Council briefs – Nov. 24 meeting

closed session

by Tristan Turner

Present at the Nov. 24 meeting was Mayor Lisa Holmes, Deputy Mayor Rob Ladouceur, and Councillors Barry Turner, Nicole Boutestein, Brennan Fitzgerald, Gord Putnam and Stephen Dafoe.

Council passes bylaws for sewer and water, move waste ahead with weekly organics information request

Council unanimously passed second and third reading of Bylaws 24/2015 and Bylaws 25/2015, the mandatory sewer and water Bylaws for the upcoming year. Both include very minimal fee changes and were passed unanimously with no debate.

The passed bylaws will see a 3.13 per cent increase in water rates and a 2.92 per cent increase in sewer rates for 2016.

Council had some disagreement on the issue of waste management Bylaw 26/2015. The Bylaw eventually passed second reading unanimously, but Council disagreed on what information to ask Administration to come back with before it faced third reading.

First was a motion from Deputy Mayor Rob Ladouceur requesting Administration to look into weekly organics pickup in winter months instead of the current monthly pickup, with the goal of encouraging residents to divert more waste from landfills.

The only member of Council to vote against the request was Councillor Nicole Boutestein, who commented that she didn’t use the organics pickup and thought residents would underutilize the program.

Councillor Fitzgerald spoke in support because he felt it would show that Morinville would be doing its part to contribute to the Capital Region’s goals of diverting more waste from landfills in the coming decades.

The second request for information was from Fitzgerald, who requested information on the cost savings to residents if the pickup of regular waste went to once every two weeks, instead of weekly. He felt this could save residents money and further encourage organic waste pickup.

The motion was defeated with Mayor Lisa Holmes and Councillor Fitzgerald being the only supporters of bi-weekly garbage pickup year round.

Turner’s slash to Planning and Development fee increases defeated

In a split decision, Council has voted against a motion to cap Planning and Development fees at $1,500, while increasing many of them. The Town’s Director of Planning and Development, Greg Hofmann, had asked for approval on a significant increase to many Planning and Development fees to put them closer to similar communities in the province.

Hofmann admitted that the fees – which are typically paid by developers and businesses to have the department review requests – “had not been looked at in far too long” and needed to be increased to get closer to cost recovery put in by the department.

Administration’s request saw the most expensive fees triple, with multiple fees going from $750 to $3,000.

Councillor Barry Turner agreed that the fees should be increased to get them closer to cost recovery and to be more in line with other municipalities, but though it should be increased more gradually. “Some fees are tripling … I have a concern about basically having a 300 per cent increase brought in all at once.”

Councillor Turner’s amendment was to cap fees at $1,500 maximum plus a $100 advertising fee because he felt the increase was too drastic to be felt in one year. “I understand where we want to go,” he said. “I just don’t want to go there too fast.”

Councillor Stephen Dafoe opposed the amendment, reminding Council that the fact Morinville did not have a split mill rate between residential and business / commercial tax rates makes it an advantageous place to own a business compared to other municipalities.

Councillor Brennan Fitzgerald’s comment was brief, only asking his colleagues “If the program isn’t at cost recovery, then who is footing the bill? Taxpayers, exactly.” Saying that he did not support residents accepting the cost of discounted rates for businesses.

The motion was defeated with only Turner; Ladouceur and Putnam supporting the motion.

Council makes dumps snow dumping free for Morinville contractors

In 2015, Council approved a snow dump fee for local contractors hauling snow from local business parking lots.

In response to two information requests on the use of the program and impact of waving the $40 per load fee, Councillor Dafoe made a motion to remove the fee provided all other conditions are met, including security deposit and ensuring contractors have signed letters from local businesses they are hauling for.

Last year’s the program generated $3,000 in revenue to offset the program. The motion passed unanimously and will allow local contractors to dump as much snow as required on a designated piece of Town property.

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