At Morinville Council

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Charity village?

A Morinville councillor says her town should consider setting up a one-stop-shop for charities to help its non-profit groups thrive.

Council passed a motion from Coun. Rebecca Balanko last May 8 to compile a list of programs and services offered by non-profits in Morinville that were preventative and enhanced community well-being in order to find ways to improve the town’s social safety net.

Morinville has a variety of non-profit groups that work to help persons in need, such as the Midstream Support Society and the Morinville Food Bank.

After talking to local groups Balanko said she and Mayor Barry Turner found that many faced common obstacles relating to finances, volunteers, space, and service delivery.

“It’s really around getting volunteer support. A lot of them can’t work a casino because they can’t get enough people to come in.”

Balanko said she wanted council to start talking about possible ways to address these challenges prior to this fall’s budget debate.

Turner said this motion would help council get the big picture when it came to the challenges faced by its non-profits. It could lead to the town serving as a hub for volunteers, a community foundation to help with fundraising, or some sort of central building that would house many organizations.

“The key thing is that somebody has got to take the lead,” Turner said.

Balanko said she loved the idea of building some sort of charity village in Morinville similar to the one in St. Albert. The St. Albert Community Village is a large building near that city’s Canadian Tire which houses many services and programs for disadvantaged residents under one roof.

Balanko asked for this information to come to council by June 26.

Code of conduct update

Morinville residents can now lodge formal complaints against their councillors.

Town council approved its new code of conduct bylaw last week.

While the town has had a code of conduct policy for many years, new provincial regulations require all communities to embody such policies in law.

The new law is a beefed-up version of the council’s code of conduct policy that covers more material. It requires council members to serve the welfare and interest of the municipality as a whole, and conduct themselves at all times in a way that bolsters public confidence. It also requires councillors to attend the town’s council orientation training within 90 days of taking office and to attend any other training sessions arranged by council.

The biggest change from the old policy is the creation of a formal complaint process, Turner said. Previously, if you suspected that a councillor had breached the Municipal Government Act, council could handle your complaint however it liked. Now, the law states that residents can submit a written complaint and trigger a formal investigation either by council as a whole or a third party appointed by council.

Land-use review

Murals may soon be allowed in Morinville’s commercial districts if council signs off on a slew of changes to the land-use bylaw.

Council received a long list of proposed changes to the land-use bylaw last week but postponed first reading so they could go over them in detail at this week’s committee of the whole meeting.

The bylaw, if approved, would make a large number of amendments to the land-use bylaw, most of which were meant to clarify matters related to fence height, landscaping, wind power, and parking.

Regarding signs, the bylaw proposes to allow people to put up murals in non-residential areas without a development permit so long as the murals do not act as ads, announcements, or directions. The bylaw would also eliminate the minimum separation distance requirement for digital signs and establish new limits on sign size and brightness.

The bylaw would allow freestanding signs to be up to nine meters tall in certain commercial and industrial districts. Those signs are currently capped at seven metres, which administration felt was too restrictive. All but one other local municipality allowed for signs taller than seven metres.

The bylaw returns to council May 22.

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About Author

Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.