At Town Council
| Posted: Tuesday, Jan 15, 2013 07:15 pm
Traffic law tuned
Town council took a microscope to its new traffic safety bylaw earlier this month, asking administration to make a slew of fine adjustments to it before it hits the road.
Council voted unanimously in favour of second reading of the bylaw on Jan. 8, which was mostly unchanged from the first version. The bylaw covers everything from speed limits to mud on sidewalks.
One of its biggest changes, if approved, will be a rule requiring buses to use their warning flashers when loading or unloading kids in town. Most communities forbid buses from using these lights in city limits.
Councillors spent roughly an hour going over the bill.
Coun. Sheldon Fingler was concerned that the law required off-road vehicle users to get a permit before clearing snow for neighbours. “If they’re doing it in the spirit of community service, I think it’s something we could have a general exemption for.”
This could be expensive to enforce, added Coun. Gordon Boddez, and could lead to the kind of trouble seen in St. Albert. (There was a public outcry in 2011 when the RCMP fined a St. Albert chiropractor after he used an ATV to plough a sidewalk.)
“If somebody’s being neighbourly to somebody else and we prohibit that … we’re starting to become Big Brother,” he said.
Coun. David Pattison wondered if the new rules on election signs were too restrictive, as they seemed to effectively ban them from most major intersections and Hwy. 642. “I’m trying to visualize where you end up with election signs, Mr. Mayor.”
Other councillors criticized the bylaw’s rules on bicycles, bike helmets and parking time limits as too proscriptive. Does it have to specify the nature of a “properly fitting helmet,” for example, Pattison asked?
The bylaw returns for third reading Jan. 22.
Library fees snubbed
Council has once again snubbed a proposed library fee hike from the Northern Lights Library System, but they’ll have to shell out more for books all the same.
Council voted unanimously against a motion to support an increase to the Northern Lights library board’s levies for this year. The proposed $0.44-per-person hike (22 cents for the town, 22 cents for the Morinville Library board) would amount to $36,500.08 each from the town and the library, or $1,756.28 more than last year for each organization.
The Northern Lights system provides interlibrary loans and other services for 52 communities, including Morinville.
This is the third year in the row that the board has asked for a five per cent hike, said Coun. Lisa Holmes, who sits on the board. She had voted against it at the board level, noting with disappointment that it had proposed cuts to services and member libraries rather than the board’s own operations.
“It will pass,” she added, but Morinville’s vote would send a message that it had an issue with the board.
Board executive director Mircea Panciuk later confirmed that over two thirds of member communities had voted in favour of the hike, meaning that it had been approved. The board sets its fee hikes based on a rolling seven-year average for stability, he added.
When Pattison asked if Morinville could not simply join another library board, Holmes explained that the Library Act requires communities to either join a board in their geographic region (Northern Lights, in this case) or to become a stand-alone board. That act is up for review next year, she noted, and some communities have called for its regional boundaries to be tweaked.
Morinville could also form a new regional board with St. Albert or Edmonton, said Bonnie Gray, assistant director of the Alberta Public Library Services Branch, but those cities would have to agree to do join it.
Morinville also voted against a library fee hike last year.