City council report: Fees for police, fire to decrease

Flin Flon taxpayers will be paying less for police and fire service over the next three years.

Flin Flon city council gave second and third reading to a bylaw amending the city’s per parcel rates for protective services at their latest council meeting on April 2. Under the new bylaw, taxpayers in Flin Flon will be paying $395.27 per parcel of land in 2019 for fire and police service. The new bylaw also approves rates for 2020 and 2021, allowing for three per cent increases in the fee each year. If increases are approved at later dates, the fee could expand to $407.13 in 2020 and $419.34 in 2021.

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“This special services levy resolution allows for a three per cent increase over the next two years – up to a three per cent increase. That doesn’t mean it’s mandatory,” said councillor Colleen McKee.

The change is directly related to Flin Flon’s declining population. Since the official population of Flin Flon, dropped below 5,000 people in the 2016 federal census, the city’s existing protective services policy switched from a federal program to a provincial program. Provincial programs come with a reduced cost compared to federal protective services plans. Before this year, Flin Flon residents paid $698 per parcel of land per year for police and fire protection. The switch from federal to provincial plans went into place on April 1.

Population figures for Flin Flon have dropped in each federal census since 1961, going from an all-time high of 11,104 residents to a total of 5,185 in 2016, including 203 residents in Flin Flon, Sask.

“We had a federal policing model with over 5,000 people. When you go under 5,000 people, it becomes a provincial policing model. It’s a big cost difference between the federal one and the provincial one,” said councillor Ken Pawlachuk, chairing the meeting as deputy mayor in place of Mayor Cal Huntley.

The announcement comes about two years after the results were released. City chief administrative officer Glenna Daschuk said the delay was due to a waiting period included as part of the switch.

“There was a two-year termination requirement for the federal program, then we had to wait for approval from the Department of Justice to participate at a federal level, then we had to recalculate the special service levy,” she said. “We only received approval for that last week.”

Seniors’ housing

McKee said the city’s financial and administrative services committee will be looking further into seniors’ housing in the Flin Flon area.

“I know we’ve been kicking around seniors’ housing for so long now that I think people may think it’s never going to happen. We’re working on a couple of initiatives and we’re having some meetings with folks in Winnipeg,” said McKee.

“There is going to be an initiative coming forward to help us move in our quest for seniors housing.”

Earlier this year, each city committee was assigned certain goals to work toward during this term. The financial and administrative services community was tasked with improving seniors’ housing in Flin Flon, along with improving customer service and workplace satisfaction.

No firm announcements, confirmations or dates regarding seniors’ housing were given at the meeting.

 

Premier invite

Manitoba’s premier has been invited to “Mamma Mia” next month, but won’t be heading north.

Councillor Ken Pawlachuk, serving as deputy mayor during the meeting, told council that a formal letter inviting Premier Brian Pallister to Flin Flon for the Flin Flon Community Choir musical was sent. A return letter was sent back, ultimately telling the city in essence, thanks, but no thanks.

Pawlachuk did say he felt positive about the return letter. Instead of receiving a boilerplate rejection letter, the councillor said the response came from Pallister himself.

“This always goes on. We send them a letter, they send us a form letter rejection back and that’s it,” said Pawlachuk.

“He seemed to be in tune with our area and he called us a cultural hub for Manitoba. That’s pretty good stuff to me.”

Pawlachuk said the return letter praised Flin Flon’s penchant for the arts and volunteering. Pallister has visited Flin Flon twice in the past year, including most recently last month for the grand opening of the new Flin Flon General Hospital emergency department.

Main Street gallery

More details have been released regarding a program to make Main Street more colourful.

Councillors discussed a new Main Street art banner program, now officially named the “Main ARTery.” Through the Main ARTery, Flin Flon-based artists will be able to create art pieces which will be printed on banners and hung on Main Street. Work on the project has been organized by several local groups, including the Main Street Revitalization Committee. Each banner will feature the new tourism brand logo for Flin Flon released last year.

“It lends itself to the fact that our Main Street is our public image. One of the things that we want to ensure is that, when a tourist comes to town and they look at our Main Street, that it’s our PR,” said McKee.

McKee also said similar programs may take hold in Creighton and Denare Beach. No confirmed approval for a similar project in either community has taken place.

Artists can submit up to four pieces each to flinflonmainstreetgallery@gmail.com by April 19. Official selections will be chosen by April 26.

“It’s going to take some time, so we need people to be patient,” McKee said.

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