County of Paintearth Council had some more consideration towards the proposed fire bylaw after Coronation Fire Department Deputy Chief Chris Brearley sent a letter expressing concerns.
He felt that the county fire departments should have been consulted first to share their own suggestions before the bylaw was put forward.
He was also worried that the effects of this bylaw may discourage residents from calling in a fire because of the financial burden that may come attached.
“This has already been seen on a number of occasions and will inevitably become a bigger problem and is only a matter of time before someone in the community gets hurt or the damage to land and infrastructure is much greater by trying to fight and control a fire themselves,” said Brearley in his letter.
Mutual aid agreements between municipalities were also mentioned.
He said that the charges attached to sending out a County of Paintearth area department has a “bearing on whether fire departments in the County of Paintearth are being called on to assist or not.”
To alleviate this, he suggested the county consider a mutual aid agreement where neither party sends a bill out.
Although good points were raised, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michael Simpson did encourage the bylaw to come into play sooner rather than later due to the fire season already becoming apparent.
Council was also encouraged to chat with ratepayers about the bylaw before they make a final decision.
County of Paintearth resident Carmen Felzien came to council with a few questions regarding the logistics surrounding governance and wind power projects in the area with the focus of creating a dialogue between herself and council.
The Municipal Development Plan (MDP) was a recurring theme at the meeting held on May 7 as its job is to achieve beneficial economic development and to maintain and improve the quality of the environment without infringing on individual rights.
“I’m trying to discover council’s understanding and interpretation of the legislative regime,” began Felzien. She mentioned a few sections from the Municipal Government Act including the purposes, powers and capacity of municipalities section.
“The purposes of a municipality are to provide good government, to foster the well being of the environment and among other things to develop and maintain safe and viable communities,” she said.
Felzien also brought up a legislative resolution surrounding wind energy projects and their effect within counties.
“Again that is setback distances, we are talking about currently existing environmental requirements for AUC approval so my question is: How does council demonstrate leadership in your commitment to this resolution?”
CAO Simpson replied “Leadership is demonstrated through advocacy which we have done. Council has put a resolution forward to the RMA (Rural Municipality Association). They’ve taken it forward to their peers. They’ve had it vetted there. They passed it forward to the province.”
He mentioned that the week prior to the council meeting, the Canadian Wind Energy Association called the county to ask if the CAO or Reeve would offer an endorsement on the benefits of wind energy.
“You have the power to ask council to do those advocacy actions and primarily it’s been adversarial. Council is probably your biggest ally in the fight for change when it comes to higher levels of government,” said CAO Simpson.
Felzien agreed, “That is my objective coming today because we are actually all asking for exactly the same thing. We are asking for council to demonstrate leadership on these very items and I’m just asking how council sees as demonstrating that.”
The CAO brought up concerns of truly pursuing advocacy as there are large dollar amounts associated with it well as considering what the majority of taxpayers want.
“It comes with a price,” said CAO Simpson.
Felzien’s presentation was concluded after 10 minutes.
Agriculture project aims to diversify and draw investment
The Battle River Alliance for Economic Development (BRAED) has asked council for $6,900 towards a new initiative in the region which they have decided to give.
BRAED hopes to create diversity within the area when it comes to agricultural practices by possibly pursuing areas such as meat processing, pet and animal food, and functional foods.
A study was conducted in 2017 to find these fields of opportunity.
So far, five different municipalities or large organizations have contributed $10,000 each towards the project while the MD of Wainwright contributed $1,800.
They recently received a $90,500 grant to continue their value-added agricultural work.
For the fourth phase, two large projects are expected to get underway.
This includes lead generation which involves business visitation packages, fact sheet and investor meetings.
The second is listening and learning by doing an in-depth plant protein opportunity analysis and targeted marketing collateral.
Other 2019 goals are to do an in-depth research of the pan-prairie protein supercluster to understand what the national, international and industry-backed associations are looking for in terms of product, site selection, and markets.
“It’s a worthwhile cause,” said Coun. Diane Elliott.
Brownfield School sit in
Grades 4 to 7 students visited the County of Paintearth council chambers to sit in to watch their local government in action and ask a few questions afterwards.
Many great questions were asked and answered after the first delegation was conducted.
They were in attendance for approximately an hour and a half.