(Stu Salkeld/Local Journalism Initiative Reporter ECA Review)

(Stu Salkeld/Local Journalism Initiative Reporter ECA Review)

Bashaw council hears murmurs that RCMP detachment may merge with Stettler

By: Stu Salkeld

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

East Central Alberta Review

Bashaw council heard at their regular meeting April 4 a big change may be coming to the community’s RCMP detachment, but also heard that it’s just rumblings at this point.

During the agenda item to discuss Municipal Sustainability Initiative grant applications, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Theresa Fuller stated there are murmurs of a big change possible with the Bashaw RCMP detachment.

“There are rumblings…Bashaw detachment and Stettler detachment may be combined,” said Fuller, who also noted that’s just talk right now and no official comment has ever been made.

ECA Review readers should note the Bashaw RCMP detachment also covers the Village of Alix. The ECA Review requested a comment from RCMP K Division April 5 about the rumour, but no response has been received.

Draft budget

Fuller presented councillors with a draft 2022 budget who added it wasn’t meant for approval yet as adjusting journal entries have not been received from the auditor.

Councillors discussed many of the budget details; Fuller began by noting the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) will be increasing in 2022.

It was also noted that 2021 saw Bashaw taxpayers pay fewer dollars for councillor meetings as the council table had one less member. Coun. Lynn Schultz resigned and the seat was vacant until the election.

Fuller stated her draft budget kept estimated tax penalties at a similar amount as in 2021 the town predicted the penalties very closely.

Fuller also stated utility penalties had also been affected by the COVID pandemic, and the prediction included for the 2022 budget was a “realistic” one.

Looking at the development department, Fuller stated Bashaw had an “incredible” 2021 as it saw 21 or 22 development permit applications. However, this year to date only one has been received. Councillors looked at the current $75 development permit application fee, and Coun. Kyle McIntosh wondered if that was enough to cover the substantial amount of time it takes town staff to handle these applications.

McIntosh also wondered if increasing the fee discourages development.

Fuller stated the $75 is probably too low but added that having low fees encourages people to apply rather than engage in unpermitted work.

Fuller also noted, however, some other communities use development permit fees to pay for improvements related to the developments themselves, such as sidewalks or parking.

Councillors noted that the town’s legal costs were higher last year than anticipated. During discussion it seemed several councillors expect legal costs to be at least as much in 2022 or higher.

Councillors will discuss the 2022 budget again at a future meeting.

MSI application

Fuller stated the draft budget also included provincial grant money from the MSI program; it was stated that the provincial government is phasing out the MSI program eventually. The CAO stated Bashaw also has some MSI funding carrying forward from last year.

The CAO told councillors MSI is based on population and that funding should be consistent for 2023 as well.

During discussion councillors mentioned the town’s policing costs; Coun. McIntosh asked if the extra money Bashaw is paying for policing has resulted in extra boots on the ground.

Mayor Rob McDonald stated that, while more boots on the ground was what was originally promised by Edmonton, the provincial government’s plan to increase police resources has seen some administration staff hired but no extra police officers in Bashaw.

Councillors unanimously approved the following resolution: to approve the MSI grant listing as follows, general admin $16,799.24, libraries $15,664.90, public security and safety $47,127.25, public transit $5,000, wastewater $6,300 and water $3,000 for a total of $93,891.39.