Due to safety concerns and maintaining a relatively cohesive community, council chose to turn down a request to allow for modular homes that are 10-years-old and over within the village.
A Big Valley resident recently requested the land use bylaw be amended to allow for these older style modular homes to be allowed.
At their council meeting held on Thurs. March 28, council felt that safety was the number one concern as older homes are more likely to cause problems down the road.
A written complaint was also received, warning of the dangers of allowing an older home into the village as it could possibly ‘open a pandora’s box if allowed’.
Former Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michelle White spoke with a building inspector to determine if there was any significance between a 10-year-old home and a 12 or 15-year-old home.
The inspector indicated he was not in favour of relaxing the bylaw because of energy and fire codes which change fairly often.
By having a fixed age, a municipality is ensuring the unit is not excessively outdated for compliance with all areas of the safety code.
Neighbouring municipalities are also within the eight to 10 year range. “I’m not inclined to change the bylaw,” said Mayor Sandra Schell. “I’m inclined to leave it as the 10 years due to safety codes, due to the discussion from the building inspector with what he has put forward, and the fact that we are not that out of line with any other municipality in doing what we do.”
Pump Track Park
With youth engagement at the forefront of the last municipal election, council has found a pump track park to be an excellent way of achieving these requests from youth in the area.
A pump track park is a circuit of hills and banked turns which can be used by a wide variety of skill levels.
It was originally created by the professional biker scene but these parks are known to be cheaper than average and are wheelchair, skateboard and scooter accessible.
CAO Priscilla Brown asked council how they wanted to pursue this potential idea as more clarification on direction was needed.
Council felt it was important that an outside group take the lead on the project but would support by way of finances, grant help and possibly materials and work.
Having a group that is not attached to the village was said to be beneficial as there are grants the village cannot apply for but another organization can.
“The government wants more collaboration for even getting your grant,” said Deputy Mayor Harry Nibourg. “So in order to get your grant, you’ve got to show that you are collaborating with other entities just to make it more viable.
“They don’t want to be giving individual grants to everybody. They would rather give more to a bigger group,” he concluded.
Council agreed that the partnership should entail their contributions of finding the land and maintenance on top of the previously mentioned duties but the fundraising itself would fall under the other organization or multiple organizations.
The cost to construct a park like this has a potential price tag between $125,000 and $150,000.
Under the direction of council, village staff will approach a number of local groups with this idea of fundraising and how the village would like to take on this project.
Water credit discovered
In an attempt for the new CAO to understand the Shirley McClellan Regional Water Services Commission (SMRWSC) and Big Valley’s financial relationship to it, Brown found $20,000 in credit to the village.
Numerous conversations between her and the staff team led to the discovery as “conversation and some of the reports that are produced monthly just didn’t seem to add up to me,” said Brown in her report to council.
Brown spoke with County of Stettler CAO Yvette Cassidy with her theory. She put Brown in touch with a member of their water management team and found the credit.
Since inception, water has been incorrectly metered at the SMRWSC reservoir and billed to Big Valley but they found it should be billed in Big Valley.
The meter reading is expected to be fixed in time for the next cycle.
“There are still discrepancies that I feel are out there but we are working with the people up in Stettler to figure out if it’s a Big Valley issue or if it’s a them issue,” said CAO Brown.
All of council felt the discovery was exceptional.
“That’s a great find – like huge. Well done,” said Mayor Schell.
Zero harassment tolerance
With bylaw questions and concerns on the rise, CAO Brown asked council what the village tolerates and how bylaw concerns should be carried out under responsibilities of the CAO.
Brown mentioned there had been a couple of cases in which a resident came to the office and verbally abused her and other staff members.
She drew a line in the sand and asked the individuals to leave in order to get their bearings and calm down before coming back inside.
A zero tolerance harassment policy notice has been placed on the door as a warning.
Typically, a resident would fill out a one-page bylaw complaint form but CAO Brown has found that many residents do not wish to have their name on the form.
Mayor Schell assured her that this was not the case and all that information was kept private from the public including councillors other than if it reaches court.
“We’ve said it 100 times if not a million times that yes, they have to sign their name to that form but that is not public knowledge. “That is straight up yours and it does not go any further unless it goes to court. Honestly, I think in like 30 – 40 years here, there has only ever been one case that has ever gone to court.”
Mayor Schell had called Municipal Affairs about the CAO’s responsibilities and it was determined when she was sworn in, she was immediately granted bylaw officer under the Municipal Government Act.
Council made a resolution that reinforces the power of bylaw officer to the CAO which is either complaint driven or under her discretion.