Town of Trochu Council report

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All Councillors were present and in-person for Trochu Town Council’s February 28 meeting, in addition to CAO Carl Peterson, Recording Secretary Toni Nelson, and Director of Operations Dave Nelson. Council began their meeting by taking their official Council photo for their term in office, with Dave Nelson clicking the shutter.

Council accepted the meeting’s agenda with a few minor additions, and adopted minutes from their February 14th Regular Meeting, and their February 22nd Committee of the Whole Meeting.

CAO Carl Peterson presented his Administrator’s Report. The emergency table top discussions and demonstrations that Council will attend through KREMA will begin April 2nd, after previously being postponed.

Peterson mentioned that “Council has indicated that working with a facilitator to develop a long-term Strategic Plan for the Council and community moving forward is a priority, and various proposals are being considered.” During an emergency meeting of Council on Thursday, March 3rd, Council would accept a proposal from Transitional Solutions Inc. to complete strategic planning services including a community engagement facilitation.

Work on the fire services bylaw was ongoing at the time of meeting but will be brought to Council soon after feedback from Fire Chief Richard Hoppins.

Peterson reported that in the following week, Gitzel & Co. are scheduled to complete the Town’s audit. This will take place March 7th and 8th.

It was reported that Trochu has participated in a stormwater system study, finding and addressing areas of concern in town. Peterson notes that there will now be water modeling done to determine the best course of action to solve some of the issues.

An interesting item in Peterson’s report was the Community Capacity Training Program. Peterson’s notes read “Trochu and Kneehill County collaborated on a Newcomer Capacity Project through the Rural Development Network which is intended to identify barriers experienced by both newcomers and service providers and offer solutions to these barriers.” He mentioned to Council that there are still opportunities to register to be involved in helping to identify problems and learn how to help.

Council filed the CAO Report, with all in favour.

Councillor Chris Armstrong mentioned that he was able to attend the Alberta Government’s budget presentation, as well as Question Period, the previous week at the Legislature. He enjoyed getting to watch the Government in action.

Councillor Cerilo De La Cruz said that he’s seen fruit from the Alberta Incentive Plan, with more hours coming to the Sunterra workers after a slow period.

Councillor Jenny Lyver was able to complete her AUMA online training. Lyver also attended a Municipal Planning Commission meeting were they approved a new home being moved into Town.

Councillor Chris Reeds attended the Drumheller District Solid Waste Meeting, where a new manager has just been hired. There has been a change in the formula for charging commercial users, increasing the cost for commercial usage, and this may keep Trochu’s costs down. Reeds let Council know that Drumheller will pick up cardboard for business in Trochu who deal with large amounts, and it could be something to advertise to Trochu businesses such as Sunterra.

Deputy Mayor Bill Cunningham again discussed designating the Dr. Hay House as a municipal historical site. He is working to find a sample bylaw to aid Council in creating a bylaw to designate the House. He also received resources from Red Deer County’s policy for historical designation, which was helpful. He noted that perhaps in a month Council could get this process moving.

Cunningham attended a Housing 101 session by the Alberta Seniors and Community Housing Association. They mentioned that there is a staffing crisis across the province at assisted living facilities.

Mayor Barry Kletke had a list of items to share with Council. He attended the Doctors’ Recruitment and Retention meeting which included a discussion about their budget. The operating budget remains the same, but $40K has been set aside for incentives to recruit several doctors. There are currently eight doctors at the Kneehill Medical Clinic, with one leaving who will be replaced, and one more needed. After a temporary closure because of capacity limits, beds are once again open at the Three Hills hospital. The Clinic has hired a mental health therapist for the next four years, and ultrasound equipment is up and running at the Hospital, to be used once per week. The process of getting ultrasound equipment to the area has taken two years.

A big topic of conversation at the Doctors’ R&R meeting was in regard to satellite clinics, where doctors would not only have a practice at the Kneehill Clinic, but also in smaller communities. The question is whether municipalities would want this; the doctors are willing to set up satellite clinics, but as the doctors already fund the Kneehill Clinic (leasing their room, bringing in an ultrasound machine, paying the staff at the clinic), they are not interested in also funding satellite clinics. Therefore, municipalities would need to find a way to fund these clinics, if it is something they would like. Kletke noted that he felt satellite clinics could lead to splintering.

Kletke also attended a Central Alberta Economic Partnership Transportation and Logistics task force meeting with Minister Nixon. Nixon said that the Alberta Government has eliminated 27K red tape regulations since 2019. He also noted that Hwy 11 will be twinned this spring between Sylvan Lake and Rocky Mountain House, and that there is a new pass in development connecting from west of Rocky Mountain House to Golden, BC.

As well, Kletke heard a presentation from Alberta Regional Rail who are proposing a high speed train between Edmonton and Calgary, then possibly also to Fort McMurray and Grande Prairie. While Kletke thinks this may be a good idea, the feasibility study alone will cost $300K, and it’s unclear where that money will come from.

Kletke mentioned that he was in attendance at the Alberta Government Budget Speech and although there was not an announcement made about Trochu’s housing project, he enjoyed hearing about the new, modern, trades/apprenticeship school being built in Acme.

Council moved to file the Council Reports.

There was a request from the Trochu Parents’ Council for a donation from Council. In previous years, aside from 2021 when there was no request, Council has given a $100 donation. Council moved to donate $100 to the Trochu Parents’ Council.

Bylaw 2022-03, a rates & fees bylaw, was put before Council for their decision. The rates refer to garbage collection, water & sewer rates, animal control, administration fees, public works fees, arena fees, swimming pool fees, cemetery fees, campground fees, and fire related offences. Most rates remained the same from the previous year, but there was a slight increase in water rates to Trochu users because Three Hills has raised the price that they charge to Trochu. The garbage collection rate is also increased, by 10%, to help offset the Town’s costs and to ensure there is enough money to purchase new transtore commercial garbage bins (a goal of $10K to replace the bins).

Council discussed the fire alarm offence section and decided that while a first offence is $100 and the second offence is $250, the offences will reset at the start of each new calendar year.

Council moved all three readings of Bylaw 2022-03 and passed the bylaw with all in favour. The complete list of rates & fees can be found in Council’s agenda package, on the Council section of the Town’s website.

Council had one item in New Business, Request for Decision 2022-01, about leaving the arena ice in to allow for the creation of a spring hockey team. Council had a request from two individuals who are looking to start a hockey academy for kids and would like to use Trochu’s ice every other weekend (they are in Three Hills for the alternating weekends) until mid-June. The hockey club has said that they can fill the arena, and would use 20 hours per week.

Understandably, Council was concerned about the cost of keeping ice in so much longer than they usually do. Last June, Administration researched and came to the conclusion that monthly operations in warmer months cost $20,500 per month (electricity, gas, propane, labour etc). At an increased rental rate of $180, there would need to be 114 rental hours per month to cover operations. The Phantoms hockey team requesting the ice time have committed to 85 hours per month, leaving 29 hours needed to recover costs (if it’s a cool June).

Council felt this was an opportunity to re-ignite interest in hockey and skating, bring in business for local establishments, and to see if Trochu can generally create more interest in their arena. The numbers were close enough that Council was willing to give it a try.

Council moved to leave their ice in for spring hockey, or as long as required. Other renters would also be able to use the ice when not being used by the hockey academy. The motion was all in favour and carried.

Council entered Closed Session at 7:25pm.

Council held an emergency meeting on Thursday, March 3rd. In addition to the motion above to accept the proposal from Transitional Solutions Inc. for the Town’s Strategic Plan, Council had two additional motions. The first, Council motioned “to enter into a sales agreement with 1847052 Alberta Ltd. For Lots 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 13, 15 and 17 on Trochu Ave”, and a motion “to participate in the Rural Entrepreneur Stream economic immigration program”.

Council’s next Regular Meeting is scheduled for March 14th at 6:00pm.