Council met for nearly seven hours for their June 12 meeting to discuss a heavy agenda.
The Recovery Task Force, Insurance Bureau of Canada and Canadian Red Cross gave presentations on wildfire recovery.
Several projects identified by the 14 recommendations from the KPMG Horse River Wildfire Lessons Learned Report have all ready been implemented and will be complete by 2021.
As of May 4, 2018, there have been 553 building permit final inspections complete to the 2579 lost homes.
Total insured damaged cost an excess of $3.6 billion with over 60,000 claims filed with insurers.
The Canadian Red Cross has spent 89.5% of all funds received and will continue to support the community.
Firebreak rehabilitation was a hot topic of the night with many residents voicing their concerns that the Municipality is not keeping their word in “building back better.” They wish to see work being done to restore the trails and forests that were destroyed during the wildfire fighting efforts and that the firebreaks behind their homes are restored to the recommended 30 meters as outlines by FireSmart Canada.
Council also began discussion on options for implementing the Rural Water and Sewer Servicing (RWSS) program, which has a budget of $306 million. Rural residents can pay $16,000 and Saprae residents can pay $10,000 for water and sewer service connections. The installation of connections to approximately 1,000 lots is $40 million and the municipality would fun $24 million. Alternative options that will cost the Municipality the same amount would have residents pay themselves for service connection or the Municipality pay for the whole bill. After several concerned rural residents spoke up about the costs the project could implement on them, Council deferred the agenda item to allow Administration to look into the matter further.
A special meeting has been called for Monday, July 9 to discuss cannabis legalization and to implement necessary changes to the land use bylaw, smoke free bylaw and license bylaw to help regulate and restrict access to recreational cannabis.
Through research and 12 public engagement sessions that were held, key areas for concern include protecting youth, location of retail stores, consumption laws and number of plants allowed per household. To address these concerns it is being recommended that cannabis retail stores operate at a minimum distance of 150 meters from schools, hospitals, day cares and alcohol and drug rehabilitation centres in the urban service area and 100 meters in the rural service area.
A maximum of four plants for personal use will be allowed per household with smoking cannabis in public not allowed. The License bylaw will also be updated to add cannabis related businesses.