The continued impact of Manitoba’s COVID-19 self-isolation lockdown left councilors meeting for a third consecutive regular session via video conference on Tuesday.
Nevertheless, this week’s meeting had little to do with the coronavirus.
Councilors passed the third reading of the Fire Prevention and Emergency Services Bylaw. The legislation outlines the town’s provisions of firefighting and fire prevention services alongside the adoption of the Manitoba Fire Code and other items. The bylaw was updated to comply and reflect conventional regulations. Amendments for new issues surrounding recreational fires in the community and fireworks were also included.
Council also decided to end automatic indemnity increases after concerns were brought up about an upcoming 2.5 per cent increase. After discussion, Chief Administrative Officer Rhonda Stewart was instructed to amend the bylaw to cut indemnity increases to zero moving forward. Future administrations would have to amend the new bylaw should they wish to increase indemnities.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Staff Sergeant Colby Argue participated in the meeting following a discussion about what Virden-area law enforcement officers should prioritize through the next 12 months.
In his monthly report presented to council on April 7, Argue asked council to assess what they believe should be the RCMP’s municipal priorities through the detachment’s 2020-2021 fiscal year. Previously, the priorities included police visibility, traffic and vandalism. Argue noted that vandalism was not a serious issue through 2019-2020.
This week, Argue told councilors that RCMP member visibility in the community was instrumental in assisting them with quelling activities such as vandalism.
After discussing the issue, Staff Sgt. Argue and councilors came to the conclusion that visibility and traffic enforcement will remain priorities.
The new third priority for the year will be the Offender Management Program, which places attention and resources on residents living in the area – particularly repeat offenders – with court-mandated conditions and restrictions. Staff Sgt. Argue said the programming helps RCMP officers ensure individuals are abiding by the instructions they were given.
“Essentially, it works under the premise that a small portion of the population is responsible for a large portion of the crime in any given area or community,” he said on Wednesday. “The Offender Management Program is where we identify subjects who meet the criteria of either being heavily involved in crime or on their way to becoming heavily involved and we focus on those individuals.”
Sgt. Argue said the program’s goal is to have offenders follow conditions placed upon them to change their behavior and become productive in the general population.
Finally, councilors approved a three-year contract with Prairie HVAC Maintenance to maintain the refrigeration plant at Tundra Oil and Gas Place. The contract covers 2020 through 2022 at a cost of $5,985 per year.