Unsightly property discussed

Bob Davidson of Drumheller came to council with a growing concern for a specific property within Delia.

Davidson noted that although he does not personally own land or pay taxes within the village, he has contributed large amounts of money towards the local school and other areas.

This was his third appearance at a council meeting in Delia.

The property owned by Eldon Hoover has been found to be unsightly by many but Starland County is still in the process of hiring a new bylaw officer, the person who enforces these rules.

Davidson is the owner of Top Waste/Peaches Portables and had expressed major interest in purchasing land within the village for his company.

He found the situation to be hypocritical by comparing Hoover’s property to his proposition.

“I can’t believe you guys put up with this. I really can’t believe it,” said Davidson.

“Would I have more of a say if I owned dirt in this town? Does anyone come forward, complain about this mess?”

Mayor David Sisley replied, “There has been some complaints and we are working on it but without a bylaw officer to enforce our bylaws it’s a little bit more difficult but we are working on it.”

Later in the meeting, Starland County had offered Delia to contract their bylaw enforcement services as the Peace Officer has officially completed their training and licensing.

Delia council chose to accept.

It is expected the village will receive roughly three hours of general patrolling per month as well as an activity report.

The contract is set at $100 per hour for this work so Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Mark Nikota has budgeted $500; three hours for patrolling and two extra hours for other work.

Enforcement is expected to begin January 2020.

In the situation of Delia’s unsightly property, safety concerns were raised.

“I hope nothing happens with a fire or vandalism or whatever over there,” said Davidson.

“You and me both,” said Sisley.

Coun. Jordan Elliott mentioned that she got along well with Hoover and offered to visit him to see about resolving this issue.

Council reiterated their intention of handling the situation by first getting bylaw involved when the officer is hired.

Utility services bylaw

In light of the Alberta Utility Commission’s (AUC) decision regarding Delia’s utility services bylaw, council reviewed five potential options to adopt to be in accordance with this decision.

In their ruling which made a portion of the bylaw invalid, they said that all water, sewer, garbage and landfill utility charges including interest in an appeal made to them were discriminatory.

This appeal was submitted by Delia business owners Heide Peterson and Yvon Fournier.

They are the owners of the Mother Mountain Tea House and Restaurant.

CAO Nikota showed council five options to alleviate this issue for all properties affected by the previous decision.

The structure of the utility bylaw has been shifted in most options by removing garbage collection and landfill fees.

Advantages to this would be to have garbage collection defined as a municipal service like snow removal as opposed to water delivery which has a fee attached.

“It’s like snow,” said Nikota.

“If there is garbage he [the public works foreman] removes it. How do we turn garbage on and off if they [residents] go away?”

The village would recoup this money from one of two ways; one to increase property taxes or to keep it under utilities and have that fee increased.

“There is a vast majority of people who pay; You are taking out of one pocket or the other,” said the CAO.

An issue with this would be that residents would no longer see a cost breakdown of their services in their property taxes.

Village cash flow could also be hindered by this method as taxes are collected once a year whereas utilities are taken in monthly.

CAO Nikota noted that many property taxes are now paid monthly, however, so the estimated cash flow loss per month to the village would be around $2,200 which was seen as manageable.

It came down to two options with both looking at new fee rates for water, sewer, garbage collection and landfill fees.

Some of the other options resulted in a deficit which both councillors present were against.

They set the wheels in motion by passing first reading, initially choosing option C, the option to remove the garbage collection fees and landfill services.

Community members are encouraged to read and give input.

Utility bylaw presentation

John Rogers, a former Delia councillor, came to council chambers to discuss parameters and press surrounding the AUC decision of their current utility services bylaw.

Rogers asked to have a closed meeting but his presentation did not fall under any of the allowable categories.

“I feel a little bit uncomfortable,” began Rogers.

“Because I am on a different side of the fence as the person sitting beside me.”

Appellant Heide Peterson was present at the meeting. “I hope I don’t offend anybody but I was very disappointed.

The bylaw that was a blunder that was made by me – It was passed while I was on council.

“Blunder isn’t really the word I would use but we’ve had other blunders too that we have had something to do about it,” he said.

Rogers brought with him an issue of the ECA Review and Drumheller Mail, both with articles on the situation.

“I’m sorry for you guys. I really am. It doesn’t put a very good name for Delia,” he continued.

He noted that the bylaw was not intended to be discriminatory to its residents.

Rogers mentioned that Hanna would be discussing this issue, as well as the rest of the province, as many have heard that other municipalities were charging for water and sewer while buildings were vacant and services were cut off, “We do our best when we are on council.

“We got 216 people in Delia and there are a couple people that we can’t please. I can tell you exactly who they are and one is sitting right next to me,” said Rogers.

“I didn’t come here to be personally attacked, by the way,” said Heide Peterson. “I just came to observe the meeting.”

“I didn’t want to personally attack anybody, I don’t know anything the committee said,” Rogers.

“I didn’t make that decision, by the way, the Alberta Utility Commission made that decision,” Peterson added.

Rogers exited the meeting with the intention of coming to a future meeting for further discussion.

He stated, “I feel uncomfortable.”

“So do I,” said Peterson.

Emergency management bylaw

The village’s Emergency Management Plan is in the process of being updated as the Municipal Government Act (MGA) recent changes now require all municipalities to do so.

CAO Nikota has been working on this bylaw before the requirements even arose.

“It’s been coming for awhile,” he said.

An emergency management director is needed so council naturally selected the CAO to this position.

This position is required to review and update plans on a yearly basis.

Council gave first reading to the bylaw.

Some of the rules they are now adjusting in it include the creation of an Emergency Advisory Committee reviews and advises council on emergency plans and programs.

They would meet once a year with more meetings added if needed.

Delia’s Emergency Centre has been identified as the spare room in the village office and will have various supplies, wall maps and emergency information.

Once the plan has been updated, copies will be given to the fire hall and community centre.

As for training and exercises, all elected officials are to complete Municipal Elected Officials Course, which the Mayor and Coun. Elliott have completed.

Every year, the village is to have a tabletop exercise with neighbouring municipalities and have a fully functional exercise every four years to keep training up to date.

Light up the Night

Five hundred dollars was given by council to cover everything for Delia’s Light up the Night event including the tree lights, decoration prizes and glow sticks.

 

Terri Huxley

ECA Review

About the author

Terri Huxley

Terri Huxley