In a tough decision made by Coronation council and the curling arena committee, it was chosen to shut down the Coronation curling rink for the season at the regular council meeting Jan. 25.
Like many municipalities across Alberta, the feasibility of keeping it open while not gaining any revenue was not doable any longer.
With the mild winter, the ice plants must run for longer periods of time (6 -8 hours a day) to maintain the ice surfaces. This translates into dollars being lost.
The current monthly cost for the curling rink comes to $1,649.66 per month for utilities while the skating arena costs $2,251.62 per month.
The hockey season and curling season are now over their halfway point and do not provide much more for a season.
If the restrictions were to be lifted within the next two weeks, it would only provide a month and a half or less of use in the facilities.
Coun. Jackie Brigley is one of the curling rink committee members and shared that when the committee met last week, they already agreed to pull the plug on the season.
But this doesn’t mean the facility won’t get any more use.
Administration and community committees hope to use the space for alternative sports and programming like ball hockey, dodgeball and archery when restrictions lift.
A separate motion was made to table the closure of the arena until administration hears about what Castor and Consort plan to do with their facilities.
“My gut says I’d like to see it open for the kids but the other side of it is it’s not feasible for us,” said Dep. Mayor Mark Stannard. “It’s a tough one. We all like to see the kids out and active. They are not all happy sitting at home. They are struggling too.”
Tax penalty incentive
With $176,546 in unpaid municipal taxes for the 2020 year, administration has become concerned that some residents are severely being affected by the municipal tax penalties on their yearly taxes.
After some research, the current projections show that a larger number of residents who usually pay their annual taxes are defaulting due to unemployment or restrictions hindering them from working more frequently.
Administration has been monitoring payments and was hopeful that most taxes would be paid within 2020 year.
However, due to COVID-19, the number of residents that did provide payment has continued to decline.
The municipal utility has also seen a decrease in payments, as more residents are focusing their money on paying taxes instead of utility bills.
The plausible reason is that the municipality offers more leniency on utility bills not being paid than the taxes.
As part of looking for new and creative ways to support residents and to provide as much financial relief as possible, staff proposed waiving the tax penalties for 2020/2021 to all residents which would mean residents will only be obligated to pay for their principal amount of taxes.
By eliminating the tax penalty for the 2020 and 2021 years, it may be enough relief to some residents who cannot currently afford their municipal taxes and utilities.
It would also possibly provide all residents with a chance to get caught up on their prior year’s taxes.
Administration also stated that residents can enter into a monthly payment plan versus paying all in one lump sum.
“It does work for a lot of individuals. It’s a little less intrusive to their bank accounts as well,” said Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Quinton Flint.
He mentioned this action does work with the Municipal Government Act and that they have done this type of relief before as a new business tax incentive.
A third round of letters is expected to go out soon so council suggested adding a portion stating there are payment plans available and waived penalties by simply talking to administration.
Council gave the CAO a direction to bring back this third letter once it was ready and then have it approved before sending out.
Coun. Shelly Cook also mentioned that removing the cost for business licenses may help.
Council agreed to have anyone with a business in town to apply for the license and waive the associated fee.
CEO/Director of Planning, Devin Diano, provided administration information regarding the municipal planning services done by Palliser Regional Municipal Services to Coronation.
“The need for planning experts is to ensure we follow our municipal bylaws and all provincial legislation is followed. While also providing our residents with calculated building and planning advice.
Palliser Regional Municipal Services is also here to assist the administration with development permitting applications and the issuance of development permits,” said the administration report.
In summary, the total increase for the Town of Coronation came to a three per cent overall increase.
In 2020, the town paid $10,585.04 but with the increase the new amount for 2021 is $10,956.80.
Council agreed to pay.
The town has been receiving a larger than average volume of sand and salt and has also been requested of more than usual to spread sand and salt to local business parking lots.
This service has never had a cost to it but administration has since calculated a total cost to the municipality for providing the municipal businesses with sand and salt on their properties.
This cost analysis ensured that the service would be affordable and calculate the total over cost recovery of providing such a service.
No service would be available to the local business until all priority routes and snow removal areas are cleared.
Council was curious to know how much sand and salt would be used on a regular property as well as parking lots before moving forward.
Prices will be further examined before implementation.
Bylaw officer appointed
Out of the six applications received, administration felt one was ‘suitable’ for the position.
Council approved the appointment of Annette Allen as bylaw officer who began her role Feb. 1.