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Slave Lake Mayor Tyler Warman writes columns on a wide range of topics, including town council information, upcoming events, important budgetary issues, and local attractions. His blogs can be found here, and published in the Lakeside Leader the Wednesday after it appears online.  If you have a comment for Mayor Warman on his blogs please reach out and fill out the Give Feedback form found here.

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Aug 19

Public Open House

Posted on August 19, 2016 at 8:50 AM by Jordan Schenkelberg

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 things better. 

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 etc.  

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 removed.  

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 closed. 

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!


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