A 5-2 vote split Wetaskiwin county council’s decision to join the Pigeon Lake Watershed Management Plan Steering Committee and have reeve Kathy Rooyakkers attend the committee’s meetings as the county representative.
Councillors Larry McKeever and Keith Johnson voted against the motion while councilors Pearl Hay, Lyle Seely, Terry Van de Kraats, Garry Dearing and Rooyakkers raised their hand in favour of joining the committee. The decision came during council’s Feb. 7 meeting.
The Pigeon Lake Watershed Management Plan Steering Committee — which was created as a collaborative committee to explore options to improve the health of the lake — was formed prior to Oct. 2, 2012. At that time the county, a past member of the Pigeon Lake Watershed Association (PLWA), tabled the idea of joining the Watershed Management Plan.
On March 10, 2015, council denied a request to become a member of the Pigeon Lake Watershed Management Plan Steering Committee. After tabling a second request, discussed by council on Dec. 1, 2015, councillors made the decision on Sept. 21, 2016, to remain non-members of PLWA and the steering committee. At council’s April 5, 2015, meeting councillors resolved to send one council member to two Alliance of Pigeon Lake Municipalities meetings to report back.
McKeever was against the county officially joining the steering committee before having representation come before council and present what information the committee has, where process is at and answer council’s questions.
He proposed a motion to invite representation from the Pigeon Lake Watershed Management Plan Steering Committee to attend a county meeting as soon as possible and have Rooyakkers attend one of the committee’s meetings strictly as an observer.
The motion was defeated 6-1.
McKeever also voiced his concern that if the steering committee is nearing the end of its process and readying its report the county will not have any time for input.
“They’ve been working on this for five to seven years. Now you want to join at the eleventh hour,” said McKeever.
However, Rooyakkers says if the county does not get involved now it will completely miss its chance to provide any input to the committee. “We need to be there for our county residents.”
We can bury our heads in the sand … But right now we’re not even at the table,” she added.
Seely says if the county joins the steering committee and finds it does not agree with the committee’s position it can release a public statement stating the County of Wetaskiwin does not endorse it despite being a member.
Dearing agreed with Seely and did not want Rooyakkers to attend as an observer. “Why don’t we just become a member and if we’re not happy we’ll deal with it then.”