• Reporter Elaina John

Town Council Meeting

The Town Council held a regular meeting virtually except for three councillors in the chambers on December 15.

Director of Finances Brian Liebel presented the auditor appointment for the fiscal year. Audit fees were proposed at $24,500 and Donald L. Isaman Professional Corporation, who audited the town for the 2019 fiscal year, was appointed as the external financial auditors. Liebel later provided a brief update on the possibility of grant funding to help transition the town’s electronic file system into a cloud-based system to make working from home easier for town employees. Liebel is pursuing grant funding and exploring the town’s best options.

Community Services Director Kevin Lucas provided a brief update about playground inspections for 2021 as due to COVID-19, the town was unable to certify a staff member to conduct inspections as all certification courses had been cancelled. Lucas did confirm that the town will get at least one staff member certified to carry out playground inspections in 2021. He hopes to have certification completed by the first quarter of the year. Lucas also mentioned that the town is still hoping to expand the Veteran’s area of the Cemetery.

COVID-19 cases have become a concern for the recycling program, as Infrastructure and Planning Services Director Derek Young mentioned that the town’s contractors for the recycling program cancelled one of their pick-up days. Young will keep in contact with the contractors to ensure that any COVID-19 mitigation measures will be implemented before any last-minute cancellations.

MLA Garth Rowswell joined the meeting to provide an update about his work and in legislature relative to the Town of Vermilion. Rowswell mentioned that parts of Bill 46 were passed.

“It was one of the more controversial parts of the Bill that were passed,” commented Rowswell. The Bill will allow for hospitals to exchange patient information across the Alberta-Saskatchewan border if passed in each province. Currently, as the bill is passed in Alberta, health information acquired in Alberta can be more easily available for patients seeking care in Saskatchewan, however, until the bill is passed in Saskatchewan, Albertan hospitals cannot acquire patient information from Saskatchewan as easily.

Rowswell has been appointed to the Prairie Northwest Economic Region, which covers northwestern states and western Canadian provinces, and looks forward to working with the town discussing economic development as he fills that role. Rowswell will be further informed on his role on December 17. Pulyk also inquired about COVID-19 vaccinations for Alberta. Rowswell confirmed that the vaccine will be rolled out to the most vulnerable and exposed to the virus and work its way down based on age.

“The first injection went into an arm in Alberta today, so that’s good to see,” Rowswell said.

Rowswell also spoke to the various COVID-19 restrictions such as the closing of gyms and independent businesses such as massage therapists, hairdressers, and restaurants.

“The data that I’ve seen shows that not much of covid transmission was at restaurants, it was at homes,” Rowswell said. Rowswell assured council that he is continuing to lobby for these types of businesses.

A motion presented by the Broadband Committee Report was carried which recommended that the Town of Vermilion enter a sole source contract with Connect Mobility lasting until March with the option of continuing through month-to-month payments. The contract ending in March will consist of a one-time payment of $34,900.

Councillor Young of the Transportation and Utilities Committee mentioned that organics were added to the town’s recycling contract. The town sent out a request for proposal for a new recycling and organics program tender and were met with three submissions, of which the council decided on Integrity Waste Solutions. Partnering with Integrity Waste Solutions will allow the town to keep their pre-existing garbage and recycling schedule. Integrity Waste Solutions will enter a 64-week contract to provide these services to residents and businesses of the town. Councillor Young also confirmed that Integrity Waste Solutions emphasized their priority of consistent service and pick-up times.

According to Councillor Young, collection for the recycling program will begin at the end of December, with the regular, two-week cycle beginning the following week. Commercial pickup would begin in February to allow for time to get bins manufactured and delivered to businesses. Organics pickup will start in April to allow for residents to learn about the program. Additionally, the cost of waste management, recycling, and organics will remain the same as it previously has been due to the Transportation and Utilities budget; however, later in the program the cost will be determined by whether residents choose to use the organics and recycling programs.

“There is a per-ton cost processing fee on the organics side,” Young noted, “We’re hoping that we’ll get good uptake on that.”

“We believe that at the committee level that we should take that money that’s already been paid and try to eliminate as much of the increase that we might have to do down the road,” Councillor Clint McCullough added.

Councillor Thompson presented a recommendation to reappoint members of the Environment Committee. Members Bonnie Walsh, Francey Repp, and Nancy Shalay were re-appointed for a two year term and member Chris Elder was reappointed for a three year term. Thompson also provided an update on the Re-Use Shelter project. The re-use shelter project had already been in the committee’s consideration, and the committee was approached by the Rotary Club who had also planned to begin a similar project. The Rotary Club will attend the next Environment Committee in January to discuss the possibility of partnering with the committee to build a re-use shelter.

“At the very least, the committee thought that it would help our case to have such a strong community organization supporting us, even though our environment committee with the exception of myself is all public members,” Thompson explained.

Mayor McAuley provided a brief update for the Vermilion & District Housing Foundation committee regarding a new representative member from the Wainwright area, as the committee will govern senior’s housing in the M.D. of Wainwright starting on January 1, along with Dewberry. A Ministerial Order was sent to include a member for the M.D. of Wainwright once the committee takes on Wainwright housing units in the new year.

“This is a significant accomplishment for VDHF,” commented Mayor McAuley, “It’s a significant increase of responsibility for the organization.”

According to Mayor McAuley, taking on housing in the M.D. of Wainwright and in Islay has increased the portfolio of the organization by approximately $2,300,000.

The Vermilion & District Housing Foundation has also recently added new public member Karen Selte to the board.

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