The Village of Alix is pondering a columbarium for the municipal cemetery.
The idea was mentioned to councillors while discussing the 2021 interim operating budget at their regular meeting Nov. 4.
Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michelle White stated the village is looking at developing a columbarium along with a non-profit partner for that project.
A columbarium is a room or building with niches for funeral urns to be stored.
While discussing the proposed operating budget, White noted village investments aren’t performing as hoped.
“Investment income is down significantly,” said White, noting it’s another effect of the pandemic.
She stated the interest rate is about a third of the previous monthly rate.
A new section of the interim operating budget was COVID-19.
White stated the village is eligible for almost $80,000 in certain grants for pandemic related expenses.
While discussing the utility department, the CAO noted water meters are now past warranty.
She stated Public Works is doing its best to maintain the meters in-house and some extra meters are kept on-hand if needed.
The recreation section of the interim operating budget was interesting, as such programs have been heavily affected by the pandemic.
White noted the village is expecting to see a decrease in community donations to recreation programs.
Some programs are being altered to try to adapt to the pandemic, while some will likely be eliminated.
Councillors approved moving forward with an agreement on the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, including $247,600 from the program plus $206,313 in provincial funding for work on cell #5 at the Alix lagoon.
The CAO noted work was originally planned for cell #6 but was then switched to #5.
The federal government was notified and approved the change.
During a discussion about the province’s efforts to increase policing around Alberta, CAO White pointed out that about a year ago the province announced 500 new staff for municipalities, including 300 police officers.
Subsequently, that announcement has been altered and the most recent announcement seems to indicate there will be about 70 new police officers across the province, yet municipalities are still facing the full policing bill from the province.
“Our bill has not been adjusted one iota,” said White.
Coun. Cole, a retired RCMP officer, noted civilian members save a huge amount of work for uniformed police.
However, Coun. Tim Besuijen stated he understood White’s point that the village was being billed for something that hasn’t materialized.
Parkland library budget
Councillors approved the 2021 Parkland Regional Library budget as presented.
It was noted Parkland charges Alix a per capita rate to be part of the regional library system and noted that the village gets back more than $15 in value for every dollar it spends with the system.
“They provide a good service,” said Coun. Barb Gilliat.
It was also stated Parkland’s budget stayed the same as 2020.
Fire department budget
Councillors approved the 2021 Alix Fire Department budget, which was drafted with the assistance of Lacombe County Fire Chief Drayton Bussiere and Alix Fire Chief Darren Hiron.
CAO White noted the department did not have a lot of major capital items, so she contacted Bussiere to inquire why.
Bussiere noted the department doesn’t have any major replacements until roughly 2031 when a village fire truck will be scheduled for replacement.
It was noted the village is budgeting for this replacement so the money will be available when the time to replace the truck comes.
Coun. Ed Cole reported on the tabletop emergency practice held Oct. 13 and stated it went very well.
He noted it seems stakeholders are well prepared in the event of an emergency.
He did suggest though that railway crossings within a five kilometre radius of the village be delineated by their railway crossing number.
“CN/CP will know location instantly where this is, where they may not know by geographic location,” stated Cole in his report.
Coun. Vicki Soltermann gave a report of the latest meeting of the Buffalo Lake Management Team and stated a new bylaw is addressing water quality in the lake.
“After a lake water health advisory by AHS in August, Rochon Sands gave first reading of Waste Water Bylaw #254/20,” stated Soltermann in her report.
“This bylaw will regulate inspections of holding tanks and septic fields and will require replacement of faulty systems by landowners.
She also stated some property owners surrounding lakes aren’t aware of where their property ends.
“Alix Lake is surrounded by an environmental reserve and adjacent property owners do not own land to the lake,” she stated.
Soltermann suggested the village have a policy in place to address this with the ultimate goal of protesting the riparian area from harm.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter