Good Morning my name is Al Christensen and I would like to welcome you to our annual information meeting.
First of all I would like to take a moment to pay tribute to the late Ralph Hudson. Ralph passed away in June of this year after suffering health issues for some time. Ralph was a member of Lakeland council from 1991 to 2009. He served the municipality and his ratepayers with great distinction. After I was elected in 2006, I counted on Ralph to provide historical information and sage advice.
I am pleased to be able to state that the promise that we made to you in 2012 has been fulfilled. For the fourth year in a row, we have been able to hold our mill rate and credit must go to both our council and staff. We have been able to do this while we increased our asset base. The public works shop will be completed this summer and marks the last large capital equipment commitment. That is not to say that we don’t have large dollar commitments coming at our lagoon and landfill but we will work with senior governments to minimize the effects of those expenditures and we have been putting some money into reserves as well. Dave will be presenting more information on the lagoon in his report.
The residents at Elk Ridge Resort have applied to the Minister of Government Relations and have been granted unorganized Hamlet Status by the Minister. Our administration and the Elk Ridge Owners group are working towards Organized Hamlet status which would take effect in 2016. Our preliminary estimates indicate this will have minimal financial impact on the District budget.
The District of Lakeland along with the University of Saskatchewan School of Environment and Sustainability partnered to prepare an Environmental Management Plan for the District of Lakeland last year. That plan will be useful to both staff and council as decisions are made in the future. A key component in the plan is water quality. Due to the importance of this area, the Environmental Advisory committee has hired a University student (also from the school of Environment) to work with them this summer to flesh out further material on water quality issues. The perceived threats to our water quality include grey water and leaking septic tanks, use of fertilizers and pesticides, sedimentation from private and municipal developments as well as shoreline alterations. This study will provide recommendations for each of these areas. Research will also be completed to determine what additional parameters need to be included in the data being recorded in our water quality testing. Based on the testing which has been done over the last four years the quality of the water in all of our water bodies has been excellent but we must be ever vigilant that this testing be continued and expanded if necessary. We expect to continue with this type of research work with the university for the next few years.
We are also working with the provincial officials to protect our water from invasive species such as zebra mussels and signage has been put in place along with monitoring devices.
We continue to have algae and weed growth present in our lakes; however these events occur naturally in all water bodies in the province. The presence and abundance of minnows and fresh water shrimp speaks to the excellent quality of our lakes at this time.
As a result of flood levels experienced at Anglin Lake in 2013 the Prince Albert National Park commissioned a Dam Safety Review. The safety review calls for lowering the traditional water levels at Anglin. The Water Security Agency is in the process of negotiating a new operating agreement for the Dam with PANP. The District of Lakeland has put forward a position requesting retention of higher water elevations both for recreation on Anglin and to provide an adequate supply of water to pump to Emma/Christopher. We will continue to work with our senior governments to resolve these issues.
The current lake levels are lower than the past number of years and this has prompted many calls to the District office. I would like to spend a few minutes discussing this issue. We have had two very dramatic water events in the last two years. Anglin Lake was subjected to flood conditions in June of 2013 and Emma Lake was close to flood levels for much of 2014. The control structures that assist with keeping water levels consistent from year to year are managed by staff from the Water Security Agency. Minimum and maximum levels have been established by this agency and the staff attempts to operate the control structures to keep water levels within those ranges. As of today, all of our lakes are close to the bottom of the range. If you have concerns about water issues, the Water Security Staff (Ron Crush or Al Keller) can be reached (306) 446-7450 in North Battleford and the PANP staff contact is Norm Stolle who can be reached at 306 663-4510.