County of Wetaskiwin hears Dorchester land looking up

County of Wetaskiwin hears Dorchester land looking up

County council discusses important software shutdown

By Stu Salkeld The Ppestone Flyer

County of Wetaskiwin council discussed the new developers of the Dorchester lands south of Pigeon Lake during their regular meeting Aug. 7.

Dorchester lands

During councilor’s regular reports, councilor Terry Van de Kraats said he attended a grand opening July 28 at the Dorchester development south of Pigeon Lake. He said the new owners of the development have been good partners with the county, adding 50 per cent of the phase I lots have been sold.

Van de Kraats also stated it was interesting to meet with property owners within the Dorchester lands at the grand opening. “It’s a really nice place and something that is a real benefit to the county,” said Van de Kraats.

Reeve Kathy Rooyakkers noted it’s good to see residents so involved and the community there seems very tight knit.

Landfill monies

Van de Kraats also reported on a July 16 landfill authority meeting he attended. He stated that there’s been sharing of interest money among members, but there’s been push from some municipalities to share the entire pot.

The councilor stated he wasn’t sure how this would pan out, but understood that smaller municipalities with tight budgets need every bit of revenue they can find.

Arbitrator

County CAO Rod Hawken stated in his regular report the Joint Economic Development Initiative is waiting to hear back from an arbitrator regarding the City of Wetaskiwin’s exodus from the organization in 2017.

While the city is no longer a member of JEDI, some questions surround JEDI projects that occurred while it was a member. Hawken said JEDI should hear back by Sept. 5.

Software problem

Hawken reported that an important piece of computer software which the county uses, “Call to Order,” is being cancelled. The software is used for things like agendas and minutes on the county website.

He stated there is an alternative software available, and that members who chipped in to create Call to Order can still use it as long as they like.

Reeve Kathy Rooyakkers stated she sees concerns with the county email system as well: about 30 to 40 junk items are making it through on a regular basis.

Hawken noted the email system is a different venue entirely, and he will look into it.

Outstanding bill

Councilors read a memo in their agenda package about an outstanding firefighting bill being added to a tax account.

“On April 28, 2018, the Wetaskiwin Rural Fire Department was dispatched to #28, 464031 RR234 to extinguish a grass fire,” stated the memo.

“The fire invoice totaling $800 was mailed to the landowners on May 30, 2018. The County of Wetaskiwin By-law 2016/44 Section 14 – Fire Protection Charges, Point 14.2 states: ‘Fire Protection Charges shall be paid within thirty (30) days of receipt.’

“On July 5, 2018, after a telephone conversation with the landowner, an email requesting the fire bill to be added to their tax roll was received. County of Wetaskiwin Fire By-law 2016/44 Section 14.4 states: ‘The Owner of a parcel of land within the County to which Fire Protection is provided is liable for Fire Protection Charges incurred and the County may add to the tax roll of the parcel of land all unpaid Fire Protection Charges, which forms a special lien against the parcel of land in favor of the County from the date the amount was added to the tax roll, in accordance with Section 533 of the Municipal Government Act.’”

Brownfield

Councilors discussed an upcoming course on brownfield properties.

“The Municipal Government Act (MGA) defines a brownfield as a commercial or industrial property that is, or possibly is contaminated; is vacant, derelict or under-utilized; and is suitable for development or redevelopment,” noted Hawken in his report to council. He said the course had the goal of letting council know where these properties are and how they may affect the municipalities.

Hawken said it’s not unusual for these brownfields to come up during a tax arrears situation. Under the new MGA the county has the option of taking the properties or declining. He noted the county does have possession of some brownfields.

Councilor Lyle Seely noted that in Alder Flats there were up to four gas stations in town at one time.

Meeting formats

Councilors discussed tweaking the dates and times of their meetings.

Reeve Kathy Rooyakkers noted that the Public Works and Planning/Development meetings are only held once a month; if an applicant misses the meeting deadline, they have to wait a month.

Councilor Terry Van de Kraats said holding too many meetings in one day tends to cut down on the amount of debate time councilors have.

Rooyakkers said she’d considered that, but with meetings every two weeks agendas shouldn’t get overloaded.

Councilor Seely suggested council discuss this issue at a strategic planning meeting.

Stu.salkeld@pipestoneflyer.ca