by Calli Stromner
Property Crime and Traffic Top RCMP Priorities
RCMP Sgt. Mark Mathias provided a verbal update to Council on the past and current law enforcement activities as well as a preliminary look at the detachment’s top priorities. Over the months of November and December, members of the Morinville Detachment conducted eight Check Stops, which resulted in the issuance of 85 tickets. Mathias highlighted the involvement of Morinville Community Peace Officers in several of these enforcement events, including the two informational campaigns, dubbed Candy Cane Check Stops.
Mathias also confirmed Council’s assumption that theft from vehicles is on the rise, indicating that over the past two months, 15-20 vehicle break-ins have been reported to police. “The actual number is always higher. When we start knocking on doors, we discover there are more break-ins than have been reported,” said Mathias, adding that the majority of thefts come from unlocked vehicles. He also urged residents to report any suspicious activity or crime as soon as they notice it. “We try to make our patrols on the intelligence we gather, but it’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack,” he said. Vehicle break-ins are a crime of opportunity, which occur in a three- to five-minute window which is easy to overlook in the span of a nine hour shift.
While the policing priorities for 2014 have not yet been established by Council, Mathias indicated that his preference would be to continue to focus on property crime, traffic and youth. Mathias was filling in for Staff Sergeant Tom Love, who despite only being posted in Morinville for a few short months, has been seconded to the “K” Division Management Team for an undetermined amount of time.
Council Honours Local Youth
A Morinville resident and MCHS student has achieved provincial recognition for his political activism and commentary. Grade 12 student Tristan Turner took time away from cramming for Provincial Diploma exams this week to attend Council Chambers where he was honoured publicly for being named one of the Top 30 Under 30 by the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation. “We are extremely proud that Morinville is being recognized by such an exceptional young person,” said Mayor Holmes. In accepting a Certificate of Recognition from Council, Mr. Turner expressed his gratitude at being nominated and said that his work with both the Morinville News and the Morinville Rotary Club contributed greatly to the nomination. “I am surprised and very humbled to receive this,” he said.
The ACGC is a coalition of voluntary sector organizations located in Alberta working to achieve sustainable human development both locally and globally. Nominees in the 2014 Top 30 Under 30 program will be featured in a magazine which will be distributed provincially during International Development Week Feb. 2-8.
Increased Focus on Economic Development
In his first appearance before Council, newly hired Economic Development Coordinator Schaun Goodeve presented the terms of reference for a new advisory committee that would help steer the town towards economic sustainability and prosperity.
“The overarching theme I’ve encountered (with some of my colleagues) is they’ve become bogged down in policy formation and not getting work done on the ground,” said Goodeve about the new committee. “The intent is to get going right away in terms of developing an economic development strategy right away then work on the goals to get there.”
Mayor Lisa Holmes and Councillor Nicole Boutestein were both concerned with the perception that the qualifications for potential committee members seemed exclusionary to home-based or small business owners, who may not have the post-secondary education or professional credentials called for by the terms of reference. “If I saw an application for this in the newspaper with these required qualifications, I would not apply,” said Holmes. “It just seems to be a very high level and not at the grass roots level.”
Based on a number of other suggestions and recommendations made by individual Council members, Administration will provide a revised Terms of Reference for Council consideration on Jan. 28.
Goodeve also demonstrated a new online Business Directory that will be unveiled on the Town of Morinville website in early 2014. The interactive directory is part of a slate of new e-service offerings that will be made available to Morinville citizens later on in 2014. Finally, Goodeve presented the findings of the “Morinville Biz Pulse” survey that was conducted in late 2013.
Council Denies Community Grant Dollars
Council did not bring forward a $2,500 grant-funding request from the Mental Health Matters Support Group under the 2013 Community Grant Program. According to a recommendation from Administration, the request did not meet the funding criteria as the group is not a registered not-for-profit organization and does not have matching funds. In making the recommendation, Director of Corporate Operations David Schaefer suggested that staff would help the group identify other funding opportunities and might be in a position to supply a letter of support for any future funding applications this group may put forward.
A total of $15,288 in funding was distributed to qualifying community groups in 2013, however the total program was worth $27,500. The remaining $12,000 in unspent grant funding will go back into the Town’s operational reserves.