At their regular July meeting last week Town of Virden Council passed a resolution implementing two new four-way stops. They will be located at the intersections of Seymour St. W. and Ninth Ave. S. near the Mary Montgomery School, as well as at Nelson St. W. and Eighth Ave. S. beside St. Paul’s United Church. During discussion on the matter, Mayor Murray Wright asked if public works staff could have the necessary signage put up in time for the beginning of the new school year in September.
“It’s a safety issue,” Wright said following the meeting. “We’ve been asked by one group (the Mary Montgomery Parent Advisory Council) regarding having this put in place to slow down traffic so the little people are safe going in and out of school.” On Nelson St., the stop is being established in response to citizen feedback.
RCMP Staff Sgt. Scott Fefchak presented Council with a brief monthly policing report. With a current lull in the demand for their services, members continue to focus on crime prevention, traffic enforcement and generally being visible in the community. Patrols and check stops are being conducted on a regular basis throughout the detachment area. Regular checks are also taking place to verify that people under court-imposed conditions are abiding by them.
“Our calls for service, both in the month of June and year-to-date are both down from last year,” Fefchak said.
A high priority continues to be placed on maintaining adequate staffing levels. At present, one member is awaiting a transfer to Russell, while two experienced officers are moving here from Dauphin. One has already arrived, while the other is expected within three months. Cst. Eric Sigurdson, who came to Virden in June, took part in the Canada Day program in Victoria Park on July 1. Fefchak noted that the current housing market is affecting the pace of transfers, which are ideally implemented within a 90-day period. Two new cadets are coming in August from RCMP Depot Division in Regina, and Fefchak said that they must be paired with an experienced officer for the first six months of their tenure in a detachment.
At the more senior levels, a 30-year member from Norway House will be moving to Virden to fill the vacant Sergeant position, and a new corporal will be coming in the near future as well.
“We’ve got good members here. They’re getting out there and being proactive,” Fefchak concluded.
A request for funding from a local drop-in centre prompted questions and reservations from Council. The New Horizon Centre is seeking a $10,000 contribution towards renovations to the facility on Nelson St. and has submitted a similar request to the R.M. of Wallace-Woodworth. Council was told that the plans call for the removal of the rear portion of the building, which has sustained water damage and is in a poor state of repair. During the discussion, Mayor Murray Wright asked whether the organization owned the building, which could not be immediately answered from the information provided. Meanwhile, Coun. Travis Penner expressed concerns about setting a precedent.
“How would we justify this to our taxpayers?” he asked.
It was unclear if the organization had sourced out and successfully applied for other applicable grants. Earlier this spring, the Town supplied a Letter of Support to accompany an application to the Virden Area Foundation.
CAO Stewart advised that under the Municipal Act, it would be permissible for the Town to contribute financially.
“I feel like this is a great granting project,” said Coun. Tara Cowan. She recommended that the Town request financial statements as well as information regarding other funding sources which have been investigated. She, too, feared that municipal involvement risked setting a precedent.
“If we start with them, do we do every other not-for-profit facility?” she asked.
Mayor Wright agreed. “We’re all in favour of this place being operational, but we’re spending taxpayers’ money to help one group,” he said.
The Town will be holding an information session for prospective Mayor and Council candidates in this fall’s municipal election on Aug.11, commencing at 7:00 p.m., in the Sunrise Banquet Hall at Tundra Oil & Gas Place. Election Day is Oct. 26.
Council authorized the signing of a new, enhanced 911 service agreement between the Town of Virden and BellMTS.
Under the initial phase of the utility meter replacement program, Council approved the purchase of new hardware and software for the reading of utility meters. The current system is obsolete, no longer supported by the Town’s service provider, and the upgrade was provided for in the current Financial Plan. The cost includes an initial set up fee of $1,250 and an annual software maintenance charge of $4,450. Council was told the new unit is more powerful and picks up radio frequencies better, thereby minimizing the need for return visits to re-read individual meters.
As the Town has not yet received its 2022 property tax statements from the Province of Manitoba, Council agreed to extend the tax prepayment discounts through the month of August. Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Rhonda Stewart reported that Virden is one of several municipalities affected by the delay, which has been attributed to a provincial short-staffing situation, and that it is impeding the receipt of dollars used to fund municipal operations.
Multi-Material Stewardship Manitoba, the organization responsible for residential recycling in the province, has released its Draft Transition Plan to Full Extended Producer Responsibility for public consultation. The document is available for 30 days on engagemb.ca.
Coun. Tina Williams received authorization to attend the Assiniboine River Basin Initiative Annual General Meeting and Tour in Esterhazy, Sask. on Aug. 4 and 5.
The first two applications to the Town’s Storefront Improvement Grant program launched earlier this spring as part of the overall downtown revitalization plan were approved.
A Letter of Authorization will be provided to Air Andrew Ltd., permitting aerial spraying operations and an air taxi charter to operate out of the Virden Regional Airport.
The Town will sponsor a hole, in the amount of $250 at the “Big 3” Fundraising Golf Tournament on Aug.12. The tournament is being presented by Virden’s three automobile dealerships, with proceeds going to the Virden Well View Golf Course.
During the committee reports, CAO Stewart reported that Council’s resolution regarding winter highway closures had been submitted to the Association of Manitoba Municipalities (AMM) Western District Meeting in Minto on June 24. It was passed unanimously, and will now be forwarded to the AMM Fall Convention for consideration there. Stewart also advised Council that as of the meeting date, Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation has not yet issued tenders for the resurfacing of King Street and Seventh Avenue. As a result, the Town has not received a definitive timeline as to when the work will commence. Replacement of the fire hydrants and associated underground piping is slated to occur prior to the paving.