OUTLOOK - The town council of Outlook met for a regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, May 10. Present were Councillors Sharon Bruce, Kyle McLeod, Bob Stephenson, and Ryan Husband, as well as Mayor Maureen Weiterman, Chief Administrative Officer Kevin Trew, and Assistant Administrator Rachel Sillers.
Absent was Councillor Justin Turton, and Councillor Kevin Grotheim joined the meeting via Zoom.
The meeting was broadcast on the Town of Outlook's Facebook page.
A number of topics and items were discussed, including the following highlights.
Appearing as a delegation to Council was Sgt. Mark Langager of the Outlook RCMP, who went over some statistics, numbers and talking points following a recent police meeting.
The local police are having to deal with recent decisions made by higher-ups, including diminished numbers as the detachment is now down to six members, with one in Elbow and five in Outlook. When one considers the towns and villages that comprise this area - Outlook, Conquest, Macrorie, Dinsmore, Hawarden, Strongfield, Loreburn, and Elbow, among other areas - perhaps the most interesting point of Sgt. Langager's presentation was the fact that the Outlook and Elbow detachments, with their modest number of officers, police an estimated 8,000 citizens when the population numbers of each community are combined.
The Outlook RCMP's average case load this year is up to approximately 415, an increase from last year's 288. In the category of 'Crimes Against Persons', the total number for the local detachment area was 41, and what those include are assaults, uttering threats, and sexual offences. In other Criminal Code stats, there were 13 cases, which Sgt. Langager stated were usually weapons offences, breach of court orders, and chilid pornography. As well, there were 1151 traffic offences, which can range from speeding to dangerous and drunk driving.
It was said that out of the police's entire detachment area, roughly 45-50% of their work is in Outlook alone.
Langager also highlighted a number of detachment priorities, including police community relations, specifically police visibility in the communities in which they serve.
"People want to know how much we're around, so I have everyone keep track of where their patrols are and what they're doing night and day," said Sgt. Langager. "I have a graph here that shows the number of patrols that we did, and so for example, if someone from Glenside comes up and says, 'Where are you guys? I haven't seen you for a while', we can tell them that we were there over 300 times this year on routine patrols. That's a big thing going forward because we are down a couple of members, and that forces me into the office even more than I want to be, so I need to hear back from all the communities that you are or are not seeing us because that's a priority for us."
Councillor Bruce asked Langager if the intention was to replace the two officer positions that were removed in order to help bulk up the force again.
"They'll say that it's our intention to replace, but no," said Mark, giving a bluntly honest answer. "The Elbow corporal position, (they say) that will be replaced when we're full staffed, and in 22 years, we've never been full staffed. Unless we get our ask of 300-plus members to the division, plus the 100 that aren't being staffed, then they won't see them here."
Opening the floor to questions, Councillor Husband asked Sgt. Langager about the recent Anti-Bullying Bylaw, questioning if there were any incidents that the RCMP had to deal with in regards to it. Langager said that police haven't laid any charges in any matters that have come up, and although there was one incident that police were looking into, it ended with a warning as the matter resolved itself. Langager commended the creation of the bylaw, calling it a "nice tool to have" in matters that involve bullying and harassment.
After some comments and further discussion around the room, Sgt. Langager exited the council chambers.
Chief Administrative Officer Report
Prepared by Kevin Trew
• We are sad to say goodbye to Susan at our library – she started with the Town March 2, 2021. We wish her well in her new role with Riverbend Co-operative and we know that she will be a volunteer with the library going forward.
• The Town is planning to hire an office student again as well as public works summer students despite not being approved for Canada Summer Jobs Grants for any summer positions; in addition, we have committed to hiring a library summer programming student and will begin advertising these jobs for June start dates.
Policy and Procedural Items:
• We continue to work on updated bylaws and policies with regards to the utilities (water, sewer and garbage collection) which we expect will see changes in billing from quarterly to monthly – we have been able to do two readings on the water and sewer bylaws and we expect to introduce first reading of the waste bylaw at next meeting of Council, we are still hopeful that these will be done in time for ministerial approval prior to July 31.
Successes this Month:
• Project kickoffs – we are very excited that we are going to see some long awaited projects start this spring – the landfill decommissioning, storm water outfalls and the highway main replacement projects will all be happening this summer.
• Public communication – we had a very successful 3rd installment of the open house in early April, the feedback received and the number of people in attendance proved an overwhelming success, we answered quite a few questions in person and we did get some that required follow up; in addition, I took the time to deliver personally, the notices to the property owners on McKenzie and Saskatchewan Avenue that would be affected by the highway project; while I did not see everyone, I did get a lot of feedback, mostly positive about the project and the need for the Town to do their work before Highways does theirs.
Learning Opportunities/Capacity Development:
• Road Maintenance – whether it is road grading, application of dust control, street sweeping, snow removal or simple spot repairs our Public Works team does a great job making the most of what they have; our equipment is in decent shape and our staff is well trained, there is always opportunity to improve and meet the level of service expectations of the public – our team keeps working on that and we have a bit to go yet to meet these expectations fully. This is a total team effort with pivotal roles from Council down to labourer as well as members of the public; as Councils work on improving the state of the streets by setting budgets for operations and capital investment in roads and equipment, staff work on efficient use of the equipment as well as timely maintenance, the admin staff handles calls including complaints and questions and finally the public provides constructive feedback and keeps informing us of the level of service expectation.
Current Unfinished Projects:
• Highway Water, Sewer and Storm Water Replacement – Both phases of this project have now begun by Contech General Contractors and we expect this project to continue until the end of July at least; there will be excavations and detours for the highway for the whole time, the Ministry of Highways is well aware and has issued permit to us for this work; initially we had planned to replace 90 water and sewer individual service lines, however we will not be doing this as a part of this project in 2023.
• Storm Water Outfalls rehabilitation – Accurate HD is expected to complete the outfall rehabilitation project this summer, we are awaiting the updated construction schedule.
• Landfill Decommissioning of Old Cell – The tender has been awarded to Nemanishen and the source of dirt will be Dale Wright. This should start shortly, we are just awaiting the schedule to be shared with us.
• Raw Water Intake/ Water Treatment Plant Upgrade Project –This project is divided into two parts - Our engineer has completed the design of the Water Treatment Plant Upgrade and Council is tasked tonight with making the decision if it goes to tender; we are doing further testing of the water from the test wells located on the east side of the river (adjacent to the golf course) and have so far not seen the results we were hoping for – we continue to communicate and be in full discussion with the Riverview Golf Club Board and staff while we perform the testing.
• Subdivisions Projects
o Highway Commercial – CP Rail staff have changed over and the new staff member is familiarizing himself with our proposal; Associated Engineering has prepared an estimate and plan for servicing; we have not been able to give this our attention yet.
• New Zoning Bylaw – Urban Systems was supposed to have a draft for us for this meeting, I have not been able to connect with the planner; they were in attendance at our open house in April.
• As the Town continues to tender out vacant properties for sale, there are definitely interested parties in purchasing; we continue to identify different parcels that may garner interest from adjacent owners and we are open to having discussions about making sales.
• The Town Hall Complex parking lot project will be proceeding as planned in 2023; clerk Crystal is our project coordinator for this project.
• Our application was submitted for the Green and Inclusive Communities Building Grant where we applied for upgrades and enhancements to the Jim Kook Recreation Complex; we are still awaiting news on this front.
• Capital projects such as air conditioning for the Civic Center, a new compressor for the hockey ice at the Recplex as well as a systems overhaul for the Town Hall Complex have kept our admin and recreation teams focused on building improvements.