Morinville Council Briefs

by Tristan Turner

Council looks at smoking in playgrounds

David Schaefer, Morinville’s Director of Corporate Operations, delivered a report to Council on the topic of Alberta municipal policy on smoking in playgrounds. The report was the result of a motion by Deputy Mayor Stephen Dafoe at the Aug. 26 Council meeting to have Administration see “what other municipalities are doing regarding smoking in/near playgrounds.”

Schaefer’s findings were that a number of communities have taken steps to look at smoking concerns and have passed bylaws or made anti-smoking amendments to existing bylaws, which incorporate playgrounds as well as other public outdoor spaces.

Communities with smoking prohibitions in outdoor public places include Edmonton, Calgary, Grand Prairie, Red Deer, and Medicine Hat. In those communities, smoking is prohibited within 10 meters of a playground, except in Calgary where that is decreased to five meters. Schaefer also explained that in some communities ‘e-cigarettes’ are also prohibited in playgrounds.

Schaefer noted the communities of Spruce Grove, Leduc, Stony Plain, Fort Saskatchewan, Devon, Sherwood Park, Beaumont, and St. Albert do not have smoking bylaws related to playgrounds. He went on to note the province is currently looking at a number of smoking-related issues, including the sale of flavoured tobacco products, and the use of tobacco products in public spaces.

Council voted unanimously to accept Schaefer’s report as information; however, no motion came as a result of the report, Council wanting some time to mull the data over.

Transfer station report received

Council received a report on the feasibility and cost of operating a transfer station in Morinville, a response to a motion put forth by Councillor Rob Ladouceur during the Oct. 14 Council meeting.

At the time, Ladouceur stated there was an appetite on the Roseridge Waste Commission for a new transfer station because half of the 8,000 tonnes of garbage that made its way to the landfill site during the first nine months of 2014 was transported via private vehicle, rather than waste trucks. He also cited that a transfer station would help alleviate the amount of cardboard and recyclables improperly mixed in with household garbage.

Claude Valcourt, Morinville’s Director of Public Works, said he learned the Roseridge Commission needs to look at supporting regional transfer sites/recycle centres to decrease traffic to the landfill, provide more convenient drop-off locations for recycling products, and expand and improve residential diversion.

Valcourt said he believed locating a transfer station in Morinville could be counter-productive because of Morinville’s aggressive curbside waste management program and close proximity to the Roseridge Landfill site.

Northern Lights Library System

Council voted 4-3 in favour of a proposed levy increase from the Northern Lights Library System (NLLS), the system that services Morinville and 52 other municipalities in Alberta. Mayor Holmes and Councillors Ladouceur and Putnam voted against the increase.

NLLS sent each of its member municipalities a request for a $0.1944 per capita levy increase for municipalities with library boards and a $0.3888 per capita levy increase for municipalities without a library board.

The increase is a one per cent increase from what was requested in 2014. In the case of Morinville, that translates into $5.07 per capita paid by the Town of Morinville and a $5.07 per capita levied to the Town of Morinville Public Library Board. All levies are based on 2010 population numbers, which were substantially lower than Morinville’s most recent census data that shows a population of 9504. Mayor Holmes was concerned that there may be a “significant impact” when the NLLS adjusts per capita charges to reflect more recent census data, so she would not approve of even further increases.

Councillor Rob Ladouceur was opposed to any increase because he felt the cost of the service was already more than the municipality should pay. “I think that we already pay too much… so one per cent more on something that’s already too expensive is not something I can support.” After putting forward the motion, Councillor Brennan Fitzgerald disagreed with Ladouceur. “Seeing that this year’s increase is so small, I would rather have a one per cent increase this year rather than have a three or four or whatever per cent increase next year.”

The NLLS levy amendment requires approval from 2/3 of the member municipalities. A rejection of the proposed amendment would mean levy fees would remain the same for 2015.

Council to hold community-planning session for rec facility and budget open house

Mayor Lisa Holmes concluded the meeting by sharing with the public that there will be a community planning session for the upcoming multi-use recreational facility on Dec. 11, and that residents should be looking for additional information on the event on the town website and in upcoming newspapers. As well, Council will be holding a public open house on the 2015 Budget Dec. 2 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Town Hall.

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