RM of Shellbrook continues to adapt to pandemic

Reeve Doug Oleksyn/Herald File Photo

With the province of Saskatchewan gradually reopening, the RM of Shellbrook is adapting as well. For the previous two months only Reeve Doug Oleksyn and administrator Duane Storey attended the regular meeting in person.

At their meeting on Wednesday, June 3 more people attended with Oleksyn, Storey, the deputy reeve and another councillor in attendance with the rest of council appearing by teleconference.

“It’s just that level of comfort, we are trying to work with our staff and they seem pretty comfortable,” Oleksyn said.

He explained that for his own protection he wears gloves and the office, which is shared between the RM and town of Shellbrook has plenty of hand sanitizer and social distancing works well.

“In saying that, with a small council, I still think we can social distance enough. And then because of town staff in there you also have to address their issues and we have to work with them too. And I think that they are just finally back up to full staff on the town side. Prior to that they were working from home so they are starting to get more comfortable I think with bringing back people,” he explained.

The municipality also uses social distancing when possible with outdoor crews. They are currently working on projects around the RM.

“You have always got day-to-day stuff going on. I think outside they would struggle with social distancing. They are doing as best as they can but there is some jobs that you just can’t do that all of the time. So all of the workers have to trust one another but it has been working pretty well right now.”

Foreman Bill Aug continues to come to meetings to give his update on municipal operations.

“So we do the list, we ask if he has got requests from the oral reports per division and regular maintenance or signage or problems where there is an area to be checked out and we will ask from him what is going on at the shop, what he is seeing personnel-wise and machinery-wise or how jobs are going so that is our feedback there,” he said.

Oleksyn explained that there is currently plexiglass in place and they are currently working on an agreement between the town and RM on opening the office to the public.

“Right now it has been working well I think after talking to the town side on the administration they would have people generally want more access for water bills and stuff like that.”

They also discussed taxation and options for payment.

“There are some pre-payment options for people if they wanted to pay a monthly amount on taxation just something that the larger centres like the cities would be using already,” he said.

“There is no 100 percent guarantee on the electronic transfers. What we are using right now works well and it is the most recommended for electronic transfers. But there have been breaches throughout the province in other systems, towns and municipalities where the system hasn’t worked like it is supposed to on whatever they were using so we are trying to stay as safe as possible on that side too,” he explained.

The RM has been lucky this year in terms of flooding according to Oleksyn. The nearby RM of Buckland had some flooding issues but so far in Shellbrook it has been minor.

“One thing I can think of offhand is a culvert on the main grid road that was repositioned again and it sort of washed and we are watching a couple of other ones. But they seem to maintain and when you get onto the back or secondary roads there is some washout areas too that had to be fixed up. So they would be hauling material in and replacing the culverts. Beavers seem to be a problem this year in some areas,” Oleksyn said.