A special meeting was called by Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Quinton Flint on Thurs. Aug. 20 to address the pressing issue of radio equipment for emergency personnel such as fire and ambulance on a local scale.
It was reported at the meeting that the radios have been down for over three months throughout 2020 which is far beyond the required standards.
Normally, the standards allow for a very slim margin of downtime for normal maintenance but not a lot of time for complete failure.
“We failed that horribly,” said CAO Flint.
He urged council to consider replacing all current equipment as it has reached its end of life after roughly 15 years.
The only salvageable CAO Flint could pinpoint on the old equipment was the antenna.
“Nothing on that system I will trust. With the way the things have been built in the past, it really does worry me as a CAO and a DEM (Director of Emergency Management). It puts our community at risk. The system is not secure for us to run.”
“Right now we are limping. The system is working but is not giving us a lot of legroom if it fails,” said CAO Flint.
“It’s a big issue,” echoed Mayor Mark Stannard.
The quote given for $62,000 would be split between Halkirk, Castor, Coronation and the County of Paintearth.
The county also gives $20,000 each year to Coronation fire department services which the town hasn’t used for the past two years, leaving $40,000 which they believe they will use in this case either towards the tower or equipment.
Council authorized $17,000 be spent on equipment to begin.
The second piece was determining what direction to go in for a tower.
Current equipment is situated on the water tower but CAO Flint stated that getting to the equipment for regular maintenance is difficult to do.
A few discussions have taken place with Coronation School as they have a tower on their property but the length of the tower was too short at only 25 ft tall when standards are supposed to be at 150 ft tall.
Council was presented with six options.
One is to go with the only bid from Bears Com for $109,595 to build their own tower for which could be paid off by renting out space, creating a new form of revenue.
The second is to rent a space from neighbouring towers like Telus or Rogers south of town or rent from Vital networks tower or CCI Networks.
Council was leaning towards CCI Networks as they expect a low monthly cost but are still in negotiations on pricing.
The only issue pointed out was that the town would have to put in a panel box at the base of the tower which requires permission from landowners as the company is leasing the area.
CAO Flint reiterated the need for a decision sooner rather than later as he said “We need to get something done. We don’t know if the system will be down tomorrow or not.”
As for the cellphone towers, it’s expected to take between six and eight months to get permission to rent and install.
CAO Flint asked to have a motion to continue pursuing this topic, hoping to get more direction from the six councillors.
Council was inclined to go with renting from CCI Networks but asked to have more definitive numbers before making a decision. They also asked Flint to go look at getting more quotes from other companies to compare prices to Bear Com about building their own tower.
Council began their meeting with an in-camera session regarding the local campground.
It lasted for approximately 35 minutes.
No motions were passed but council asked for more information.
ATCO Franchise fee
Council passed a motion to move forward by keeping the franchise fee rates the same as this year.
As a requirement of ATCO Electric, the Distribution Revenue Forecast for 2021 franchise fee was presented to council for changes if they wished
The fee will remain at 3.75 per cent for a total of $1,065 for the 2020 and 2021 year.
In order for any progress to be made on the RCMP lot, an easement was found from 1965 that needs to be removed first.
Administration has been in contact with Roger Spady and the RCMP legal team, and currently, the land sale is stalled due to an easement set up on the property from 1965.
They went through history books but couldn’t figure out what it was for.
The most likely guess had something to do with the train tracks that used to be nearby being set up for a rail company.
CAO Flint asked permission from council to have the easement removed from the property to continue with the sale of the land to the RCMP for the new detachment.
Council agreed, carrying a motion to proceed with the easement discharge and continue with the sale of the land to the RCMP through Mr. Spady.