A request from Castor Fire Chief Pat Kelly was discussed by council at their regular meeting on Tues. March 23.
The Castor Fire Department requested that council consider purchasing a 20’ enclosed cargo trailer with a 7,000 pound axle and tracking on the floor and walls to secure items safely.
The department currently has a regional response trailer but over the years they have added items to it, making it full to the brim, therefore overloaded.
The county maintenance shop has repaired the hitch frame once and replaced the whole hitch another time.
It was recommended by the county welder and foreman to lighten the load.
Unfortunately, that would leave valuable life-saving equipment at the fire hall during calls.
“We do not know what exactly every call will entail until on scene and have discovered that new and better equipment to do our job safely and need it onsite.
“We would propose splitting up the equipment between two trailers to enable an effective response to emergencies,” stated Kelly in his letter to council.
Castor’s fire department receives $20,000 from the county each year but it was explained that the money is used for equipment breakdowns and expensive maintenance work to keep existing equipment up to safety standards.
In addition, a group of firefighters completed the MFR course, which cost the department $9,500.
“Currently we do not have enough funds in our day-to-day operations and the purchase of a trailer is outside of our ability,” he concluded.
Council agreed to supply an enclosed cargo trailer for a price of $17,500.
They also requested an inventory check be done to see what equipment they have.
The Castor Library got a $2,500 boost after council agreed to increase their annual donation of $5,000 to $7,500 for 2021.
According to Board Chair Lynn Sabo, the purpose of the funds is to increase their level of service from that of previous years by including services such as programming, computer assistance, photocopying and book recommendations.
Monica Faupel and Peter Stone of Ascend LLP Chartered Professional Accountants (formerly Endeavor Accounting) visited council to go over the 2020 financial statements.
Faupel commended county staff on their willingness and hospitality while undergoing the audit process during the height of the pandemic.
“It brought a different dynamic to the office,” she said.
There were no changes in records and consistency from prior years.
For highlights, the county is officially free of any long-term debt after paying off the last of these payments last year.
Faupel indicated she does not ‘anticipate any major surprises moving forward’.
Responsibility for gates
Based on the County Roadside Mowing Program, the county has not identified who – landowner or county – is responsible for gates that may get hit by mowers during summer months.
There was a situation where the gate was hit three different times but Jeff Cosens, environmental services director explained that the gate was also lying in the grass, making it hard to find before it’s too late.
He suggested to council that they make a policy rather than leave this up to the discretion of the environmental services director.
If the county assumes responsibility of fixing the gate, they will then send out an employee to fix it. If it falls on the landowner then it will be on their time and dime to repair it.
Council passed a motion to include in County Policy ESA 005 Roadside Spraying and Mowing that the responsibility of the landowner’s gate if left in the county ditch and gets entangled with the mower lies solely with the landowner.
Recognition of service, retirement
Council passed a couple of motions showing recognition for a long-term staff member at the county.
The first was to reward retiring individuals and recognize long-term service and dedication to the County of Paintearth as per County Policy HR 011 Recognition of Service.
Council also agreed to reward the individual for their long-term service and dedication to the County of Paintearth No. 18 as per County Policy HR 012 Retirement.
The one employee has worked for 14 and a half years at the county, becoming eligible for a cash gift of $100 per year they have served.
As for 10 years and over, retirees get a cash gift at $500 per year for years served as well as an engraved watch and a $100 certificate for dining out.
One item within the Rural Municipalities Association (RMA) newsletter that stuck out to county administration included a resolution from three years ago that is reaching expiration.
This particular resolution happened to be one the County of Paintearth made during the spring convention in 2018 which addressed the regulation of wind energy at the provincial level.
Council still feels the same about the issue, highlighting that the majority of municipalities were in favour at the time to pursue this resolution.
With the recent increase in wind energy developments throughout Alberta, they found there is a need for the province to set standards around land development faced by rural municipalities and landowners.
“Therefore be it resolved the RMA request the Government of Alberta to undertake the creation of a renewable energy division within the AER to approve, regulate and enforce the responsible development, reclamation and assessment of renewable energy projects in the province of Alberta.”
The resolution also seeks to have these types of energy projects be formally corporately approved and be construction ready projects that are not speculative or conditional in any way as well asl having the government set up and enforce monetary fund collection towards the Orphan Renewable Energy Fund to oversee potential future reclamation of abandoned renewable energy sites.
Council passed a motion to have administration contact RMA to ascertain the status of the resolution and future course of action to undertake on the resolution.