The County of Stettler council received a request from one of the summer villages for assistance with snow plowing during their Nov. 15 council meeting.
Rochon Sands has requested that the county snow-plow Bayview Street east of Highway 835 to Choke Cherry Lane; it’s a request that public works doesn’t object to as they have to drive over that section of road when they are plowing county roads anyways.
The request for council decision (RCD) before council outlined the request, however did not include a fee.
“There needs to be a fee,” said Coun. Ernie Gendre.
Currently, the County of Stettler charges ratepayers a $100 application fee and $50 per quarter mile for clearing private lanes.
Coun. Justin Stevens agreed.
“I think the optics are bad if we charge our ratepayers $100 but offer (this service) to other ratepayers for nothing,” said Stevens.
Under current county policy, public works can do work in other municipalities as long as “hold harmless” agreements are in place and the work is done according to county, not municipal, policy.
Coun. James Nibourg motioned to approve the request with a fee of $1,000 for the season, with an accounting of the work county crews actually did at the end of the season followed by a review going into winter 2023.
Chief administrative officer Yvette Cassidy noted that prior to any work being done, the municipality will be required to remove any speed bumps in place and sign the requisite agreements. Further to that, she noted that any complaints coming from municipality ratepayers will be directed to the municipality to deal with.
Nibourg’s motion was carried.
Regional Rec. Board
The Summer Village of White Sands has applied to join the Stettler Regional Recreation Board.
“I don’t see any harm in having one additional member,” said Stevens.
According to the RCD, the board provides up to $150,000 in funding to the various member municipalities to assist with renovations and programming.
One additional member, according to the RCD, would in theory decrease the amount of funding available to all the existing members and a per-capita membership formula would need to be calculated for the summer villages.
The current regional recreation agreement was signed in 2004. County council has been interested in re-looking at the agreement, however any decisions regarding the agreement was postponed until the decision was made regarding White Sands.
Under the current agreement, the majority of members, including Stettler County, must vote in favour of allowing the new member.
Coun. Stevens motioned to vote in favour allowing White Sands to join the board, which was carried.
In a separate motion, he instructed administration to bring back different funding models for the recreation board to a subsequent meeting.
Stettler Public Library
After holding the line for the last several years, the Stettler Public Library has presented a proposed budget for 2023 which will see a subtle increase to funding.
“There are a lot of budget lines cut,” said Coun. Les Stulberg, the County of Stettler Library representative.
“Where they found the jumps were insurance and wages. They haven’t done a cost of living in three years.”
The total budget for the Stettler Public Library in 2023 will be just under $505,000, up from just under $500,000 in 2022.
Funded through a variety of donations, grants, services, and requisitions, the overall impact for the County of Stettler with the library increase will be less than $1,000.
In 2022, the county’s requisition was just over $134,500 and in 2023 that will increase to around $135,500.
Coun. Stulberg motioned to approve the budget, which was carried.
CP Rail Crossing
Despite frequent complaints received by the County of Stettler and it’s councillors, a review of several rail crossings in Stettler County by Canadian Pacific Railway have found no “non-compliant” areas.
“I have received a number of complaints in my area,” said Nibourg, disagreeing with the findings.
According to county staff, who reported to council, they had gone to repair a couple of the crossings themselves, but “got chased off” by Canadian Pacific.
“County of Stettler is doing their due diligence to mitigate this issue,” said Cassidy.
“It’s an ongoing issue.”
At Cassidy’s recommendation, Stevens motioned for administration to draft a response to the railway, including the area’s Member of Parliament, Damien Kurek, in the response in the hopes that it will spur a response.
The motion was carried.