Students and teachers from Christ King School

Students and teachers from Christ King School

Animals on the mind at County council meeting

Two of three delegations at the Wed., April 8 County of Stettler meeting were there to discuss animals with their county representatives.

Wanda Webster, who lost her dog in a vicious pit bull attack late last year, and Joan Kerbes, a county resident plagued by stray and abandoned cats, came to plead their cases with the councillors.

Webster, who in late March had a judgement rendered against the owners of the two pit bulls who attacked her chocolate lab, Hershey, came to council to ask why nothing had been done since her first appearance last year calling for a tougher animal control bylaw.

Council explained to Webster that while the matters were before the court they were unable to act on the matter, but now that it’s been settled, county staff have been tasked with researching the matter. Staff will look at animal control bylaws in other comparative counties and towns before bringing recommendations to council.

Webster also questioned the fees associated with the bylaw. While at the time, Webster said she was surprised the owner of the two pit bulls was fined the more than $3,000 he was fined, she had concerns the amount for potential future incidents was not enough.

Joan Kerbes came to council to speak about the problem of stray and abandoned cats. She told council that people take their unwanted felines and dump them in rural areas, and the cats often find their way to nearby homesteads. This ends up being a financial burden on the property owner, as not only do they have to deal with spaying and neutering their new and unexpected barn cats, but they also have to deal with injuries and diseases these cats bring in.

Kerbes said she hoped council could look into a spaying and neutering clinic which could offer the population-controlling services at a reduced cost, but council questioned whether or not it was the taxpayers’ financial responsibility to do so. While some of the cat-dumpers may be from the county, it’s a belief that most of these individuals come from the more urban areas.

What council did agree to do was embark on an education campaign about spaying and neutering cats and sending it out with county literature, in the hopes of defraying some of the issue.

County secures major grant

The county, in partnership with the Town of Stettler, has received a grant to help pave the county ring road. The county’s portion of the grant is $350,000.

“These days, to get a grant, you have to collaborate,” Niki Thorsteinsson, the county’s director of communications, said.

“The Ring Road is a truck route,” she explained. “From Highway 56 (south of town) it goes east on Twp. Road 38-4 for almost two miles, then turns north on RR 19-3 to Highway 12. This will create a paved Truck Route connection from Highway 56 to Highway 12, routing truck traffic around town.”

Keep those trees!

One matter that came up at the week of town hall meetings was the matter of trees. One resident inquired whether or not there was anything he could do to prevent a neighbour from removing trees on the neighbour’s property.

The resident explained he was concerned the deforestation would hurt the area.

The county instructed its staff to look into the matter, and while there is nothing outright to prevent an owner from removing trees, if it could cause erosion, it looks like the county could step in. Staff continue researching the matter.

Learning about the governance

Roughly 30 kids from Christ King School in Stettler were in attendance at the council meeting so they could observe municipal government at work. The students sat in on part of the meeting before being taken on a tour of the county offices and various departments.

At the end, students were the first to be introduced to the county’s new fire truck, a rapid response vehicle that’s meant to be able to reach fires in rough terrain.

Bylaws pass without issue

Three bylaws came up before council for final reading. Two were simple rezoning matters and were not contested and passed. The third, the final bylaw from the contentious Buffalo Lake package, was debated by council briefly.

The bylaw was the one that allowed the county to sell land to the adjacent property owners to accommodate existing encroachments. While most of the landowners had signed agreements, a few had not due to being unavailable to sign – being out of country, for example. Council debated whether or not to delay the bylaw’s final reading until these individuals were able to sign, but in the end decided to vote – in favour – of the bylaw, noting that the absence of so few wouldn’t affect the ultimate outcome.