Briefs from Big Lakes County council meeting Oct. 10

A cheque for $15,000 is presented to High Prairie and District Health Foundation on Oct. 10 from Big Lakes County during a council meeting with funds raised at the annual Big Lakes Charity Golf Tournament on Aug. 16. Left-right, are foundation chair George Keay, who accepts the cheque from golf tournament co-ordinator and High Prairie East – Banana Belt Councillor Don Charrois. Cheques of $5,000 each will be presented to the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Alberta Heart and Stroke Foundation when council will be in Edmonton for the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (formerly named the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties) fall convention Nov. 19-22.

After five years, it appears the Big Lakes County Charity Golf Tournament will continue although the organizing committee recommends it be terminated because of declining funding support and increased staff time.
At its regular meeting Oct. 10, county council tabled a decision to its next meeting Oct. 24 to get more information and ideas to spur more support.
“The event committee feels that the tournament should end as sponsorship and staff time is declining,” acting CAO Jordan Panasiuk says in a report to council.
“County administration contributes many hours to organize and work during the tournament.”
The committee met on Sept. 19 to discuss the event and the future, he says.
“Like many other events, they do run their course and it may be good to go out on a high,” says event co-ordinator Councillor Don Charrois, who represents High Prairie East – Banana Belt.

-Bylaw finalized to control consuming cannabis
Restrictions were finalized where people can consume cannabis in the county when it becomes legal Oct. 17.
Council adopted a bylaw following a public hearing where citizens were silent on the issue.
The county received no submissions and no citizens show up at the public hearing.
“No person shall smoke, vape or consume cannabis on municipal property, which includes any sidewalk, lane, street, boulevard, road, road allowance, right-of-way, recreational facility or building in the county that is owned by the county, whether or not the public has access as of right or by invitation,” states the bylaw.

-County submits highways project wish list
Several projects to upgrade provincial highways in the county were given top priority as council set its wish list to Alberta Transportation.
Hilliard’s Bay Road was added to the list as suggested by Grouard Councillor Fern Welch, although it does not comply with the criteria that asks for highways under jurisdiction of the provincial government.
Council inserted Hilliard’s Bay Road as number four.

Top of the list includes:
1a – Repair or overlay Highway 679 between Range Road 163 (Peavine paved access road) at Highway 750. to eliminate the year-round road ban.
1b – Commence the asphalt rehabilitation phase of Range Road 163, Township Road 780 and Range Road 160 under the agreement between Alberta Transportation and Big Lakes dated June 4, 1997.
2a – Highway 749 overlay.
2b – Improve the intersection at Township Road 740 (Gilwood Road).

-County considers new position to protect environment
Council approved a recommendation to direct administration to file a grant application for the Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program (WRRP) due Oct. 30 under Alberta Environment for a pilot project for an alternative land-use services (ALUS) co-ordinator in the county.
“Council supports it because it has a lot to do with protecting the environment and wetlands,” Reeve Ken Matthews says.
By incorporating the ALUS co-ordinator, the position can become a fulltime contract for two years which would include two days a week in 2019 and three days a week in 2020, states a report from Vic Abel, director of public works.
“The program provides a service that producers can access that will assist them to ensure the water supply they have for their livestock is of high quality and quantity,” Abel says.
“It would address water quality issues while working to mitigate the impacts of flood and drought.”

-County commits to watershed plan
Big Lakes County officially endorsed the updated Lesser Slave Integrated Watershed Management Plan.
Communities and municipalities have a key role in the management plan.
Steps to mitigate flooding, protect streams and designate beach areas have been set at the top of the list for watershed management for the county from a list of recommendations from the watershed council.
High, medium and low priorities were given by county council at a special meeting Sept. 13 to discuss watershed council recommendations to cover water quantity, water quality, riparian areas, wetlands and biodiversity.

-Another option presented to improve broadband
A decision to support a request by a company to erect communications towers in Faust and Joussard to improve cell phone reception in the area was postponed by council.
At its regular meeting Oct. 10, council tabled the item from Arrow Technology Group of Edmonton until the conclusion of the project led by the county as recommended by deputy CAO Jordan Panasiuk.
“This request will need to be considered with the fact that we are currently in the engineering phase of our own fiber optics network (broadband) in Joussard with the possibility of scaling to all hamlets,” Panasiuk says.
“We want council to look at all the options.”
Council awarded a contract at its regular meeting July 25 to develop broadband internet service to Taylor Warwick and Magna Engineering and launch pilot projects for High Prairie and Joussard.
Panasiuk says a proposal for the project is expected in spring 2019.


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