Council Briefs: Town to allow driveway firepits

by Colin Smith

Leisure Centre to reopen later this month for limited activities

The Morinville Leisure Centre will open for limited activities on February 23 as approved by Town Council at its regular meeting Tuesday.

The move is in line with the easing of COVID-19 public health restrictions announced by the Provincial Government February 5.

Services include one-on-one fitness consultations with MLC staff members who will design programs to enable participants to exercise at home. Consultations are free for members and $35 for non-members.

In addition, courts or ice can be booked for one-on-one training with certified external sports trainers.

Also available are bookings for children/youth team sport activities. This is for participants 18 years and under. The ice must be booked by certified coaches and trainers and there is a maximum group size of 10.

Bookings/reservations will be accepted beginning February 17. The MLC hours are 8:30 a.m.to 8 p.m.

Driveway Fires On Saturdays

From this Saturday, February 13, forward Morinville residents will to be able to have fires on their driveways between noon and midnight.

Based on a similar measure adopted in St. Albert, the aim is to help connect people in a safe manner during the pandemic.

Propane fire pits are recommended, as they do not produce smoke or sparks and are easier to extinguish. Fire-pits permit are not required for propane or wood-burning firepits on the driveway on Saturdays.

Driveway fires are not permitted other than during the stated hours on Saturday.

This is a three-month pilot project. For further information go to www.morinville.ca/fire.

FCM and Western Canada

Does membership in the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) provide any benefit to Western Canadian communities such as Morinville?

That‘s the question raised in a letter received by Council from the Municipal District of Bonneville and flagged for discussion by Councillor Sarah Hall.

The letter, signed by Reeve Greg Sawchuk, expresses dissatisfaction with the level of representation for Western municipalities and their interests, notably in relation to the oil and gas industry.

A number of Councillors indicated they felt the organization is falling short.

Among them was Councillor Lawrence Giffin, who stated, “I don’t believe the FCM represents the West very well.”

Mayor Barry Turner suggested the Agenda Review Committee would look at the issue, with a view to bringing it forward at Council’s Committee of the Whole meeting in March.

“I think it would be a very wanted discussion,” said Councillor Nicole Boutestein. “I don’t want this discussion to be strictly based on talking about oil and gas. I just want to make sure that we are taking time to discuss the bigger picture of what FCM is offering.”

Council rescinds Non-Profit tax bylaw

Five Morinville non-profit organizations that have applied for exemption from municipal tax are all eligible, the Town Administration has determined.

The properties involved are those of Morinville Legion Branch No. 176 (main building), the Jessica Martel Memorial Foundation, Tiny Tots Learning Centre, and both locations of the McCauley Day Care.

At its January 26 meeting Council gave first reading to a bylaw that would have left the Jessica Martel Foundation as the only non-profit with tax-exempt status, along with the Legion, which is exempt by Provincial legislation.

The Administration subsequently determined that Tiny Tots and McCauley Daycare are non-profits and so eligible for exemption.

It also found that Council has discretion through Provincial legislation to exempt non-profits from tax and no bylaw is required.

Tax-exempt status will now be determined administratively through an annual application process.

Council voted unanimously to rescind first reading.

Property Tax Deadline Returns To July 1

The first working day in July is the deadline for this year’s municipal tax payment, following Council passage of the Unpaid Property Tax and Tax Arrears Penalty Bylaw.

After that a penalty of 7.5% will be imposed. Taxes still unpaid on the first working day in January will be subject to a 9.5% penalty. The penalty rates have remained the same as in 2020.

It’s estimated that some $47,000 in tax penalty revenue will be collected on the first working day In July 2021.

The approved measure replaces the Special Provisions Unpaid Property Tax Penalty Bylaw passed last April in response to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In it the typical July 1 tax penalty date was deferred to September 1.

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