Council briefs

by Tristan Turner

Council held their last meeting before their summer recess June 2. Council’s next meeting, barring any special meetings called by the mayor, will be Aug. 25. As a result, their meeting was longer and held more items than typical.

Council appoints their compensation review committee

Council has unanimously agreed to appoint all five people recommended for Council’s compensation and review committee. This committee would provide advice to Council on their compensation and benefits when it comes up for review during the budgeting process.

A joint administration and Council group consisting of three Town staff and Councillors Rob Ladouceur and Stephen Dafoe selected the five candidates from eight posibilities.

The only element of examination was on the matter of the appointment of one member of the board that was identified as a family member of a municipal employee. Mayor Lisa Holmes commented that Administration “may have made a mistake” in not excluding family members of municipal employees as potential applicants. Councillor Dafoe, who sat on the committee to recommend the new board, said the subject did come up. However, the candidate was ultimately recommended despite this relationship because of the candidate’s character, commitment on other committees, and the fact being related to a Town employee was not one of the disqualifying criteria.

The appointed members of the board are: Sheldon Fingler, Troy Grant, Sarah Hall, Warren Maskoske and Brandi Robinson.

Administration to draft legislation for youth council

After a unanimous vote, Council has agreed to support Councillor Brennan Fitzgerald’s bid to have Administration draft legislation to establish a framework for a new youth council. The body would be something that will exist, according to Councillor Fitzgerald, as a sub-committee of Council, and will bring issues of concern for Morinville’s youth to Council.

Fitzgerald has said he hopes the Town will use the Edmonton Council’s approach to this as an example. Edmonton has a bylaw in place for their youth council, but is largely hands off when it comes to the operation of the group. Fitzgerald said a delegation from Sweden recently came to Edmonton to observe and report back on the Edmonton Youth Council in an attempt to implement a similar system. He felt Morinville too should emulate Edmonton’s model.

There was some debate on the idea, largely from Councillors Dafoe and Boutestein, who both commented that they didn’t know if a bylaw was the best way to establish the Youth Council. Dafoe also commented that Fitzgerald didn’t know what the ultimate goals of the organization were and that was never made clear despite Fitzgerald having researched it for a year.

Councilor Putnam said he was eager support Fitzgerald’s initiative, and that he was hopeful the bylaw would have a positive impact, comments that were echoed by Deputy Mayor Turner.

Ahead of the vote, administration clarified for Council that if this motion was defeated, Council would not be able to entertain another motion to draft the bylaw for six months. Following this, Council unanimously voted for the legislation to be drafted.

Debate over allocation of organizational review dollars

Administration sought the go-ahead to allocate up to $9,000 for an Automated Work Order System for public works, and $11,375 to conduct a Service Levels Review, items identified as priorities in the Organizational Effectiveness and Efficiency Review.

Debate on the issue started with Deputy Mayor Barry Turner questioning why these items came forward ahead of items identified as higher priorities in the Org Review that still had not seen funding allocation. Turner was concerned that some more important priorities, including a governance priority to work on the relationship between Council and the CAO. He expressed concern those priorities could be lost if allocation to those projects were not prioritized.

Council voted unanimously in support of the Automated Work Order System, something that Administration claimed is likely to save money through new efficiencies in the long term.

The vote on the Service Level review was split, however. It narrowly passed with Councillors Putnam, Dafoe and Boutestein opposing. Councillor Boutestein argued for her position by saying she did not believe hiring another consultant to bring forward a report was necessary right now.

Fire bylaw passes unanimously

Council unanimously passed 1st, 2nd and 3rd reading of the new Fire Services Bylaw after little debate or discussion. Councillor Nicole Boutestein cited her approval of the “excellent” presentation given to Council at the last Committee of the Whole meeting by Chief Boddez as the reason why she didn’t have any more questions or input. Much of the rest of Council offered words of approval and excitement for the new legislation before voting unanimously for it.

The new legislation contains a stipulation that fire services provided by the Morinville Fire Department be exclusively in Morinville, except when there is a contract or agreement with other municipalities, as is the case with Sturgeon County.

The Bylaw also offers a clearer fees schedule that will see some permits and fines increased. Additionally, the new legislation makes the Town, and perhaps Community Peace Officers, responsible for giving fines when residents pose a threat to fire safety. This potentially allows the Town to put liens on properties or add fines to tax bills in more extreme situations. Chief Boddez thinks this will be positive for the Department, saying that he thinks firefighters should focus on their duties rather than delivering fines.

The legislation also allows for new types of permitted controlled burnings and reclassifies the risk of fireworks from high to medium risk fire hazards.

The Fire Services bylaw has not been updated since 1998, and Chief Boddez felt it was sorely needed.

Council accepts Administration’s community grant intakes

Council accepted for information their second community grant intake from Administration that awarded two community groups with grants that totalled $3,200.

The French ACFA will be awarded $700 to host house concerts for francophone music in Morinville, and the Morinville Scouting Movement was awarded $2,500 to attend their Pacific Jamboree for 2015.

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