By Kevin J Sabo For the Advance
The Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) held their annual convention in Red Deer from Sept. 26 to 28, and Castor town council members brought back their report on events to the Oct. 9 meeting.
The AUMA convention allows municipal leadership from across the province to come together over the three days to learn how communities are dealing with modern challenges and affording them an ability to network with their provincial counterparts. Some of the sessions attended by Castor Council members included employee engagement, health care in the province, and the highly controversial cannabis issue.
“Nobody knows what to do with it,” said Coun. Trudy Kilner, during the AUMA discussion part of the council meeting.
With legalization imminent this month, and no clear path forward, the town has been looking to see what other communities have been doing with the issue. Many advocates have suggested rolling tobacco and cannabis into a single legislation, which was the basis for the presented, and immediately dismissed, smoking bylaw that CAO Sandi Jackson presented to Council in Sept. Other advocates say that communities need to look at it as an issue more in line with alcohol, and limiting its use to appropriate locations, such as in your home. However, even that solution provides no solid answer, with some landlords banning the substance from their properties despite legalization.
CAO Jackson will be asking residents in the town to fill out a survey on tobacco and cannabis sometime in the coming weeks to help Council draft appropriate bylaws surrounding this controversial topic.
Other highlights of the Oct 9. Council meeting:
• Librarian Wendy Bozek spoke to council about library usage and the new board members. Library board members include Trudy Kilner, Lynn Sabo (chairperson), Vera Dean, Bev Moire, and Nadine Schwartz.
• Coun. Tony Nichols moved to approve the upcoming 2019 budget for Parkland library after Bozek departed. The budget will see a slight increase of $0.13 per capita for the next year, which amounts to around $120 total increase, bringing the total library budget to $7,664.25. Carried Unanimously.
• The tax sale is set for Nov 19. The full amount of back taxes owed must be paid by this date, or the property will go up for auction. The town will be posting the properties up for auction on Facebook, the town website, and the monthly newsletter.
• Castor Minor Sports is discontinuing the Steve Nash Basketball program due to low numbers.
• Castor is sporting six hockey teams this season in the 3 C’s hockey association. There will be two each of Junior, Bantam, and Peewee teams.
• Council told by CAO Jackson that Small Community Fund is oversubscribed and any of the funding that the town has been approved for but not yet received will not be seen until 2019.
• The ATCO Power franchise fee is up for renewal, with the town currently charging five per cent. As the town has not raised the fee in several years, it was discussed increasing it to six per cent to increase revenue. Coun. Brenda Wismer made a motion to ultimately leave the fee at five per cent, which was carried unanimously.
• Castor Volunteer Fire Department will host their annual haunted house on Oct. 27, between 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.