Stettler County council has significant concerns surrounding the Shooting Lake water levels.
Shooting Lake was brought up during the Sept. 13 council meeting as the county has received complaints about the water levels.
At issue is the fact that there is a nearby landowner who has a licence to divert water from the lake for irrigation purposes; however, according to Andrew Brysiuk, the county’s director of municipal services, the permit is subject to conditions regarding how low the water level can go and still be valid.
“Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get any enforcement staff out of Alberta Environment to come verify if those conditions were met,” said Brysiuk, during the meeting.
“It’s not a particularly new wall with Alberta Environment we’ve run up against.”
Coun. Justin Stevens noted during the meeting that he was “frustrated” by this entire process, as Alberta Environment essential hands licence holders a “blank cheque” knowing there is no enforcement.
Brysiuk agreed, noting that Alberta Environment doesn’t have enough staff to properly enforce existing licences, and the county has no enforcement authority.
“Suggestion,” said Brysiuk, “Make that a point of advocacy at the upcoming (Rural Municipalities of Alberta conference).”
“Without voluntary compliance, it’s always tough.”
In the meantime, all the county can do is continue notifying Alberta Environment when conditions are believed to be in breach.
County council has approved the auction of 11 pieces of surplus county equipment.
The equipment ranges from a 2000 GMC Sierra to a 2015 Caterpillar 14M Grader with over 11,000 hours.
The sale approval fulfils some of council’s strategic plan to reduce equipment and costs.
“I think it makes good sense,” said Coun. Les Stulberg.
The pieces of equipment will be taken to Michener Allen Auctioneering and sold from Oct. 12-14.
Funds raised from the sale of the surplus equipment will be put towards future capital purchases.
Fire Truck purchase
Following email direction in June, council has ratified the purchase of a 2001 Freightliner for around $50,000.
The county began looking into the truck when the town and county began renegotiating the fire agreement in the spring.
Under the Municipal Government Act, and current County of Stettler bylaws, the chief administrative officer (CAO) is not required to bring a purchase under $75,000 to council; however, according to CAO Yvette Cassidy the county’s auditor prefers that all capital purchases be ratified by council.
“This is the reason we have had a clean audit for 17 years running,” said Coun. James Nibourg.
With the fire agreement remaining in place between the county and the town, options for the truck include turning it into a firetruck, turning it into an Ag. Service Board spray vehicle, or re-selling it.
November council date change
Due to the upcoming Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) conference set to occur during the same time period as the November County of Stettler council meeting, council has changed the date of that meeting.
The meeting will now take place on Nov. 15, a week later than the usual second Wednesday of the month which would have occurred on Nov. 8.
By attending RMA, Councillors can network with representatives from other rural municipalities and the province on behalf of Stettler ratepayers.
Council has approved the closure of the county administration office for the upcoming holiday season.
While the administrative office is typically closed for the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, with Staff returning on Jan. 2, due to the way the days are falling for 2023/24 CAO Cassidy recommended to council that the office be closed for a couple of additional days to avoid stat pay.
As a result of the recommendation, council approved the closure of the county administration office beginning at noon on Dec. 22, with the office reopening at noon on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024.
While the administration office will be closed, CAO Cassidy did reiterate that the majority of staff will be available to be recalled should emergencies or severe weather events arise.