Town talks cannabis

BY ROBYNNE HENRY OCT 10, 2018

With the legalization of marijuana just around the corner, the Town of Bonnyville discussed the bylaws they’ve implemented and the ability to enforce them before the Oct. 17 legalization.

They brought the topic back to the table during their regular council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 9.

Prior to their meeting, council had agreed not to further restrict where people can consume cannabis beyond no smoking areas, but after further discussion, decided they may want to reconsider.

“If we let it happen in public places, places like the Boys and Girls Club parking lot, you’d be able to smoke cannabis there,” expressed Coun. Lorna Storoschuk.

After mulling it over, council considered restricting where people could consume recreational marijuana. One option was only permitting consumption on private property, or designated areas.

Coun. Brian McEvoy wondered why they were discussing the bylaws again, considering council had originally passed them unanimously.

“Even before it’s legal, and we’ve had a chance to see if it’s viable and if the bylaws are going to work or not, we’re going to start changing them? I find it a little disconcerting,” he said.

Council also brought up retail signage for cannabis stores. The issue will be back in council for a public hearing on Nov. 13.

“We’ll see what the public has to say about relaxing the sign rules for cannabis stores, and then decide after the public hearing whether we want to proceed with second and third reading,” explained CAO Mark Power.

Live streaming council meetings may be in the future

Town of Bonnyville council discussed live streaming council meetings, and changing the amount of time spent on councillors’ questions.

During their meeting, three options for live streaming council meetings were discussed.

The agreed upon $2,700 endeavour would stream from the town’s website and would be hosted through a paid service to eliminate ads.

The town would need a single camera, an existing laptop, and a subscription to a hosting service in order to go ahead with the project.

“What this does is it gives somebody the ability to tune-in, see what council’s discussing, and hear the decision,” explained assistant CAO Bill Rogers.

After debating the merits of all three options, council decided to consider the possibility of live streaming meetings during their 2019 budget deliberations.

Council also discussed a change to their question period, which Mayor Gene Sobolewski described as currently being a “free for all.”

After reaching out to other municipalities to inquire how they run question periods, council decided to limit the amount of time councillors have to 10 minutes.

“If it’s in a procedural bylaw, that gives the chair the authority (to end the question period,)” Sobolewski said.

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BRFA in need of funding for ambulances

The Bonnyville Regional Fire Authority (BRFA) is in the process of purchasing another ambulance, and asked for financial support from council.

“Maintenance on our ambulances are extremely high to keep them on the road,” detailed regional deputy fire chief Jay Melvin, adding that transfers of non-emergency patients from Bonnyville to other hospitals has increased over the years.

“Unfortunately, funding hasn’t followed.”

As a result of the increase, ambulances experience more issues, resulting in additional breakdowns and repairs.

Currently, BRFA receives funding from Alberta Health Services (AHS) for ambulances, and there’s no cost for municipalities.

“We currently don’t charge municipalities for any funding to support provincial initiatives to offer health services to the province, and we’d like to keep it that way,” Melvin said.

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Ronald McDonald House Winter Invitational

The Ronald McDonald House Charities Northern Alberta (RMHCNA) asked the town to become an event partner for their upcoming Winterland Invitational from Feb. 15 to 18, 2019.

The tournament will feature 36 teams, and expanded to include an Elk Point arena along with Bonnyville and Glendon.

Their request was that the town consider increasing their funding to $8,000, up from last year’s $5,000.

Original Article by Bonnyville

Victor Madril