Four of Hanna’s JC Charyk School students Kyler Bond, Elizabeth Brady, Sullivan Buchwitz and Addison Viste came to Hanna council chambers Tues. March 8 to talk about approving a temporary program to allow chickens on school property.
After some discussion and questioning, it was decided by council to approve the request, giving the school and Project Based Learning Group to care for and raise 30 birds for meat raising purposes on JC Charyk School property between April and June 2022.
Four conditions were implemented including the specific reiteration of the trial period being from April to June 2022, ensuring the students are responsible for the birds and that they will provide a letter to residents of neighbouring properties surrounding the school to advise them of the project. Any concerns from residents can be directed to the school.
“The Agriculture Society Fall Fair is another one that has animals, 4-H presentations, so there are many other exemptions that occur on a regular basis and I think this is in our best interest to approve this,” Coun. Sandra Murphy.
The purpose of the birds is to raise them for meat where it is intended they will be butchered at the Hutterite colony as part of the student’s option to create their own project.
The project is about teaching entrepreneurship skills through the process of raising animals properly.
Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Kim Neill reminded council that this exception is different from changing the bylaw but rather only gives permission on a trial basis.
If successful, administration is open to hearing about allowing chickens in residential areas where the community would be engaged to share their opinions in time for the Land Use Bylaw review.
Council passed the motion to allow the project to take place with Coun. Gerald Campion being the sole opposer.
SPCA operating grant
The Hanna SPCA Board decided to dissolve the society as of Dec. 31, 2021, and upon the announcement of their upcoming dissolution, a group of interested citizens formed with the intent to keep this service available in the Town of Hanna.
Trevor Kerr, the new president of the Hanna SPCA, attended the Feb. 8, 2022, council meeting and provided council with an update on the transition from the original group to the new group including a proposed name change to Harvest Sky Animal Rescue.
During this presentation, the Society provided a proposed budget which showed an operating deficit of $2,424.16 which included an operating grant of $5,000 from the Town of Hanna.
In the past the Town of Hanna has provided the Hanna SPCA with an operating grant which has ranged from $5,000 to $15,000.
In the last few years the contribution from the Town to the Society has been $5,000.
During the 2022 operating budget discussions an operating grant to the SPCA was not included as at that time it was anticipated that there would be no SPCA operating in 2022.
Administration is recommending that council provide the Hanna SPCA with an operating grant in the amount of $7,424.16 in 2022 with the funds derived from Accumulated Surplus which would make the Society’s proposed 2022 budget balanced.
Council passed a motion to provide this larger amount to the new Harvest Sky Animal Rescue from accumulated surplus as presented.
Arena Condenser replacement
Council accepted the proposal from Frey Consulting Ltd. for the Town of Hanna arena condenser replacement for $126,000 plus tax with the funds being derived from the Town’s 2022 Capital Budget.
During the 2022 – 2024 budget process, administration included $150,000 to replace the condenser at the Hanna Arena as it has reached its end of life use.
This project and the anticipated budget amount were approved by council at their Dec. 14, 2021 council meeting.
Due to the anticipated cost of the condenser replacement and the provincial requirement to openly source large capital projects administration prepared a Request for Proposals.
By deadline, seven proposals from five different companies were received.
Administration recommended using Frey Consulting Ltd. as they had the highest overall evaluation score and have a good rapport with the town and local contractors.
The company proposed to replace the existing air-cooled condenser with a new adiabatic condenser for $126,000 plus tax which is under budget.
Administration suggested council should keep the budgeted amount at 150,000 for contingency which they agreed to keep.
Administration also submitted a request for funding from Special Areas for 50 per cent of the cost which administration shared they were optimistic Special Areas will agree to support but have not officially heard back as of yet.
Town administration received several questions from council members since the inception of the 2021- 2025 council term regarding what the monthly honorarium covers, meeting per diems, etc.
Upon review, there was not a policy which provided direction on this matter.
It appeared that a previous council established the parameters for honorarium, per diems, allowances, etc. and as various councils over the years made changes they were implemented into those guidelines.
If a council member is assigned to a regional board/committee that compensates their representatives the councillor is entitled to keep that remuneration in addition to their monthly honorarium while if a councillor is assigned to a regional board/committee that typically meets outside the Town of Hanna boundaries that does not provide an honorarium, the town has paid them a per diem for that meeting attendance.
With the onset of COVID, some of the committees the town typically has provided a per diem to attend such as PEP and Red Deer River Municipal Users Group have been meeting virtually.
This has been a grey area for administration as the councillor is in town so, according to the guidelines, wouldn’t receive a per diem but sometimes these meetings are more than four hours so an argument can be made that the councillor should receive compensation.
In addition, council made some changes to the 2022 Budget regarding their remuneration including the addition of a training allowance ($2,000/councillor/year) and have increased the technology allowance from $250/year/councillor to $800/year/councillor.
Council reviewed information supplied by administration at their Feb. 23, 2022 Council Information Meeting.
Administration prepared a Council Remuneration Policy which council agreed to have to give council compensation retroactive to Oct. 26, 2022 when council was first elected.
The intent of the policy is to provide guidelines for the provision of remuneration to elected officials through honorarium, per diem rates, expenses, benefits, technology allowance and professional development.