by Tristan Turner
Town enters into new Natural Gas Agreement
After a unanimous passing of second and third reading, Council has enacted a new 10-year agreement with AltaGas Utilities following the expiration of their previous agreement this year. The new agreement included few changes and no member of the public expressed any concerns to Council in writing or in person about the change.
These agreements are required under the Municipal Governance Act, and allow the town to provide access to right-of-ways and municipal infrastructure required to provide gas services, and allow the necessary levies to be raised to construct gas lines.
The new agreement will have the same 19 per cent rate of previous agreements, according to the Town’s Chief Financial Officer Andrew Isbister.
Council receives information about emergency sirens
Following a previous motion from Councillor Stphen Dafoe to request information about the cost and feasibility of installing an emergency siren system in Morinville to warn residents about threats to the community, particularly extreme weather, Council received a quote from Sentry Siren for a system to adequetly cover the town.
Sentry’s quote was $28,897.37 but total costs including poles and installation would be approximately $50,000. The two sirens would possibly be placed at the Fire Hall and near South Glens in the industrial park. Both would be located at facilities with generators to power them in the event of a power outage.
Dafoe moved to have the item added as a 2016 budget project for residents to provide input and feedback and for Council to debate and vote on during the budget process. The motion passed unanimously, excluding Councillor Rob Ladouceur who was abscent.
Council receives information on citizen budget tool
Council has unanimously decided (excluding the absent Councillor Rob Ladouceur) to move ahead with a new citizen budget tool that will allow residents to give their opinions on key budget decisions and allow them to allocate more or less money to certain programs as they see fit.
The $1,750 program will be integrated into the Town website, and allow citizens see how cutting back or increasing funding for operational programs would affect their specific tax bill.
The Town could utilize this information to help them with key budget decisions as they move into budget deliberations over the next couple months, according to CFO Andrew Isbister.
While council seemed unanimously supportive of the idea, there was only some disagreement about when the tool should be implemented. Initially, Deputy Mayor Turner put forward a motion to implement the citizen budget tool in 2016 for 2017 budget talks.
This motion followed comments from CFO Isbister saying that he and his staff would be limited on time for the implementation of the project for this budget year.
“It’s a busy time of year while drafting the budget,” Isbister said, going on to explain that he believed it would be more manageable to complete this project next year, when his department is expected to add another employee. “I just don’t want to do a half a good job.”
After a vote, Turner’s original motion failed following comments from the rest of Council, including Councillor Dafoe who thought it was important that this was implemented now ahead of important budget items that will be discussed in the upcoming budget. “We’re either a council in action, or a Council of inaction,” Dafoe said. “We need to move ahead on this now.”
Hearing comments from Council, Deputy Mayor Turner then passed a unanimous motion to implement the citizen budget tool for the upcoming 2016 budget talks, expected to start in October.
Town sign on south entrance decision differed
Council has delayed the decision to put in place a $50,000 new sign to replace the old one on the south entrance to town in a unanimous decision excluding the absent Councillor Ladouceur.
David Schaefer, Director of Corporate Operations with the town, had put forward the recommendation to Council because the sign had not been replaced because of budget constraints in 2011 when the new sign project began and others were replaced.
Councillor Nicole Boutestein disagreed with Schaefer’s assessment, saying that a key part of why she felt the signs were delayed was because of the province’s potential construction of an overpass around the intersection of Cardiff Road and Highway 2.
As well, Boutestein was concerned the town had not yet received permission from Alberta Transportation to install the sign, and that the quote utilized for the sign was four years old. The Request for Proposal (RFP) for the development of the signs was originally completed in 2011.
If the sign were to be developed, it would be essentially identical to the signs on both ends of Highway 642, and it would be required to be movable so that the sign could accommodate the construction of an overpass in the area if the project is to be completed.
Councillor Dafoe commented that if the debris and barricades from provincial road work in the area are not removed it may not make much of an impact on the aesthetics of the major intersection. “If we install it now, it’s going to look like a dog’s breakfast,” Dafoe said, noting administration should continue to work to get Alberta Transportation to clean up the area, something David Schaefer said was something they have been working on.
Administration is working with Alberta Transportation to get approval for the project and will be meeting with Landale Signs, the contractor originally chosen in the 2011 RFP, to confirm a price. Council will discuss the issue at their next meeting with updates from David Schaefer.