At County Council
| Posted: Wednesday, Oct 17, 2012 03:16 pm
Burn bylaw passed
Year-round fire permitting has gone up in smoke now that county councillors have struck the idea from their revised burning bylaw.
County council voted unanimously in favour of third reading for its revised burning bylaw last week.
When county fire chief Pat Mahoney brought the bylaw forward in March, it contained a requirement for residents to get a free permit before setting an outdoor fire at any time of year. Under the old law, they could set fires without a permit from Nov. 1 to March 31. Mahoney flagged that as a problem, as this meant the county had no way to keep track of fires set during this often dry period.
Council dropped the year-round-permit idea in the final bylaw, meaning residents will once again only have to get a fire permit when lighting one between April 1 and Oct. 31.
It did so out of concern for farmers on the edge of the county who might have trouble getting to the county office for a permit in the winter, said Coun. Don McGeachy.
They did, however, keep in place a ban on fires for ground thawing and empowered the fire chief to require fire permits at other times of the year if conditions required it.
Council also elected to ban burn-barrels from multi-lot subdivisions unless they were on lots bigger than an acre and to require those barrels to be at least three metres from the property line. The new bylaw also bans brush-pile burning from any multi-lot subdivision.
Residents who light an illegal fire can be fined up to $1,000 on a first offence, according to the bylaw, rising to $3,000 on a third offence.
Call 780-939-4321 for details on the new bylaw.
Big loan for seniors’ home
Sturgeon County is poised to loan a local seniors’ home some $4.2 million and it won’t cost county taxpayers a dime.
County council voted unanimously last week in favour of borrowing up to $4,182,550 from the Alberta Capital Finance Authority in order to help finance construction of the new dementia wing at West Country Hearth — an assisted living facility in Villeneuve.
It held off on third reading for a related bylaw to actually give that money to the West Sturgeon Aging in Place Foundation (which runs West Country Hearth) until it got some financial records from the group.
The foundation is now adding 13 units to its dementia unit, said foundation chair Colleen Soetaert, which will cost about $2.4 million. About $1.2 million of that is coming from a provincial grant. They also still have $3 million worth of payments left on the rest of the place.
Instead of borrowing this money at commercial rates (which are about five per cent a year), Soetaert said, the foundation asked the county to borrow it from the province on their behalf (as they are allowed to do for non-profits).
This was a chance to take advantage of the lower rate the county gets on loans from the province, said Coun. Karen Shaw, which is about three per cent. “This is going to be a facility that’s urgently needed in the community,” she said, so council supported it.
The loan agreement, once signed, will require the foundation to turn over audited copies of its financial records for the last five years, according to a report to council, and to sign a mortgage agreement committing it to regular loan payments. Those payments will go to the county, which will forward them to the province.
It’s the foundation, not the county, that will pay for this loan, Shaw said. “It doesn’t cost us a dime.”
This agreement re-emphasizes the support county residents have for this facility, Soetaert says, and will take a great deal of financial pressure off of the foundation. “The interest rate is much more reasonable.”
Workers will start framing the new units next week, Soetaert says, and expects to have them open by next September.
The loan agreement will return to council at its next meeting.