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Town of Picture Butte Dec. 18 council briefs

Posted on December 27, 2023 by Sunny South News

By Heather Cameron
Southern Alberta Newspapers
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The following are selected briefs from the Town of Picture Butte Council Meeting that took place on December 18.

RCMP Report

Staff Sergeant Mike Numan from the RCMP visited Council and provided the RCMP report package to Council, saying that it contained statistics year over year as well as just some specific statistics regarding this quarter compared to other quarters. The only thing that went up from 2022 to 2023, Numan said, was the number of assaults, from four to 10. The RCMP continues to be busy in the region, Numan said, as there is a lot of property crime, thefts from motor vehicles, and motor vehicle thefts. However, Numan said those incidents are not so much specific to Picture Butte as they are to the rural areas and to the south of the community. Council asked Numan if the keys were left in the vehicles being stolen, or if people were breaking into vehicles. Numan responded by explaining that there are two types of that theft: theft from motor vehicles where car “shoppers” check door handles, and then take whatever is left inside the vehicle; and then there is car theft itself. Numan emphasized that there are certain makes and models of vehicles that are easy to start without a key, and the people engaged in these thefts have picked up on that. Council also wanted to know if said vehicles had been found and Numan stated that they are always found, as the police do their forensic investigation, they charge people, and it goes through the court system. And, Numan said, it seems like the police are dealing with the same small group of 10 to 15 people that they know are very active. Numan said that this type of crime just seems to be a repetitive thing that the police are constantly dealing with. It’s not just in this region; it’s all through Alberta, B.C. and Saskatchewan, but the RCMP have definitely noticed an uptick in this part of the country, too.

Numan also briefly reviewed the breakdown for the quarter, (comparing July to September 2022, to 2023) year over year, and January to December 2021, to 2022. Numan then explained that staffing levels were currently good but reported that Sergeant David Marinette is moving on. Numan said he hired another sergeant, but it’s going to take time for that sergeant to relocate and one of the Corporal positions is also currently vacant due to a long-term medical leave situation.  

On top of that, Numan reported that the detachment is going to be potentially a satellite or home base for a group of four RCMP members who are going to call it a reserve unit. Numan said that the officers will be based out of the office and will use it to do reports and other necessary tasks, and what that does is add more visibility.  

Numan also reported that the Town of Coaldale will fund another position, and RCMP will employ a plain clothes officer.

Council wanted to know if the addition of an officer meant that there would be more traffic control, as one of the councillors was recently approached about a traffic issue concerning St. Catherine’s School and asked about the possibility of putting in a speed bump, but Numan said that the new officer would not be in uniform, and doing high priority investigations, not traffic control.

Numan also commented that the provincial government is still trying to be on target to take over the Victims Services Program by April 1, 2024, and that they are going to grandfather in any Victims Services advocates or volunteers and allow them to apply for any of the new positions. The new set up, Numan said, will be regional and will have four regions; each region will be run by an Executive Director, a whole board, and some paid employees who will have offices. 

2024 Interim Operating and Capital Budget

Council discussed approving the Interim Operating and Capital Budget; with the new budget to Council in the new year, as they are required by legislation to have an interim budget in place before the end of the year. Councilor deKok made the motion to pass the Interim Operating and Capital Budgets for 2024. Council agreed to hold the budget presentations on February 20, 2024. 

Business Loan Improvement Application to Community Futures 

Council reviewed a business loan improvement application to Community Futures that was submitted by Muhammad Omair Iqbal, owner of A-1 Pizza in Picture Butte. According to his application, Iqbal requested funding to upgrade the restaurant’s walk-in cooler, acquire a backup oven and cooling equipment, replace the fan in his current oven, upgrade the restaurant’s sign, and apply other improvements. Council stated they decided that they want to use that money for modifying the exteriors and interiors of businesses. Council ultimately decided that although it’s an option, they could consider expanding the loan criteria. Historically and under their current rules, they felt that Iqbal’s application, except for the sign improvements, did not meet the criteria. A motion was made to deny the business loan improvement application submitted to Community Futures by Iqbal’s A-1 Pizza on the basis the application did not meet the eligible improvement requirements for a business improvement loan as approved by Council. However, Council wanted to inform Iqbal why his application was denied, and they also wanted to provide him with information regarding the rules about Community Futures applications.

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