There has been a lot happening with Town Council this year. We
are examining how we do business, how procedures work and analyzing ways to do
Although this may lead to cost savings and operational efficiencies,
some of these considered changes are very different from how we have
traditionally done business
We want to get some feedback from residents to see if they think we
are on the right track, or do they think we are “out to lunch”. With that
being said, The Town will be hosting an open house on September 8, 2016 from
7pm – 9pm, in the Council Chambers and Front Foyer of the Town Office. At
this open house we will discuss everything from changing improvement levies, to
water bills, garbage and recycling and even chickens allowed in back
yards. Here is a quick synopsis of those topics.
Garbage/Recycling – Costs have increased and our contract comes up
for renewal in early 2017. Should we look at getting rid of curbside
recycling and just use the recycle center? Should we alternate pick-ups and do
recyclables one week and garbage the next. Are there other options that
would help save us cost and still meet residents needs?
Water Bills- When a landowner doesn’t pay their utility bills we can
add it to the tax roll. If this doesn’t get paid, we put the property up
for auction and recover the taxpayer’s money.
The issue we are having is with rented properties, where utility
bills are in tenant’s names and not land owners, we have no mechanism to recover
outstanding balances and have to write off that bad debt. This amount can
be substantial and is built into the budget process. When it doesn’t get
paid, all the tax payers share in this expense.
A fairer way is to put the utility bills in only the landowner’s
names and the landowner would have to then add it to the tenant’s base
rent. Although this is a fairer way to do it and be accountable to the
taxpayer, it adds a burden to landowners as it is not a fixed cost so is
difficult to put a number on. So we have to decide on changing it or leaving it
the way it is?
Improvement Levies- This was talked about in one of my
previous blogs and has more detail there. Essentially we are considering
how we do road construction and collect payment for it. The new system
would see an increase in taxes this year (approx. $250), but then you would
never have to take the hit again (some residents pay an extra $500-$2500 year
for 15 years when this happens). It would also allow us to better plan
for current and future projects and have them done more timely.
Chickens – This one is new and I have not written about
before. A resident approached us and would like us to consider allowing
chickens as pets in back yards. His thought is some exotic chickens and
he is a passionate birds enthusiast and has experience.
Research indicates the species, he is referring too, is quite docile
and quiet. Although this idea seems a little out there, this is a new
idea. Currently backyard chickens are allowed in Peace River, Grande Prairie,
Fort Saskatchewan and even the City of Edmonton. There are rules around
it; Maximum of 3 birds, limits on size of pen and coop, no males (they
are the noisy ones), no chicks (have to be 4 months old or older), can’t sell
the eggs or slaughter the animals, provisions with noise, odour
Now the easiest thing would be to say no, but if someone is trying
to do something and it’s not hurting anyone else, than maybe it’s the approach
we should be taking? As such we are considering doing a trial/test (12
month program) with a limited number of sites (under 10) and if no one else
shows any interest maybe only one. If it works we would make it permanent
within the bylaw. If it doesn’t the birds would have to be
Before we even attempt a test though we want to hear if the
community is open to the idea, or if they think we should leave that door
As you can see there is lots happening and we want to hear what you
have to say. After reading this many of you probably have questions.
We are hoping you come down on September 8 and share your thoughts with
us. If that date doesn’t work feel free to contact our executive
assistant at Lisa.Russell@slavelkae.ca
to send us your thoughts.
Some of these are significant changes so please share your thoughts
before we make them!