• Mercer Lawrenson

The Mercer Report Starts Covering Local Government

Tuesday January 26, 2016 - R.M. of Macdonald council offices - Sanford MB.

I started my first attempt at journalism, on a cold afternoon, by checking in on a council meeting. Here is my summary of what I saw.

Council met at 3:00 PM and began by going through normal business, such as paying outstanding bills, approving expenses for an upcoming conference, and making allowances for absent counselors. A subdivision application by M. Bartmanovich, who was present at the council meeting, was given approval under standard procedure.

Approval was given to deals with the Rural Municipality of Morris and the R.M of Richot that would allow municipalities in the agreement to forcibly collect water bills from homes that are in one municipality but receive their water from the neighboring one. Because apparently there has been a few people just getting free water, because the municipality that doesn't own their land can't force them to pay the fees.

Following that, Andre Gamby of Glacial Aggregates Incorporated came and gave a detailed report on different gravels the municipality might, and should, use on the roads. Including why traffic gravel, (I'd never heard of traffic gravel before: it is a mix of smaller round stones, sand, hardpan, clay, and a couple of things I don't remember. It is apparently much superior as a gravel road surface over a normal ¾ down say, it stays on the road better, sheds water more effectively, and does not kick up as many stones.) was the best, and which traffic gravel should be used. I actually found this quite interesting; it was as he admitted quite technical but I'd never thought through that someone might engineer a gravel mix down to the percentage points of which materials made the best road surface.

Next the council discussed how to maintain the difference cemeteries in the municipality, and how to pay for them: currently the cost is $200 for a plot in each of the cemeterys, which has quite a few people buying in, and is not nearly paying for the costs. They decided to get a report to gather on how much to increase the cost, which they hope raise over the next little bit. So if you want a cheap burial plot and wonna hangout beside me when you're dead, you'd better come on down quick and buy a few of them up before they bring in the price hike.

The next order of business was a discussion with Tim Comack of Ventura Land company. Before he got into his issues he brought an interesting anecdote about burial plots. He said that when he was in Jerusalem, they have very little space, and so people are all stacked up in cemeteries, and the most popular thing is to be buried on the mount of olives angled so that if Christ returns there at the time of your resurrection you will be the first thing he sees coming out of the ground. Apparently six or so cubic feet to rest your old bones in runs about $500,000. He said that he thought all the Middle Eastern conflict was probably over the 20 acres of real estate there that could be sold for a few billion.

But he wasn't all fun stories. When he got down to his point he was really there to complain about the municipality treatment of his development company. He is developing one section of land in Lasalle and is being blocked from even requesting to begin the process of developing other pieces of land that he owns near in the area even though other companies are being allowed to proceed, and his company paid for an entire lagoon to service all the new development in the area. The counselors seem to be taking the position that if they prevent him from building new homes he may be able to finish up the area is already working on sooner. That is our real short summary of their discussion. They went back and forth for about half an hour or more, and they definitely do disagree, even though he wants to stay in the municipalities good books, and he is one of the R.M. most important developers. The municipality promised to come to decision and get back to him in a month. And that was the end of that.

Council then took a short break, at which time I left, because I wanted to be home for supper. Still on the agenda for the meeting was a handful of reports and municipal correspondents for the month.

I know that this is the only media report from that meeting because I was only one there. I know that this is a little bit of a long article. I don't think that I can go to every council meeting, but since they don't transcribe everything that is said, attending is the only way to report on what is actually goes down. So I am unsure what to do in the future for municipal reports, and would love to get some feedback on what you think is the best way for me to cover local government.


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