Wood Buffalo’s council is debating a new cemetery in Fort Chipewyan and asking that the community’s wharf be properly maintained by the federal government. Tuesday’s meeting is also discussing gas and water services in Draper, potentially funding a playground at Christina Gordon Public School, and physically distanced community events.
Fort Chipewyan’s current cemetery is nearing capacity and more spaces need to open. But, Alberta Environment and Parks considers the preferred site to be a sensitive area to hawks, falcons and eagles.
The province has approved the expansion, as long Peregrine Falcons are protected during development. The municipality hopes to do this with signs, building outside mating season, and by not using pesticides and herbicides in the area.
The municipality is expected to join Fort Chipewyan’s Indigenous leaders and renew calls for Transport Canada to maintain the community’s wharf. The wharf was built in 1970 on the shores of Lake Athabasca, but community leaders argue it has been neglected. The municipality has been asking Transport Canada to perform basic maintenance and dredging of the harbour since 2018.
Mayor Don Scott wants the municipality to continue delivering water to Draper until the community has piped-water access. He also wants administration to work with ATCO Gas about potentially installing permanent gas lines for Draper.
Administration would report its progress to council by March 23, and include suggestions on how the municipality could help with the project.
Council is discussing funding shortfalls for upgrading a playground at Christina Gordon Public School. The playground’s upgrades include “sensory-friendly playground structures.” If there is a shortfall, Councillor Krista Balsom is requesting up to $60,000 be given to the school so the project can be finished this year.
Council is also discussing flood hazard maps to see who is eligible for funding under the Sanitary Sewer Backwater Prevention Program. Based on underground elevation, homes considered “zone one” are eligible for $1,500, while homes considered “zone two” are eligible for $3,000.
This program will help homeowners in flood-prone areas install backwater preventers, which stop storm and sewer waters from flowing into homes.
Council is debating how to have planned community gathering and festivals this year, after COVID-19 cancelled most of 2020’s public events. These include a Canada Day parade, movies in the park and a Fort Chipewyan fall fair.
Council is also holding its first-reading of the draft bylaw for a backyard hen pilot project. Last November, council asked administration to consider the project after a 7-4 vote.
If passed, a pilot project will have 50 people in the municipality raise a maximum of four hens. People test-running the program cannot slaughter hens or sell their eggs and meat. Hens would not be allowed to leave their coop. A public hearing is proposed for March 23.
Council is debating the 2021 municipal census starting on April 1. The last municipal census was in 2018. Because of COVID-19, the count will be done online or through telephone interviews instead of in-person.
Councillor Jane Stroud wants administration to study the financial impacts of waiving licensing fees for local businesses this year.