Around one central Alberta community, it’s known that the community mascot, Alix-gator, puts the bite on crime and now the provincial government knows it too.
Alix village council heard at their Oct. 4 regular meeting the municipality has received a Minister’s Award for Municipal Excellence for its “Partnering for Crime Prevention” initiative.
Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michelle White noted “Partnering for Crime Prevention” began two years ago.
“As stated in the award submission, ‘Council’s approach to community safety changed focus and direction beginning in January, 2021,’” stated White’s report to council.
“The overall safety of the community, residents and businesses was a priority area brought forward by councillors during the strategic planning process in fall of 2020 and continues to be an area of focus moving forward.”
The CAO pointed out in her report the village’s strategic plan calls for public education about crime and crime prevention, in-person RCMP presentations to council, initiating RCMP community consultative group meetings again, enhancing public trust, developing plans for security camera coverage within Alix and exploring traffic calming strategies.
White also noted a list of the village’s measures taken within the “Partnering on Crime Prevention” initiative: including funds for security cameras within budgets, contracting a nighttime security company to patrol Alix, having staff trained on crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) philosophy, village staff active in restorative justice cases, staff training in emergency management, council lobbying for improved traffic safety and community attention paid to unsecured vacant properties.
During discussion, Mayor Rob Fehr stated councillors have made community safety a priority and it was nice that their efforts have been acknowledged.
The CAO agreed the initiative and the award are things to be proud of. Councillors accepted the report as information.
Fire department budget
Alix village council approved the local fire department’s 2024 budget as it was presented. The CAO pointed out the budget had two parts, capital and operating, and neither included any surprises.
White pointed out the department expected to purchase extrication equipment in 2023 but never did, so council could expect to see that happen in the future.
She added that the regional fire chief position is vacant right now which may explain why some purchasing, which is handled by that employee, hasn’t been completed.
Councillors unanimously approved the Alix Fire Department’s 2024 budget.
Fire response fees
The CAO presented councillors with the Alix Fire Department response fees policy for regular review. She pointed out it is a few years old and the policy’s purpose is to collect fees for service for the local fire department when it responds to calls.
“In 2021 $2,835 of fees collected under the policy from the prior years were paid to Alix First Response,” stated White’s report to council. “In 2022 $3,950 was paid out.”
She stated fees are consistent with Lacombe County’s fee schedule and are charged hourly; the bills are forwarded to the person receiving emergency service.
White noted that in the event such a bill goes unpaid the charges are placed on an Alix property owner’s tax bill, if applicable.
Once the fees are on a tax roll they are considered taxes, not fees, and aren’t forwarded to Alix First Response.
Coun. Ed Cole asked if the billing is sent to insurance companies, to which the CAO responded no, bills are always sent to the person who received service who can take the bill to an insurance company if they wish.
White stated insurance companies sometimes contact the village with requests for incident reports, but the village always forwards such requests to the RCMP.
Cole asked if an insurance company had ever declined coverage after the village forwarded it to the RCMP. White answered no. It was also noted fees are never charged for call-outs that are strictly medical responses.
Councillors unanimously approved the policy as it was presented.
Councillors unanimously approved the proposed 2024 Parkland Regional Library System’s (PRLS) proposed budget. It was presented by Coun. Barb Gilliat, who noted that the issue of census numbers for member municipalities is still mentioned at meetings; as PRLS invoices its members per capita, the issue of population has a direct effect on funding.
During discussion it was noted PRLS included a roughly five per cent increase to this year’s budget, but Alix council and staff agreed PRLS is quite frugal and responsible with the money it collects from member communities.
The increase means about $500 more money from the Village of Alix.
Local Journalism Initiative reporter