The matter of CAO Annette Plachner looking after her grandson at the village office was brought forward once again at Morrin’s April 18 council meeting.
Councillors M’Liss Edwards and Bob Graham have indicated they have no problem with the practice.
“It’s not something that’s isolated to the Morrin community,” said Coun. Graham. “I see it happening all over the place. These are public places.”
“It is a public building,” agreed Edwards. “Anybody else can walk in and sit here in a public building.”
Graham added, “I think it’s nice to see young kids here. I don’t think they should be shooed away.”
Mayor Helton countered, “My point is not that they should be shooed away. My biggest point was that I was never allowed to actually discuss it at council. I couldn’t come here and express my thoughts to council about it.”
Helton continued, “For a long time it was a situation where it was actually babysitting to save costs for someone. I didn’t approve of that.
“In my view, it was using public village time and resources to provide a service that saved someone else from having to pay for childcare.”
Council discussed finally putting the issue to rest with a formal motion.
“A motion is fine for me,” Helton stated. “That’s all I ever wanted. Just to talk about it and have my opinion expressed publicly to this council, which I was refused for a year and a half. It’s well documented.”
Councillor M’Liss Edwards tabled a motion that it is acceptable for a child to be, for a short time, in the village office building in the presence of an adult.
The motion was carried with Mayor Helton opposing.
Municipal Accountability Program
A letter to council from Alberta Municipal Affairs outlining the new Municipal Accountability Program (MAP) was reviewed.
Designed for municipalities with a population of 5,000 or fewer residents, MAP will provide assistance to assure that municipalities have well-managed, collaborative and accountable local governments and help support municipalities with their legislative compliance.
Working collaboratively with the CAO, a customized report will be provided, identifying areas of compliance and any areas of concern to avoid concerns developing into significant problems.
According to Municipal Affairs, the program will be available to approximately 73 percent of Alberta municipalities with one-quarter of eligible municipalities participating in any given year.
CAO Plachner indicated that Morrin has been selected for the first round of MAP participation.
As yet, no date has been set.
Council agreed that they need to continue gathering information regarding the impending legalization of cannabis before any decisions can be made for Morrin.
Originally planned to come into effect on July 1, delays in finalizing the legislation for cannabis legalization suggests that retails sales won’t begin across Canada until August or later.
According to Mayor Helton, “This will give us a chance to look at it a little more in depth before making those changes in our bylaws.”
He went on to comment on concerns regarding the distances from schools and public buildings and the need to collect input from residents at a public meeting before making any firm decisions regarding the cannabis issue.
“There are a number of issues that actually the local council, being us, has jurisdiction over and can make those decisions,” stated Helton, “So we have to look at that. And does the public want some input? Have they some ideas?”
Council will continue to gather information before arranging a public meeting to gather public input.
The proposed amendment to Land Use Bylaw 345 received second and final readings after a public hearing.
Bylaw 358, amends portions of the development permit application process.
Donna Peloquin informed council of her intent to pursue a new business venture in Morrin’s old post office building located next door to the village office.
Hoping to open a new restaurant at the location, Peloquin came to inquire what village requirements she needed to comply with before proceeding with the venture.
A copy of the land use bylaw and a development permit application will be provided.
Due to changes in the Municipal Government Act, Morrin’s Code of Conduct and Ethics policy will need to be made over into a bylaw.
Council directed CAO Plachner to draft a new bylaw to be brought to council for consideration at a future meeting.
CAO Plachner was also directed to compile a report regarding village water rates for review at the next council meeting.
Council agreed to sign a responsibility agreement with Starland concerning the county’s municipal firefighting vehicle permit.
A recent audit identified a deficiency in Starland’s required paperwork.
Involving no changes to current operating procedures, the agreement identifies the shared responsibility regarding regulatory compliance with the Traffic Safety Act.
CAO Plachner reported that Morrin has been approved for the Summer Temporary Employment Program (STEP) grant.
The STEP grant will provide a $7 per hour subsidy to employers to hire high school or post-secondary students into summer jobs.