Town, county councils meet in rare joint session

It was an amicable meeting of municipal minds on Wednesday, June 29 as Town of Stettler and County of Stettler councillors came together.

It was an amicable meeting of municipal minds on Wednesday, June 29 as Town of Stettler and County of Stettler councillors came together for a joint meeting to discuss mutual matters of interest.

It’s the first time the two groups have come together in a formal meeting since 2013. The last meeting resulted in the municipalities seeking funding for a mediator on the recreation funding topic, since while both sides were amicable, they couldn’t come to a decision.

2016 marks the first budget year that the recreation agreement, hammered out between the two councils with the help of a mediator, has been in effect.

The meeting was mostly an information sharing session, as no formal decisions could be made during the meeting.However, a few items will be going back to one or both councils for a more formal decision.

The old Stettler Drop-in Centre, which was jointly owned by the two municipalities, was sold earlier this year for roughly$19,000. The town has the money from the sale, and asked the county if it would be willing to use that money as seed money for a joint reserve between the county and town, according to town CAO Greg Switenky.

“They were pretty agreeable,” Switenky said after the meeting, adding that the decision now has to go back to county council for a formal decision.

If the county decides to not create the joint reserve, the town will hand over the county’s half of the monies from the sale.

The councils also discussed the feral cat situation, as Joan Kerbes had appeared before both councils in the past asking for both municipalities to look at possible trap-neuter/spay-return programs or a neuter/spay incentive or discount program.The town has a cat bylaw, while the county does not, but neither group was interested in looking into creating the programs requested by Kerbes for the moment.

Both councils, however, were interested in looking into hospital helipad upgrades, a topic brought to the meeting by county councillor Greggory Jackson. Neither municipality has sway over the matter, but both agreed it would be worth looking into how the communities could get upgrades at the hospital. In the end, it was decided that the town, which has a meeting withAlberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman later this week in Edmonton, will bring the matter to her attention.

County councillor Joe Gendre brought forward a request to look at an affordable housing needs assessment for Erskine, but town councillors suggested the matter be looked at as a whole. The county will look into grants to fund a study to look at the whole of Stettler, both town and county.