Town Council discusses Rocky Medical Clinic, Old Town and Helen Hunley Park
By Brittany Willsie
Town council met for their regular meeting on Sept. 15 in council chambers. Representatives from the Rocky Medical Clinic attended to propose changes for their new lease agreement. Council then discussed rehabilitation of water and sewer systems at Old Town and a report on the Helen Hunley Park area.
ROCKY MEDICAL CLINIC
Dr. Erus Peens presented a proposal for a new lease agreement to council.
At this time, there are five years of the current lease left, which works out to a monthly rent of $9,500.
The proposed changes for the lease are to extend the current lease from five to 10 years, cutting the monthly rent in half. Peens added that under this proposed agreement, the town would take over the maintenance of the building for 10 years time.
A large motivator for the decreased rent is the loss of physicians at the clinic.
Peens noted that by the end of 2020, the clinic will be down to 10 physicians. Eighteen physicians are permitted to work out of the Rocky Medical Clinic and for some time the clinic was sitting around 16 physicians.
Peens said the proposed changes are in the community’s best interest.
“If any more physicians decide to leave at the end of 2020, it will lead to a mass exodus. We do think this proposal moving forward is the best for us as a physicians group and a business – it’s the best possible outcome for the town and county of Rocky Mountain House. It will be in the best interest for patient care in maintaining physicians and also helping us to recruit more physicians,” Peens said.
Council discussed the implications of lowering rent, including how it could lower the value of the building over time and affect the residents’ taxes.
Councillor Len Phillips said “I definitely do not agree that the residents of Rocky Mountain House should subsidize a business, which is in essence what’s happening.”
Phillips acknowledged what a valuable service the physicians provide, but suggested they look at their business model and adjust accordingly.
Councillor Jason Alderson suggested they discuss selling the building at fair market value with the county, or look into a new lease deal that is up-to-date with commercial rental rates for businesses.
As the clinic is jointly owned by the Town of Rocky Mountain House and Clearwater County, the town will consult with the county on the clinic’s request.
OLD TOWN WATER AND SEWER SYSTEMS
Over the past four years, there have been 11 rust holes and one beam break discovered in the main water lines in the Old Town area.
The Town of Rocky Mountain House will be replacing a section of the water and sewer systems, with $788,696 of the total cost funded by the provincial government’s Municipal Stimulus Program.
The purpose of this stimulus funding is for the Government of Alberta to contribute to local job creation and economic recovery. Rehabilitation of the Old Town water and sewer infrastructure is eligible for this funding under the rehabilitation section.
The total cost of the project is $852,531. The remaining $63,835 will come from the town’s water and sewer reserve.
HELEN HUNLEY PARK
Council directed administration to report on the Helen Hunley Park area, which includes many services and community buildings.
As the area houses so many different things, including the new spray park, the town revisited potential issues like parking, as well as future plans.
At this time, parking is sufficient, but administration will continue to monitor parking to determine if an expansion is needed.
It was previously determined that an area of land to the west of the museum would be added to the museum’s lease to allow for a homesteader’s cabin.
At the Sept. 15 meeting, council moved to also add the area south of the museum to the lease to make room for future growth.
The town will also consider installing water meters at the sani-dump to determine the cost of the potable water filling station.