By Samantha Johnson
At the regularly scheduled Redcliff council meeting of Nov. 14, a draft of the new Deer Feeding and Attractants bylaw was presented to council and the first reading was carried unanimously.
The bylaw came about due to concern by residents about the growing deer population within the town and those who are feeding them.
In May of this year, Joel Nicholson, senior wildlife biologist for Medicine Hat and area, gave a presentation to Council called Urban Ungulates, Living with Deer. Following further discussions with Nicholson, Redcliff has decided to draft a bylaw and to undertake a public education program., such as social media posts, adding information onto utility bills and holding a public information session.
Councillor Jim Steinke moved it was accepted as presented.
Mayor Dwight Kilpatrick asked about the height of bird feeders and if administration had come across any information about how high they should be. If it is subjective, there is nothing to enforce and if there isn’t an exact height then it would be open to interpretation.
Councillor Chris Czember asked about what to do about the pumpkins that are thrown into fields at this time of year. It was mentioned composts have to be enclosed with this bylaw. Mayor Kilpatrick said the bylaw was a start for those residents who were looking for something to slow down/prevent the feeding of urban deer.
Councillor James Allen asked if there was a definition in the bylaw about what a wildlife attractant is, which was listed in 2.14 and is as follows:
Wildlife Attractant means any substance which could, or be reasonably expected to, attract deer or other wildlife including, but not limited to: a) food for domesticated animals or livestock, b) compost waste which includes but is not limited to: i. Lawn clippings, ii. Leaves, iii. Branches c) salt, d) food for human consumption, e) residential garbage, f) waste, g) antifreeze.
A public hearing for the bylaw will be setup by administration and will be advertised.
From the Medicine Hat Women’s Shelter Society Natasha Carvalho, executive director, and Peggy Revell, community education and awareness coordinator, spoke to council about what they were up to this month for Family Violence Prevention Month. Carvalho gave an overview of the programs and services they offer to the community.
Launched in November of this year is a 24/7 text line and web chat. A soft launch was done in June and was successful as connecting by text or web chat often feels safer than a phone call. The text line is available at 587-850-5885 or webchat can be accessed by visiting mhwss.ca, both will connect with a MHWSS crisis intervention worker.
The shelter assists 1,400-1,500 people per year, but they know for everyone who comes in or calls there are lots who don’t. They work closely with police to ensure they are accessible as possible and providing as many services as they can. Police have seen a rise in calls for family violence.
Lack of housing and affordability are causing a backlog. Since COVID, mental health issues have come more to light and they are seeing people who are hurting on a whole other level, along with more complex needs accompanying addiction issues. They are working hard on continuing to build partnerships within the community.
Purple ribbons will be seen around the community for the month of November, it’s a small thing but tends to open up conversations. Helping those to know what services are available, keeping the dialogue going is what is important to the shelter.
Ravell said they started offering webinars to the community during COVID and these have continued, many created by the partnerships they have. Anyone can sign up and register in order to access that education and connection to local resources.
A second delegation was from the Redcliff Public Library presenting their 2023 funding request and the annual report for 2021. They are requesting a 5% increase, which comes to an additional $9,293 in order to compensate for increases in utilities, insurance, shipping costs and to upgrade computer equipment.
The majority of funds are used for wages to keep the library open six days a week and another large portion goes to operating expenses, such as utilities and janitorial services.
The 2021 annual report showed that 825 people have a card at the Redcliff library. they have 5 computers, which logged a total of 713 hours. They offered 61 programs for kids, 32 for adults and seniors and 8 for families. Additionally, they added 2,058 new items. It’s the only place in Redcliff offering access to free wi-fi.
They have received funding from the Alberta Government and Cypress County as well. The manager has also been diligent in applying for grants.
The Redcliff Fire Department wants to add a Medical First Response component and Fire Chief Wade Gleisner wrote a background/proposal that council considered. Councillor Allen asked about the two calls for medical assistance in June that instigated bringing the proposal forward and if there is a more recent uptake in calls.
The fire department has never offered medical first response and are seeing an increase in calls that are CPR/drug overdose related where they are the first to arrive on scene. They can offer first-aid and basic CPR as that is all they are currently trained for. They want to upgrade to basic life support first-aid and CPR, use of airways and administration of naloxone. They also carry an AED, the same as the ones found in public places. Training costs work out to about $1,625 total per year for the BLS training and a yearly refresher. The training will be done in conjunction with Cypress County who have set up a program and have their own trainer.
Councillor Allen asked about the volunteer aspect of the fire department that doesn’t have trained people on staff in the firehouse at all times. Response from Gleisner, who was present at the meeting, is the average response time, including structural fires, is 9 minutes. A medical first response would be different than a fire as the first two who arrive would take the rescue vehicle and go. Any additional volunteers who arrived would take a second vehicle to offer support and that procedure will be written into the policy.
Motion was made to increase the level of service at the Redcliff Fire Department to include medical first response and to bring it forth during the budget considerations, which took place in the days following the council meeting.