Stettler handibus eliminates one vehicle

Written by Stu Salkeld

The Stettler handibus service has decided to eliminate one vehicle they say wasn’t able to financially break even. 

The information was given to Stettler town council at their regular meeting Nov. 17.

Councillors heard a presentation from the Stettler & District Handibus Society, including their financial statement and a request for an operating grant for 2021.

It was stated at the meeting the handibus service, which offers travel for people with mobility issues, had three vehicles operating but the organization has decided to get rid of the small van service. 

It was stated at the meeting the small van service was losing about $10,000 a year.

During the presentation Mayor Sean Nolls asked if the group has seen a ridership drop, and it was stated that there has been a bit of a decline in handibus use as it appears seniors are not going out as much.

Nolls added that the handibus service is very important to Stettler and area. Councillors heard that in a recent year the handibus provided 6,811 rides.

Council accepted the staff recommendation to accept the Stettler & District Handibus Society 2021 operating budget as presented, and further approve a contribution to the society in the amount of $25,000 to be included in the Town’s 2021 operating budget.

Boys and girls club

Councillors also hosted a delegation from the Heartland Youth Centre (HYC), which offers the Boys and Girls Club service and the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. 

The group presented their request for funding for the 2021 year.

The group stated 2020 was a very challenging year for the Heartland Youth Centre, as the pandemic forced closure to the public in March but kept in touch with their client families. The organization was able to re-open to the public in June.

They also stated they feel they’ve been very responsible with the money granted them by the town.

Council accepted the staff recommendation to accept the Heartland Youth Centre 2021 operating budget as presented, and further approve a contribution to the HYC in the amount of $50,000 to be included in the Town’s 2021 Operating Budget. 

Committee recommendations

Town Chief Administrative Officer Greg Switenky presented councillors with two recommendations from recent Committee of the Whole meetings that involved adapting to the pandemic and tweaking holidays traditions a bit.

First, the committee recommended the funds usually spent on the town staff Christmas party, $7,500, instead be donated to the Festival of Lights event which raises funds for the Stettler hospital. 

Councillors unanimously approved this recommendation.

The second recommendation was to try to give as many town staff as possible a five day holiday break. Switenky noted the town office must be open some days between Christmas and New Year’s because the property tax deadline is Dec. 31.

Councillors unanimously approved observing five consecutive days of closure during the 2020 holiday season with essential and emergency services being maintained during that time.

Business license fees

Switenky presented councillors with the 2021 proposed business license fees. 

“The last change to the Business License Bylaw 1807-99 was in November 2013, which increased the business license fees from $325 to $350 for non-resident and from $125 to $150 for resident businesses,” stated the memo to council.

Mayor Nolls observed Stettler’s business license fees are about average compared to surrounding communities. 

“I always love the comparison to other communities,” said Nolls. 

It was noted that Stettler business licenses for residents include membership to the board of trade, the only community in the region that offers that.

Councillors unanimously set the 2021 business license fees as the same rate as 2020.

Happy pets in Stettler

Switenky also presented councillors with the proposed 2021 dog and cat license fees. It was stated staff recommended fees stay the same as 2020. 

Councillors unanimously agreed.

 

Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.