MLA Ron Orr (File photo)

MLA Ron Orr (File photo)

MLA says COVID program addresses business concerns, hears Clive council

Stu Salkeld

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review

The Village of Clive’s concerns about how the COVID pandemic is affecting small business have been heard by the local MLA, but it appears the province is already doing everything it can.

A few weeks ago Clive council issued a statement it was concerned about the future of local business as it suffers under the pandemic and asked the provincial government to look at doing more to help.

The letter was sent to Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr and many other municipalities.

Orr’s response was presented to councillors by village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Carla Kenney.

“I hear your concerns but also must point out that the REP program came at the request – full lobbying – of the Alberta Chambers of Commerce so that business could be fully open,” stated Orr’s letter.

Orr was referring to the Alberta government’s Restrictions Exemption Program, which offers business owners two options: implement the REP requiring proof of vaccination, negative test results or medical exemption for patrons 12 and over, plus mandatory masking to continue operating as usual, or comply with all restrictions as outlined in public health orders.

“It is not mandatory and any business that doesn’t want to does not have to do it,” wrote the MLA. “They can just limit capacity.

“Yes, it has been a terrible time for everyone,” added Orr.

Councillors accepted the letter for information.

CAO report

Kenney submitted her regular report to council and noted it included mostly year-end work.

However, she stated in her report that a home owner contacted the village of a high-consumption charge on their water bill, and it turned out to be a running toilet.

The CAO stated that later in the meeting when councillors discussed their rates and fees bylaw she would suggest the village switch to monthly water billing instead of the current bi-monthly, which lessens to chance of a high-consumption problem.

The CAO also stated the property tax deadline was Dec. 31, 2021, so Jan. 1 was the day late penalties were applied to unpaid bills.

Kenney stated there were 27 properties that had the late penalty applied for a total of $11,846 in fees. This compares to 32 properties and $11,680 the previous year.

The CAO also gave a report on unpaid utility bills, noting by Dec. 17, 2021 there was $9,085.42 in unpaid utility bills due from 21 accounts. The unpaid bills were transferred to the property tax rolls. This compares to 21 properties and $8,963.50 the previous year.

Councillors accepted the CAO’s report for information.

Water commission

During the Public Works department report staff noted the revised “onstream estimate” for the Hwy. #12/21 Water Commission’s pipeline to Clive is now May, 2022.

The village council previously decided it would hold a town hall meeting for residents so they can learn more about how the commission will affect them, but a date for that meeting has not be selected.

In a separate water issue, councillors heard a report that Public Works is engaged in run-off management. Apparently the freeze/thaw conditions are creating issues for the creek where water runs across the top of the ice and ends up solidifying in culverts.

Kenney stated culverts are monitored daily during warmer temperatures and are thawed if they’re down to 10 per cent capacity.

Rates and fees bylaw

Councillors unanimously passed all readings to bring their new rates and fees bylaw into effect, after discussing water rates.

While sewer and garbage rates were largely unchanged, water rates could be increased 12 or 13 per cent, depending on the approach councillors wished to take.

Kenney also advised councillors switch the village to monthly utility billing from bi-monthly, which Coun. Sarah Fahey supported.

Councillors agreed to go with a 12 per cent increase in water rates.

COVID update

Coun. Tracy Hallman asked Kenney how the village staff are holding up under COVID rules. The CAO answered that everyone is vaccinated and the local pharmacy was quite accommodating with this.

However, Kenney stated that with the new Omicron variant she suspects the village staff will be affected, adding that the provincial government’s isolation rules are not onerous.

Coun. Fahey stated it’s said the Omicron variant is a bit less intense, so perhaps this is signalling that the pandemic’s end is approaching.

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