A small but interested crowd attended the RM of Pipestone Ratepayer’s Meeting on Thursday, April 19 in the Reston Memorial Theatre at 7:00 p.m.
Reeve Archie McPherson welcomed everyone and introduced the councilors: James Watt (Ward 1), Garnet Williamson (Ward 2), Gary Nicholson (Ward 3), Randy Henuset (Ward 4), Sheila Kuntz Kotylak (Ward 5) Sean Kirkpatrick (Ward 6), and Chief Administrative Officer Michelle Halls.
The Purpose of the night’s meeting was to review our past year’s operation and our 2018 Budget and Plan.
Grants and Incentives
We continue to offer a number of grants and incentives to our ratepayers: Residential – $99,745 (2017), 144,001 (2016); Commercial - $44,650 (2017), $6,090 (2016); 5:1 Fundraising $11,902 (2017), $60,082 (2016); 25% Capital Grants $15,552 (2017), $60,082 (2016); Recreation Projects $14,396 (2017).
Council has introduced a Recreation Projects grant. This funding, up to $250,000 annual, is intended to support recreation facilities with new construction or equipment. The first recipients of the grant were the Reston Memorial Theatre for a new ramp, a new Pipestone Playground and trees for the Reston Golf Course. In 2018, Council will also be assisting with the construction of a Zamboni shed at the Pipestone Rink, a new Zamboni for Reston Rink, renovations to the Cromer Rink and improvements to the ball diamonds in Reston.
The expansion of the Reston Lagoon and forcemain from Pipestone to Reston should be completed by August. This 5 million dollar project is shared by the Federal, Provincial and Municipal governments, with our share expected to be $1.25 million. The village of Pipestone will be connected to the lagoon within the next few weeks.
We are committed to developing a piped sewer system at Sinclair. An Environment Act Proposal has been submitted to connect Sinclair to the Reston Lagoon, like Pipestone. Council has authorized up to $1,000,000 in 2018 to fund this study and the engineering for the project. We hope that by having a “shovel ready” project, we will be able to access shared funding, as we did for the Pipestone to Reston project.
We are pleased to announce that we have newly subdivided lots available for sale in the community of Pipestone. These lots are to the north of Third Avenue, west of the ball diamond. Residential lots are 105 ft x 115 ft and there are 2 commercial lots 246 ft x 314 ft. Our Economical Development Officer, Tanis Chalmers, is the contact for more information about these lots.
The Reston subdivision process is on-going. We have re-zoned the land east of 9th Street to feature areas for residential, commercial and light industrial development. The next step is to apply to the Province for design of Phase 1, which will be 8 residential lots and 2 commercial lots. We still have 2 residential lots in Reston, one on 6th Street and one on 5th Avenue.
Investment and Reserve Position
Our reserve position is as follows:
Investment Portfolio $5.2 million (2017), $4.79 million (2016); Reserves $7.01 million (2017), $11.35 million (2016). Total Reserves $12.22 million (2017), $11.35 million (2016).
We are continuing to put money from our royalties into transportation, infrastructure, grants and reserves.
Municipal Grants and Project Funding
We are continuing to offer 25% of capital for funding projects to Municipal facilities that are pre-approved. The ward grant is still in place for communities to access additional funds. There is $10,000 annually allocated in each ward for this; there is $198,000 accumulated in the grant reserve.
We also have continued to have available funding for 25% of infrastructure projects to our communities. A new drain system was installed in Reston on Second Street to alleviate flooding and a half mile of road was also constructed using funds from the Infrastructure Reserve.
The RES Centre continues to be a gathering place for all ages. Rentals and casual users have increased over the previous year and we welcomed an exercise class for older adults called “Steppin’ Up”. This program is held in the gym and was attended by 29 participants. For information or to sign up, please contact Tara Cowan at the RES Centre.
RES continues to work on facility improvements. Public Works staff completed interior painting this winter. For 2018, we will be doing some renovations in the kitchen to make it easier for renters to use. We will also be replacing urinals, which have not been operating since we took over the building. A new sign for the building is also expected this year.
We continue with repairing frost boils and mulching of roadsides this year. We have repaired 78 miles of frost boils over the past 3 years with the assistance of local contractors.
We have also contracted for stone crushing on 11 miles of road this year, which will make a total of 17 miles over the past three years.
In 2017, we contracted the building a road at 163W between 42N and 43 N. This year, public works staff will upgrade road 40N between 162W and 163W.
Our mowers were able to complete two full rounds of mowing throughout the municipality and with the drier weather, mowed many miles of cattails to improve visibility and keep ditches clean.
Council spent many hours in 2017 attending Health Care meetings to voice our concerns about changes to ambulance services in Manitoba. We remain frustrated with the ever-decreasing level of service in south west Manitoba and continue to advocate for ambulance and medical care for the municipality.
As a reminder to residents, community clean up days will be Friday, May 25 for Pipestone, Cromer and Sinclair and Friday, June 1 for Reston. This is the day that you can set our larger items and yard waste for collection. Please contact the office if you know you will have an appliance that needs to be moved on those days.
The project that was started in 2012 is nearly completed. 28 connections were added in 2016-17 and an additional 5 connections will be constructed in 2018. We have a total of 462 active connections, representing approximately 80% of the municipal population.
Funding to date is as follows with the RM paying 2/3’s of total cost:
2009 – 2012 Total shared cost $5.8 million; 2013 and 2014 Total shared cost $3.27 million; 2015 Total shared cost $4.7 million; 2016 Total shared cost $1.83 million; 2017 Total shared cost $735,000; 2018 Projected costs $700,000.
We are happy to welcome new businesses, business expansions and new business owners to the Municipality. Council has joined forces with the RM of Wallace-Woodnorth and the Town of Virden to form the Dennis County Development Partnership. The purpose of the partnership is to promote economic development on a regional basis, encourage investment and identify economic opportunities. In 2018, the group will focus on developing a website to promote the region, our opportunities, expansion projects and business retention. This group has been supported by a number of federal and provincial grants and is unique to our Province.
Senior Housing continues to be a top priority for Council. A building committee was formed in 2017 and they have been working towards building an Independent Living Facility on the North end of the RES property, across from the Reston Rink. The land has been secured from Fort La Bosse in exchange for upgrades to the Reston School grounds.
An Independent Living house is made up of 8 – 10 individual suites with a service package, including meals, light housekeeping and laundry. Meals are prepared in a large, homey kitchen and the residents share common areas and recreation space.
The committee will be meeting in the next few weeks to approve a design for the building and more information will be presented to the public, as it is available.
Council has committed up to $2 million dollars in the 2018 budget, to be funded from the Royal Reserve as a loan to the building. This investment in our seniors will ensure the rents are more affordable and that the project can proceed as quickly as possible.
The RM continues to operate in a solid financial position. We received $1.5 million in royalties in 2017 and are budgeting for $1.4 million in 2018. These, as previously stated, will go into transportation, infrastructure and reserve.
Mill rates have decreased for 2018 due to the change in assessments. Council has worked hard to continue investing in infrastructure and services while maintaining an affordable tax rate.
Our major projects this year will include road building, frost boil repair, and increased regular road maintenance.
Our Spray Park is almost complete, with the last of the water and sewer scheduled to be connected within a few days. A grand opening will take place, as soon as Mother Nature decides to bring up some warmer weather. I look forward to seeing the children enjoying the new park this summer.
Reeve McPherson then opened the floor for any questions or concerns:
• A concern was heard that even though it was stated the mill rate was down, land taxes would increase approximately $40 to $50 on every quarter in the RM whereas the average house will see a decrease in land taxes. It was explained that this is done on assessment and farmland continues to increase in our municipality where houses have decreased considerably and are not selling like they were 4 years ago.
• Sinclair Sewage was discussed. Sinclair could be on a downhill so there might not be the need for a lift station as it was in Pipestone but they are currently waiting on funding to make this happen.
• Canupawakpa water was discussed and if they would be connecting to the pipeline. Right now their water is not good to drink.
• The commercial properties were discussed.
• Health care and the availability of a doctor and ambulance were discussed in great detail. Right now council is looking into the feasibility of hiring a Nurse Practitioner to cover in Reston on a full time basis. A Nurse Practitioner has more time to give to patients. The education requirements are only two more years than a BN. They are also lobbying the government to reduce the requirements for the EMS. It was stated that the ambulance took a full hour to reach a choking victim in Pipestone one evening. Jerome Brockman was publicly thanked for his many years of dedicated service to the community.
Reeve McPherson thanked everyone for coming out and welcomed any further question be directed to the RM office or your councilor. Copies of the financial statements can be picked up at the RM Office.