Mayor Terry Yemen started the meeting addressing the amount of tourists that visited the valley this May long weekend saying it ‘was a success.’
He also mentioned a rumour regarding housing for rural practitioners which has now taken a life of its own and is not happening. There happens to be no committee to support this as well as no money from taxpayers.
Scott Kuntz, Managing Funeral Director & Embalmer of the Courtney Winters Funeral Home in Drumheller, brought a possible exception to a Municipal by-law as the Provincial government has made a slight change to its policy regarding how long funeral homes can keep urns.
Kuntz believes it to be a unique situation as they have roughly 40 urns that have been stored for up to 15 years.
The government does allow for scattering the remains in proper places like a scattering garden but Kuntz felt that was not as honourable to the deceased and it also does not allow for retrieval if someone were to claim the ashes after so many years.
As a one time exception, he wished for council to give direction on the situation as funeral homes are at expense to build proper burials. Time was of the essence as homes are supposed to get rid of any stored remains by June of this year.
The funeral home has done extensive research to see what other towns have done when handling the situation. Some had no idea this change had happened while others went to scattering methods.
Kuntz wants to have tomb where it will be sealed and watertight but can also have access if an urn needs retrieval. Council hopes to amend the current bylaw hopefully by next meeting.
Other changes to the law was the fact that funeral homes can’t keep remains longer than one year so Courtney Winters is creating a form to make sure that family members can sign off on for future and is now in the process.
Scattering gardens were seen as a ‘great option for funeral homes and families’ and they can buy a plaque and put on wall near the garden in larger centres but Drumheller does not have that access.
Operations manager Tammi Nygaard representing the Drumheller and District Solid Waste Management Association (DDSWMA) gave a brief overview of this years town clean up as well as an in-depth report and possible change regarding plastic bag usage in town. She found the cleanup to be ‘very uneventful’ with lots of cooperation as she was impressed with how representatives handled the situation and how residents cleanly disposed of their garbage. Compared to last year, a decrease of 2.65 per cent has been found in bringing wood, compost, and household materials while there was an increase of 16.1 per cent in metal. Nygaard felt the volumes are starting to come down, due to economy but overall people are finally understanding the process.
Nygaard moved on to plastic bags alternatives, giving council four different options to consider; one; Don’t do anything and let the market including the retailers and consumer, create a voluntary reduction program which happens to be the most accepted by retailers as they can impose a five cent fee, consistently banning the use of plastic bags by making a by-law which typically has a strong opposition, or using alternatives to the low density polyethylene (LDPE) plastic bags by using biodegradable bags, paper bags, and reusable bags. The struggles of putting in such a change would be the price as they cost more to produce but would be much more efficient for environment as they are compostable and decomposable. Nygaard found lots of information from the City of Calgary as well as the regional municipality of Wood Buffalo and how they implemented the new changes. Plastic bags are a litter problem which can be detrimental to water bodies and wildlife habitat. So far, no leadership or guidance has come from government. Council discussed possible polling on the Drumheller Town website for the plastic bag issue.
The council discussed expectations of the Valley Bus service as considerable amounts of money have been given to them. They felt as a whole that the Valley Bus service could be able to assist for conferences as there is no other public transit in town. Since there is no public transit, it has forced conferences to look at other community services, ultimately driving away business. A survey available via the Town website is currently out in ridership. As well as the survey, a change in Valley Bus Society executive manager has offered a clean slate to start a new relationship with the town. Councillor Tom Zariski highlighted that there is not enough drivers so it was not a good idea to add new expectations that they can not reach. Drumheller has become known as a senior friendly area due to valley bus. Councillor Jay Garbutt wanted Valley Bus to know that this talk was in no way about withholding or withdrawing money from them, he felt that the relationship between council and Valley Bus could be much better. They wanted to see about having some running times on the weekend and evenings. The council decided to table until survey results comes in, with a presentation in September.
Vendor Cart expectations was the next topic on the list. Talk consisted of a possible schedule when taking on vendor licences so that they are not left high and dry if something changes and the vendor cannot commit. Councillor Garbutt wanted to see actual policy instead of ‘guidelines open to interpretation.’ By providing policy framework, this can allow for vendor and town success. CAO Ray Romanetz mentioned he is currently having conversation with vendors to see their expectations. The council decided to come up with guidelines after talking to the vendors.
A request for watershed identification signs was not supported by council as it ‘can be spent on something better’. It was a fair amount of money for 17 signs along the Red Deer River.
Councillor Pat Kolafa gave a Drumheller and District Solid Waste Management Association (DDSWMA) update saying they are currently in good standing, with assets of $12 million. Among tougher things, the economy hit hard with a $170,000 swing on disposal with no real turnaround so far this quarter. In order to combat this drastic change, they were able to find some efficiencies but are still monitoring. The Penitentiary was mentioned as inmates could help but so far it is in the works as they are building a relationship with new people.
Councillor Garbutt brought up the Citizen Engagement Process for discussion. He found citizens were grateful to be face to face, and talk to public but less than a handful came to talk and it was frustrating to a person coming up with idea as they could not attend and listen. Councillor Zariski felt that council is already doing a lot of community engagement so they don’t need to formalize the process as members of the community will as anytime like the grocery store or the movies. They thought that people want to do things on their own terms.