ESTEVAN - Estevan city council gave first reading to amendments to its building bylaw during the Nov. 13 meeting.
In a report to council, land development services manager Richard Neufeld and building official Matt Stepp said the document was last updated in 2018 and the bylaw presented on Nov. 13 was a complete rewrite.
The building bylaw's service fees and deposits will be moved to the service fees bylaw. There are some increases in those fees for the first time since 2018. A building permit for a house with a construction valuation of $500,000 would cost $3,500, up from $3,000.
"These fees will all be included in the service fees bylaw," states a document for the bylaw. "This is not a substantial price increase and with these increases, our municipality would be on par with other municipalities."
Demolition permits will expire after 45 days instead of six months in the previous bylaw, but an extension will be available provided the permit is still in compliance with the bylaw.
The bylaw still needs second and third reading from council before it is approved. The changes would take effect on Jan. 1, 2024.
Council gave its support to a petition from the Canadian Fire Underwriters' Association to support Canada's volunteer and paid on-call firefighters. It noted that 71 per cent of Canada's firefighters, or more than 90,000, work part-time.
There is a shortage in the number of firefighters in Canada, the petition noted, in part because of the low pay. There is a tax credit of $3,000, but according to the petition, if a firefighter exceeds 200 hours of service in a year, the credit is reduced.
The Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs wants to see the tax credit increase from $3,000 to $10,000.
Coun. Travis Frank noted there would be a "massive" increase in costs to the city if Estevan had to go from a paid, on-call department to having full-time firefighters, and he thanked the businesses that allow employees to respond to fire calls.
Council approved its meeting schedule for 2024. There will be two meetings a month from January to June, one meeting in each of July and August, and two in September.
The Sept. 23, 2024, meeting is the last scheduled meeting for the present council.
The 2024 civic election is scheduled for Nov. 13.
Council approved amendments to the reasonable suspicion policy. The document was first brought forward in the fall of 2018 to deal with the legalization of recreational marijuana, and most of the changes are related to wording but there were also changes to drugs that carry a zero-tolerance.
The monthly water quality report showed the city treated more than 102.1 million litres of water and pumped more than 98.5 million litres into the distribution system in October. There were no plant upsets and all regulated parameters for drinking water were met.
Coun. Lindsay Clark asked for a report on the number of water breaks for this year compared to last year. He said it seems like the city has had a lot fewer this year.
Four building permits worth $321,000 were issued in October, bringing the total for the year to 36 permits worth more than $2.7 million.
All four permits for October were classified as miscellaneous.
Council gave second and third readings to a bylaw that allows for a vice-chairperson position on the Estevan board of police commissioners. Currently, Mayor Roy Ludwig is the chairman, but there isn't a designated person to serve as vice-chair if he's unable to attend.
The new ice covering for Affinity Place was used for the first time during the Trooper-Sass Jordan-Northern Pikes concert on Nov. 9. It was also used for the St. Joseph's Hospital Foundation Festival of Trees gala supper on Nov. 18. Council members reported that people weren't as cold when at floor level.