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Niverville Council Meeting in Brief—October 6

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Niverville's town council: Councillor Chris Wiebe, Deputy Mayor John Funk, Mayor Myron Dyck, CAO Eric King, Councillor Kevin Stott, and Councillor Nathan Dueck. Brenda Sawatzky

Niverville’s council met on the morning of Tuesday, October 6 to discuss a variety of items on the town’s agenda.

Crime Report

Staff Sergeant Guy Landreville from the St. Pierre RCMP detachment was on hand to present a report on how Niverville is doing on issues of crime and policing.

Overall, he said that crime stats are down, though there has been some concern over whether this means crime incidents are actually occurring less often, or that RCMP are simply responding to fewer incidents.

Landreville illustrated the situation at the St. Pierre detachment, which is where Niverville’s response calls are typically based. He reported that the station is short-staffed by about five positions at the moment.

Niverville mayor Myron Dyck suggested that the lack of officers may mean response times are lower or that calls incoming may not be followed up, which would indeed result in fewer crimes being officially registered.

To this end, a discussion was had by council about the possibility of adding a police officer out of the St. Pierre detachment who would be designated to the Niverville area.

However, RCMP practices require an on-duty officer to respond to calls wherever they come from, regardless of their designated area, so there is some doubt as to whether adding a Niverville-specific officer would be effective.

Council discussed other ways in which crime can be reduced in town and pointed out that they’ve seen some a direct benefit from adding security cameras to various locations around town.

CAO Eric King explained that the town has approximately 20 cameras at nine different locations and that one camera had been useful just this past summer, in the case of a hit-and-run.

Councillor Nathan Dueck asked the opinion of Sgt. Landreville: “Is adding more security cameras going to help?”

“Absolutely,” said Landreville. “The town camera’s quality was excellent and helped solve the hit-and-run this summer.”

According to Mayor Dyck, the town’s cameras were purchased at a higher cost for this express purpose. It has been noted that security cameras typically provide only a grainy picture and are often inadmissible in court. Niverville’s cameras were selected in consultation with the RCMP in order to deliver high-quality images.

Landreville also reported that police interacting more often with youth, and possibly appearing in schools, could be beneficial to decreasing crime in a community. There are ways to help foster this, such as the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE), more frequent RCMP presentations in classrooms, and hiring school resource officers (SROs).

According to the Government of Canada’s website, the SRO program serves Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario and “is a collaboration between law enforcement officers and the school community in order to create a setting that is safe and secure, with a focus on prevention and early intervention activities.”

Landreville said that is exactly what the program does, and that it is very successful when officers build relationships with young people.

“RCMP education in schools would be great,” Landreville said. “Yes, a school resource officer would be great. Every step the community can take to be more involved with police is beneficial. We want to show that we care. And if we can communicate that to students from a young age, it is most beneficial.”

Water Quality Report

The town received a water quality report for the retention ponds in Fifth Avenue Estates from Native Plant Solutions. Mayor Dyck explained that the report was conducted because of concern over the growth of cattails around the lakes, as well as frequent algae blooms.

“We want to make sure our ponds, which are intended to retain stormwater, are healthy, and to be able to answer questions regarding the growth in the ponds such as cattails and algae,” says Dyck. “This is why we asked for the study, so we would know about the healthy and safety of pets and geese and fish, or other animals encountering the lakes.”

Councillor Dueck then reflected on the unsightly algae, asking, “What are the affects of spiking the lakes with chemicals to affect algae growth?”

Bruce Friesen-Pankratz, a wetland ecologist, was present at the meeting to explain the report and its implications.

“We wouldn’t recommend chemical treatments,” said Friesen-Pankratz. “There is one solution that is sometimes used, but it results in a sort of sludge at the bottom of the lake, which isn’t healthy. [Regarding lake wildlife], there are likely only ‘small fry’ size fish in the lakes. The naturalized approach to these areas always includes an ‘upland’ area. The reason you see geese on properties is they prefer grass that is short. By using native grasses, longer grasses, you discourage geese from coming up from the ponds onto people’s properties.”

Council also asked about using mechanical aeration, such as fountains, to promote more oxygenation of the water and movement on the water’s surface to discourage algae and other growth.

“In some systems I’ve seen, including fountains, they tend to just push the floating duckweed to the edges, which is unsightly to residents,” Friesen-Pankratz said. “But it still grows. So you’re mostly moving the decomposing matter, just stirring it up, which stimulates further decomposition. There is more upkeep in the long run to remove the dead matter and you’ll end up with higher levels of algae in your ponds. Algal communities reproduce so quickly. In a natural system, you have many algal communities that can uptake the nutrients at different points in their life spans and clean water systems more efficiently. Aeration, though, is usually for promoting fish life, so they can have available oxygen. For algal communities, you want to control the phosphorous levels.”

Councilllor Chris Wiebe said that he would’ve liked for the report to compare the lakes in Fifth Avenue to The Highlands lakes, which he described are following the more natural water drainage areas versus the more manmade approach in Fifth Avenue.

Mayor’s Report

Mayor Dyck reported that schools are functioning as normal as can be during this time, issuing a thank you to all staff and students.

To all residents in Niverville, he said, “Thank you for your increased efforts during the new Orange phase we find ourselves in. Thank you to everyone who is following the new guidelines. We need to do our best with keeping everyone safe and healthy.”

Dyck also reminded residents to review recycling guidelines for Niverville.

“When a load that is taken to be recycled is rejected due to contamination, we need to send it to the landfill,” he said. “It only takes one really off bag to contaminate a truckload. The less we send to the landfill, the less we all pay. It is important and it is a good program. We can all use a refresher and an encouragement to do our part.”

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