The former mayor of the village of Morrin spoke to the council at its regular meeting on March 17 to raise concerns about the state of the infrastructure on at least one street in the municipality, as well as several other complaints.
Howard Helton spoke to the council as a delegation and appeared on Zoom when the council meeting was held over the internet.
Official Administrator (OA) Harold Johnsrude noted that according to the village’s rules of procedure, Helton was allowed to speak for up to 10 minutes.
Helton began his presentation by pointing out recent correspondence between himself and Annette Plachner, the village’s Chief Administrative Office (CAO), noting that he had left the village over concerns about sewerage for 2nd Ave. North in the village.
In the correspondence made available to the ECA review, Helton requested information from the side camera inspection of the village of sewers on the avenue in question.
He noted that at a council meeting in December 2018, some camera footage from sites that are part of the underground sewer infrastructure appeared to need to be replaced in a residence, and he wanted to see any other camera footage from other infrastructure in the area that revealed the same condition.
Helton stated that when he requested more camera footage from the village, he was told it was possible but a fee of $ 50 was required and he wanted an explanation of the fee as he found the village fee schedule had no provision for this fee includes.
The ECA review checked the village fee bylaws and does not include a $ 50 fee for camera footage. No fee in the Articles of Association exceeds $ 25.
Helton also asked if Morrin property owners shouldn’t expect anything until a problem arises, including flooded basements, as well as the possibility of litigation that he recently indicated.
The former mayor stated that the village’s public works department had purchased all of the properties on 2nd Ave. North except that one had the same sewer problem and Helton wanted to know if the property owners knew about it.
The story goes on
Helton expanded his commentary to include specific questions about sewage services for homes # 207, 209, 217, and 305.
Helton also asked for clarification on the age of the sewer infrastructure in question, especially when compared to that under 2nd Ave. South.
Plachner replied that the southern infrastructure dates back to 2011.
OA Johnsrude responded that the village has limited funds for infrastructure work and that the highest priorities need to be assessed first and that road repairs will also replace the infrastructure below. He noted that his understanding is that much of Morrin’s sewers are from the 1950s.
Johnsrude noted that the village is reviewing a 2017 technical study of community infrastructure to develop a five-year plan for exchanges, taking into account the village’s limited resources.
Johnsrude stated that the village had previously been advised to set aside about $ 275,000 a year for infrastructure replacements, which the village did not.
Instead, according to the OA, the village relied on certain grants from the provincial government, which are expected to be cut from 2022.
Regarding the $ 50 charge for the camera footage, Johnsrude noted that he paid a $ 50 sewer charge for his own safety even in his own apartment (he is not a resident of Morrin).
He added that the village has been paid to receive the camera footage that is owned by the village and offers a benefit, hence a fee, to those who request it.
Helton responded that Morrin property owners should have free access to this camera footage as this problem could affect them badly.
Johnsrude responded that the village has a sewage policy that says the resident must contact the village immediately if a backup is made.
The OA could not promise the owners a full report, but determined that it would consider Helton’s application.
Helton was cut off in the middle of his response to comments from Johnsrude that his 10 minutes had expired.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, East Central Alberta Review
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