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Lack of downtown washrooms an issue for some

Feb 04, 2014 11:15 am | Sam Macdonald

After being notified about a letter received by the St. Paul & District Chamber of Commerce from an out-of-town shopper, council discussed the difficulties some people have expressed with a lack of washroom facilities in the downtown area, at its last regular meeting on Jan. 27.

The Chamber of Commerce received the letter, and notified council about the complaint, which came from a Bonnyville resident who was distressed about the lack of public washrooms available in the downtown area.

“People downtown aren’t familiar with where everything is, and aren’t sure where to go,” said Coun. Edna Gervais, when discussing the issue.

“Some businesses let people use their washrooms with ‘customers only’ signs, it’s a business thing,” said Anderson.

One of the suggestions by the chamber was to build public washrooms in the downtown area. Andersen said that he wanted to see a plan, in response to the suggestion of public washrooms, also saying, “When you’re asking for this, it’s an expensive endeavor you’re asking for. Construction is one thing, but maintenance and supervision are quite a different issue.”

He added, “We had public washrooms installed near the soccer fields once, and people burned them. It’s a lot of money to spend, to build and maintain them, and how do you explain that to the public?”

Council tabled the issue, and Gervais said that she would consult with the chamber for a plan.

Cargo business

Council also discussed a request brought in by Coun. Dwight Wiebe, on behalf town residents, Jose Rey and Ana Atienza.

Wiebe explained to council that the Atienzas want to run a small door-to-door boxing and cargo business from their home. Wiebe said the Atienzas would use their home as a drop-off point for boxes being shipped to the Philippines, with the garage serving as storage for the cargo before pickup by a truck, about once a month.

He told council that the Municipal Planning Commission saw no issues with the idea. CAO Ron Boisvert reminded him that the Atienzas would need a business license to be able to go through with their request.

Mayor Glenn Andersen suggested that the business be monitored for a while to make sure that it didn’t grow and become a disruption to neighbours. Boisvert agreed, saying that if the business grew, it would have to be moved.

“If it becomes a problem, I’m sure the neighbours would complain,” said Coun. Ken Kiwatkowski.

Wiebe explained the truck picking up cargo would be a small cargo-carrying vehicle, and shouldn’t be a disruption. The request was approved by council

Emergency Response

Boisvert brought up the matter of regional disaster and emergency planning, following a recommendation from County of St. Paul CAO Sheila Kitz for the town to apply for a regional grant with other area municipalities. The grant would support an initiative to respond to disaster situations in the area in a more coordinated and efficient manner.

“The fire chief is the director of emergency management. My understanding is that the director of emergency management works with council for whatever disaster might happen,” said Andersen. “In the event of an emergency, we work together. There is an opportunity to explore this, and to reorganize.”

The matter was discussed, and council carried a motion for the town to participate in the creation of a regional emergency management plan, and apply for a regional collaboration grant.

Pawn Shop Exceptions

Boisvert brought several letters he received from the manager of Five Star Pawn Shop asking for letters of exception from the Town of St. Paul in regards to its pawnshop bylaw. The exceptions related to the sale of certain items including small tools, incomplete parts of sets of tools, individual DVDs and CDs, jewelry and artwork purchased directly from the artist, and assorted kinds of secondhand goods.

Peace Officer Ryan Berezanski explained that he reviewed the bylaw and requests for letters of exception, with RCMP Staff Sgt. Wade Trottier. They came to the agreement that they should just leave the bylaw as it is, based on a legal opinion.

“It’s similar to the traffic light issue, give it time so people can get used to it,” said Berezanski. “There’s no law that allows pawn brokers to have exceptions in Alberta.”

Museum

A request came in from the St. Paul People’s Museum to construct a new shed to house some of their equipment near their building, along with a request from the St. Paul Ag. Society to expand their property, in the same area.

Council discussed the availability of space in the area, and decided to perform a site visit first.

Andersen said he wanted to get familiar with the area, so they could make a more informed decision on how the museum and Ag. Society can proceed with expansion and construction.

Council agreed to do a site visit on Feb. 6.

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