I drove to Christopher Lake this morning for a meeting with the RCMP to discuss the 2014 Performance Plans as they relate to our district. There was at least four inches of snow/slush on highway 2, and the forecast is for more tonight. To put things in perspective, we don’t have to be on tornado alert as they do in the southern USA right now, but it sure would be nice if winter let go it’s stranglehold on Lakeland. It is impossible to accurately predict – but the ice may NOT be off the lakes for the May long weekend.

As requested by our ratepayers, District Council and staff continue to encourage boat patrols on our lakes. At the meeting today, summer plans for the RCMP and Saskatchewan Environment Conservation Officers were shared. The emphasis on these patrols is to increase safety with respect to operation of water craft on our lakes. The RCMP boat located in Waskesiu will be utilized in conducting some patrols while the Saskatchewan Environment boat will be used in other instances. Staff will include a mix of RCMP members, Conservation Officers and our own Enforcement and Protective Services staff.

When the 2013 mill rate was struck, your council instructed administration to set a rate that could be held for the full four year assessment cycle. I am pleased to announce that the 2014 operating budget was approved at our April 22 council meeting with a decrease in millrate from 3.1 in 2013 to 2.84 for 2014. This will offset the decrease in cash discount from 15% in January 2013, to 6% in January 2014. As a result, the effective millrate was held, in accordance with council’s directive. Members of council are pleased to be able to hold the line while most of the municipalities in the province are being forced to increase their tax rates. Increased costs, combined with a small reduction in provincial revenue sharing, is being felt by all municipalities.

Council received the Public Works Manager’s report updating information provided by provincial officials with respect to spring runoff. Highways officials do NOT anticipate flooding of #2 highway this year, but our area is in the middle of the heaviest runoff expected in the province. Our public works staff have been very proactive in spring preparations and so far their efforts have provided satisfactory results.

As a result of requests from ratepayers as well as commercial users of our Emma Lake Landfill, summer openings have been extended from 5 to 6 days per week. The number of hours per day have reduced somewhat to offset the cost of the additional day. Drop off charges were increased from $7.00 to $10.00. It is important to understand that the fees collected from both individuals as well as other users of our landfills and lagoons are being transferred to a reserve for future costs, not into general revenue for the District.

The issue of landfills and lagoons will be studied this year by Bullee Consulting Ltd. We accepted their tender to provide council with an analysis of the District landfills, lagoons and road infrastructure and provide direction and options for future maintenance and capital replacement of municipal assets. This study is to be completed by late fall 2014.

I would like to remind ratepayers that the civic address program has been complete for some time and if you have not yet posted your civic address, this is the time to take action. The civic address assignment was required in anticipation of the changes in election procedures as well as clearer direction for emergency response agencies. It only takes a few minutes to purchase house numbers at your favorite hardware store and install them on the street side of your residence. Enforcement will commence in the future to insure compliance with this bylaw.

The province has announced further information with respect to multi-material recycling programs. Councillor Stauffer will be attending meetings this week to obtain further information as to how it affects our recycle efforts. I would hope that all ratepayers have saved the information on what CAN and CANNOT be recycled that was contained in the information package that was mailed to all ratepayers in early April. If you have misplaced or lost your copy – more are available in the District office. It is important that we ALL do our part to decrease the volumes going into our landfills. I will do a special Reeve’s Blog about recycling in the near future, once more information is available to us.

I want to welcome everyone to the summer of 2014, and please play safe!