Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Council Meeting Highlights - Jan. 10, 2012

Council Meeting Highlights
Tuesday’s meeting included a review of the Capital Region Boards activities in the past year, and presentation of reports and requests from several departments. Information on all of the background reports and minutes

To obtain the rationale behind decisions made by your elected representatives tune into the webcast. The webcast is timed and titled so that you can refer immediately to your topic of interest. Videos are stored for six months. 

Community Social Services Grant Program 2012
A total of $225,000 in grants has been approved by Council. Partnership grants of $141,000 were allocated to: Strathcona Youth Justice, Strathcona County (SC) Mediation Society, Boys & Girls Club, Linking Generations and Parents Empowering Parents. Operating grants of 84,000 were allocated to Robin Hood, Big Brothers Big Sisters, altView Foundation, SafePlace Shelter, Saffron Sexual Assault Centre, SC Overacting Imaginations Youth Theatre Society.
Applications for this funding are reviewed by an Advisory Committee and serve to expand the scope of social services programming to fill identified gaps in our community.

Economic Development & Tourism Committee
The Economic Development brought forward an update indicating an upward trending of retail sales and industrial leasing. Both office leasing and housing prices are holding steady. Housing starts are lower than 2010. The department is working on baseline statistics to provide meaningful comparables for more detailed reporting of business attraction, retention, expansion and growth in the future. Current initiatives include a business ambassador program and a new business mentorship program. Report available here 

Traffic Bylaw 13-2011 Passed Third Reading
Nine bylaws on traffic regulations have been repealed and rolled into one more comprehensive bylaw. Council passed third reading of this bylaw which includes weight restrictions, transportation of dangerous goods, special roadway events, construction activity, and parking. More information will be available through local media advertisements.

Emergency Management Bylaw approved
Council approved an important piece of policy that brings the Strathcona County’s Management program in line with provincial legislation and industry best practises. Bylaw 1-2012 replaces a 1994 bylaw. The new policy is more inclusive and clearly outlines roles and responsibilities in the event that a state of local emergency is declared. In the 1994 bylaw the Disaster Services Committee consisted of two elected officials: the Mayor and Deputy Mayor. The new bylaw includes a change in that all of Council are on the new Emergency Advisory Committee. The implementation arm is the Emergency Management Agency. This internal operations group will liaise with the province and other nongovernmental groups in the preparation and implementation of a Municipal Emergency Plan to mitigate damage and protect the lives and property our citizens.

Budget Amendments
Two changes were approved by Council that will impact residents in positive ways.
The Biomass Demonstration facility  has exceeded cost project estimates but will be receiving a further $350,000 from the Federation of Municipalities Green Municipal Fund that is allocated to emissions monitoring projects. The remaining $40,000 will be drawn from Strathcona County Utilities Reserve.
The 2011 budget was amended to allow for $323,501 expenditure for twelve ‘Life Pac 15’ monitors. Ambulances and select front line fire trucks will carry this improved technology equipment that will provide a broader scope of patient assessment and treatment.

Repeal of Cellular Phone Bylaw 27-2009
With the passing of the provincial Distracted Driving Law, which came into effect on September 1st. Driving Council repealed the municipal cellular phone bylaw.

Councillor Reports
I would like to acknowledge an initiative of staff and the Seniors Advisory Committee who assembled and found sponsors for our first Strathcona County Seniors Calendar. It has timely safety, fire and crime prevention tips in it. Residents who would like one of these free calendars can contact 464.4044 or visit this site.

Residents often express interest in the Priority Fund policy and requests which generally receive rubber stamp approval by council. At this council meeting,  I voted against a $4,500 request to pay for the airfare for three cadets from the RCACS (Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron) to fly to the United Kingdom. 

This was presented as a written motion for $2,500 but amended verbally to $4,500. The supporting document from the RCAF Edmonton office requested $1,500 and did not indicate that the beneficiary would be a Strathcona County resident. Given that information,  I decided to not support the use of tax payers money for this endeavour.

At this point, Council has very broad and flexible guidelines on spending taxpayers money from the Priority Fund. I have a Building Strong Communities Committee that reviews most of the applications for my ward funding. One of their criteria is that the ward priority funds specifically benefit a number of residents within the ward and are spent within the ward. This is a good example of why I initially supported removing priority funds from the budget and have requested more rigid guidelines.

E News Bulletin
I send out an E News Bulletin about four times a month to residents. It is an opportunity for me to inform you of events and matters of interest to your family and neighbours in a timely manner. These electronic news flashes also help me to get your input and touch base with you. Contact me at to receive your copy!

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