Village of Morrin council wary of contaminated property

ECA Review/file
Written by Stu Salkeld

ECA Review/file

The Village of Morrin council discussed the issue of abandoned, contaminated properties that end up in the lap of municipalities. The discussion was held at the June 21 regular meeting of council.

During both the public works report and committee report parts of the council meeting councillors heard updates from Coun. Lorraine MacArthur, specifically a Drumheller waste commission meeting she recently attended.

MacArthur reported that at the meeting the Town of Trochu representative reported on a contaminated property that the municipality is coping with.

MacArthur reported the Trochu representative noted that the town is dealing with a building that collapsed and is still privately owned. However, it seems the town may be stuck with cleaning it up to the tune of $180,000 and it seems the building is contaminated with asbestos.

During discussion, councillors pondered why Trochu would be responsible for a private property and it was noted the site may be a safety hazard.

Councillors also discussed the similarities between the Trochu situation and Morrin’s own issue with a contaminated former service station across the street from the village office.

Also at the waste commission meeting MacArthur noted the Town of Drumheller is dealing with a salt contamination that’s leeching into the ground.

During discussion of street sweeping duties councillors discussed where they would store refuse collected during such work, and the possibility that refuse has salt or other contaminations in it.

Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Annette Plachner stated staff know about the refuse and are looking into finding a spot for it, adding it’s possible a contractor may be hired to truck the refuse directly to a dump or landfill.

Website issues
Coun. MacArthur began a discussion about the village’s official internet website by asking if the website’s creator was paid for his work, to which the CAO answered he was.

MacArthur asked if the creator would sell the website to the Village of Morrin so the village could maintain it itself, but Plachner answered she was unsure if the creator would sell it.

MacArthur noted she was unhappy with the website’s updating, including no agenda or other documentation for the current June 21 council meeting had been posted on the website.

The CAO noted the website operator was provided with all of the information but it was not posted on the website before the council meeting.

Coun. MacArthur stated some residents feel village staff and councillors are to blame for lack of information on the website.

“He’s making us look silly, is what he’s doing,” said MacArthur.

Councillors discussed options the village would have for developing a new website. MacArthur stated she would speak with the current website administrator to see if he’ll sell it to the village.

Keep Morrin beautiful
Councillors read a letter from a former resident of Morrin who felt the village was not doing enough to keep the municipality attractive.

As councillors discussed the letter, it became clear they also felt issues existed in the village that may harm the community’s appearance, including some run-down homes and buildings, some vacant lots that don’t have grass cut regularly, a few abandoned vehicles parked on public streets and some old trailers that appear abandoned.

Plachner stated village staff can do some things like cut grass and send the bill to a property owner, but staff don’t know for certain how safe it is to enter a property.

Mayor Chris Hall stated the village needs to keep in touch with all property owners, not just those who may have situations like those mentioned above and remind them of the upcoming Morrin homecoming and the desire to keep the community attractive.

Councillors unanimously passed a resolution that village staff would communicate with property owners about cleaning up situations as listed and that if village staff have to do it, property owners may receive the bill for it.

Seniors meeting
Coun. M’Liss Edwards reported on more happenings at the Drumheller and District Seniors Foundation, which is currently in the midst of developing a new facility. Edwards noted more senior housing is needed in Drumheller, or more local seniors will have to move to other communities to find lodging.

Councillors discussed a pedway idea that was turned down by members; the pedway would have joined two facilities, allowing seniors to visit their friends and relatives. However, Coun. MacArthur noted the price tag was $800,000 and Morrin wasn’t the only member who baulked at that idea.

The CAO noted that when the foundation borrows money, member communities like Morrin are in effect financially responsible in the end.

Financial report
Plachner stated her financial report to councillors contained nothing outstanding and that the 2023 budget hasn’t been added to the computer yet. Councillors unanimously approved it.

CAO report
The CAO reported she’s been working on property tax bills, which are scheduled to be mailed to residents within a week.

During her report she noted village staff have been attempting to locate a water valve at a certain property which has so far evaded detection. It’s possible the area in question may have to be dug up to locate it, costing an estimated $2,000.

Plachner notified councillors if excavation is done public works staff will do everything they can to ensure the sidewalk isn’t affected.

Plachner noted Public Works Foreman Dave Benci reported he’d taken the street sweeper out for a test run along streets near the arena that have few vehicles parked there and it appears everything is working fine. It was reported the sweeper may require some replacement parts.

Stu Salkeld
Local Journalism Initiative reporter
ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.