Village of Morrin Coun. Lorraine MacArthur asked for an update on the status of the Gas Plus property located across the street from the village office. The property has an unpaid tax bill and also an underground contamination. ECA Review/S.SalkeldStu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 29, 2022 at 13:19

By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A former mayor of the Village of Morrin who’s battled the village over sewer line issues won’t be getting any work done on that infrastructure in the foreseeable future. 

The topic was discussed at the June 15 regular meeting of council.

Councillors discussed the issue of former mayor Howard Helton’s sewer lateral, along with Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Annette Plachner and Public Works Foreman Dave Benci. 

Plachner reported Helton contacted the village recently to ask if his sewer lateral was going to be repaired.

Benci stated repairs to Helton’s sewer lateral were not in the village’s budget, plus a third party examined the sewer lateral in question, including both a camera and sewer snake, and looked at it several times.

Benci stated the company in question, TKNT Mechanical, felt that, after examining the video footage, there is a “dip” in Helton’s sewer lateral but that it does not prevent the lateral from operating normally. 

Their conclusion, noted the foreman, was that Helton’s lateral is not perfect but it’s functional.

The foreman noted he feels half the sewers in Morrin have a dip and that it would not be worth the $20,000 expense to dig up Helton’s lateral. If there is a problem with Helton’s lateral, stated Benci, snaking it would be much cheaper.

Benci added the village has responded to Helton properly. “We’ve done everything in our power to accommodate him,” said Benci.

Gas Plus property

Coun. Lorraine MacArthur asked for an update on the status of the Gas Plus property located across the street from the village office. The property has an unpaid tax bill and also an underground contamination.

MacArthur asked if the village was going to acquire the property through the tax recovery process and Plachner responded that decision was up to council.

Mayor Chris Hall asked if someone wants to rent the building, should the village rent it out if it becomes village property?

Benci stated that even if the village takes the property over, the village is not responsible for the contamination; also, he added it could be useful for Public Works storage. 

Councillors asked how Benci knew this and he noted he received that information from the provincial government in the past. 

He also stated the contamination hadn’t been tested in about 20 years and there were no plans to test it again.

Councillors decided the village would get formal confirmation that the village wouldn’t be responsible for the contamination and then make a decision on the property in July.

Relationship status

Coun. MacArthur noted she recently spoke to Starland County administration about a mutual road issue and MacArthur told her peers she got the impression Starland is upset with Morrin over a recent decision regarding lots in the village. 

MacArthur added it appears Starland County has the impression Morrin is unhappy with them and she suggested a social meeting between the two councils to get the relationship back on track.

The issue in question revolved around a private property owner wishing to sell lots back to Starland; the village balked at this as it would remove those lots from the tax base.

MacArthur added that fire department issues may also be on the agenda, as Starland County pays most of the fire department bills. CAO Plachner stated that Morrin always pays its share of fire department costs.

Councillors agreed to approach Starland County about a social meeting to discuss various issues.

Felonious felines

Coun. M’Liss Edwards brought forward a resident complaint about cats trespassing on private property. 

The resident complained that cats shouldn’t be at large in the village and noted dog owners have to pay a village license while cat owners don’t.

The CAO pointed out Morrin has a cat bylaw which requires cat owners to keep their pets on their own property; if a trespassing cat can be identified, the village bylaw officer can write a ticket.

Plachner noted that cat complaints should come to the village office.

Public Works report

Benci submitted his regular Public Works report and noted he had met with the Village of Delia to discuss collaboration with Drumheller Public Works. 

It was noted that collaboration might involve things like street cleaning and sewer flushing; Benci added he’s had trouble trying to find a street sweeper. Mayor Hall asked if purchasing one for the village is an option, and Benci responded the dust would still need to be picked up and the vehicle would still need to be stored.

The foreman reported the village’s spring cleanup went very well, and added the contractor charged the village $630, while a previous contractor charged $3,000 to $4,000.

Benci reported he looked into getting solar lights for the gazebo at about $20 each, but were only 20 lumins in brightness and at that level probably wouldn’t be easily visible. He noted a brighter system could cost up to $6,000. Benci added that smaller lights would probably also be a target for vandalism.

He mentioned the gazebo’s paint scheme still has lettering from the original steel grain bin material, and it was agreed the village would ask the Lions Club, who is responsible for the gazebo, if the lettering could be painted over along with solar lights added.

This item reprinted with permission from East Central Review, Coronation, Alberta