By Kathy Bly
For the Sunny South News
Last Monday’s town council meeting was a first for Picture Butte’s new chief administrative officer (CAO). Mayor Wendy Jones took a moment at the start of the Apr. 27 meeting to welcome Larry Davidson as the town’s new CAO. She also acknowledged the hard work of Director of Operations Keith Davis, who served as interim CAO during the recruitment process, Director of Corporate Services Patrick Lyster and Municipal Clerk Rhonda Trechka over the four months the town was short staffed.
Coun. Teresa Feist has been appointed to represent town council on the Picture Butte and District Agriculture Society. Feist noted the society is currently recruiting new members and is in need of assistance for this year’s Jamboree Days. The town celebration is organized by the society and they need volunteers this year to organize the parade and to host Kids Day in the Park. Volunteers previously involved in both these events have stepped down after several years of service.
Town council has approved a $2,100 expenditure for CAO Larry Davidson to attend the 12th Annual Alberta Local Government Leadership Forum. The decision didn’t come without some debate around the council table. Deputy Mayor Watson said the town spent a lot of money getting the job done, of hiring a CAO, and he had an issue with spending more money. He added Davidson is new on the job, has a lot to catch up on and should be in Picture Butte doing it. Coun. Teresa Feist asked Davidson if he felt attending the forum was valuable to which he noted it was something he has attended annually and feels is beneficial. In the end, council voted 3-2 in favour of the expense.
CAO Davidson reported to council on the on-going lobby for a flashing pedestrian crosswalk at 4th Street and Highway 25. He indicated the province needs to see between 10 and 20 per cent truck traffic before a crossing will be considered, and they are saying Picture Butte is at five per cent. “There is no way it is five per cent,” said Coun. Cathy Moore. Other members of council also indicated they had a hard time believing the truck traffic on Highway 25 is only five per cent of the total vehicle count. “I’m going to be very surprised if we can achieve the numbers,” said Davidson, of the required provincial threshold. He suggested council could authorize its own vehicle count but there would be time and expense to do so. Mayor Jones indicated the item should be directed back to the committee level. Coun. Henry de Kok asked if the RCMP could be approached for a letter of recommendation to the province due to the heavy volume of traffic on Highway 25 through Picture Butte and the congestion in the downtown area. Mayor Jones also noted the town has been trying to get the speed reduced to 30 km/h in this area but provincial transportation will not approve the request. Deputy Mayor Joe Watson also noted Palliser Regional Schools has worked on getting another flashing pedestrian crossing for about a decade with no luck. He suggested administration contact Palliser for their input.
Picture Butte town council is paving the way for the newest residential subdivision in the community. At last Monday’s meeting first reading was given for an amendment to the town’s land-use bylaw. Bylaw 838-15 was given first reading and will come before council for at least two more readings.