Big Valley council supports tourism events but mayor adds ‘no guns’

ECA Review/S.Salkeld
Written by Stu Salkeld

Big Valley village council granted requests to a major tourism operator in the municipality at their regular meeting July 13 but Mayor Dan Houle stated he was concerned about firearms in any such events.

Councillors granted two requests from Alberta Prairie Railway Excursions but noted one request was not within the village’s scope.

Councillors read a letter dated June 7 from Alberta Prairie General Manager Bob Willis requesting the use of some village space for summer events.

“Over the last number of years Alberta Prairie Railway has been granted permission to use Village of Big Valley property, specifically the grassy area to the west of the museum railcars and south of the public washrooms, to accommodate special events hosted by Alberta Prairie Railway,” stated Willis’ letter.

“We, therefore, request the use of the property described above on July 15 and 16,” noted Willis, referring to live steam engine displays and other equipment events.

He also requested permission to use the same property on July 22 for Railway Heritage Day events. It was noted later in Willis’ letter the society was also requesting permission for a petting zoo July 20 to be located on a vacant Main Street lot.

During discussion, councillors noted they had no concerns with the events in question, but it was mentioned that the vacant lot of Main Street is private property and the society should ask the owner for permission, not the village.

During discussion Mayor Houle stated that someone from the village needed to talk to the historical reenactment group about those events featuring firearms if they’re only replicas, which are prohibited in Big Valley.

“They cannot legally have the firearms in town,” said Mayor Houle, adding he thought the RCMP had already spoken to the re-enacters about this.

Home-based business
Councillors unanimously approved a development permit application for a home-based business, which Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Elaine Macdonald noted was a home occupation class 2, meaning a tangible service will be offered right at the residence.

Macdonald stated the business owner wasn’t originally aware they needed a development permit to operate a business out of their home.

Macdonald further added the business was described as ‘upholstery.’ Since the business is a discretionary use in the residential zoning neighbours will be informed if council approved the application.

It was noted customers of the business can use the resident’s driveway.

Coun. Amber Hoogenberg noted the residence in question is somewhat set off on its own, away from other homes.

Assessment of the situation
During her regular CAO report, Macdonald noted the village has begun working with MPE Engineering on the municipality’s infrastructure study. The study will give an indication of the condition of the village’s infrastructure.

During discussion councillors discussed the importance of following up on things like bylaw enforcement.

Macdonald also explained to councillors the village is having trouble finding a contractor to do concrete work, including sidewalk repair and replacement.

She said Big Valley has been searching for three to four months to find a concrete contractor plus someone who will do tree trimming, but so far without results.

Councillors discussed a sidewalk problem in front of the post office, with Mayor Houle noting the sidewalk is only four years old. Councillors agreed such work should be followed up on and warranties claimed if needed.

Addressing the nuisances
Councillors unanimously passed all readings of the nuisance abatement bylaw required to bring it into force. The CAO reminded councillors they’d approved doubling all fines in this bylaw at their previous regular council meeting.

Fines for violation of the nuisance abatement bylaw are $100, $200 and $400 for first, second, third and subsequent offence respectively.

Tickets under the nuisance abatement bylaw usually involve unshovelled snow on public sidewalks and uncut grass, but can also include things like abandoned vehicles.

Stu Salkeld
Local Journalism Initiative reporter
ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.