This week at Sylvan Lake Town Council

The Sylvan Lake Town Council took place in chambers on Monday, September 26.

EFFLUENT EMERGENCY SITUATION ANALYSIS PROVIDED TO COUNCIL

Following the issues encountered by the Town during the 2016 spring effluent discharge, Town staff performed a post-situation debrief with all operational staff involved in the maintenance, operation, capital improvements and supervision of the Town’s wastewater treatment system.

The group reviewed the history of the Town’s wastewater treatment system, the roles of Town personnel involved, the events leading up to the 2016 effluent emergency situation and suggestions for how to prevent future occurrences.

Dave Brand, director of Public Works, stated in a report to Town Council that from a long-term perspective, significant upgrades to the Town’s lagoon system are required to address effluent quality.

He added that from a short-term perspective, several factors contributed to the 2016 effluent emergency situation including a lack of awareness by operational staff of the magnitude of such an emergency with respect to the environmental, social and legal ramifications.

“When combined, the lagoon system’s inherent inability to effectively treat ammonia during winter months and excessive rainfall during the end of June, the issue with lagoon capacity arrived more rapidly than anticipated,” said Brand in the report.”

Brand added the discharge of effluent into Sylvan Creek is also problematic, as the creek itself only experiences flow during periods of high rainfall. The Town is bound by operating conditions imposed by Alberta Environment and Parks with respect to wastewater treatment system operation and discharge, including the condition that the Town must tie into a regional wastewater system or develop a wastewater treatment solution that does not continuously discharge effluent upstream of the City of Red Deer, said Brand.

“While the ultimate long-term solution is connection to a regional wastewater system, the Town does anticipate that the effluent quality issue will arise again in 2017,” he explained. “Therefore, advance planning and action is required to prepare for and mitigate the negative effects of such an event.”

Council has approved incremental improvement projects such as a berm upgrade at the Town’s wastewater treatment site and storage cell bio-solid removal. Council will have the opportunity to review operational expenditures that may be required during the the 2017 budget process/

COUNCIL MOVES FORWARD WITH COMMUNITY SPIRIT GRANT

As part of the 2016-18 three year budget, Council approved the funding for a Community Spirit Grant Program to begin in 2017 with the guidelines for the program currently being developed.

The purpose of the program will be to provide capital funds to support community ‘grass roots’ initiatives that provide new and enhanced facilities to meet identified public needs. The Program will welcome applications from registered non-profit groups, registered charities and Town of Sylvan Lake based community groups.

The program currently allocates $125,000 in the 2017 Budget Plan.

Town staff and administration is currently working on the Community Spirits Guidelines and Application. During Monday night’s Town Council meeting members of Council debated how applicants of the grant would be evaluated following their submission.

Council and Town staff were batting around the idea of gathering applications and having residents of Sylvan Lake vote for their favourite choice charity or non-profit, however after a debate it was decided social media may need to be left out of the situation.

“My initial thought is that funding should be allocated based on the merit of the project and that it’s not a popularity contest so to speak,” said Councillor Chris Lust opening the conversation. “I think projects should be funded on merit. I appreciate wanting the community input.”

Councillor Jas Payne added he didn’t feel there was a need to add the online voting portion into the evaluation criteria.

“As much as I encourage and I desire public feedback, I think the evaluation criteria you [Town staff] have developed here is really good,” said Payne.

Council’s discussion concluded under the notion that there was no need to have the public involved in the evaluation process, however a greater deal of public awareness around the grant would be ideal.

Town Council voted to include the grant evaulation process in the 2017 Budget deliberations.