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Council approves motion to send letter in regards to East Clearwater Highway

Last Updated Jul 9, 2019 at 10:48 am MST

PHOTO. Marty Giles speaks about the East Clearwater Highway at council meeting on July 8, 2019. MYMCMURRAY/Nathalia Cordeau-Hilliard

After nearly two hours of presentations and debate, council voted in favour of Mayor Don Scott’s motion to send a letter to various levels of government in regards to the East Clearwater Highway.

A letter will be sent to local MLAs, the MP, the Premier, the Prime Minister, the Provincial Minister of Transportation and any other relevant Federal Ministers stating that the highway is our region’s primary transportation priority.

The letter will include that the highway would create a dangerous goods route away from the city, another route out of the city in the case of an evacuation, a natural fire break.

Delegates included Gilles Huizinga of Building Industry and Land Development (BILD) Wood Buffalo, Bryce Kumka president of the Fort McMurray Chamber of Commerce, and Marty Giles, a previous member of the Wood Buffalo Recovery Committee.

Giles said that while he’s happy with the decision, he’s disappointed that it wasn’t unanimous, coming in at 6-3.

“I’m very excited that it went through, now we’re united here in the region. We need continue on to find out what’s going on and we need to actually look at, maybe, ways to make the East Clearwater Highway even better than what we saw in the report.”

Prior to the final vote of the evening, Councillor Verna Murphy suggested deferring Mayor Don Scott’s motion until the fall, adding that there are no legislative sittings through the summer.

She said she’s like to be as educated on the matter as possible before moving forward.

That motion was defeated 6-3.

Earlier in the night, council voted unanimously to renew the Development Charges Subsidy Program, which gives reductions of 60 and 100 per cent to developers based on their building location.

The offsite levy would be subsidized by 100 per cent for non-residential development, while other offsite levy benefiting areas would see a 60 per cent subsidy.

The offsite levy is used as “a way for the Municipality to recover investment costs needed for infrastructure improvements to support new development or growth.”

A 100 per cent subsidy will also be applied on the charges used to calculate developer charges for non-residential development in rural areas.

Mayor Scott said the program will help to build a “robust” downtown.

Council also agreed to buy back a lot in Conklin that has an unnamed creek running through it, which created problems when it comes to developing the land and agreed to use a municipally owned lot in Conklin to expand the St. Vincent Cemetery.

The cemetery is one of two serving the hamlet, which are both at capacity.

Council meets again Tuesday to discuss the Well Drilling Tax Bylaw, which is projected to bring in $1,300,000 this taxation year.

The tax is used to offset the cost of fixing roads damaged by well drilling activity.

There will also be a public hearing on the Land Use Bylaw in regards to project accommodation.