Village helps fund medical clinic to keep it open

Written by Brenda Schimke

Councillors confirmed they had received positive feedback for their decision to approve a $75,000 grant to the Delburne Medical Centre during the roundtable discussions at the regular meeting of the Delburne village council on Sept. 13,  2022.

The monies came from the restricted surplus community enhancement account and can only be used for medical expenses directly tied to the on-going operation of the medical clinic.

Although worried about this unprecedented decision, Deputy Mayor Jeff Bourne said, “It appears most citizens are equally concerned about the ongoing medical crisis”.

Dr. Kauchali, who also works out of Sylvan Lake, and council members are continuing discussions with Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Devin Dreeshen, Red Deer County staff and others to address long-term sustainability of the clinic.

Snowflake Saturday
Amy Ritchie, manager of this year’s Snowflake Saturday Market on Dec. 10 gave council an update. She will arrange for photos with Santa and said she would assist with the Parade of Lights if needed. She requested council waive the $300 rental fee for the community hall on Dec. 9 to enable early set up.

Council will consider her request.

Council is seeking quotes for fireworks. The Red Deer company used in the past has gone out of business. There is still $2,800 in grant money ear-marked for fireworks.

Unsightly properties
The author of an unsigned letter said that the untidy condition of properties along main street were a disgrace.

Public Works Foreman, Gary Rusaw, acknowledged that weeds do grow up through the cracks and they don’t have enough staff to keep on top of this work. He is proposing adding a fourth summer student next summer to just do weed whacking.

The three students hired this summer mowed seven hours per day, five days a week just to keep up with grass cutting.

Again, there was discussion on how limited council’s powers were, even with a bylaw, to force private owners to maintain their properties on a timely basis. Rusaw did confirm 99 per cent of people who receive a notice to clean up their properties did immediately act on the request.

He noted, however, “they may not do it to our standards, but what is unsightly is an individual’s perception.”

The writer of the letter is welcome to come in and discuss their concerns directly with the council.

Grass and weeds
A letter was received complaining about the grass and weeds that are half way up the chain link fences in the dog park area and the park by the golf course.

Rusaw believes the hiring of a fourth student next year should resolve this situation. Now that lawn mowing has slowed down, weed whacking has begun.

Safety at intersection
A letter from two residents expressed continued concern about the safety at the corner of 20 St. and 23 Ave. and the installation of a four-way stop. Council said no decision had been made to install a four-way stop.

The owner of Oops Fresh Market has been working closely with the village to make changes that hopefully will improve parking behaviour in those spots that impede road and pedestrian safety.

It is only if these measures are ineffective, that the council will have to consider other options.

“Our responsibility is for the common good. Our intent is to make it safer for everyone,” said Coun. Ray Reckseidler.

Utility billing
A property owner wrote to complain about ongoing charges for water, garbage pickup and recycling when the services aren’t being used in the winter. A letter will be sent to the complainant explaining why the charges continue and where the money goes.

The recycling and garbage fees are charged per household, not per pickup, so whether the services are used or not, the village gets billed.

There is no water consumption fee when water is turned off, but in the case of both water and sewer, the basic fees go into restricted surplus and are then available for system maintenance and replacement, both very costly items for the village.

Park noise
Coun. Kathy Faulk said she had received a number of verbal complaints about the music in the park being too loud. Users will be made aware of the concern and will be asked to be more respectful of the neighbours. Music can be played in the park from 7 am to 10 pm.

Victim Services volunteers concerned
A copy of a letter from the Town of Tofield to the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Tyler Shandro regarding substantive changes to Victim Services, sparked discussion.

The government has chosen to replace local victim services with four regional superboards. In November, it will hire an additional 32 new employees to support this organizational change.

Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Karen Fegan, who sits on the soon-to-be disbanded local Victim Services board said, “the new system is not going to help the people, local people are doing the job now and know many of those they assist.” Fegan gave an example of one of their volunteers who has worked for 27 years as a volunteer.

When queried about writing a letter of concern to the government, it was agreed one could, but it wouldn’t help as the decision had already been made.

It was noted that local municipalities had no input into the review.

Franchise fees
Councillors unanimously agreed there would be no increases to the franchise fees the municipality charges ATCO for natural gas and electricity.
The electricity franchise fee will remain at 1.5 per cent, whereas the current provincial cap is 20 per cent. The franchise fee for natural gas will remain at $21.6 per cent. The cap is 35 per cent.

Under the Municipal Government Act, municipalities can charge utility companies a franchise fee, calculated as a percentage of the company’s actual total revenue, for allowing them exclusive rights to provide services within their boundaries.

The franchise fees become a revenue source for municipalities, but it does not become an operating cost for the utility company, but another line charge for residents on their utility bills.

The councillors unanimously agreed these franchise fees should be kept as low as possible.

Administration report
It was agreed that the village office would not be closed on Sept. 19 in remembrance of Queen Elizabeth II unless the province declared it a holiday.

Public Works foreman advised that their less expensive source of sand can’t be accessed this year so sand costs will  increase to $3,500.

Permission was given for John  Miller to rent the community hall for four different dates to hold an activity evening for the kids from his church.  It was agreed the rent would be set at $75 per evening as he’ll be using it for less than four hours each time.

Brenda Schimke
ECA Review

About the author

Brenda Schimke

Schimke is a Graduate with Distinction from the University of Alberta with a BCom degree. She has lived and worked in Alberta, BC and Ontario.