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Sledding at Snape’s Hill may be reconsidered

Municipal administration will create a report identifying any opportunities for closure, or partial closure, of roads to accommodate sledding at Snape’s Hill. | File photo

Jason Stockfish, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter | advertising@fitzhugh.ca

The Municipality of Jasper will explore whether sledding at Snape’s Hill could be allowed if a street closure were implemented.

Coun. Wendy Hall brought the issue forward during council’s committee of the whole meeting on Jan. 11.

“The Snape’s Hill sledding hill was well loved and well used…by generations of Jasper children until its closure in 2017,” Hall said during the meeting.

“I do understand (and) agree with the closure of the sledding hill, but I would like to explore the idea of closing the zone to vehicles and not our children by creating a dead-end zone where Geikie Street meets Willow Avenue.”

In 2017, the municipality prohibited tobogganing at Snape’s Hill and the church hill due to safety concerns involving the nearby streets.

Hall noted that the area is a densely populated residential zone that would benefit from a winter park area in the neighbourhood, and it wouldn’t necessarily impede traffic and would allow the area to be utilized for recreational use.

CAO Bill Given noted that it could be studied without using significant resources in the process.

Mayor Richard Ireland mentioned that the issue has been discussed informally in the past but that he is certainly open to further discussion.

“It’s not just a sledding hill; for me, it was where I learned to ski,” Ireland said.

Coun. Ralph Melnyk noted that there is development in the area.

“I think it would be important to have a conversation with the stakeholders on that hill, especially the new development that is going on.”

All councillors voted in favour of Ireland’s motion for administration to create a report identifying any opportunities for closure, or partial closure, of Willow and Geikie, to accommodate sledding at Snape’s Hill.

Policy Review Priority List

Committee recommended council approve the initial policy review priority list as presented with the lists subject to adjustment by further motion of council.

CAO Given explained how policies are council statements that set service priorities or standards of performance for the municipality.

“It really is how council affects the services the municipality provides at a high level by setting expectations and standards,” Given said.

“Policies may have administrative procedures attached, which are how the organization will implement the priorities that council sets.”

Past councils had set fiscal and financial controls as a priority, but administration proposed setting a more detailed list going forward, which is the intention of establishing a policy review priority list.

Some of the priorities administration proposed adding to the list is “citizen engagement,” as the municipality’s current policy is no longer compliant with current provincial legislation, so this issue is at the top of administration’s priority list.

Additionally, Given noted that joint use of municipal facilities with the school divisions in Jasper should also be a top priority.

As well, Given mentioned that debt and reserve limits—that is, how the municipality takes on debt and its approach to reserves—be a priority, providing transparency to the community about its approach to budgets.

Coun. Rico Damota said reviewing policy surrounding municipal staff housing should be added to the list, while Hall inquired as to whether there is a policy regarding municipal staff’s social media use.

Given noted that currently there is not such a policy in place, but that council should look into options regarding such a policy.

Ireland noted that the initial policy list is a good one but that it is “not the be all and end all” and that it is a document that can be adjusted and debated as time goes on. 

“(Council) can recognize that this is an evolving process, and our needs will change, and capacity issues may impact what we can deal with from time to time,” Ireland said.

“This should be a living process, a working copy (as) we might have some emergent issues arise on the priority list,” Damota added.

Utility rates model

Council members were presented three options for the 2022 utility rates model.

One option presented was to maintain the flat rate model currently in use but with an increased rate for all users.

Another proposed was a tiered rate model, where those using more of a utility (water) would see a larger increase in cost when their usage is increased, whereas those using less of the resource would incur a smaller cost with their limited use.

The CCC model, meanwhile, would incorporate connection, consumption and capital in determining a customer’s billing, rather than just consumption.

The recommendation from administration was that committee direct administration to adopt the CCC model.

However, Given noted that all three models would deliver the municipality the same $3.8 million that it currently brings into government coffers, just in different proportions from different users (residential and commercial).

Coun. Scott Wilson warned that basing the distinction solely on the size of the water line blurred the distinction between residential and commercial.

Wilson said new homes were being constructed with one-inch lines similar to many commercial buildings, meaning residents could end up paying commercial rates despite not earning a profit from the use of the utilities as hotels and other businesses.

Further discussion at future committee meetings will look to find a fair way to determine which model will prevail, but councillors were leaning in support of administration’s recommendation.

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