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Council discussed developing the region

Last Updated Sep 13, 2019 at 10:38 am MDT

PHOTO. RMWB Council returned for the first public session for the 2019-2020 term. MYMCMURRAY/Phil Wood.

Council returned from their summer break on Tuesday, Sept. 10 and voted in favour of several motions dealing with development in the region.

Two advisory committees were established to make recommendations for developing the downtown core and waterfront.

Their names are the Wood Buffalo Downtown Revitalization Advisory Committee (WBDRAC) and the Wood Buffalo Waterfront Advisory Committee (WBWAC).

Mayor Don Scott said the region needs a first-class waterfront.

“Our waterfront is the jewel of this region, so we need to do everything we can to make sure we have a spectacular waterfront. We made progress, but there’s a lot more work to be done.”

Recruitment for both committees shall begin immediately.

Community members from sectors like education, oil and gas, Indigenous, culture and heritage, and safety would comprise the committees.

Members from previous steering committees may also apply.

Ross Hennigar Park

RMWB Council also voted in favour of developing Ross Hennigar Park.

The administration suggested the construction of a press box, a new washroom facility, and two sea-cans.

The sea-cans would house maintenance and player equipment as well as concessions.

Meanwhile, the washroom would be a new-build between the parking lot and the baseball diamond.

The height of the press box is 5.03 meters, just above the Land Use Bylaw’s height restriction of 4.6 in urban districts.

However, the same bylaw granted RMWB Council the authority to establish rules regarding height.

Jina Burn Memorial Chess Park

Council heard the first reading of motions protecting a Dickinsfield green space and improving road safety.

Councillor Verna Murphy introduced a motion to protect the Jina Burn Memorial Chess Park.

She also encouraged a second motion charging the administration to work with the school boards to improve traffic calming measures in the area.

Surrounding the park are two schools, a church, homes, a gas station, and a strip mall.

Nevertheless, Murphy said Dickinsfield residents were loud and clear about protecting the property.

“We [heard] pretty strongly from the community back in June, when this came forward and the public hearing process started. I think the residents of Dickinsfield have the right to have one little green space that is woven into the fabric of the neighbourhoods there.”

Murphy said she looks forward to what results from the safety review.

“I’m looking for the review. I live in that school zone, but I go to another school zone. I do think there can be some improvements there with the cooperation of the parents.”

She added implementing crosswalks and other traffic calming methods could calm traffic.

Both motions passed their first readings.

Athabasca Chipewayan First Nation

Council voted to send a letter of support for the Addition to Reserve (ATR) request of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN).

Councillor Claris Voyageur introduced the motion.

Their ATR consisted of 92 residential lots in Fort Chipewyan as well as a commercial lot in Fort McMurray.

Named the ‘Acden Lot’, the commercial space’s address is 220 Taiganova Crescent.

ACFN Chief Allan Adam said Canada supported their move to include the Acden Lot in their ATR.

“The inclusion of the Acden Lot would provide significant tax and commercial benefits to those of Acden’s employees who are status [First Nations] and work on reserve. These tax benefits would result in income being retained and circulating within the RMWB.”

In business since 1994, Acden owns 17 companies with at least 1900 employees.

Viewed as a trailblazing agreement, Council voted unanimously to attach the letter of support to the ATR.

Furthermore, the Council agreed to work with ACFN to enter a service agreement so they could harmonize the governance of the Acden Lot.

Since ATR is a federal matter, it may receive consideration once they have support from the municipal government.