By Carson Ellis
For the Advance
Paintearth County Council held its first meeting of the month on Sept. 5.
The first item was a request for a letter of advocacy to the Minister of Health regarding the development of a new Rural Health Care Revitalization Pilot for East Central Alberta. The project is designed to improve community involvement in health care and also focuses on improving doctor retention efforts. Coun. Diane Elliot motioned to approve sending the letter of support, which was carried.
Next was a letter of request for funds for three members of the Castor Swim Club who had made it to provincials in August. The request was within the council’s Recreation and Community grants policy; after a brief discussion on the amount, it was decided to give each of the competitors $50. The funds were approved with a carried motion from Coun. Dale Norton.
Council discussed writing off 50 per cent of provincial Grants In Place Of Taxes for the 2023 season. This is the program where the provincial government issues grants in place of paying taxes on government properties. The amount to write off is $142.92. Council was informed the other half has been taken care of by the province. Coun. Maurice Wiart motioned to approve writing off the remainder, which was carried.
Councillor meeting reports started with Coun. Vokeroth. He spoke on the council’s participation in Olds College Ag. Tech Days, taking particular note of cattle management technology. He also noted that the council for Halkirk have all resigned. At the time he was unsure if the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) had as well.
Coun. Sandy Shipton noted that despite efforts of local groups, much of rural Victim Services are being centralized. She also remarked on an excellent anniversary event put on by the Paintearth Lodge. This sentiment would be repeated by several other councillors in attendance.
The rest of council gave their reports, which were accepted as information with a motion made by Coun. Wiart.
Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michael Simpson presented his report. He suggested that council start working on detailed plans for the development of the broadband internet systemic it is working on bringing together as part of the Municipally Controlled Corporation. He is looking to see if costs incurred before grant money have been confirmed, and can be recovered.
Assistant CAO Lana Roth presented her report. The subject of options for repairs to the county administration building’s roof was addressed. They have been given a quote from insurance of $75-80,000 to replace parts of the building’s roof that were damaged in a recent hail storm. The option of tin was addressed but would cost an additional $128,000.
It was noted, that the sections of roof that had been undamaged would not be replaced, and were approximately halfway to the end of their life. The option for tin would cover the entire roof, and future replacement of the undamaged sections wouldn’t be a concern. Council agreed to allow the administration to receive quotes for possible tin work, but no decision has been made.
Both reports were accepted as information with carried motions from Coun Norton and George Glazier respectively.
The budget report was then presented by Roth, with revenues being up largely due to items in the Public Works department selling for more than expected. Expenditures are on track for this time of year. Coun. Norton motioned to accept the report which was carried.
Council then reviewed correspondence. The one item of interest to council and administration was a report on rural Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) and the challenges they face. CAO Simpson suggested the letter be accepted as information so that the county could post the report on their website and make it accessible to the public. This was done with a motion being made by Coun. Vockeroth, which was carried by council.
Ratepayers make final statements.
Doug and Lynn Potter addressed council regarding a wind farm being constructed near their property. Lynn Potter spoke first, announcing she understood that their concerns over the project for the last few years haven’t changed, but they understand it is happening. She explained she and her husband had heard people were of the belief they wanted the project. Potter assures them “That was never our intention.”
Lynn’s main concern of the presentation was the possibility of speed zones where much of the construction traffic would be happening. Her kids and grandkids have walked the roads for several years going to other people’s homes and despite her and her husband moving, there are other residents in the area with children as well. She hoped council could establish lower speeds near residents’ homes.
Her Husband Doug then addressed council. Doug felt that the process for acquiring development permits for projects like the one going up near their property needed to be reviewed. He noted that he felt that the company, Capital Power, did a poor job of presenting its case. He explained they had used a similar project near Halkirk without major issues or resistance, but said that the communication between the company and the residents in the area was far more open and frequent than what he and others near him had experienced. He also had concerns about why certain roads were noted as not accessible for construction crews when there was nothing down those roads. It was explained the road access had been eliminated to solve a concern from ratepayers in the area earlier in the process.
Doug also noted that preliminary work crews had already caused an upset with his cattle and after reaching out to Capital Power, was told that crews would give the fence line a wide berth to prevent repeat issues. Despite the promise, Potter says work crews failed to do so. His complaint with Alberta Utilities Commission on the matter was deemed ‘solved’ and the file was closed with no action from the regulatory body.
Council discussed posting slower speed signs near residences within the footprint of the project and will review options.