By Samantha Johnson
At the regularly scheduled council meeting for the Town of Redcliff, an extensive discussion, taking up most of the meeting, took place about the Redcliff Museum.
In June of 2022, Council approved repairs to the Redcliff Museum to a budget of $150,000 and the repairs will carry forward into 2023. Costs total $969,500 over the next five years for exterior repairs, barrier free access, flooring, electrical and roof repairs. Councillor were concerned the structural issues were going to be one on top of another and it would be throwing good money after bad in the future. Some public have expressed concerns that if it is knocked down, the town may never get it back but the expense to keep the building is high. Another engineering firm came out to look at the work and to estimate what could be done for $150,000 but there is no report. The repairs would not extend to anything more than the cracking in the building.
There were five motions on the staff report presented to council and none were recommended.
Councillor Allen understands the historic value and if the choice is made to close the building, some of Redcliff’s history is lost. However, at what cost? It would be just under $1 million to do upgrades but as Councillor Crozier pointed out it is still a 100-year plus building and at what point do you stop sinking money into it. Councillor Crozier added that sometimes with an older building it’s not feasible to save it. Councillor Matthew St. Pierre proposed holding off on making a decision and doing a survey, asking the town for their input so residents can be part of the discussion, which wasn’t one of the motions on the document. Mayor Kilpatrick pointed out that the information wasn’t clear enough, right now it says $1 million over five years but there is no certainty the estimate is anywhere near correct.
Administration is currently applying for whatever grants are available. The motion was defeated to proceed. Councillor St. Pierre made a motion to do a survey on how residents think the town should proceed with the museum. There were concerns that the public wouldn’t understand what was being presented as the true extent and cost of the repairs is unknown. Motion was defeated.
Councillor Crozier made a third motion that the matter be brought back to council at the next meeting with a complete breakdown of what needs to be spent tin what years to repair the museum and what it would cost to do essential repairs immediately. Council had to take a five-minute recess so chief administration officer Phyllis Forsyth could step out to get the Facilities Study, which was still just estimates on what the costs would be over the next five years. Four of those years involve exterior repairs to the building. Exterior repairs include cracks in the stucco, brick deterioration, wall construction on the inside, new HVAC, barrier free entrance, site grading, replacing exterior doors, foundation repair or replacements, roof. Essentially, the entire building needs to be rebuilt both inside and out. Crozier withdrew her motion as it was answered.
Councillor Allen made another motion to move forward with the $154,000 allocated in the 2022 plan to shore up the exterior walls and put in the barrier free entrance. Essentially, to fix up the immediate problem, put in the barrier free access and then reassess next year with money already in the budget that has been allocated. Motion was passed.
Gordon Lau from Stantec Consulting Ltd. was present at the council meeting to provide an update on the Northside Area Structure Plan. Lau was in Redcliff most of the day for the open house and had a chance to meet many of the landowners. Biophysical and geotechnical investigations have been completed and currently the civil engineering team is working on how to service the site.
About 13 individuals showed up for the community engagement and throughout the past few weeks they’ve received several phone calls. Most of the questions were concerning south of the highway, which is completely unrelated to the plan under consideration. Seven of the ten landowners came out and that was critical to Stantec. In general, the comments were positive and understood that what was on paper wasn’t going to affect their current operations. They did understand the future needs of the highway network and road corridors.
The presentation includes maps that outline the plans for the site. They’ve identified four types of land use not on the current structure plan. Stantec want to ensure the right opportunities are in the right places and in 20-years there aren’t regrets about decisions made today. In the northwest corner is highway commercial, for gas stations, restaurants and stand-alone retail units, and comprises about 30-acres of land.
Moving south is the commercial area enlargement for businesses that benefit by being visible from the highway, such as dealerships, agricultural sales, home improvement stores, with 85 acres allocated.
To the east is the light industrial area with 339 acres. Lastly, heavy industrial that doesn’t need to be right on the highway but need access to good transportation is taking up 400 acres.
The next update will be in late February or March 2023 along with a public hearing. Councillor James Allen had a question about the transportation slide showing the proposed arterial roadways with a crossing of the train tracks at 8 Street. The intersection is in the existing plan and Stantec wants to keep the update as consistent as possible with the original. Council accepted the report for information.
The Redcliff Cemetery has approximately 15 years of inground casket sales, 5 years of in-ground cremation sales and 5 years of columbaria niche sales remaining. Planning and Operations has spent the past year working with E. Lees & Associates Consulting Ltd. to develop a conceptual plan to guide the expansion and development of the cemetery lands to ensure there is sufficient and appropriate interment and memorialization inventory to serve area residents for the next 25 years and beyond.
Mayor Dwight Kilpatrick asked if phase 2 was moving into the existing parking lot and this is the case. He also asked about the back corner, which it appears is eroding away. Not very quickly and it requires more study but it is eroding away. The analysis was done from aerial photos, nothing has been physically staked.
Council received a staff report and a 50-page report on the proposed cemetery expansion as presented and approved administration to proceed with a bylaw update, bringing the existing one up to provincial standards and including new interment and memorialization offerings.
Next up was doubtful receivable accounts. The unpaid utilities on the list were all from grandfathered tenants. All accounts eligible for collections have been submitted to CBV Collection Agency, which keeps an active list for seven years. Administration was requesting $2,894.18 for outstanding utility accounts be written off. The 2021 amount was $7,949.80.
There are several lots for sale still in Eastside phase 2, 12 single family, 12 low density, two medium density and one commercial lot. Councillor James Allen moved to accept it for information only as he had questions regarding the pricing summaries, which are now two years old. It was discussed at the budget meetings and feels it is lots of money to shell out for lots that could sit dormant. Mayor Kilpatrick said the town could try to entice a developer or do it themselves and without lots for sale there is no growth. In the last two years, growth has not kept up with inflation and that usually result in a tax hike. Looking at it, Kilpatrick would say, do you want to have lots for sale in 2025? Even if it was out for tender he doubts anyone would start in 2023. If the town fronts the cash, it will come back to them over time making it an investment. Allen withdrew his motion and moved to direct administration to update layout costs and bring back to council for more accurate numbers. He agrees if they are looking at two years before shovels hit the ground, it makes sense to do this now. Mayor Kilpatrick asked if on the drawing of the lots, why the portion that is on Memorial Way quits before finishing the ten larger lots that would finish the crescent. The amended motion was carried.
Council authorized Administration to purchase a Mobile Generator with a trailer package for the 2022 budget year. There were two proposals but one couldn’t guarantee their price and can’t deliver until the third quarter of 2023. Motion was made to award the contract to Westquip Diesel Sales for $123,986, who have promised to deliver by February 2023 and it was carried.
Multiple complaints are received each year regarding South Highway Drive East and a plan to deal with the drainage issues has been worked on. Estimated cost to reconstruct the ditch is $200,000.
A geotechnical investigation is currently underway and will be completed in 4-6 weeks. Administration recommended the improvements to South Highway Drive be done in phases. All the water is causing the road to deteriorate. Motion was made to proceed.
A Winter Wonderland greenhouse application was received by Kevin and Julie Lagasse. The application was received last Wednesday and there was not enough time to get approval from RCMP, the fire department, planning and operations or legislation and development. Mayor Kilpatrick asked if they keep holding special events, as they had one at Halloween, what classification of land use are they in. If they keep holding events throughout the year, they won’t meet the land use designation and administration is aware of this and if it keeps happening will be looking for directions from council. All were in favour of the event providing all requirements are met.