The Village of Halkirk council held a pair of back-to-back special meetings on Aug. 30.
In the first of the two advertised meetings, council reviewed a ministerial order from Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver.
The order stems from a village submission acknowledging that the municipality needed around $10 million worth of identified work, but only anticipated around $4.5 million worth of revenue to pay for it over the next decade.
Given the shortfall, McIver issued an order for the village to either find a way to do the needed work or start cutting less essential projects so that expenses come in line with revenue.
“There is no way, even if you increase taxes, to (raise) $5.45 million,” said Tamara Sloboda, the village chief administrative officer.
The response to the minister was due by the end of day on Aug. 31.
After council deliberation, one area that took a significant cut were the municipalities roads. Originally budgeted at $4.7 million, council slashed the roads by budget by $4 million, keeping $700,000 available for repairs.
Another area to receive a trim was water and sewer, which will see a combined cut of $1.5 million.
Despite the cuts to water and sewer, a project at the sewage lagoon is still being planned, with the hopes that the municipality will receive grant funding for it.
Coun. Sherry Jamieson motioned to have Sloboda re-draft and submit the response to Minister McIver with the changes as discussed.
The second meeting, held separately from the first due to Municipal Government Act restrictions around special meetings, was held following a 15-minute break after the first meeting.
Dedicated to bylaws, the second meeting had the councillors discussing a business bylaw, a traffic control bylaw and the cemetery bylaw.
Former village administrator Doris Cordel spoke as a registered delegate regarding the cemetery bylaw.
“I feel strongly for the cemetery, it’s part of our history,” said Cordel.
“The bylaw, I feel, needs to suit the village.”
Council allowed Cordel around 20 minutes to present her thoughts on the cemetery bylaw as well as provide some historical perspective on why some things have been done the way they have.
Councillors had opportunity to ask questions of Cordel as well.
After the presentation, council began discussion on the business bylaw, and a pair of contentious issues regarding it stemming from a previous meeting of council.
The first part of the bylaw discussed was the business licence fee, which starts at $50 in 2022 before increasing to $125 by 2025.
Sloboda noted that the fees are not a tax, but are in place to cover the cost of some of administration’s work and materials, though even at $125 the rate will still be short of cost recovery.
Another part of the business bylaw discussed surrounded breeders in town.
With advocates on both sides, either allowing a breeder in the community or not, council discussed options which included allowing breeding, with restrictions, or completely removing it from the bylaw.
“If we had a place where we could put them,” said Coun. Sherry Jamieson.
“But we don’t. My thoughts are no.”
Sloboda also noted that if the council were to allow breeders in the community, the change would have to be reflected in an update of the Land Use Bylaw and that a new bylaw to control breeders specifically would have to be created.
Considering the small size of the community and concerns around odour and noise, such as barking, council ultimately decided to go with the second option, having the breeding section removed before passing third and final reading.
The Traffic Control Bylaw was reviewed with no further changes and passed its remaining readings as well.
Getting back to the Cemetery Bylaw, council directed Sloboda to work with Cordel and re-draft the Cemetery Bylaw before bringing it back for council review at a subsequent meeting.
A final matter discussed during adjournment, council has directed administration to prepare a council meeting code of conduct for any residents who wish to attend council meetings in the future.
While council meetings are open to the public, residents wishing to be spectators at the meetings will be required to the code of conduct in order to attend.