Bylaw review sparks conversation over golf cart conversation

Golf carts were the hot button issue of Forestburg council on Thurs. Aug 6 at the regular meeting.

Coun. Dwayne Giroux spoke of the other communities in the area like Daysland, Sedgewick and Castor to see what their policies were on having golf carts used in town.

Sedgewick and Castor do not allow travel from residential to the golf course using the golf carts as they must be hauled in but Daysland, on the other hand, sell permits to allow golf carts.

The previous council was said to have brought this clause in as golf carts were becoming popular and was a good asset to the golf course as they have limited storage and security.

Insurance said they do not insure these vehicles at all.

RCMP can ticket anyone who is on the road unless the municipality has a bylaw in place addressing this.

Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Debra Moffat said a golf cart is not considered to be a roadworthy vehicle because of the lack of signal lights and it cannot be registered as a motor vehicle.

Forestburg administration typically sells a few permits during the year but CAO Moffat had taken it upon herself without council direction to ignore the bylaw, choosing to not give any more $10 permits to allow carts access.

She explained she and the village did not want to be held liable if something were to happen as the Traffic Safety Act and regulations work hand in hand and do not allow carts on any type of roadway and are not regulated.

“You’re not getting the whole picture if you look at only one,” she said. “I do not want to end up in court.”

She said the best solution was to take the whole section out to not permit golf carts and have the RCMP take care of it using the traffic safety act as their guide.

“We turn a blind eye to it,” she said. “Let the police deal with it.”

Mayor Blaise Young, as well as other councillors, were adamant they should have learned about this before any decisions were made.

“We should have been told,” said the mayor.

The CAO is the only person employed directly by council, the purpose of the CAO is to carry out what is chosen in council motions and set out in bylaw.

The mayor went as far as to threaten to call a point of order as everyone was speaking over each other with important points regarding the topic.

Coun. McNabb insisted they talk with RCMP officials to see what their stance is and if they will be vigilant or lenient about this if the situation were to come up.

CAO Moffat added that not only is security at the golf course an issue, so is validating ownership and registration of the golf cart.

In the end, the motion was tabled to allow the public a chance to look at this specific bylaw to give feedback towards the usage of carts.

This time also allows council to hear back from RCMP on their opinion of the topic.

Animal Control Bylaw

Coun. Giroux requested that information regarding restricting animals in the library be brought forward for review.

Administration was unable to locate the motion directing that no animals were permitted in municipal buildings.

Mayor Young asked to have therapy dogs recognized in the bylaw which was accepted.

He also asked that the library in particular should allow small animals such as chicks, puppies, kittens, or bunnies for children’s educational purposes and programs with anything outside of those parameters be left up to the library board’s discretion.

Coun. Fossen noted the increase in stray cats within the village saying when she moved her years ago this was also a problem but has decreased until recently.

The bylaw requires people to have their pets contained but currently the enforcement officer is an office employee of the village with no regional bylaw officer in place yet.

This is still in the works with Killam and Sedgewick spearheading that project.

“It’s a fine line between doing too much and not enough with a bylaw officer,” said Coun. Devon McNabb.

Council passed first and second reading of the bylaw.

Dep. Mayor Bob Coutts was “not willing to proceed with this without putting it out to the public.”

Energy stimulus program

The Province of Alberta has recently announced the details of the Municipal Stimulus Program which will provide additional funding to municipalities to stimulate the economy and increase a municipalities ability to promote future economic growth.

The funds provided are a one-time-only event and will most likely not be repeated in the future.

The Village of Forestburg specifically is getting $104,010.

CAO Moffat asked the panel of councillors if they wanted to get any one-off projects that have been pushed aside in the past fixed or what their idea of utilizing the no-strings-attached funding.

Eligible projects that pertain to Forestburg include focusing on construction or reconstruction of roadways and sidewalks, energy efficiency upgrades to existing facilities,  non-routine maintenance, Painting or refinishing of building components, infrastructure repairs like fixing potholes, crack sealing, water line, sewer lines, dust abatement or sealant application, water and or wastewater system upgrades, Upgrade or replace fire halls, emergency operation centres, and/or upgrades to the public works or recreation facilities.

“This is a fairly extensive list; however, $104,010 does not go very far when the average cost of replacing a block of road is $200,000 to $300,000. If these funds are used to move a long-term capital plan item forward by a year, it will not affect the entire plan forward,” CAO Moffat said in her memo.

At the meeting she added, “It’s a lot of money but in the grand scheme of things in terms of the capital plan, it’s a drop in the bucket.”

Coun. Eileen Fossen was adamant about using the funds for road block replacement as it was ‘physical proof’ the village has been listening to resident concerns and benefits the town immediately.

“They are getting worse… daily.” she said.

For the 2021 year, 46 Avenue is already planned to be replaced but if they used this additional funding, it would be moved to this year.

Councillors were torn between this idea as well as using the funds for one-off projects like the projects mentioned.

CAO Moffat mentioned that if some energy efficiencies were made to village buildings, they could get a return to reduce operating funds they need from the village or reducing taxes.

Council agreed to come up with ideas and a pros/cons list on how to use the money appropriately which will be presented at a future meeting as well as include various committees as they know best about the facility they look after.

Energy upgrades

SustainErgy completed a scoping audit of the Forestburg Swimming Pool where the company performed the on-site evaluation on July 20.

The evaluation was performed using methods, procedures and calculations consistent with ASHRAE Audits and industry standards. Additionally, a written report provided recommendations that would improve the energy efficiency of the facility, also known as Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs).

Forestburg Swimming Pool is an outdoor pool, totalling 4,600 ft2.

The company said in their report “Forestburg Swimming Pool could benefit from some general maintenance to increase its efficiency. Items highlighted in the low cost / no cost section of the table below show the potential savings of these measures. 

“Forestburg Swimming Pool could also benefit from some additional capital measures, including high-efficiency heating equipment, and LED lighting.”

Committee of the whole 

A major storm ripped through the village on Mon. Aug. 3, leaving much damage in its wake.

Mayor Young was thoroughly impressed by the immediate response from local firefighters and public works staff.

He asked that council and the public write letters to those particular groups for their service.

“It was absolutely outstanding,” said Young. “Everybody was so positive.”

A few casualties to village property were brought up including the floats and roof of the lift station being blown off as well as three different baseball dugouts being taken from their foundation.

CAO Moffat said insurance will be taking care of the dugouts once photos are given, same as the last time this situation happened.

Oil and gas letter

Coun. Eileen Fossen asked council to support a motion to send a letter to MLA Jackie Lovely and Premier Jason Kenny of their concerns surrounding potential changes to the oil and gas assessment as they feel it will have negative effects not only for Flagstaff county but also inadvertently Forestburg as well.

Council agreed to have the letter sent to express this concern.

Sewer line accepted

Mike and Lenora Blanchette had an issue with a blocked sewer line.

Mr. Blanchette had a plumber auger the line and the blockage was cleared back to the boulevard.

Pritchard Plumbing indicated that the blockage was caused by tree roots.

The couple requested the Village reimburse them for the cost of having the line cleared as the problem was determined to be on Village land. 

Council accepted administration’s recommendation to reimburse Mr. and Mrs. Blanchette $288.75 for the cost of clearing a blocked sewer line located at 5005 – 46 Avenue.

Hardisty leaving BRAED

In the agenda package as part of the correspondence, Dep. Mayor Coutts pointed out the letter from Hardisty to BRAED.

The town of Hardisty has chosen to withdraw from the regional Battle River Alliance for Economic Development (BRAED) because they felt that the group does not ‘fit their strategic planning objectives, therefore, have decided to take a different path in working regionally for economic development initiatives.’

Talk of switching to the Battle River Economic Opportunity Committee (BREOC) is now in the works as the group already has some work already in that area.

They will continue out their 2020 membership before leaving.

An annual membership costs approximately $650.


Terri Huxley

ECA Review

About the author

Terri Huxley

Terri grew up on a grain farm near Drumheller, Alberta with an eye for the beautiful and uncharted. Living in such a unique and diverse area has helped her become the photographer and reporter she is today.

Coming from the East Central region getting this newspaper on her dinner table growing up, it helped her understand the community she now serves.

In May 2019, Terri was awarded Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association (AWNA) Canada's Energy Citizens Photographic Awards Sports Action – First Place as well as first for the same sports action image nationally with the Canadian Community Newspaper Association (CCNA). Fast forward to 2020, she has won second in the same category for the AWNA.