Mark Sproule, Lacombe County Senior Peace Officer, offered their quarterly enforcement activity report to Alix Council on Wed. Nov. 21.
Numbers indicated crime has gone down to a degree in some areas but Sproule reminded council of the benefits of having residents calling in any sort of crime no matter how big or small.
Each crime that is reported but unsolved diminishes what is called a clearance rate.
The lower the clearance rate the more likely extra law enforcement will be stationed in the area to bring this clearance rate back up.
One statute that was recently amended was the Alberta Gaming, Liquor, and Cannabis Act.
The government added rules on cannabis in vehicles, minors and growing and smoking prohibitions which county officers now have authority to enforce under provincial rule.
“As with most municipalities, we were right to the gun there as far as trying to get it in on time and we managed to have all those authorities amended and done in October,” said Sproule.
The Lacombe County standards bylaw was also amended to reflect the recent legalization of cannabis. They will be treating the substance like they do alcohol.
Officers are now allowed to use a provincial charge to enforce a local bylaw to avoid prosecution costs as well.
“It’s going to be a benefit to all of the municipalities where its $800 or more for the prosecution of a bylaw offense and where possible we are going to avoid and move with a provincial charge if they can to try to save you guys some money,” said Sproule.
The quarterly report is recorded from July to September but many good things have been happening for the area in recent weeks as well.
During an evening check on Halloween, the police arrested an impaired driver just outside of village limits.
The person was removed from the area and spent a 24-hour suspension to sober up as the RCMP were unable to attend and hand out a DUI charge.
Sproule also noted the importance of police visibility because this tactic is known to reduce criminal activity and traffic issues.
“In essence, by doing a proactive approach with the crime prevention by being a visible presence, we are seeing decreased stats which at the end of the day is what we want. We are achieving two goals so we are pretty happy about that,” he continued.
Council requested to expand the report by recording court time to show results more accurately.
A crime map is now available on the village website as it gives the public an insight as to what kinds of activity are happening and where the activity is happening in the area for the past two weeks.
In a previous council meeting, council asked administration to do some digging into current security camera prices.
They hope to expand their current systems to help curve crime. There are currently eight cameras which are constantly monitoring and recording.
Three companies provided quotes but the names were taken out to avoid any bias towards one company rather than the others.
Council chose the second option which included eight new cameras, two camera replacements and the option to implement two solar-powered locations for a total of $19,000.
This proposal is not set in stone as they can adjust the proposal to suit village needs.
“I would just like to say this is awesome because this is a way better option than what we were looking at initially. We are getting better coverage, better service and a lot better value,” said Deputy Mayor Tim Besuijen.
2019 Budget enters second draft
Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michelle White brought forth the second draft of next year’s budget for council review.
She mentioned several changes had been made since the previous meeting including taxes and a reduced overall assessment base by 0.2 per cent.
The mill rate remains the same making this the second year without a tax increase for residents.
The garbage disposal fees, however, have increased as they continue to offset costs.
The contract with Can Pak Environmental Inc. is up for renegotiation next year but councillors were concerned with where their recycling was truly going.
CAO White recommended an increase of $0.68 cents per month per household which would mean a total increase of $8.16 per year.
For water, CAO White recommended the per cubic metre water rate be increased $0.12 cents in 2019 as the Highway 12/21 Water Commission drafts their budget with an expected $0.12 cent increase.
The village is currently running a $33,200 deficit to offset water costs but council was still hesitant to make any changes as they would have to raise sewage prices.
Upgrades to the sewer including a new lift station is on the future horizon at a price of $1.9 million.
Although much conversation ensued, council felt they could not make any decisions at that time before further research has been made.
The draft budget will be brought forth at the next council meeting.
Alix pond hockey
The Alix Pond Hockey Association has asked council for support of the ‘very popular’ local hockey tournament held on Alix Lake.
The tentative date is set for Sat. Feb. 2, 2019.
Teams from all over Alberta have come to the village to play on four sheets of ice.
They hope to hold a round robin tournament with three games per team.
The association has requested a few things to make this tournament a success such as limited vehicle access at the lake as everyone will be moved in by bus, volunteer and sign presence at the top by the lake entrance, portable toilet access, fire pit area and a concession or food truck that will be made available.
Council agreed to send a letter of support accepting their request for when the time comes in February.