County of Stettler council agreed to pay the majority of funds needed to repair two community facilities that suffered sudden water damage this past winter.
The decision was made at the regular council meeting April 22.
Councillors attended the meeting through teleconference, while Reeve Larry Clarke and county staff were streamed live on the municipal YouTube channel.
Two items were presented to council on their agenda, Donalda Emergency Recreation Funding and Botha Emergency Recreation Funding, that were similar in nature.
Two community facilities suffered unexpected water damage, noted memos written by Lorraine Hankins, manager of Recreation and Insurance.
“On Feb. 22, 2020, one of the Donalda Agriculture Society members checked on the Donalda Equestrian Centre to discover the lobby and kitchen area to be much like the inside of an exhaust pipe,” stated Hankins in the Donalda memo.
“Upon inspection of the furnace, it was discovered that the filter on the humidifier had plugged and all water was backing up into the heat exchanger causing fumes to come out of the heat vents.
Due to the high cost to replace the heat exchanger and the labour involved on an older furnace, the recommendation was to replace the furnace.
The expenses that the Donalda Agricultural Society incurred as a result of the furnace breaking down included Action Plumbing and Heating (new high-efficiency furnace) $2,940.”
Hankins noted it was up to council to decide if or how this request should be funded and it would come out of the 2020 Emergency Reserves account if paid.
“The balance at the end of 2019 is $48,080.35,” stated Hankins.
She explained in a second memo that the Botha situation was somewhat similar.
“On Jan. 20, 2020, one of the Botha Community Centre directors checked on the Botha Community Hall and discovered water was pouring out of the wall in the men’s washroom,” stated Hankins in her second memo.
“Upon further investigation, it was discovered that the starter motor had seized in the furnace on the north side of the building, resulting in the urinal pipe freezing and bursting during the extreme cold weather in mid-January.
The expenses that Botha Community Centre incurred as a result of the furnace breaking down included Action Plumbing and Heating (repair of furnace and pipe) $1,265.68 and County of Stettler (water bill) $199.65.”
She added that this also, if approved by council, would come out of the 2020 Emergency Reserves.
Councillor’s debate centered around the issue of whether community groups already receive funding for requests such as these through the regional rec boards.
Coun. Les Stulburg noted requests similar to these have been funded in the past but felt that in hindsight those were errors.
Stulburg noted county rec boards already provide groups with funding and paying for these kinds of damages doesn’t encourage groups to perform proper monitoring and maintenance.
He stated the county probably needs to put this thinking in a formal policy.
Coun. Cheri Neitz asked if groups receive rec funding, couldn’t that funding be used for these requests?
County CAO Yvette Cassidy noted that both groups are members of County of Stettler rec boards but she couldn’t say whether requests like these two had been funded 100 per cent in the past.
Coun. Ernie Gendre stated he felt the groups should pay for the repairs out of their rec board funding. Coun. Dave Grover agreed with Gendre.
Coun. Wayne Nixon agreed with Stulberg that the county could pay at least part of these requests and perhaps also encourage groups to fundraise to help cover repair costs.
Councillors passed, by a 5 to 2 vote, a motion that the County of Stettler pay 80 per cent of the requested repair costs.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter