Saturday, December 2, 2017

IN THE NEWS





1. CCTA AGM
 A very successful Annual General Meeting was held on November 9, 2017 with 42 attendees. Executive and Board Members for the next year will be: President—Marianne Cole; Vice President--- Dan Warkentin; Secretary--- Susan Durand; Treasurer--- Pat Butler; Board Members: Trish Bingham, Jim Foesier, Al Gaetz, Ken Qually, and Larry Titford. Our MLA Jason Nixon was the guest speaker and did an excellent job addressing happenings in the Legislature and people’s concerns, most notably crime issues and Bill 24 re school/parent communications.

2. CAO Change
 Following special council meetings on November 2 and 3, Ron Leaf resigned as the Chief Administrative Officer for the County. Rick Emmons was then appointed as acting CAO and was affirmed as the Interim CAO at Council’s meeting on Tuesday, November 28, 2017.

3. Winter Gravel
 Councillors have received a request from Public Works for information as to where they feel winter gravelling is needed in their divisions. A couple councillors expressed a desire to gather information from residents as to where this might be necessary or beneficial. I said I would put it out in our newsletter and encourage any of you with thoughts on this to contact your councillor.

4. County Council Meeting Highlights, November 28, 2017

Bylaw Reviews/Changes
 Discussion took place on both the Meetings Procedures and Code of Conduct bylaws. Meaningful changes to the Meetings Procedures Bylaws proposed earlier release of the council agenda package with the agenda coming out on Wednesday prior to council meeting rather than Friday. As for the Code of Conduct Bylaws the changes focussed on reporting issues with councillors to the reeve or deputy reeve rather than the CAO.

Live Video Feed of Council Meetings
This idea was brought forward during the election campaign as a method of increasing transparency. An initial estimate of cost for such a system was $75,000, but council asked that more information be gathered not only on various systems but also other ideas to promote transparency.

Rocky and District Chamber of Commerce Request for Funding
President Colleen Dwyer and Executive Director Prab Lashar attended council meeting again to present further information on their operation as well as reiterate their earlier request for financial assistance. They mentioned the various community events they organize/promote and their benefit to the area’s economy. They highlighted their recent hosting of CBC who was doing a special documentary on the Duvernay geological area (the eastern slopes of the Rockies). We will try to notify you when this documentary will be aired.

Concerns from councillors were voiced about the ways the Chamber might ensure future financial stability and a cooperative coordination of promoting the economy with other groups such as Ignite Rocky and the Caroline Chamber of Commerce. In the end Council voted to provide the Chamber with a $30,000 grant.  



Broadband/internet Discussions
 Tracy With from Banister Research presented an excellent report on the broadband survey that Banister had conducted with both businesses and residents in the county in October. They had conducted phone surveys and paper copies could also have been printed off from the county’s website. 380 phone interviews were conducted and 42 paper copies were received.

Questions focussed on what services were used (internet, TV, and phone, both landline and cell), as well as the level of satisfaction with each. The summary suggested that both businesses and residents felt there is a definite need to access faster, more reliable service as these are essential services.
Concerns were expressed equally by both groups over the potential costs that might be incurred with adding to the current levels of service along with suggestions that the county should not be involved in this type of project.

Council will be developing a Broadband Framework Policy and we certainly encourage public input. Stephen Bull from the province’s Internet Secretariat will be addressing council on January 9, 2018. He is very knowledgeable on this matter and has spoken to council before. It would be a great opportunity for anyone to gather information on this subject which will be a major item for council to address in the next year. We need to be informed as best we can and then pass on our ideas to council.


ROSES
A special bouquet of roses goes out to all our council members. It has been a breath of fresh air to attend council and experience the welcoming, congenial atmosphere. Along with that is a noted desire and effort to make decisions in an open, transparent manner, reflective of the best interests of economic well-being, financial responsibility, and resident benefit. You all deserve a special Christmas bouquet and best wishes for a great New Year.


COMING EVENTS
January 9, 2018, 9:00AM County Council Meeting Stephen Bull from Internet Secretariat speaking.
January 11, 2018. 7:00PM CCTA Regular Monthly Meeting. Reeve John Vandermeer speaking.


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

IN THE NEWS


1.  Interesting Election Results    
Electors county wide spoke very clearly in most divisions that a change in council was necessary.  The only close race came in Division 6 where there was a one vote split between two new candidates, and a re-count affirmed the original winner.  County results are as follows:
Division 1:  Jim Duncan (acclaimed)
Division 2:  Cammie Laird---  293;  Dick Wymenga--- 161;  Kyle Greenwood--- 72
Division 3:  Daryl Lougheed--- 225;  Curt Maki--- 146:  Megan Jeffery--- 19
Division 4:  John Vandermeer (acclaimed)
Division 5:  Theresa Laing--- 407;  Bob Bryant--- 108;   Andrea Garnier Spongberg--- 35
Division 6:  Timothy Hoven--- 148;  Diana Spencer--- 147;  Lorissa Nafziger--- 50
Division 7:  Michelle Swanson--- 312;  Pat Alexander--- 164

2.  New Reeve Chosen
At County Council’s organizational meeting on October 24th council chose John Vandermeer as the new Reeve with Jim Duncan as the Deputy Reeve.  For both this is their third term as councillor. Council and Member at Large representatives were also chosen for the numerous boards that the county is involved with.  The County still needs Members at Large for the following boards:  Central Alberta Economic Partnership---1 member;  Clearwater County Heritage Board---1 member;  Subdivision Development Appeal Board--- 1 member and 2 Alternate members.  Applications for these positions as well as a complete list of the boards and their members can be found on the county’s web-site under News Releases.

3.  Questions re Caroline’s Salt/Sand Storage Facility Answered
Questions had been recently raised about issues at the new Caroline salt/sand storage facility being built and “talk” had circulated about cement being hauled away and then new re-poured.  In a phone call to Public Works on November 3, 2017 it was explained that the original plans were for a 40’ x 60’ building (the same size as the existing facility).  The footings had been poured for that when it was revealed that the new plow/sand truck was 39 ½’ long, and with the new plan having side doors, the width of the facility was insufficient.  Consequently the footings on one side had to be removed and the building’s size changed to 60’ x 60’.  This has moved the completion date back somewhat but it is expected that the facility will be done by the end of December.

4.  Special Speaker for January Meeting
Our new Reeve, John Vandermeer has kindly agreed to speak at the January 11, 2018 meeting.  Originally invited to be a guest speaker at our up-coming Annual General Meeting on November 9, John suggested that he would have much more information to share at the later meeting.  Much of the time since his selection as Reeve has been taken with orientation, and this will be followed by the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties convention in mid-November.

5.  Guest Speaker for Annual General Meeting
Our MLA, Jason Nixon, will be our guest speaker for our AGM on Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 7:00PM at the Leslieville Elks’ Hall.  Jason was recently chosen by the newly elected UCP (United Conservative Party) leader Jason Kenney as the interim UCP House Leader/Opposition Leader as Kenney does not currently hold a seat in the Legislature. It certainly speaks well for the confidence that the UCP party has in our MLA and it will be very interesting to hear about current plans and issues on the provincial level.

ROSES:    Special bouquets of roses go out to every person who took the time to go and vote in the civic elections on October 16th.  It was great to see the increase in voter numbers and the distinct voice that was proclaimed. Congratulations to all the winners.  Roses also go out to all the volunteers and family members who gave their time and efforts to support the various candidates that were running.  The success of this election was the result of a combination of dedicated efforts.  Roses are being sent to everyone involved!
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:     People who disagree with you doesn’t make them better or less.  (Anonymous)
COMING EVENTS:   Annual General Meeting,Thursday, November 9, 2017, 7:00PM, Leslieville Elks’ Hall
      Regular Monthly Meeting, Thursday, January 11, 2018, Leslieville Elks’ Hall

(NOTE: All monthly meetings will now be starting at 7:00PM until we change to 7:30PM in May.)

Friday, October 13, 2017

Information Correction


A point of correction is necessary with regards to comments made in the “Message from Pat Alexander” in the last Western Star. In response to information from the county’s Planning people indicating “they receive an average of a call per month from developers or businesses that want to expand or build new in Clearwater County”, Mr. Alexander goes on to say, “Right now we have no place for them, that is why we desperately need the Northern Development Area.” That is not true. Right across from the County’s own land is the Spongberg family’s Metal Dog Industrial Park with 12 commercial/industrial lots. The County’s land in Caroline has been surveyed for 10, 3 acre industrial lots and 12 smaller highway commercial lots. That makes a total of 34 lots surveyed for development right in our county. To say we have no place for developers is erroneous and misleading. It makes one wonder if the “necessity” argument is being used to promote services to the county’s land for an Admin. Building or to support other parties who may have self-interest in the land that the REA purchased diagonally south-east of the county’s in 2015 and subsequently sold in 2017???? Either way, taxpayers (town or county) should not be funding unnecessary, risky, development costs.

Clearwater County Council Highlights

There was interesting discussion on some very pertinent issues at council’s regular meeting on Tuesday, October 10, 2017. The key highlights were:

1. Clearwater Cottages Ltd. Development Proposal This development proposal for a resort area of cottages and RV park in the Rig Street area had been brought to council by developer Mr. Craig McMorran earlier this summer. It was tabled at that time as it required an amendment to the land use bylaw as well as addressing road access concerns. In the meantime legal counsel had been obtained by the county and very serious concerns were presented regarding road access. As stated in the agenda package, “This property does not have legal public access to a county maintained road at this time.”
There are resource roads that provide access but there is no guarantee of their continued future use and/or the standard to which they will be maintained.
After excellent presentation of legal advice and discussion, passing of the Land Use Bylaw amendment was unanimously defeated. This virtually stops the development at this time.

2. Restoration of Shank’s Historic Garage in Nordegg Following very positive comments that have been received regarding TdeB Construction’s restoration of the CIBC building in Nordegg, Mr. deBoer has offered to do similar restoration of the historic Shank’s garage for the cost of demolition. A motion to accept this offer was passed unanimously. (Note: Both historic buildings had been slated for demolition prior to Mr. deBoer’s offer.)

3. Rocky Chamber of Commerce Loan Request President Colleen Dwyer and newly appointed Exec. Director Prab Lashar attended to explain the Chamber’s current financial problems. They are in a difficult situation and are asking both the town and county councils to each provide them with a $30,000.00 loan. Concerns were expressed as to how the Chamber got into this situation and how matters will be resolved in the future. In the end it was decided that the county would meet with the town and chamber to discuss options for funding the organization.

4. Rocky Air Show An excellent presentation was given by President Nancy McClure of the Rocky Air Show Association. She outlined the operation, attendance, and support of the air show. They were also asking for financial support in the amount of $25,000.00 for the 2018 show. The presentation was received as information and financial support will be considered during 2018 budget deliberations.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

IN THE NEWS


1. October 16, Municipal Elections. The up-coming elections are center stage these days as candidates are busy campaigning. The candidates are as follows:

Division 1--- Jim Duncan (Acclaimed).
Division 2--- Kyle Greenwood (incumbent), Cammie Laird, and Dick Wymenga.
Division 3--- Megan Jeffery, Daryl Lougheed, Curt Maki (incumbent).
Division 4--- John Vandermeer (Acclaimed).
Division 5--- Bob Bryant, Theresa Laing (incumbent) and Andrea Grenier Spongberg.
Division 6--- Tim Hoven, Lorissa Nafziger, and Diana Spencer.
Division 7--- Pat Alexander (incumbent), and Michelle Swanson.



2. Candidates’ Forum The Elks’ hall in Leslieville was packed on September 28, 2017 to hear candidate platforms and responses to taxpayer questions. The key issues brought forward that night and that have been repeatedly expressed throughout the campaign are:

 Roads and Bridges 
This is the common number 1 concern with residents suggesting that the maintenance of roads and bridges is a key need to maintaining our county’s economy. The necessity of paving the Taimi, Gimlet, and Withrow roads is repeatedly stressed. Conversely, questions are also raised of the county re-doing roads leading to “nowhere” when occupied roads are needing servicing.

 Internet service
This remains a contentious issue with current councillors and candidates divided on how to proceed with improving services. The battle remains between wireless (using towers) and fibre optics (the use of a high speed “cable”). While wireless is cheaper to install its range is often limited by the terrain in this county and the maintenance cost is higher. Fibre optics has a higher installation cost but provides more consistent, long range, quality service. A combination of the two has been suggested as a reasonable solution.
Note: If fibre optic cable is installed it could be used by any independent service provider (ISP) such as CCI, Harewaves, Xplornet, etc. to speed up their service with greater reliability.


 Condor/Leslieville Firehalls 
The need to maintain these services in each community was stressed at the forum in Leslieville. Not only is it a valuable service that supports the hamlets (a municipal goal) but combining them in a central location would be more costly with land purchase and service installations.

 Ag. Rec Facility
This also remains a contentious issue and candidates were divided on its necessity. Comments that have been raised throughout the past few months have included:
· Serious concern for operating costs
· Actual need (There are currently 10 private indoor riding facilities in Clearwater County along with one larger public arena.)
· The county supports other recreation facilities in town such as the hockey arena and swimming pools why not this?? (Response: There are no indoor hockey arenas or public swimming pools out in the country, unlike riding arenas that there are several of.)

 North Area Development
While not discussed at length at the forum, the need has been questioned frequently over the past year. Repeatedly we have heard the “positive, reasonable sounding” rationale that we need to promote economic development. Agreed, but how do we do it in the most economically responsible manner??
Currently there are 68 developable commercial/industrial lots available in the town and county. How many more do we need?
Furthermore, what would be the cost of putting services 1 ½ miles to the north (much of it through swamp) compared to servicing adjacent lots to the east and south?
To date NO ECONOMIC FEASIBILITY STUDY HAS BEEN DONE to verify need, cost, and financial return.

 Admin. Building
Generally the candidates at the Leslieville forum suggested this was not a high priority, with some saying, “not at this time”, and others saying, “not necessary at all”.


 General comments expressed throughout the campaign:
· Taxes are a key point of consideration in regards to the loss of revenue from linear taxes and government grants. Concern is expressed as to how we can attract people/business here to support the needed tax dollars.
· More fiscal responsibility and greater transparency. Look carefully at where dollars could be saved and have less “in camera” meetings, more citizen engagement.
· Projects to be developed have to focus on NEED vs. WANT. The elected council will need to focus on what will provide the greatest benefit to the greatest number of taxpayers now and in the future.
THIS IS A CRUCIAL TIME FOR THE FUTURE OF OUR COUNTY. MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD ON OCTOBER 16.



Coming Events:
October 12, Regular CCTA monthly meeting, 7:30PM
November 9, 2017, 7:00PM Annual General Meeting, Hoping to have the newly chosen Reeve speak on plans for the future.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

WHO MIGHT BE SPENDING YOUR TAX DOLLARS???


 How can the taxpayer afford the north development wish list?

 Should this county be involved as a land developer?

 What new initiatives would you bring forward?

 How do you feel that better internet service should be provided?

 What do you want the county to look like in the next 4 years?



Come to hear the answers from the county council candidates at the

CANDIDATES’ FORUM
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2017
7:00pm, LESLIEVILLE ELKS’ HALL

(Refreshments will be served.)
Sponsored by the Clearwater County Taxpayers’ Assoc…”Working for the common good.”

Election Candidates Declared

The Official Candidates for the up-coming civic elections in Clearwater County have been declared and are as follows:

Division One:    Jim Duncan (Acclaimed, incumbent)

Division Two:    Cammie Laird
                           Dick Wymenga
                           Kyle Greenwood (incumbent)

Division Three:  Curt Maki (incumbent)
                           Daryl Lougheed
                           Megan Jeffery

Division Four:   John Vandermeer (Acclaimed, incumbent)

Division Five:    Andrea Garnier Spongberg
                           Bob Bryant
                           Theresa Laing (incumbent)

Division Six:      Diana Spencer
                           Timothy Hoven
                           Lorissa Nafziger

Division Seven: Pat Alexander (incumbent, Reeve)
                           Michelle Swanson

We encourage you to express your concerns to any of the candidates, attend any one of the Candidates’ Forums and above all GO OUT TO VOTE ON OCTOBER 16, 2017.