Coun. M’Liss Edwards came armed with fire department information at the Morrin regular council meeting held on Wed. March 20 following a disagreement with some present in the gallery and staff as to responsibilities for fire equipment and supplies at the February meeting.
Edwards provided a copy of the Fire Agreement signed between Starland County and the Village of Morrin and read to council Item #13 which states “Each Village undertakes and agrees to provide the firefighting equipment referred to in Schedule ‘A’. ”
Number 14 reads that “Schedule ‘A’ items not included with the purchase of the fire truck . . . the County can consider the cost-share of Schedule ‘A’ items on a 70 per cent (County)- 30 per cent (Village) cost-share basis.”
“We’ve done that with the hoses,” said Edwards “and the County said they would pay the 70 per cent.”
“According to Schedule ‘A’, the village is responsible for everything that isn’t on the truck,” added Edwards.
After a great deal of discussion, council passed a motion to immediately purchase four refurbished self-contained breathing apparatus’ (SCBA’s) which includes the pass alarms for $3,000 each that is required as a minimum number in Schedule ‘A’.
This was put in a request to the County for some assistance.
“That’s a lot of money,” stated Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Annette Plachner. “I’d better check with the County and see if they’ll pay the 70 per cent of that. We can’t, that’s $12,000 dollars. That’s a lot of money.”
“What if we bought two?” suggested Plachner.
“Four is more appropriate,” said Coun. Bob Graham, saying that “Firefighters go into the fire in pairs. There needs to be two more standing prepared ready to go in.”
“I’m understanding that it’s the Alberta Fire Code that they are required to be a fully functioned fire department,” said Mayor Helton.
“That’s pretty cheap,” said Edwards. “New ones are substantially more.”
Morrin’s Fire Chief had also asked for up to $5,000 a year without having to come back to council each time for smaller essential items.
“I believe his discretion is impeccable so I’m asking council to approve this,” said Edwards. However, council did not address this issue in the motion.
Edwards provided a statement of receipts and disbursements from 2017 showing a carry over of about $13,000 and broke down what fees were received by the village for fire calls in 2017 at $19,727.
The fire chief had made an earlier suggestion to council that in most fire departments those fees automatically were allotted to the fire departments.
The 2018 statement was not yet available.
“I just want to reiterate,” stated Edwards, “They’re a volunteer department. They receive no honorariums or wages for what they do. They are better trained than a number of departments [and] they definitely practice their training. I’ve watched their training,” said Edwards, adding “They haven’t had any money for the past several years.”
Edwards felt the annual allotment was important to provide.
“If he could have that kind of money set aside or at least available to him then he could upgrade a set of turnout gear including the SCBA’s every year and not end up like this time when all of sudden you end up with 10 sets of turnout gear that have just expired,” stated Edwards.
“Let’s do the $12,000 this year plus $5,000 starting next year,” said Graham.
Council approved the $12,000 expenditure.
“The main issue,” said Mayor Helton, “is to make sure we are not deficient in equipment. It should be incumbent upon us to make sure there are no deficiencies.”
Discussing the lack of attack hoses, Edwards confirmed, “We’ve approved and the County has approved for the fire hoses but they still don’t have the hoses and right now there are not enough hoses to reach all the homes.”
Water station backup power installation
Glen Riep, Starland County’s director of municipal services, provided a schedule outlining the costs and equipment necessary for the installation of a backup power generator for the Morrin water station.
Council approved the expenditure with a total estimated cost of $127,524 with the village’s share being $63,762.
Council is waiting for a quote for the fire pump from Collicut to complete the project.
Procedural bylaw amendments
Council passed third and final reading adding to the Procedural Bylaw that all written and oral communications to council must be preceded with a written signed submission stating the name, address, phone number and must indicate what action is required.
Part 2 was amended allowing for an exception to a person wishing to make a presentation but unable to comply with the bylaw 1X.2. Requirement that states requests must be in to the CAO no later than four business days prior to the meeting.
This change allows an item by a person to be added to the agenda at the beginning of a meeting, if approved by the majority vote of council.
Coun. Graham enquired as to whether council needs to look at allowing sea-cans onto residential property as their popularity grows.
“Those are becoming more and more affordable so some people might be wanting them instead of building a garage or should that be something the village should allow?” asked Graham.
Mayor Helton said, “Size and aesthetics would have to be addressed if we changed the land use bylaw, if the village were to consider that. Some opposition to it would be the aesthetics of a sea-can.”
“If you put them out of sight in the backyard, not sitting out in front of their property, maybe,” said Edwards.
“Probably should really look at that,” said Helton. “It would be helpful as to the footprint, measurements, setbacks. I guess if we were going to consider, as a council, entertaining the idea of amending that [land use bylaw], I think we could put something in there for the aesthetics too.”
“And the size,” added Graham.
Green space and recycling bins
Mayor Howard Helton opened conversation again on a potential green space on main street.
Helton wondered if there was any interest from residents on design and ideas of what the green space should look like.
“I’d like to get community input on some ideas [from] young people – someone with that kind of talent to draw up some kind of projection to get things moving,” said Helton.
“Some people in town were commenting about communal gardens and things like that, in the past,” offered Graham.
The location of the two recycle bins was raised with a suggestion that they remain at the back of the property against the back alley.
“They were going to move them down to space at the end of the village or do we move them to the back of the lot or build a screen around them?” questioned Edwards.
“Olympic Trail property is still under their name,” said CAO Plachner, “because it’s contaminated and I talked to Municipal Affairs and if we have it [obtain title] then we have to reclaim it.”
“So is there room at the back there?” asked Helton.
“I’m going to try getting ahold of them to get them tested and just see if the contamination has dissipated through the years,” said Plachner.
“If we have to reclaim that, we’ve got $2,000. It’s something we should look at because it’s never going to go away,” she added.
Council will follow up next meeting with David Benci on costly repairs due to water breaks.
The public works foreman’s recommended once costs are provided, for a viability test on all water main valves and install two isolation valves on 2nd St. S to eliminate the necessity of shutting off water to over 50 properties should a leak occur again.
“We’ll have to get a quote from MPE Engineering,” said CAO Plachner. “I think we might have to put that out to tender.”
Benci also told council that notifying residents of emergencies by calling on the phone or posting a flyer on their door is inefficient and time-consuming when there are many other things to be concerned about.
He suggested using an email list, auto-phone message or the Morrin Discussion Group as a better means.
“That would go along with when he [Benci] starts working up to that guideline for a policy,” said Mayor Helton. “Those kinds of things would go into that.”