by Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, ECA Review March 1, 2021 @ 1:51pm published at 4:33pm.
The Village of Big Valley council heard a report from their new chief administrative officer (CAO) that repairs to the municipal water tower will likely be in the $270,000 range.
The report was made at the Feb. 24 regular meeting of council, held one day earlier than normal.
The meeting was streamed via Zoom and Coun. Art Tizzard was absent from the meeting.
CAO Tracy Mindus noted a contractor has provided an estimate of $270,000 to repair the cracked water tower, but instead of installing a bladder they will use carbon fibre to seal it.
This would have a life expectancy of 20 to 50 years.
The CAO noted several provincial government grants may be available for this work, including one that may cover up to 75 per cent of the cost.
Municipal Sustainability Initiative money may also be available.
Mindus said the village continues to receive information from the contractor and it appears the work can be done no earlier than spring.
Councillors accepted the report for information.
Mindus read a letter sent from the Big Valley Historical Society, requesting the society no longer be charged for garbage pick-up because it appears their garbage isn’t being picked up.
The letter noted the McAlister site hasn't had garbage pick-up in 10 to 12 months and the tool museum hasn’t had garbage pick-up at all in the roughly four years it’s been there.
The society requested the village no longer bill them for the service and the volunteers would handle garbage pick-up themselves.
CAO Mindus noted garbage pick-up is based on the number of users in the village, and if one or more users opt out, the rates will likely increase for everyone else.
Coun. Harry Nibourg stated the garbage pick-up fee is about $8 a month and waiving it would set a precedent.
Nibourg also noted he would recuse himself from a vote on this issue as it affects his own property.
Mayor German stated the item would be tabled until March, as Tizzard’s absence and Nibourg’s recusal meant a vote could not be held.
Councillors read a letter from the Village of Donalda regarding their concerns about the County of Stettler's recent invoice for the Regional Emergency Management Agency.
It was stated in the letter Donalda is concerned about the dollar amount, $7,944.32, which included a substantial increase and the village was requesting more information about why the invoice was so large.
Mayor German noted he saw nothing wrong with the request and felt taxpayers have a right to know where their money is going.
Coun. Nibourg stated the fee may seem high, but if the village decides to, for example, handle emergency services itself, costs may be much higher.
Councillors passed a motion for CAO Mindus to contact the County of Stettler and get a breakdown of where the emergency management funds are going.
Councillors decided they will hold an advance poll for the village election next fall, and also advertise the position of returning officer after reading a report from the CAO.
Mindus noted the municipal election will be held Mon. Oct. 18 and nominations close on Mon. Sept. 20.
She noted Big Valley is small enough that it’s not mandatory to hold an advance poll but pointed out it would be convenient for people who work and aren’t able to vote on election day. She suggested two Saturdays, Oct. 9 or 16, for the advance poll. She also noted advance polls can’t be held within 24 hours of the regular election day.
Councillors passed a motion naming Oct. 9 the advance poll in Big Valley, appointing Mindus as returning officer and also authorizing the CAO to advertise for a deputy returning officer.
Get the MOST
The CAO reported Big Valley will receive $40,339 in Municipal Operating Support Transfer (MOST) funding from the provincial government, intended to help with COVID-19 expenses and lost revenue.
She estimated the village’s expenses at about $10,000, and asked councillors what they would like to do with the rest.
She noted other communities have granted the funds to non-profits who have losses related to the pandemic.
Mindus also noted the province has given a March 31 deadline to disperse the funds.
Councillors instructed Mindus to reach out to non-profits and similar groups and offer the money while asking for an accounting of their losses due to the pandemic.
The CAO will report back at the March regular council meeting.