Smoking bylaw gains detailed feedback

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The smoking bylaw, which had passed first reading, had many observers but no one with input on how the bylaw should be set up during its public hearing held on Wed. Sept. 12.

Council passed second reading and launched into discussion on some changes that could be done including definitions of what a public space is.

The main focus of the conversation was what the bylaw would look like as a strict cannabis consumption bylaw which excludes tobacco and alcoholic products. Tobacco and alcohol would still fall under other legislation known as the Smoking and Tobacco Consumption Act.

Prescribed distances to smoke like being 10 metres away from playgrounds and arenas were taken out so anyone can smoke beside a building.

County-owned property was added to the list of public spaces as well. A nuisance bylaw will come into effect if the smell of the cannabis is too overpowering.

Campground and golf courses act the same as council does not wish to ‘dictate how they run their business.’

The provincial government will be determining religious freedom as some ceremonies require the plant.

Administration added that the bylaw can be amended to allow this provincial legislation of religious ceremony rather than coming up with separate legislation that could be overruled later on. The legislation states: “Nothing in this bylaw abrogates or derogates from the rights of persons of aboriginal ancestry from participating in their cultural or spiritual practices.”

Councillor Ernie Gendre felt this was a way for people to escape regulations entirely.

“I would like to see it removed and if they want to challenge it, they challenge it. I think there should be no preference to anyone else over anyone else by law,” said Gendre.

Administration warned that the county would be going against federal law and that the most stringent of laws are what is followed or laws that are most relaxed.

“Freedom of religion is under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms so regardless of what religion you are, whether you are aboriginal or not, you’re ability to practice your religion would fall under the parameters of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms but this is specifically referring to the use of cannabis in a spiritual practice. It is something that some of the aboriginal cultures have indicated is necessary for their spiritual things,” said Shawna Benson, Legislative Services Advisor.

Coun. Wayne Nixon disagreed with Gendre as he felt there would be no problems with the current clause.

“I don’t think it will be an issue. I say we leave it in the federal legislation,” said Nixon.

Nixon made a motion to include the clause until more research has been conducted before third reading which was carried.

Once the bylaw is amended to add these changes, the public will have a chance to share their views one more time before third reading on October 10.

“We have to make this work as best we can for us to totally for everyone,” said Nixon.

Council meets new managing librarian

Stettler’s new managing librarian, Rhonda O’Neill, came to Stettler County Council chambers during the second half of the meeting to introduce herself.

Jane Skocdopole, chair of the library board, gave a heartwarming introduction on her behalf and gave a brief explanation as to why O’Neill made the perfect fit for Stettler.

“First of all, when we met Rhonda, when hiring her we were very impressed, we immediately thought this was a really good candidate to manage our library and then I phoned her references and by the third reference we didn’t need any more because there was nothing more that we could say,” said Skocdopole.

She has worked in Lacombe as a Library Technician, Nunavut and a long history in law libraries. Her experience and impressive references made her an easy choice for the board.

“She had mentioned that she had, you know, worked with setting up the court library in the new Calgary courthouse. When I phoned her boss who was one of her references, he said ‘Yeah, she did the whole thing. She worked with everybody and she worked with engineers, she worked with architects, she worked with designers, there is not a book there or a file there that isn’t there that wasn’t where Rhonda decided it should be.”

Erskine self-drainage pipe contract awarded

Tenders were sent out earlier this year to get a self-draining pipe as public works has found they must pump out water often. This pipe would allow the water to be pumped in the direction it is supposed to.

They received nine bidders in total but recommended a local company, Action Plumbing & Excavating Ltd., to do the work for $82,500 as it was the lowest bid.

Public Works has outlined in their tender for directional drilling so the work was not altered. A number of utilities will be in the way if they try to open up the surface to open cut it. The work was budgeted at $75,000 so this will add a strain of $7,500.

The panel of councillors decided to take money from general funding and allocate it to the project.

Rick Green, Director of Engineering and Public Works, said “I think we are okay on our overall budget. There is going to be some pluses and minuses.”

Six hookups for Pheasantback Close Waterline

Council motioned to allow the rural water extension to Pheasantback Close and to re-tender for the Omega Cemetery water project.

As of Sept. 12., the county had six confirmed rural water hookups for the rural waterline extension to Pheasantback Close with still two more possibly underway.

With the six confirmed hookups generating $90,000 in fees and a ‘ballpark’ figure of $180,000 to complete the installation, administration requires an estimated $90,000 out of the 2018 Budget Allocation of $100,000 to complete the project.

“As there is still a possibility of two more hookups, I would like to tender the project and have Council make the final decision at the Oct. 10, 2018, Council Meeting to proceed,” said Green.

The Omega Cemetery requested that council consider their application for a water hookup in 2018.

In October 2017, the county received three quotes for the installation including supply, materials and labour to the Omega Cemetery. Action Plumbing came in as the lowest bid with $17,990.

“We have spoken with Action Plumbing as the low bidder if this price would stand however Action Plumbing requested that the cost be increased to $20,000 for the installation,” continued Green.

The Rural Water Hookup fee is $15,000. The estimated cost for installation is $20,000 leaving an estimated cost to the County of approximately $5,000, which could be funded out of the estimated remaining 2018 Budget allocation of $10,000.

Green explained the tender was back to council for reconsideration as the prices have gone up as the previous estimate is over a year old. The workers are anxious to get the line in before the weather changes.

 

Terri Huxley

ECA Review

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