On Sept. 21., council received a delegation from Carmen Meger regarding the amount of ice time during the winter season.
Meger explained how the Bashaw Minor Hockey Association would like to start practicing by Sept. 14 next year in order to remain viable compared to other centres.
These other centres have the ice in earlier which has been attracting players away from their hometown in search of extended ice time.
Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Theresa Fuller explained the complex nature of the facility and how it operates.
One of the challenges expressed was the scheduling of public skating and shinny hockey as they aim to keep everything consistent.
“From the outside looking in, it looks like it’s sitting a lot but the truth of the matter is that they are sitting a lot during the daytime from like 9 till 3 because everybody is in school,” said Fuller.
Another issue was staffing challenges as the town makes sure to have a presence focused on the evening when activity is high.
“Right now we dedicate staff to the evenings when there is actually people in the arena so there is a lot of moving parts to it. It’s kind of like a duck on the water, the legs are going furiously underneath the water,” said Fuller.
Meger replied, “I get that but in the same token I know when my kid’s practices are and I don’t understand how as somebody that has to run the rink as an attendant doesn’t – you guys obviously know the ice slots that are already happening.”
Fuller explained that they have weekly practice slots booked and confirmed. They wait a specific period of time before everything is confirmed to save from extra work in the long run if something were to change.
“Until we get actually signed agreements from individuals, we don’t consider them set in stone because we have had situations where we received some signing agreements asking for all of these time slots, asking for tournament dates. We get them all set up in our calendar and then two days later they call us and change all of them,” said Fuller.
Electricity was the main problem council would have to look at as well as staffing.
“I’m just throwing it out there that if there is empty ice at some point, somebody has got to know when this is all scheduled in rather than it sit there and burn power and not make any money,” said Meger.
The rink rates have not been adjusted in two years. CAO Fuller mentioned that council may be in need of reevaluating the rates in the coming months as well. The arena runs on a $50,000 deficit offset by taxes.
This year is expected to reach closer to $100,000 after renovations but much of the renovation costs will be covered under a provincial grant.
Meger wishes to see a new arena in his lifetime but was doubtful.
“We need to promote it, we have a brand new school. I get the operating expenses but if we don’t – I’m not going to lie, I don’t know how it works but if we don’t try and make money at it, of course, we are going to be at a deficit every year.”
The councillors jumped into the conversation saying that most arenas run on deficits. Lead Foreman Murray Holroyd mentioned that the town attempted this early rink time a few years ago which had problems sustaining itself as temperatures fluctuated.
“We had to run sprinklers on the roof just to keep the condensers cool,” said Holroyd. “We’ve done some upgrades since then so I am not sure how it would work but they do run pretty steady.”
Council will be generating next year’s budget with the release of the interim budget in December. A finalized version will be available in March.
When the budget is being created, council and staff will have more opportunity to discuss what can be done about this issue.
“That date is a huge one for me, I could care less about the rest, that date I want. That’s all I’m gunning for,” said Meger.
Council agreed to take Meger’s presentation in as information and consider an earlier time frame for the ice to be put in.
Area waste management system
Mayor Grant Creasey of Lacombe sent a letter of correspondence to the town which was brought to attention at the biweekly meeting.
A new type of waste management technology developed by Sustaine Technologies Inc. has seen much success in Nova Scotia with talk of expanding into central Alberta.
The letter outlined that the plant is designed to transform up to 70,000 tonnes of waste per year into 35,000 tonnes of Sustaine biomass pellets, 3.5 million litres of synthetic diesel fuel and recyclable metals.
This plant would increase landfill diversion rates for municipalities in the area by over 90 per cent.
In order to make this dream a reality, 150,000 residents are needed to keep the plant operational all year round.
Council felt this was ‘worthy enough to listen to them some more’ so they asked to have administration see about getting a representative out to present and provide more information on the new plant.
Council accepted the letter as information.
Fortis and ATCO franchise fees remain
Franchise fees are a way for municipalities to collect funds from the rental population which applies to the income of the municipal budget, specifically the operating portion.
The fees within the town budget are reflected as income and assist with keeping taxation lower.
CAO Fuller mentioned that other communities like Crossfield and Beiseker have held off from using a franchise fee, having it set at 0 per cent while Alix sits at 18 per cent.
Many found the franchise fee to be a hidden tax but this can now be found on your electric bill.
No money was urgently needed at the time of the meeting so council moved to keep the Fortis franchise fee at 3 per cent. ATCO’s franchise fee was higher, coming in at 15 per cent.
The town was expected to make $44,683 in 2019 through this fee.
Council made a motion to leave this fee at its percentage as well.
Driver feedback sign turned down by Bashaw
The Village of Clive has decided to purchase a driver feedback sign come 2019.
They have approached both the Village of Alix and Town of Bashaw to see about sharing the cost in turn for usage of the sign for four months out of the year.
Councillors questioned the necessity of having such a sign in a quiet town.
“It seems to me with the volume of traffic I think we have in town – do we really need it, would be my question,” said Deputy Mayor Rosella Peterman.
After deliberation, council came to a consensus to decline the offer to split the driver feedback sign between three communities.
“We appreciate their consideration,” said Mayor Penny Shantz.