The world of volunteer firefighters has changed and answering that change has been a challenge. Fire Chief Ted Dillon took some time to show town councillors Nov. 8 what the Alberta Fire Chiefs Association has been up to.
As a member of the recruitment and retention committee, Dillon said it is a challenge to recruit and retain firefighters. The committee came together to come up with a volunteer firefighter brand; it includes banners, a website where firefighters can join and a video that has started to receive critical acclaim. Donovan Creative has won 2012 Platinum Award from Summit International Awards for producing the video Answer the Call. It has received interest from Australia, explained Dillon.
Joining the website directs volunteers to the appropriate area and since the website has come online Dillon has received two contacts interested in joining the Ponoka Fire Department. Ponoka has 25 volunteer firefighters.
“We would like to be up to 30,” he said.
Airport Commission re-appointments
There was some discussion from councillors whether they should reappoint individuals to the Airport Commission or advertise that they are open.
There were three individuals suggested to councillors; Sig Gregr and Norman Clair for a three-year term and Tyler McBride for a one-year term.
Coun. Rick Bonnett wondered why they were not advertising the positions as there have been past issues with the commission. “My question is are these guys valued members and if not should we maybe look at some fresh ideas and some fresh people to maybe come in on there?”
He admitted to not being on the commission and deferred to Coun. Shayne Steffen who is on the commission. Steffen said he meets with Gregr and Clair often at the meetings but not McBride, and is comfortable with the former two being re-appointed.
CAO Brad Watson said he addressed McBride not coming to meetings and acknowledged he would be more active being on the commission.
Coun. Izak van der Westhuizen feels advertising for the positions might also show how important it is to council to see the deficit addressed. “I agree (to advertise) for one or all of them because the financial issues are not solved.”
Bonnett’s hope is other people might have something to bring forward. “Maybe someone out there’s got some great ideas.”
Councillors agreed to advertise availability of the positions for two weeks.
Hudson Green Activity Centre grant
Councillors were asked to support a $212,985 grant request for the next phase of the Hudson’s Green Activity Centre. The application is a 55/45 split, with $219,300 coming from the 2012 budget and an additional $41,015 committed in the 2013 capital budget. The total project cost would be $473,300.
The application is going to Western Economic Diversification’s Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund (CIIF).
“The deadline is Nov. 19 and the application has gone in for review. We’ve had input back,” said Watson.
Wes Amendt, director of community services, said they need approval to submit the application and then they can leave it in the hands of the government.
If approved, changes will deal with acoustics, lighting, kitchen supplies, and clean-up of basement water leaks. Exterior work would have signage, exterior fixes and landscaping completed.
Museum roof repair
A leaky roof at the Fort Ostell Museum has required councillors to approve the re-allocation of $35,000 from the library roof repair to the Fort Ostell Museum roof repair. An additional $2,000 came from the 2012 operating budget.
Watson feels it is worth the cost as they have been given a 20-year written guarantee from the manufacturer, compared to one year if they use tar. “We have repaired it three times this year, a couple last year.”
Van der Westhuizen agreed with the request considering the history in the museum. “You can’t let your artifacts that are irreplaceable sitting under a leaky roof.
The definition of spousal abuse has changed with the RCMP and because of it, incidents of spousal abuse have increased to 60 from 32 in the last quarter. Staff Sgt. Cameron Chisholm met with councillors to explain what the changes mean.
“It’s been broadened as conflict,” said Chisholm. “When it gets to the point where police are called there’s quite a lot of things in the background.”
RCMP will enquire into the relationship because if there is a problem now than it has probably happened in the past, he explained. The goal is to prevent future instances of spousal abuse.
Drug possession has increased to 24 cases year to date, compared to 10 last year. Chisholm attributes to having proper staff this year compared to last. “The shortage impacted our self-generated work a little bit.”
There has been increased checks by police in the downtown bars and the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission has followed up some of the complaints from police.
“They carry the big stick where they can actually suspend licences and levy administrative fines. It gets their attention and actually can clean up some of the over service issues that could happen,” he explained.
He feels the statistics do not have any surprises and they usually fluctuate over the year.
Advisory panel to Canadian Pacific
There have been some changes to the Canadian Pacific advisory panel that Ponoka is a part of. Coun. Loanna Gulka said there have been minor changes to the terms of reference. It gives different municipalities a chance to chair the committee rather than CP Rail. “Everyone will take a turn chairing.”