By Kathy Bly
For the Sunny South News
Snow removal renewal
Just ahead of the winter season, Picture Butte town council has approved a renewal of its existing snow removal contract with a few minor tweaks.
Council has increased the priority for 6 Street in front of the Dorothy Dalgliesh School and has asked for improved removal at busy corners on intersections in the community. “It will still be a combination of town staff and a contractor for snow removal,” noted CAO Larry Davidson.
Moore named Deputy Mayor
Picture Butte town council has named Coun. Cathy Moore as Deputy Mayor for a one-year term.
Moore will serve as deputy until the October 2016 organizational meeting. She was voted in as deputy mayor at the annual organizational meeting for town council. The remaining three council members will serve four-month terms as acting mayor with Coun. Henry de Kok serving now until February 2016, Coun. Teresa Feist from March until June of 2016 and Coun. Joe Watson from July until October 2016.
The acting mayor fills in when neither the mayor nor the deputy mayor are available to represent town council in an official capacity.
Committee appointments were also made at the meeting. Mayor Wendy Jones will represent the town on the Green Acres Foundation and the Mayors and Reeves of Southwest Alberta. She will also serve on the town’s Emergency Services Committee.
Deputy Mayor Moore will also serve on the Emergency Services Committee, on the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board and represent the town on the Picture Butte and District Chamber of Commerce, Community Futures, the Picture Butte and District Recreation and Culture Committee and on the Remembrance Day Committee.
Coun. de Kok will serve on the town’s Municipal Planning Commission and represent the town on the Oldman River Regional Services Commission, Southgrow Regional Initiative and the Intermunicipal Development Committee.
Coun. Feist will represent the town on the Lethbridge Regional Waste Management Services Commission, on the Chinook Arch Regional Library Board, on the Picture Butte Municipal Library Board, on the Picture Butte and District Recreation and Culture Committee, on the Picture Butte & District Agricultural Society and serve as an alternate for the Oldman River Regional Services Commission.
Coun. Watson will serve on the Municipal Planning Commission and represent the town on the Southern Alberta Energy to Waste, on the Walk on the Wild Side Society and on the Intermunicipal Development Committee.
Council will continue to hold Committee of the Whole meetings on the third Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers and will continue to hold regular council meetings the second and fourth Monday of each month. Traditionally, council does cancel some of the meetings in the summer and one in December each year.
Spirit of Butte
On an annual basis, once each quarter, the Town of Picture Butte recognizes individuals and/or community groups for the contributions to the town. Recognition is given, not only for those who have made significant efforts to improve the quality of life in Picture Butte, but also to those who have created greater awareness of what the community has to offer.
This quarter, council will be honouring Picture Butte High School and the Prairie Tractor and Engine Society for their Governor General award, the Picture Butte and District Agricultural Society and the Picture Butte and District Recreation and Cultural Committee.
The Picture Butte town office will be closed from Christmas through to the end of December. With Boxing Day falling on a Saturday, staff receive Monday, Dec. 28 off in lieu of that day. Given how quiet the office is over the holiday season, CAO Larry Davidson asked council to allow staff to close the town office between Christmas and Jan. 4. Town council agreed to allow staff to take Dec. 29 through Dec. 31 off and approved a request to allow them to use vacation time to cover off these work days.
Council will meet with staff the afternoon of Dec. 23 for their annual holiday social leading into the Christmas break. Council has also approved a $250 staff recognition for each full-time staff member. The cost to the town to recognize staff in this manner is $2,750. Davidson said it is a means for council to show good will. Keith Davis, director of operations said there are staff who would appreciate the end-of-the-year bonus.
“It is our way of saying thanks for doing a good job,” said Mayor Wendy Jones.
Coun. Watson did speak out against the bonus and said there is nothing in the collective agreement about a year-end bonus. He said due to the collective bargaining agreement he would be voting against the bonus. In the end, council voted 3-2 to in favour of the bonus.
Alberta Transportation has denied the Town of Picture Butte’s request for overhead crosswalk lights to be installed at the intersection of Highway 25 and 4 Street. Instead, Alberta Transportation said it will recommend the use of reboundable traffic signs, as a pedestrian control device.
A letter from Alberta Transportation noted the traffic/pedestrian survey of the intersection indicated due to low vehicle and pedestrian traffic a crosswalk light was not warranted. It was recommended the reboundable signs be installed in the middle of the road, one on each crosswalk across Highway 25.
Town council declined, noting the signs wouldn’t last very long. Council instead has agreed to maintain the current pedestrian crossings, as is, on Highway 25 and 4 Street.
Community development video
With a donation of $2,000 the Town of Picture Butte is supporting video production at Picture Butte High School and getting a promotional video in return. PBHS has developed a program to teach students about video production and students have already completed five videos for the Prairie Tractor and Engine Society’s Coyote Flats.
Students will now be working on a five-minute video highlighting the history of Picture Butte and all it has to offer by way of service organizations, facilities, community events and churches. While the students are doing the work at no cost to the town, Davidson requested council consider a $2,000 donation to allow the school to purchase additional video equipment to support the school’s program. The students are expected to present their video to town council in January. The video will be used on the town’s website and in future marketing initiatives.
Friday public skating
Picture Butte town council has approved a weekly public skating session for parents, tots and seniors in the community. Previously, the parent and tot skating ran Friday mornings at the arena but it was outside of the regular operating hours of the arena, resulting in additional costs to the town for the operator to be on site.
In a report to town council Keith Davis, director of operations, said the town is paying out $30 an hour to have the operator open up the arena for a morning skate that has a low participation rate apart from the local daycare. He noted schools are required to book ice time and suggested the daycare, as a private user, should be required to book ice time in a similar manner. For this reason, he cancelled the Friday morning skate time.
The town already offers four public/family skate times on a weekly basis. All of these times are free of charge and open to the public. Davis said the town has been working to make the programs and services offered at the arena more efficient.
CAO Larry Davidson said he received a letter from Manna Middleton on behalf the Bee Hive Child Care Centre, raising several issues in regards to the cancelling of the Friday morning parent and tot skate, which is utilized by the centre for the children they care for in the community.
He met with Middleton and recommended council consider offering public skating for parents, tots and seniors on Fridays from 11:40 a.m. to 12:40 p.m. The cost to the town will be $2,355, which is already reflected in the town’s operating budget. Council agreed to approve the new Friday skate time on a trial basis for this skating season.
Rural water request
Picture Butte town council has declined to allow four Lethbridge County residents to hook up to the town’s treated water line. In a request to council, the four residents with acreages located east of the town just off Highway 519 requested to be able to tie-in to an existing six-inch line owned by two other county residents.
Council denied the request and Davidson noted there is a rural potable water line in the area available to these same residents at a cost determined by the Lethbridge North County Potable Water Co-op.
Recreation master plan
Picture Butte town council has approved a motion to hire Stantec to complete a Recreation and Cultural Master Plan for the town. The deadline for the plan to be completed has been set at Mar. 31, 2016.
As part of the plan’s development there will be an opportunity for town council, town administration and local residents to be engaged in the development of the plan.
Davidson said both the town and county councils, both administrations and residents in both the town and county will be included in the engagement process, so as to have input into the plan.
Top soil sale
Picture Butte town council has approved a motion to accept bids for the top soil left behind from the development of the new Sunset Park residential subdivision and removal of the town’s old water reserviors. The town is entertaining bids for all of the surplus top soil but is not interested in selling it in smaller lots.
The Town of Picture Butte has agreed to accept donations over $100 for both the Picture Butte and District Recreation and Culture Committee or the Walk on the Wild Side Society.
Both organizations are unable to provide tax receipts for such donations and the town was asked to consider doing this for both organizations in their efforts to secure donations for community-based projects.
Letters to council
Mayor Wendy Jones noted at times the town receives letters from residents with concerns or issues they would like to see addressed at the council level but because the letters are not signed they cannot be presented to council.
“If they take the time to write, they must sign it,” said Jones.
She said if a letter is not signed it will not be included in the council meeting agenda and will not be discussed or dealt with by town council.
Recycling remains in place
Picture Butte’s recycling depot will remain in its current location for the foreseeable future.
Council previously approved a motion to move the recycling to the waste transfer site south of town after it was told that was the request of the new contractor operating the transfer stations in the region.
CAO Larry Davidson said after meeting with the new contractor it was determined the recycling trailer and bins south of the North County Recreation Complex could remain in place.
Council members indicated they have received a number of calls from residents complaining about the proposed move.
Ag society letter
Picture Butte town council has directed administration to respond to a letter from the Picture Butte and District Agriculture Society that raises concerns about issues that arose during this year’s Jamboree Days between the town and the society. The letter had previously been on a council agenda as an informational item but Mayor Wendy Jones said all signed letters addressed to council will now appear on the agenda under correspondence.
In his motion, Coun. Henry de Kok asked that the letter include an apology to the society and assurance the group has the town’s appreciation for all that it does in the community.
“We always have supported the ag society,” said Mayor Jones.
Picture Butte council has voted in favour of renewing its membership with the Oldman Watershed Council.