BLC plans to re-open Kinuso office

Big Lakes County office in Kinuso recently closed. It opened after the former Village of Kinuso dissolved in September 2009 and became a hamlet in the former M.D. of Big Lakes.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Big Lakes County office in Kinuso will re-open by popular demand from residents if plans by council go ahead.
At its regular meeting April 27, council approved a motion to direct administration to negotiate with Spruce Point Park to arrange an agreement to work in the Kinuso office to handle county inquiries to keep the office open.
Kinuso Councillor Roberta Hunt said a lot of people were upset when she told them the county plans to close the office permanently after it closed three months ago when the office employee retired.
“Most people don’t want to see it closed,” said Hunt, who noted she informed residents about a recommendation from administration to shut down the office.
“They want the face-to-face connection.”
It is one of many comments Hunt heard from residents.
In response to her message to the community, she received three emails while about 20 people spoke to her in person.
“Many seniors don’t have Facebook, Internet and don’t do online banking,” Hunt said.
South Sunset House – Gilwood Councillor Ann Stewart echoed her words.
“They’re not impressed that the county plans to close it,” Stewart said.
Hunt noted Spruce Point Park used the municipal office for its business office for many years up until about two years ago.
She added the county recently approached Spruce Point Park about a possible contract to work in the county office and handle county business.
Other council members support the idea.
“If they’re willing to work with us, it’s a win-win for both organizations,” North Gilwood – Triangle Councillor Jim Zabolotniuk said.
“Let’s work with a partner to keep the office open.”
High Prairie East – Banana Belt Councillor Tyler Airth agreed.
“It’s not a lot of cost to have a person available in the office,” Airth said.
CAO Jordan Panasiuk told council it costs the county about $48,000 a year to operate the office three days a week.
Under a contract, Airth says the cost would be lower.
“Even at a reduced cost, it will be beneficial,” Airth said.
After the Village of Kinuso dissolved in September 2009 and became a hamlet in the former M.D. of Big Lakes, council decided to keep the office open three days a week, Panasiuk said.
Administration recommended the office close permanently because of declining business in the past months.
Statistics from January and February show an average of three people visited the office per day, nine over one week, he said.
“The office has consistently stayed open three days a week with one part-time staff person,” Panasiuk said.
However, the exception was from 2016-20 when administration had a full-time community co-ordinator work in the office. The position allowed the county to cover for the part-time employee on vacation and sick leave.
Panasiuk said the full-time position no longer exists.

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