Morinville Council Briefs Jan. 28 meeting

by Calli Stromner

Champagne District Redistricted

Council unanimously approved First Reading to an amendment to the Land Use Bylaw for the Village Champlain subdivision and Area Structure Plan for the Champagne District.

According to a report from Administration the amendments will allow for row housing, duplexes and smaller detached houses through a medium density residential zoning designation. Greg Hofmann, Morinville’s Director of Planning and Development, said that both amendments will support what was actually built by the developer. “It also provides an update to the land use statistics and population and housing unit statistics,” said Hofmann.

Prior to the Council approval, the Champagne District was designated as Direct Control, meaning that any proposed development needed Council’s blessing. The development permit has expired and the new proponents have a slightly different proposal than what the previous approval cited.

A Public Hearing for both Bylaws will be held during the Feb. 25 Council Meeting with Second and Third Readings scheduled for the Council docket the same night.

Petition Bylaw Goes to Referendum

Council had only two options before it when deciding to pass Third Reading of the Photo Radar & Red Light Camera Bylaw – approve the Bylaw or let the community decide through a vote of the electors. After unanimously approving Second Reading, Council chose to send the matter to the polls on April 14.

Council gave First Reading to Photo Radar & Red Light Camera Bylaw 1/2014 on January 14, after being triggered by a petition submitted by Morinville resident Cliff Haryett on November 15. That petition was deemed valid by Administration and was formally received by Council on Dec. 10. Morinville electors will have the final say in deciding the future of photo radar and red light camera enforcement within town boundaries.

“We have two choices. We pass this bylaw as it is written and amended or we put it out to a vote of the electorate,” said Councillor Stephen Dafoe. “I’ve moved that we put it out to a vote because the petition only speaks to 10% of the population.”

Councillor Rob Ladouceur added that while Council is elected to represent the community and enjoys the confidence of the electorate, the petition has turned into a very divisive issue. “The potential financial and safety impact decision belongs to the electorate.”

Councillor Nicole Boutestein suggested that the referendum “could really help everybody out there understand exactly where we are headed with this. It’s such a great opportunity to get out there and educate everyone.”

Mayor Lisa Holmes added that not many communities have dealt with the matter of traffic enforcement in quite this way. “It is a very unique situation and it’s not something that people in the community will be excited about,” she said. “At this point, we feel there is value in getting the perspective from the other 90% of the population.”

April 14 is the deadline for conducting a vote of the electorate under the Municipal Government Act, which stipulates a 90-day timeframe to approve a bylaw requested by citizens through a valid petition.

Working Group to “Roll Up its Sleeves”

Council got its second look at the Terms of Reference for a new Economic Development Committee after sending it back to Administration for rework on January 14. The new entity is no longer an advisory committee, but a working group which will look to complete a number of plans and policies within its first year.

“It’s targeted and action oriented with a one-year window so that it can be assessed before proceeding,” said Chief Administrative Officer Debbie Oyarzun. “We are breaking ground, but because it’s new, we need to figure out how we are going to go.”

Chaired by Economic Development Coordinator Schaun Goodeve, the working group will be comprised of members of the local business community, Town of Morinville staff and one Council member.

“We constructed this working group under the premise of what doesn’t work in other communities and why.” said Goodeve. ”We are looking for something of a ‘Dream Team’ from the business community. They have broad networks and connections and are busy with their current employment.”

Councillor Barry Turner was concerned about the message sent to the community by having administrative staff serve as Chair. “I would be more in favour of having the chair appointed by committee or approved by council,” he said.

Councillor Nicole Boutestein took umbrage with Goodeve’s suggestion of an Economic Development ‘Dream Team’ and was disheartened by the lack of community representation on the committee. “You don’t have the average citizen (on this committee). You don’t have to own a business or be a professional to sit on this committee,” she said, adding that the term ‘Dream Team’ reminded her of the ‘Old Boys Club.’

After a lengthy debate, Council approved the Terms of Reference for the new working group with the understanding that everything will be reviewed in a year’s time.

“We are picky because we care,” said Mayor Holmes. “This is one of the most important things we will do all year and we want to get this right,” Holmes.

Council Code of Conduct

Council unanimously approved a set of rules that will govern the way they behave and interact with each other, stakeholders and the community while in office. The document includes a statement of values, procedures, implications for policy breach, statutory provisions, and a commitment to a respectful workplace.
“I am very comfortable with what’s in the document,” said Councillor Dafoe, adding that a brief paragraph on social media should be included. “I think a broader conversation needs to happen about a social media policy as a whole.”

CAO Oyarzun assured Council that Administration was in the process of finalizing a complete social media policy and would have it ready for an upcoming Council meeting.

Mayor Holmes suggested that social media be included in “the release of information to the public and to the media and through social media.”

Regional Collaboration Grant between Morinville and Sturgeon County

Council unanimously approved a resolution that would have the elected officials and administrations of both the Town of Morinville and Sturgeon County working collaboratively on joint opportunities and common interests.

Both municipalities will be co-signatories on a $50,000 grant application under the provincial Regional Collaboration Grant program sponsored by Municipal Affairs. Sturgeon County Council passed an identical resolution earlier on Tuesday during their regular Council meeting.

“The $50,000 is for collaborative governance with deliverables such as a strategic planning priorities document,” said CAO Oyarzun. “We wanted to keep it very vague because the actions will set the details of the outcome of this.”

Councillor Gord Putnam applauded the direction. “There is lots of room for us to work together and we’ll be off to a great start now and over the next four years.”

“In this day and age you cannot succeed without support of your friends,” concluded Mayor Holmes.

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