By Kathy Bly
For the Sunny South News
Picture Butte town council has asked its administration to do some more investigation into the potential for an elevator or lift to provide wheelchair access to the basement of the town office building.
The move comes following a request from the Picture Butte Municipal Library for the town to apply for grant funding through the Community Foundation of Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta.
In a letter from Library Manager Cheryl Garratt, she noted the library’s plan of service goals include making increased use of the basement meeting room.
In order to do this, she said increased access would be required. Town council discussed the request and not only questioned the cost but whether the work could be done on a building as old as the town office.
Coun. Joe Watson said the town has to look at what it can afford.
“Maybe more groups would meet down there,” suggested Coun. Teresa Feist, if the room was more accessible to those in wheelchairs or with compromised mobility.
Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Larry Davidson said he did ask the library manager for the number of library patrons who would require this service but was not provided with an answer.
Administration did some initial investigation and determined an elevator could possibly be installed for $40,000 or a stair lift for about $20,000.
Members of council raised concern the cost would actually be higher, once an engineering study was completed to determine what would be feasible in the building.
Davidson said it should be the library who applies for the grant and pays for the engineering costs.
“I think we’re just opening up a big can of worms,” said Deputy Mayor Cathy Moore.
She is concerned the age of the building will be an issue and opening up the building to do this type of construction could unearth additional and costly structural issues for the town.
Council approved a motion to direct administration to research the grant program and the options for accessibility further and bring a report back to a future council meeting.
Support letter denied
In a defeating vote of 3-2, Picture Butte town council will not be providing Lethbridge County with a letter of support in principle for its application for grant funding to develop a regional potable water master plan.
Davidson said the county is looking to draw up a plan that could see a regional water treatment site build at the top of Nolan Hill, diverting water from the Oldman River.
Picture Butte has identified its Infrastructure Assessment Plan and an engineering report on the arena/curling rink complex as the top two capital in the coming year.
Davidson said the province has asked municipalities to identify their capital priorities and he is hopeful some funding may be made available in the near future to address them.
‘Butte council considering regional bylaw enforcement
Picture Butte town council approved a motion at last Monday’s regular council meeting to provide a letter of support for a proposed Community Peace Officer regionalization project.
The Town of Coaldale is seeking grant funding to get the regional approach to bylaw enforcement up and running for Coaldale, Coalhurst, Barons and Picture Butte. The project is being spearheaded by Coaldale — hoping to qualify for grant funding recently announced by the provincial government.
Under the Alberta Community Partnership Program, up to $350,000 is available per application. Under the program outlined by Coaldale, their municipality would be the managing partner and the other three municipalities would pay fees based on a per capita formula. There would be four CPOs providing coverage across the four municipalities.
“I don’t know if we can afford it,” said Mayor Wendy Jones, noting Picture Butte currently budgets $40,000 a year for bylaw enforcement, which is handled through an agreement with Coalhurst.
Under the proposed regionalization the town would be looking at increased bylaw enforcement coverage but at a cost of at least $70,000 a year.
Larry Davidson, chief administrative officer (CAO), said he is concerned the program will be more reactive than proactive with CPOs responding to complaints, rather than patrolling the community and enforcing the town’s bylaws.
He said there is certainly an advantage to having coverage by four CPOs, which would increase Picture Butte’s bylaw coverage to three days a week.
Davidson said he met with Barons and Coalhurst to talk about the two communities partnering with Picture Butte on a regional program but the other two were in support of the program proposed by Coaldale.
Mayor Jones said she was concerned about the price tag for the program but Davidson did point out a full-time bylaw officer for Picture Butte would cost in the $100,000 range each year.
“We have to do a lot more thinking before we get into this,” said Jones.
Coun. Henry de Kok questioned whether Picture Butte could ask for a proactive rather than reactive approach to bylaw enforcement if the regional project goes through. Davidson said the request could possibly be addressed through a service agreement with Coaldale.
“We should see someone three days a week but that includes travel time,” noted Davidson.
Coun. Joe Watson questioned how the program would impact the policing Picture Butte receives through the RCMP, concerned that having more bylaw enforcement might lead to less police coverage.
In the end council approved a motion to send a letter of support for Coaldale’s grant application because the details can still be worked out once the funding is approved.
As part of its approach to the development of a Parks, Culture, Recreation Master Plan, the Town of Picture Butte is asking residents to take a few minutes to fill out an online survey.
Davidson said some hard copies of the survey are available at the town office but residents can easily access the survey on the town’s website at picturebutte.ca or on the town’s Facebook page.
There will also be sounding boards located outside the library, Community Centre and in the arena where residents can provide input.
Surveys must be completed by Feb. 12 and there will be a public open house on Feb. 17 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Community Centre. There will be a presentation at 6 p.m. followed by time for discussion and viewing of displays addressing the plan.
Davidson said it’s important for residents to fill out the survey, as it will be used by the town to help determine how it will approach parks, recreation and culture in the future in Picture Butte.
The new plan will guide town council when it comes to recreation and cultural facilities, events and programs over the next decade.
Town Council has appointed Coun. Joe Watson as the town’s representative on the Regional Assessment Review Board.
The role of the board is to hear assessment appeals and requires the board members take the necessary training required to serve on the board.
Coun. Henry de Kok, who represents the town on the Oldman River Regional Service Commission, will sit as the town’s alternate on the review board.