The COVID-19 Grinch isn’t going to affect one major holiday celebration in the Stettler region: Moonlight Madness, which will go ahead Friday, Nov. 27.
Stettler town council heard a report about the 2020 event at their regular council meeting Oct. 20.
During his regular report to council, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Greg Switenky noted plans are underway for the popular annual Main Street Christmas event. “(I attended the) initial planning session for the 2020 Moonlight Madness promotion and tree lighting celebration,” noted Switenky in his report to council. An enormous Christmas tree is lit up that night for the yuletide at the intersection of 50th Street (Main Street) and 49th Ave.
“New this year (to support social distancing) will be the closure of Main Street to traffic during the evening. Stettler’s annual kick-off to the holiday season will be held on Friday, November 27.”
Mayor Sean Nolls stated he saw a bright side to the pandemic measures, as having Main Street open only to pedestrians may encourage shoppers to spend more time walking around. “I think it’s going to be awesome,” said Nolls.
Nolls also noted he hoped to see some signage showing people clearly where they could park and where washrooms were located.
Coun. Gord Lawlor noted Banff tried something similar to this and found that it did indeed increase shopping.
Councillors conducted their annual organizational meeting, including approving the deputy mayor rotation and other committee assignments.
Councillors spent some time discussing the citizen recognition committee. CAO Switenky explained the committee meets when necessary and includes two members at large from the community, who are recruited, again, when necessary.
Parkland library system
Councillors approved the Parkland Regional Library budget for 2021. The budget remains the same size as 2020 and is based on a per capita system.
Coun. Lawlor, who represents Stettler on the library board, stated the group has done a remarkable job adapting to the pandemic, and is currently moving into its new building which was completed on time and on budget.
Mayor Nolls noted Parkland is an important resource for Stettler as it provides resources in many different ways to users. Lawlor agreed, noting government is providing more and more services through the library system.
Arena fee option
Councillors approved a new membership option at the Stettler Rec Centre, a six-month membership. Switenky presented a report to council prepared by Brad Robbins, manager of Rec and Culture.
Robbins noted in his report that the six month option fits in nicely with Stettler’s winter season, and could prove to be a popular option for local residents looking to keep busy over the winter.
The six month membership is child (3-8 years of age) $145.25, student (9-17 years of age) $197, adult $218, senior $197 and family $557.
While discussing monthly revenue and expenses, Switenky pointed out to council that the municipal campground is still open and being used. He stated the campers aren’t tourists but rather contractors working in town.
Town hall meeting
Both Nolls and Switenky reported attending a meeting with Municipal Affairs minister Tracy Allard, mainly to discuss proposed changes to oil and gas assessment that could affect rural municipalities.
Nolls noted Allard’s approach seems very grassroots and he appreciated the fact Allard’s presentation didn’t seem scripted. “Sometimes the script is just too rigid,” said the mayor.
During committee reports Coun. Wayne Smith reported attending a Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) meeting, where dispersal of FCSS funds were being discussed.
He said the financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic on community groups was quite disturbing.
Coun. Scott Pfeiffer agreed.
No more ‘Badlands’
At several points in the meeting councillors noted the Stettler Regional Board of Trade had voted in favour of leaving the Canadian Badlands regional tourism group.
Pfeiffer noted the BOT plans to redirect the money previously spent on membership into promoting Stettler.
Councillors examined regular reports from town managers, including Leann Graham, director fo Planning and Development. Mayor Nolls again saw a silver lining in some otherwise disappointing news.
Nolls stated that, even though development permits are down this year, residential building permits are actually up over 2019.
He noted residential permits were up almost 2.5 times over last year, so it shows Stettler is still open for the construction business.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter