It was confirmed Thurs. Feb. 18 that Forestburg will be among several other communities across the province to introduce a junior firefighter program for teens aged 14-18.
During the Feb. 4, 2021 Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting, council was presented with the Junior Firefighter Program Draft Policy.
Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Dwight Dibben shared with council that he and Fire Chief Lunte collaborated on this effort and looked at several local programs across the province which they modelled this after.
Council passed the policy as presented.
“I think it’s a wonderful step in the right direction,” said Mayor Blaise Young.
A Junior Firefighter will be considered a volunteer of the Village of Forestburg Fire and Rescue Department.
If interested, parental/guardian consent and a signed waiver of claim against the Village are required acknowledging the limitations of the Village’s insurance policy as insurance and Worker’s Compensation benefits will be extended to all Junior Firefighters.
Junior Firefighters may respond to emergency incidents in the Village of Forestburg when they have reached the age of 16 and have completed their probationary period.
They, however, are not allowed to enter a contaminated atmosphere situation or enter the hot zone at an emergency incident or site.
This includes interior structure fire attacks and dangerous goods incidents.
A public hearing commenced before the regular council meeting.
A change to the local Land Use Bylaw was given first reading on Feb. 4 which introduced the adjustment to allow the height of accessory buildings to be taller than main buildings on the same property.
A mobile homeowner was concerned that they could not make an additional building on their building taller than their house as mobile homes tend to be shorter than other homes.
No submissions for disapproval or acceptance were sent in to administration prior to the meeting.
After the hearing closed, council passed second and third readings to allow heights for supplementary buildings to be taller.
As part of council, councillors have the opportunity to share happenings and topics about the community that may be outside the scope of the meeting itself in the Committee of the Whole (COW) session.
Coun. Eliane Fossen started off by mentioning the new grant Flagstaff has and that Forestburg businesses and public facilities like the arena and golf course should apply.
Council agreed, instructing administration to send out letters to ensure each group is aware of this funding.
The mayor mentioned the Friends of the Battle River Railway were in need of a letter of support so it was asked of Mayor Blaise Young as a business owner and as the high ranking municipal official to send on for their application in pursuit of grant funding.
He also posed a question to council about the village’s mask bylaw they implemented last year.
Mayor Young wished to find clarity how the village will end this bylaw whether that be on the province’s call or by having the bylaw go dormant.
Coun. Fossen shared that she felt it ‘doesn’t hurt to be there’ in case of a local outbreak. “We are here to protect the citizens,” she said.
Council felt they could amend the bylaw in coordination with the province but have it on standby in the future if needed.
More conversation is expected to take place before any solid decisions are formed.
It was asked of CAO Dibben to check in with Eastlink on how the connections are for the internet in the newest subdivision open for development.
CAO Dibben said they only need a connection point which will hook up a few different spots.
Mayor Young also asked CAO Dibben to invite Killam RCMP to council for meeting purposes after seeing a report/request from Sgt. Collin Thorn about annual priorities and policing concerns.
The mayor stated it’s been approximately three years since RCMP has visited council.
In a separate conversation dedicated to the public speaking with council in a Question and Answer period, business owner Lynn Poole asked about economic development priorities within Forestburg.
She shared that she felt the school should be a main focus for the community in terms of attraction of newcomers rather than focusing on other economic development projects like gathering information on energy, businesses and living expenses.
“If we lose the school, doing all that other stuff is mute,” she said.
“That’s why you do the other stuff,” said the Mayor.
Poole explained she is having people from out of town looking at taking over her businesses when she leaves but was discouraged by the feedback received.
“We’ve had person after person come to look at our business then leave. It gets discouraging to get that feedback all the time,” she said.
“What are you suggesting we should be doing?” asked Dep. Mayor Bob Coutts.
“Families want to see opportunities for kids in schools. There has to be some sort of connection to a more urban setting,” she began.
When comparing Forestburg’s K-12 school to others in the Flagstaff region, she suggested having a ‘truly consolidated high school to offer real extra-curricular programming’.
She added that the school trustee ‘isn’t interested in our community.’
“We need a real advocate for Forestburg,” she said.
With changes happening at the school division level, there is the possibility the trustee will speak for the entirety of Flagstaff County rather than have a couple for parts of Flagstaff as the position for the upcoming election.
Council felt they are continuing to attract and retain businesses to the area, saying economic development information collection is important as taking inventory allows for easy digestion for outside interested parties.
“We have had people come to us and we are scrambling to come up with a reference file for easy information,” said Coutts.
He asked Poole if a consolidated school in Sedgewick would be a ‘better selling point than a high school here’.
Councillors piped up saying the majority would not be bussing their children or teens to another community.
Poole said, “We need to be proactive rather than [having] a school board telling you.”