by Tristan Turner
Morinville Town Council had a light agenda at its Feb. 24 meeting, but updates on what Town Administration has been working on were provided as information.
Councilor Turner named Deputy Mayor
After eight months of service as Deputy Mayor, Councillor Stephen Dafoe resumed the title of Councillor Feb. 24 and Councillor Barry Turner was named Deputy Mayor for the next eight months following a brief oath reading,
All councillors will have an opportunity to serve in the position in an even rotation of eight months, with Councillors Putnam and Dafoe having already completed their terms. While the position provides few changes from the role of a councillor, the Deputy Mayor acts to fill in for the Mayor at events she may be unable to attend, and will chair Council meetings in her absence.
Mayor Holmes had kind words for former Deputy Mayor Dafoe before the transferring of the position to Deputy Mayor Turner. “I just want to say ‘thank you’ to Councillor Dafoe for being an incredibly busy Deputy Mayor … and I really appreciate all of the work that you did,” Mayor Holmes said.
Community Futures Tawatinaw updates Council
Community Futures Tawatinaw Region gave a brief presentation to Council, updating them on the organization’s recent work and plans for the future. General Manager Kelly Harris-Martin and Business Analyst Benita Pedersen represented the organization that is funded by Western Economic Diversification Canada under Minister of State Michelle Rempel. The aim of Community Futures groups is to foster the growth and development of small to medium sized business through not-for-profit loans and financial assistance. This work includes loans for equipment purchases, employee training/development as well as business advice and support connecting with other business.
Pedersen – in addition to her role as a Business Analyst for the group – is also Project Coordinator for the Biz Kids program, an initiative to assist young adults and students at local high schools (including MCHS) in developing entrepreneurship skills and creating their own small businesses. The program already gives students a small loan to kick-start their business ideas, but Pedersen told Council she hopes to give students the opportunity in the future to lend them needed equipment, such as an ice cream dispenser. Pedersen also shared that the program would be shortened from the six weeks it has lasted in the past. Pedersen hoped the Town would consider declaring a “Biz Kids Day” in which students in the program would be welcome to set up shop and sell their goods and services out in public, perhaps in conjunction with an already scheduled town event.
Mayor Holmes said she was pleased with the idea. “I think it’s great that we can have a role there [in the Biz Kids program] to play, and we’re more than willing to be supportive and will do anything we can,” she said.
General Manager Harris-Martin shared with Council that the organization will now be giving agricultural loans through a new initiative called Grow Cash, a program that has been very popular with smaller acreages. Community Futures has also begun to help businesses fund the remaining 1/3 of the costs associated with employee training that now have 2/3 paid for under new federal grants.
Council approves all grants supported by administration
Council unanimously accepted – excluding the absent Councilor Ladouceur – a report for information presented by administration detailing new community grant applications that will be fulfilled by the town.
While Council did not directly vote for each application as has been done in the past, they will now be leaving administration to present the response to applications in a report for information with council having the opportunity to give direction on applications they may or may not support.
Both applications that met the criteria and were not withdrawn were supported in the full amount requested by the applicants. The events that will be given Town grants are the Legion’s Father’s Day Fishing Derby and Senior Fun Evening for $1,950 and the Sturgeon Rural Crime Watch Association for $490 towards their poster contest.
Other applications were funded instead through Family and Community Support Services (FCSS), a program that is largely funded through provincial dollars. These events include SAIF Ed programming ($2,000 out of requested $2,000), Big Brothers Big Sisters ($1,625 out of requested $2,500) and the St. Albert Bereavement Fellowship ($1,500 of a requested $1,500).
CAO gives quarterly report, reveals half of traffic tickets given to residents
CAO Debbie Oyarzun gave her quarterly report to Council, outlining the progress of Town initiatives and numbers on bylaw and traffic violations. While there are no significant outliers on Town operations, administration made note of interesting figures when it came to traffic enforcement. The Town found that almost half (49 per cent) of photo radar enforcement were given to Morinville residents.
Councillor Dafoe claimed the number for local traffic enforcement offenders is so high because of a shift to focusing on monitoring school zones. Dafoe said he crunched the numbers and found 416 of the 570 total tickets (73 per cent) were given in or near school zones at Morinville Community High School, Morinville Public Elementary School, Notre Dame and George H. Primeau.
It is numbers he’d like to see the Town put out for general consumption. “We hear time and time again from people behind keyboards on social media that they’re never in the school zones,” Dafoe said. “Seventy-two per cent of those tickets were given in school zones and that’s some damned good work in my estimation.”
Committee of the Whole reintroduced
Council unanimously – excluding the absent Councilor Ladouceur – voted to reintroduce the Committee of the Whole, a new public meeting of council that will occur on the third Tuesday of the month in Council Chambers starting at 6:30 p.m.. No legislation may be passed at these meetings. Instead, it will be a meeting where Council and residents can get clarification and receive presentations or updates from Administration or other groups. The first Committee of the Whole meeting will be Mar. 17.