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Village of Alix will hold town hall on budget crunch

The Village of Alix will hold an open town hall meeting to gather input from residents before deciding on the municipality’s upcoming budget, a budget with question marks surrounding it.

The Village of Alix will hold an open town hall meeting to gather input from residents before deciding on

the municipality’s upcoming budget, a budget with question marks surrounding it.

Councilors discussed the issue at their regular council meeting Mar. 4.

As the subject of budget came up, Counc. Vicki Soltermann told her peers that she felt not just a council

meeting should be held for budget deliberations, but that a town hall style meeting should be held where

residents can see issues facing the village and give their input.

One of the prime issues facing not just the Village of Alix but virtually all Alberta municipalities is the

recent provincial government’s announcement of increased numbers of police officers, with the

complication that those officers will be paid for directly by municipalities.

The announcement was received with surprise by some municipalities, as they had not factored this

increased policing into their budgets.

Soltermann stated residents should at least get a chance from village council to give their input on how

the budget shortfall should be addressed. She said a town hall meeting would be a way of “testing the

waters.”

Councilors discussed the conundrum of whether cuts to other village departments should be made to

cover the policing costs, approve an increase to the tax rate or a combination of both.

Village CAO Michelle White suggested a special council meeting to discuss budget, the first part of

which would be a town hall meeting where the public could ask questions and offer input.

Mayor Rob Fehr noted that even though the budget town hall would have a single topic, there may be

other members of the public who want to talk about other issues or air grievances.

It was suggested that each member of the public be limited to a few minutes to make their comments.

Councilors eventually decided to hold a special budget deliberation meeting opened by a budgetary public

engagement session Apr. 8 in the Alix Community Hall, with the town hall beginning at 6 p.m., followed

by the council budget discussion.

Land-use Bylaw

Village of Alix council discussed proposed changes to its Land Use Bylaw during the regular meeting of

council Mar. 4.

Village CAO Michelle White presented the item to councillors, noting the updates mostly revolve around

questions and items encountered by the village’s development officer Tanya Meston that aren’t directly

addressed in this important bylaw. White said tweaks would also streamline the LUB and make the

process easier for applicants.

A number of sections of the existing LUB were discussed, including recreational vehicles. White noted

council already spent quite a bit of time discussing RV’s in their traffic bylaw and White noted staff felt it

was a good time to make the LUB fit with the traffic bylaw.

The proposed changes included details such as where an RV can be parked on a residential lot and other

details such as an RV overhanging a boulevard.

Councilors spent a bit of time discussing when and how an RV can be used for temporary

accommodation. A proposed change included an RV being used as temporary accommodation for not

more than 30 days per year.

Also, another new detail is that residents don’t need a development permit to use an RV for temporary

accommodation for less than 30 days per year.

Counc. Ed Cole asked about one type of RV, a watercraft on a trailer. He asked if a fishing boat would be

included in that.

White answered yes, but the rules didn’t only address accommodation but other situations such as where

such a trailer could be parked, for example.

The CAO stated some of the changes were geared towards addressing ongoing situations that residents or

the municipality could face. She used the example of a nuisance barking dog; a record must be kept of the

problems, then given to the village.

Dangerous goods rules were discussed. Changes allow for a buffer between residential zones and zones

like industrial that could contain dangerous goods. A 50 meter buffer can be totally contained within the

industrial zone.

Counc. Cole asked if a dangerous goods route exists in Alix. White responded Alix has two truck routes

that handle that work, both on the north and south side of the highway.

Counc. Tim Besuijen asked if the rules apply to vehicles loaded with dangerous goods parked on the

street. White said yes, they do.

Fences will be included in the LUB: if a resident’s fence is no more than three feet in the front yard and

no more than six feet on the sides or back, the resident doesn’t need a development permit. If a resident

wants a fence higher than that, they must apply for a development permit.

Decks may also require a development permit. White noted that certain projects low to the ground may

not.

She told councillors that more changes, more administrative in nature, may be coming towards the end of

summer.

Councilors passed First Reading of the proposed LUB changes and set a public hearing date of Apr. 1.

Police report

Village of Alix council heard during their regular meeting Mar. 4 that instances of crime have dropped

recently and several high-profile crimes have seen arrests made.

The report was made to his peers by Counc. Ed Cole, who attended the Bashaw RCMP detachment

community meeting Feb. 27 at the Bashaw and District Support Services building.

Cole noted detachment commander Sgt. Holliday was present, who noted the detachment, which is also

responsible for Alix area, is currently at full staff, including Holliday, one admin staffer and four

constables. It was also noted, however, that Bashaw detachment hasn’t seen an increase in

“establishment” or member size in over 30 years.

One boon was received, however. RCMP K Division has decided that the Bashaw RCMP detachment is

below the appropriate administration staffing level, and has approved the hiring of a second admin

employee. The admin staffers help with paperwork, allowing constables to spend their time doing police

work, noted Cole.

Some more good news is that the detachment will receive a recruit out of the Regina RCMP training

depot in March. This recruit will replace a current constable after six months, meaning in effect the

detachment will enjoy an extra police officer this summer although recruits don’t go on calls until three

months have passed.

Counc. Vicki Soltermann asked if the detachment will receive another recruit in 2021; Cole said he didn’t

know.

Looking at lists of crime numbers, Cole pointed out the 2019 stats were down noticeably from 2018.

“Break and enters, theft of motor vehicle and theft under offences are all down with a total criminal code

offences decrease of 15 per cent,’ stated Cole in his report to council.

“Sgt. Holliday spoke of several very high profile and very prolific offenders who have been arrested,

charged and are in custody, with anticipated long incarceration. This includes the individual responsible

for our ATB armed robbery.”

Cole said it was noted the major arrests, including the suspect in the ATB armed robbery, were made

through strong cooperation between the Bashaw detachment and surrounding detachments. For example,

he stated a different detachment received a complaint about a truck driving erratically, and the truck

happened to be pulling a snowmobile on a trailer. Police already knew they were looking for a

snowmobile related to the bank robbery. This tip helped lead to the arrest.

Two more town hall meetings with police will be held in the future, possibly in Bashaw, Alix or

Ferintosh.

Cole said the Bashaw detachment is very well run with diligent, hard-working members who take a lot of

pride in their work.

Council accepted the report for information.

Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review





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