Updated village website coming to fruition

Administration has been working on a new version of the website for the Village of Forestburg.

The current website was designed in 2013 by Civic Web and they no longer deal with websites and has made things difficult for administration to make any changes to the design and format.

The current website is said to be dated and not compatible with tablets and cell phones.

The new design will make it easy for staff to make changes and update the website as needed and will keep the cost down as this will all be done in house.

Assistant administrator Sharon Duncan gave council an overview of what the new website would look like and how it is mobile friendly.

Council unanimously approved publishing the new website and replace the existing one.

“[Sharon has] just done it in her spare time and has done a wonderful job,” said CAO Moffat.

Before it is finalized, administration is seeking feedback as to what villagers want to see made on the website and what expectations they have for it.

Three-year plans

Dep. Mayor Bob Coutts found the overall 3-year strategic plan to be all right but wanted to touch on the village’s mission statement, finding that it points out the strength in infrastructure and emergency services but not community direction as much.

“What are we doing as far as our plans? The people part is what we don’t have a plan for,” said Coutts.

“We have all this great verbiage but when we dive deeper it’s not talking about people-related services.”

Council accepted the strategic plan with a friendly amendment to look at social aspects and needs in the future as per the village mission statement.

Council, after extensive review also accepted the 3-year capital plan and 3-year operating plan.

The annual operating budget is prepared by administration with the assistance of the public works foreman, and interaction with community groups who operate village-owned facilities.

The annual operating budget is a work in progress for much of the year with the first draft normally being provided to Council in October of each year.

General operating expenses such as utilities, electricity, insurance, goods and supplies, and professional fees are expected to increase by approximately two per cent each year.

Wages and benefits are expected to increase by approximately 2.5 per cent per year and no additional staff will be hired in future years.

Additions to reserves should be consistent with the prior year and should total approximately $140,000 to $150,000 each year.

Additions to reserves for water and sewer are funded through user fees.

Utility rates are reviewed based on prior period actuals to ensure that full-cost recovery of expenses continues.

Natural Gas fees provide approximately $275,000 in positive revenue for the village, gas rates are reviewed annually utilizing actual consumption to ensure that this profit margin is maintained.

Council has indicated that budgeting for an annual increase of two to two and a half per cent in residential property taxes rates provides for the ability to capture inflationary increases.

Special operating projects should be funded through reserves or grants and should not cause significant spikes in anticipated property tax rates.

Land use bylaw adjustment

Mayor Young has requested that the following property be rezoned from (M) Industrial to (DC) Direct Control: Plan 9920067; Block 3; Lot 7 (4310 – 47 Street S).

This request has been made in order to expedite the potential location of a thermal treatment plant for the treatment of non-hazardous waste.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the inability to have an effective public engagement process, it is felt that if council rezoned the potential site for the facility, it may increase the ability of the village to obtain this development.

The rezoning of this land to DC will have no impact on future development of the site, even if the village is not successful in obtaining the thermal treatment plant.

All development permit applications for the parcel would be reviewed by council, rather than the Municipal Planning Commission, which would ensure that there could be no appeal launched against the permit.

Council passed first reading, taking the amended bylaw to a public hearing which will be held prior to giving second and third reading. It will now go the a public hearing.

Winter camping

The village has been operating the Municipal Campground since 2018 and a policy regarding the operation of the site was drafted and accepted by council that same year.

The policy did not include winter camping from November 1 through to April 30.

During the winter months of 2018/2019 and 2019/2020, campers have been in the site.

Powered sites will be available during the winter months and no water or sewer services will be available.

Tent sites are all unserviced.

“If I am camping in the winter time,” asked Coun. Dwayne Giroux, “and I’m not getting the same services as I am in the summer time, why would I want to pay this?”

“Because our electricity costs are way higher,” replied CAO Moffat.

“In fact you should be paying more in the winter,” added Coun. Fossen. “I know what it costs. We need to increase it in the winter.”

She made a motion to move the current price for winter camping at $35 per night up to $50 per night which was carried.

Council suggested the village look at using e-transfer as they would not have any credit card service fees attached.

Swales removal

The village has found the drainage swales located on 46 Avenue and 51 Street have deteriorated and the intersection is failing because of water settling in the area.

A quote from Forestburg Transit Mix to replace the current swales, which are both asphalt, with 6 ft. wide concrete swales came to a total cost of $10,105.

This number has not been included in the 2020 budget.

Council chose to proceed as directed pending an engineering review.

“They know what happened here is not going to happen again,” said CAO Moffat.

Pickle Ball Court

A Pickleball Club was formed in Forestburg two and a half years ago and has since gained popularity over that time.

The sport shares features of other racquet sports: the dimensions and layout of a badminton court, and a net and rules somewhat like tennis, with several modifications.

The Pickleball Club requested that the village paint pickleball specific court lines on the Tennis courts in Forestburg.

It is suggested that the lines be painted a different colour than the tennis lines to accommodate both sports.

The pickleball court is similar to a double’s badminton court. The actual size of the court is 20 by 44 feet for both doubles and singles.

Council approved the request.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Coun. Fossen.

Coun. Giroux added that the village must make sure they research appropriate paint on the surface to allow it to last.

MAP Review

During the Municipal Accountability Program Review (MAP) held last year by Alberta Municipal Affairs, it was identified that the bylaw establishing the Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) needed to be revised to properly reflect the role of MPC to deal with ‘discretionary use’ permit applications only.

As a result of this, administration amended the bylaw by adding this distinction to article 4.(a) of the bylaw which CAO Moffat described as simply ‘a housekeeping item.’

Council passed the motion to add the distinction.

 

Terri Huxley

ECA Review

About the author

Terri Huxley

Terri Huxley

Terri grew up on a grain farm near Drumheller, Alberta with an eye for the beautiful and uncharted. Living in such a unique and diverse area has helped her become the photographer and reporter she is today.

Coming from the East Central region getting this newspaper on her dinner table growing up, it helped her understand the community she now serves.

In May 2019, Terri was awarded Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association (AWNA) Canada's Energy Citizens Photographic Awards Sports Action – First Place as well as first for the same sports action image nationally with the Canadian Community Newspaper Association (CCNA). Fast forward to 2020, she has won second in the same category for the AWNA.

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