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Update: Feb 12

I believe that Monday night was our longest Council meeting so far. We had some great discussions! Click here to read the City's official recap.

Following are a few items I want to highlight. As always, any mistakes or opinions belong to me alone.


Lightning Update

Some decisions we made that don’t need much discussion:

  • The Arbour Hills Area Structure Plan amendments were passed
  • We tabled discussion about a Housing Development Corporation business case until next month
  • The subdivision approval time extensions were approved
  • Downtown Enhancement Program amendments were approved
  • Council accepted my amendment to the police service fees charges- employment background check prices were raised from $40 to $45, fingerprinting fees will remain the same.
  • A $250 fine was levied against The Cairn for failing to meet development permit conditions

Super Sized Billboard

The proposed Land Use Bylaw amendments needed to allow superboards were passed without any changes. In my last post, I mis-understood the amendments when I said they would allow new superboards to be approved by administration. The Land Use Bylaw as amended requires any new ones to come before all of Council to get approval.

The superboard on Wapiti Road was also approved. Many Councillors expressed their opinion that this is an industrial area with nothing nice to look at. I expressed that it seems to me like an ideal place to try one out and see how it impacts and is received by the community. Everyone seemed to agree with this.


Traffic Lights

As recommended, we defunded three lights and funded two more. I received comments on two intersections on 132nd Ave which were defunded:

  1. 132 Ave & 92 St: I heard a lot about this being challenging at the start and end of school days, so asked about it. Administration is aware of these challenges and is drafting ways to address them. It is likely we will see crosswalks and other safety measures taken. However, administration was not of the opinion that traffic lights on 132nd Ave would help.
  2. 132 Ave & 108 St: We found out that the 108 St is in need of realignment. This makes putting traffic lights in even more expensive- they would cost $150,000 - $250,000 to move when the road is changed. Administration will be monitoring this intersection very closely as the new school opens up. They are also looking into the possibility of temporary lights until 108 St is fixed and the need for permanent lights is clearly expressed through warrant results.

Delegations

In addition to the above conversations, we also heard from three interesting delegations:

Weyerhaeuser: Caribou Range Planning

We received a presentation from Weyerhaeuser because it is concerned about Caribou Range Planning.

The Federal government is mandating care of caribou herds. The province is currently working on how to implement this mandate. Right now, it is proposed that 80% of caribou range land be left un-disturbed (disturbed land not only includes any wellsite, road, pipe, or cut block but also a 500m buffer around each). Currently 35% of caribou range in our region is left undisturbed. A worst case scenario if the 80% mandate is rigorously upheld: industry could have to completely shut down within nearby caribou ranges.

Weyerhaeuser is concerned because they do not know if they will have continued access to fiber in our region. They are considering major investments in their local mill which would ensure its long-term operation in Grande Prairie. We need this- Grande Prairie mills contribute over $200,000,000 to our local economy (and Canfor pays a lot of property tax). This economic activity is especially important because it balances out our economic downswings with oil and gas.
 

Logging isn’t the only industry affected- this could also decimate regional activity in the energy sector. I’ve heard from many representatives of several industries about this. They are arguing for a scientific approach being taken- there is little evidence that potential measures will actually help. They are also arguing for a this to be looked at with a socio-economic lense, not just an environmental one. And I agree with them. We can’t do much to care for the environment with a limping economy. And I would hate to damage our local industry in favour of unstudied and un-needed approaches.

This represents a significant threat to our area. Council and industry have brought it up with senior levels of government at every opportunity. However, we need your help.

On March 8th, the province will be in town for a consultation open house. It is 3:00-8:00 at the Elk’s Hall. I'd encourage you to attend, ask questions, and advocate for our industry to be protected alongside caribou.

 

 

Roller Derby

We received a request from the Roller Derby Association to help find space in Grande Prairie. This is a sport which has a number of local players, including youth. They’ve also hosted many events which draw people in from out of town, including one game that hosted over 1400 people.

They’ve been having troubles finding space that is big enough, safe, and regularly available. They asked the City for help.

Council directed administration to find out more about the needs of this sport and report back with potential options in City facilities.

I love seeing different sports in town. They are important for physical health. The communities formed around them are a big aid toward mental health. They can draw visitors to our town. And the more Grande Prairie has to do, the more attractive it is for people to work and live in. I hope we can help Roller Derby (and other non-traditional sports) find a home in Grande Prairie.

 

Northern Alberta Development Council

We heard about this provincial body. I was unaware of it, but am excited to learn more. From its website: "The Northern Alberta Development Council advances the promise of Alberta's North. NADC’s mandate is to help the region’s 150 communities and 350,000 people realize their rich potential and strengthen their diverse economies. The Council is made up of a dedicated group of provincial and local leaders and staff tasked with producing quality regional development information, supporting education and skills enhancement programs and building strategic partnerships." Their website is populated with a lot of interesting information which I look forward to looking over. I'd encourage you to click here to check it out.


That was our business Monday night.

Council won't be meeting in two weeks because we will be taking part in strategic planning sessions. I plan to post more about those tomorrow- please check them out and give me your input.

As always, I welcome any feedback or comments.

Thanks for reading!

-Dylan