Vermilion Town Council met on March 7, discussing two public hearings for a land use bylaw amendment, and a road closure bylaw. They also discussed street improvement, library funding; and (for information only) a grader purchase and a roll-off bin truck purchase.
A motion to accept the land use bylaw amendment was carried, adding CR1 and CR2 as new Country Residential Districts. Director of Infrastructure and Planning, Ben McPhee, said increasing the maximum lot size would better align with the Inter-municipal Development Plan.
Councillor Rob Pulyk said, “I just want to compliment Ben for working on this one and looking at other communities. It definitely helps us out when looking at development, and when looking at larger lots, it’s great to have a new set of eyes with these things.”
During the road closure bylaw public hearing (49A St. between 49 Ave. and Railway Ave.), the council discussed what the transition could look like, and McPhee reiterated that it will be a 10-12 month process. Mr. Lucas said when the adjacent lot sale went through the inclusion of the road was a condition of the sale, so they are currently waiting on Alberta Transportation’s approval.
“My preference would be to have it blocked off and have the sidewalks extended. Leaving a private road could present some problems,” said Pulyk.
By moving forward with road closure are we moving forward with the sale etc?
Councillor Rob Snow asked, “Have we looked at the cost of putting sidewalks across there if we did sell it to them?”
McPhee estimated at approximately $110 per lineal metre that it would cost approximately $2,000.
Under new business, the 2023 street improvement will include phase 1 of re-construction for 44 Avenue and a portion of 51A Street (in the Southern portion of Town). McPhee said, “This project allows for better drainage to the area and will alleviate operational costs in the future as this has historically been a soft road in the spring and summer which limits access with heavy equipment such as the garbage truck. This will be a multi-year project and is approved in the 2023 capital budget, being funded through the infrastructure levy and federal gas tax.”The motion was carried.
The purchase of a used road grader was discussed (for information only). The cost of $585,100 excluding GST will be funded through MSI and will replace the existing 2011 John Deere grader. It is expected to arrive in four months, and the old one will go to auction and is expected to bring back $150,000 - $200,000 to go toward equipment reserves. CAO Kevin Lucas noted they try to do a 10-year evaluation on equipment, and Councillor Pulyk said, “It served us for 20 years; it’s done the community a lot of good.”
The purchase of a roll-off bin truck was also discussed (for information only). The town budgeted $225,000 through MSI for such a truck, and they have located a used 2013 freight-liner in British Columbia significantly under budget. McPhee said the truck will haul away bio-solids from the wastewater treatment plant. The unit has 381,000 km and comes with several roll-off bins, and a flat deck attachment. He said the bins and flat deck require minor work, and there is a requirement to have another custom bin made specific to the wastewater treatment plant which will cost an additional $5,500 - $7,000.
“Do you still expect quite a bit of lifespan even with 381,000 km?” said Snow.
McPhee responded saying, “Our staff mechanic in their past employment has seen a million or one and a half million kilometers on these types of trucks.”
Councillor Joshua Rayment noted that heavier equipment doesn’t have an out-of-province inspection.
While discussing library funding the motion was unanimously defeated. The Northern Lights Library System board had sent a funding request for $24,1333.95 to the Town of Vermilion at $5.31 per capita. However, the population they stated was 4,545 while council members were not wanting to pay that much saying the accurate population of the town has been under 4,000 for several years.
Pulyk said, “The population stats used by the provincial government is high; our population has never been that high so why is the provincial government using this inflated number? A 15 per cent increase in population equates to $6 over per capita. I would suggest that this council challenge the provincial government in the numbers that this library system is using. For the life of me, I don’t believe the provincial government has done a census since I’ve lived here. What is this per capita increase going towards?”
Councillor Kirby Whitlock who sits on the board suggested it would just be going towards the normal operations for the library systems and said, “They’ve sold off all their company vehicles, and rented out the offices. I know the population numbers are something we need to look at; everyone’s talked about that before. Get your concerns written down, and I will forward them on to the board.”
Snow said, “There were 3,993 people in 2022 according to the Alberta Government website. I think we need to get them to re-evaluate. I get that libraries are important and we need to fund them, but we need to fund them in a fair manner and representative of our population.”
Rayment said, “I think we shouldn’t move forward until we have a presentation from them. When less than half goes back into our library, why are we helping subsidize other communities when we are struggling ourselves? Where does the funding go?”
Committee reports showed that The Good Life Institute would have members Colleen Berg resigning, as well as Michelle Feist, and Coordinator Candice Anderson stepping down at the end of March. Pulyk thanked them for their long service saying, “They definitely helped promote our community.”