station one day per week was countered by a reply that the county could indeed supply the worker, if the town was willing to pay half of the worker’s wages, since the transfer station is jointly owned by the two jurisdictions. Gwozdz spoke with Public Works superintendent Jay Duffee, who indicated that he could provide one of the town’s summer students for three days per week. If the worker is not needed at the site for three days each week, Coun. McQuinn suggested that perhaps the duty could be “on an as-needed basis”. The matter was added to the Public Works agenda for June 4. 

Outreach School 

Deputy Mayor Hampson had the closure of the Elk Point Outreach School added to council’s agenda following the school board decision on May 20, and told council she felt “it was already decided before the meeting.”  She said that only the St. Paul division and Lacombe were planning to close their outreach schools, while others were being retained, “and the Northern Lights division has four of them. We can’t go down without a fight.”  She also questioned Mayor Lorne Young, who is also the area’s school trustee, why he had not told council about the situation. 

“I agree about the value of EPOS,” the mayor stated. “There was no foregone decision. There was only the notice of motion on April 29, and nothing could be publicly announced.”   

A recorded vote on a motion by Deputy Mayor Hampson to send a letter from the Town to the Minister of Education asking for a delay in signing the closure order on the facility was passed unanimously.