Lloydminster city council’s regular meeting on April 27 started off differently than usual.
“Instead of a prayer, I ask that we take a quiet moment of personal reflection,” said Lloydminster Mayor Rob Saunders, as he called the meeting to order.
The move comes in response to a recent Supreme Court of Canada decision, in which the country’s top court ruled that municipal council meetings in Saguenay, Que. could no longer begin with a Catholic prayer. The court said that the prayers infringe on freedom of conscience and religion.
Following in the spirit of the decision, city councils across the country, including in Regina and Calgary, have decided to omit their traditional prayers from their meetings, even though some municipal prayers are nondenominational and informal.
“I believe our chosen prayers were all fairly neutral,” Saunders said. “That was the design.”
Saunders says council has not always started meeting with a prayer. He says the city is looking into the ruling and in the meantime, meetings will begin with a moment of silence.
“We’ve chosen to allow our administration to thoroughly research and review and keep up to date and we’ll bring (the decision) back for all of council at the appropriate time,” he said. “So we just used a moment for personal reflection for those in attendance here today.”
The City of Lloydminster is spending $75,000 for a financial viability model, which will allow the city to compile its reports into a single document and plan its finances decades into the future.
“It would be a tool we would use for forecasting and taking a number of documents that we currently use today and sort of put them through one port hole to make it easier to do analysis in the end,” city treasurer Nicole Reiniger said. “We can put information like budget information, capital replacements, master plans, future capital projects and be able to actually run forecast scenarios (projecting) how much your utility rates are going to generate 10 years down the road, your taxes, based on assessment growth. So we can do some more of those scenarios and the beauty of this model is because we will own it, at the end of the day, we can continue to use it for years to come.”
Reiniger says that municipalities typically contract companies to make one-time financial reports, but by purchasing the model Lloydminster will be the first municipality to be able to use it as an ongoing tool.
“Right now, we don’t really have a great mechanism for future forecasting, so this is going to be sort of a net new ability for the city to be able to plan ahead in a more structured process,” she said.
City buys $150,000 snow blower
Lloydminster city council approved the purchase of an industrial snow blower at its biweekly council meeting on April 27.
The snow blower will attach to the foremost part of a front-end loader and will be used to clear snow from city streets. The device costs the city $151,885 plus goods and services tax. That particular model was chosen because city workers are already familiar with it and its parts can be replaced.
Coun. Ken Baker says it is not unusual to buy snow removal equipment in the spring.
“Snow blowers aren’t on the shelf, they’ve usually got to build them to suit whatever your needs are,” he said. “It’s not like they’re sitting on the lot, so you want to order it ahead of time so they can get proper delivery so that it can be installed and ready to go ... when it snows in Lloydminster.”
The snow blower is a replacement for an old machine, but even if it were a new addition, Baker says it would be worth it.
“It takes about a month to clean all the streets in our city, especially in the areas where there are no boulevards where you’ve got to haul it all out,” Baker said. “So if we add a machine to the fleet it would just meant that we could get the snow out that much quicker, which is what people are asking for.”