Town Council held its second regular meeting of the month on Tuesday, November 21.
After council adopted the agenda and minutes of the previous meeting, Sgt. Corey Buckingham opened the meeting with his quarterly RCMP report. He began by updating on the Body Worn Camera field test pilot project, noting that the original contractor did not meet contractual agreements and that further testing with a new contractor will be sought.
Sgt. Buckingham then described the three priorities and four initiatives the detachment has for the April–March fiscal year. The three priorities are to reduce crime, communicate effectively, and enhance road safety/improve police visibility. The first initiative, curfew checks, relates to the crime reduction priority, with a goal of 40 per year set and already 52 completed this year. Curfew checks help hold offenders accountable to their conditions.
The second and third initiatives, town halls and public communications, fall under the effective communication priority. The first town hall of the fiscal year was held November 14 in Minburn, and a second will follow in the coming months. Regarding public communications, Sgt. Buckingham recommended the public sign up for RAVE alerts (https://www.ruralcrimewatch.ab.ca/l/rave), which are real-time alerts put out by the RCMP that go directly to a user’s phone. Public engagement with these alerts has helped police recover stolen items across jurisdictional boundaries.
The final RCMP initiative for this year involves enhancing road safety and improving police visibility through vehicle stops, with 148 documented stops out of a goal of 220.
Sgt. Buckingham noted an overall downward trend in year-over-year crime statistics, with the exception of spousal abuse, which has seen a 57% increase in the town of Vermilion over the past year. He also noted an increase in false or abandoned 911 calls, which are largely attributed to technology glitches. The full quarterly report with statistical breakdowns is available on the Town of Vermilion’s website. The detachment also has a hard vacancy that they are hoping to fill soon.
Vermilion & District Chamber of Commerce President Miranda Lychak and Executive Director Leanne Martin presented to Council on their work across Vermilion, Clandonald, Kitscoty, St. Paul, Dewberry, and Mannville. They explained that a Chamber is a non-partisan, not-for-profit voice of business that advocates on behalf of the business community at all three levels of government, harnessing energy, championing ideas, and collectively moving forward sensible solutions for small businesses. Council thanked them for supporting local businesses.
In the Public Commentary section of the meeting, an individual brought to Council his concern that a door at Town Office had been damaged and broken—an action that would be considered mischief under the Canadian Criminal Code—and the bill for repair totalled nearly one year’s worth of a ratepayer’s bill. He implored the Town of Vermilion to recoup that cost.
Director of Infrastructure and Planning Services Ben McPhee asked Council to rescind a motion of August 15, 2023 (motion 23/08/100) that administration apply for an airport grant for this year because the Town was not financially prepared to foot its portion of the bill. The motion to rescind was carried.
Director of Community Services Michael van der Torre spoke about the two new benches installed along Railway Ave. at the request of a citizen in a previous Town Council meeting. He also noted that vandalism of the town’s flagpoles requires replacement of the poles, as the company that made them are out of business and parts are unavailable.
Council noted that Communities in Bloom, the Good Life Institute, and the Parks, Recreation, and Environment committee are all looking for volunteer committee members.