Monday, April 6, 2020

IN THE NEWS

By Marianne Cole

Leslieville Fire Hall
 At the March 24th Council meeting Marianne Cole, on behalf of the CCTA, made a presentation to council. She reinforced the need for fiscal restraint, noting there is no need for another large facility 11 km. away from Condor. As well, she questioned the need for 6,000sq. ft. of staff/admin. space at Leslieville when there is the same amount at Condor. Currently both groups train together on a weekly basis at Condor. Furthermore, there has NEVER been any information forth-coming from a supposed “interested training facility stakeholder” and absolutely no figures on potential rental income from outside usage. Finally the need for a 5 bay facility vs. a 3 bay one was questioned and Mr. Erik Hanson, Director of Public Works Infrastructure, admitted there was no need for additional storage space at this time. 

Significant discussion took place on the matter and two motions were made:

1. Moved by Councillor Laing that Council direct Administration to re-design the fire hall proposed for the hamlet of Leslieville to be located on the newly purchased 27.43 acres and that this building with the land and site development not exceed $2.2M. (Note: The original 2018 budget was for $2.1M and the current one is for $5.1M). Motion defeated 5/2 

2. Moved by Councillor Duncan that Council direct Administration to proceed with Plan 2 which includes gathering Requests for Proposals (RFP’s) for either a 3 or 5 bay facility , along with grading for Phase 1 and 2, including the appropriate drainage and access road. (Note: Phase 1 includes the building of the fire hall and the ground work for levelling, grading, etc. for that area. Phase 2 includes the proposed training area.) Motion passed 5/2

While it would seem that the decision has been made, there is still time for public input. It will take approximately 3 weeks to get the RFP’s and another 2 weeks to evaluate them and report back to council. Council will then evaluate the information they are given and make a final motion on the scope of the Leslieville Fire Hall. The CCTA is in the process of formulating a letter to be sent to council, asking that the letter be put on the April 14th agenda. The letter will be requesting Council to delay any decision on the facility until the proposed build can be accurately assessed in light of current economic conditions. We also encourage people to call their councillor and express any concerns they may have. 


RANT It has been a long time since earlier, frequent, “rants” were included in the monthly newsletter. After the election in 2017, it seemed we had a fiscally responsible council, eager to accommodate the wishes of the people. Unfortunately, it seems that now the tables may have turned.
First of all there seems to be a real divide on Council: the experienced vs. the rookies. During the discussion re the Leslieville fire hall at the March 24th meeting the experienced focussed on financials such as: 

· Overall unnecessary size and cost.
· Lack of business plan/numbers for the proposed training facility
· Questionable need for a training facility at all at Leslieville when land and facilities are available at Condor.
· Questionable need for extra bays/storage space.
· The commitment/dedication of volunteers has nothing to do with the size of the fire hall. 

The newer councilors and CFRS staff focused more on passions with the following comments:

· Desire to make the facility more efficient as these Paid on Call volunteers are somebody’s family member and we want to make it easier for them. As such it would be better to keep the training props all in one area. (Note: There is room for that at Condor.)
· Concern that a smaller facility won’t adequately serve our fire fighters. That is not the way we support our people.
· A smaller facility undermines the level of service.
· A smaller facility might be perceived as punitive.
· There is a need to plan for the future and to build community. (Note: The population of Clearwater County has been steadily declining since 2014. The most important consideration in attracting people to an area is price of the property and being central to amenities such as schools and stores.) 

I have received numerous phone calls and emails re the unnecessary need for this large a facility in Leslieville and the seemingly irresponsible financial actions of the majority of Council, ESPECIALLY IN THESE ECONOMICALLY CHALLENGING TIMES. The following are some of the comments received:

· Who is not doing adequate research and calculations to reveal actual costs? (re. training)
· Plans to go ahead are absolutely ludicrous in this current economic situation.
· This should be tabled until we see a light at the end of the tunnel.
· What would the comparative extra cost of operating/utility cost be for a larger facility?
· If they’re so passionate about helping people, why are they proposing to inflict extra costs on the taxpayer?
· We’re being run by a ship of fools and they’re determined to sink us, especially when we hit the iceberg of desperation and we join the Titanic.
· There are too many unknowns and unanswered questions. What is going to be the contribution to land/grading by Wild Rose School Division, and the phantom 3rd party potentially involved with the training facility?
· Ultimately, it comes down to common sense vs. a questionable subjective focus; fiscal responsibility vs. unnecessary over-spending; consideration of the greater good of ALL taxpayers vs. personal glory. 

May fiscal responsibility take precedence over unfounded wishes.

Up-coming Events: APRIL MEETING CANCELLED. Potential Meeting Monday, May 11, 2020, 7:30PM

Friday, March 27, 2020

BURNING ISSUES RE PROPOSED LESLIEVILLE FIRE HALL

By Marianne Cole

On Tuesday, March 24, 2020, Marianne Cole, on behalf of the Clearwater County Taxpayers’ Association, made a presentation to Clearwater County Council on the proposed plans for the new fire hall at Leslieville.

Originally this current council passed a motion in August of 2018 to build a 10,000 sq. ft., 5 bay facility at Condor for $4M; and an 8,950 sq. ft., 3 bay facility in Leslieville for $2.1M. 

Condor’s facility was completed in 2019. It sits on 8 acres of land and includes 10,000sq. ft. storage space (3 apparatus bays and 2 public works/ag.service bays) and 6,000 sq. ft. admin./staff space. 

Recent plans have seen a drastic change in the plans for Leslieville and a dramatic increase in costs:

1. Purchase of 27.43 acres of land for $365,000, to be allocated as follows: 
  a. fire hall building site, parking area and fire pond = 7.25 acres; 
  b. future training area, including fire training tower = 12 acres; 
  c. future parks and sports field = 8.18 acres. 

2. Site design/construction = $1, 056,000

3. Building = $3, 529, 000 (5 bay) and $3, 160,000 (3 bay)

4. Equipment = $170,000

5. TOTAL COST = $5, 120,000 (2.6 times greater than the original budget and $1, 317,000 more than Condor) Note: Not included in that figure is $500,000 for the training facility in 2021.

SERIOUS CONCERNS

Justification of need for another large facility when a smaller one would suffice.

The need for two facilities in such close proximity---11km. apart. Other areas of the county are much farther away from ANY fire hall. 

The need for a training facility when there is one in Red Deer that local fire fighters can access at a cost of $4800/yr. No need to spend $500,000 on a facility here. 

The complete lack of figures/business plan related to the training facility. 

The need for another 6,000 sq. ft. of staff/admin space in Leslieville when there is that much in Condor.

THE MOST CRUCIAL NEED TO BE FISCALLY RESPONSIBLE IN THIS CURRENT ECONOMIC SITUATION. The County is currently owed $6M in tax arrears for 2019. 

Significant discussion by council followed the presentation and it was clearly evident that there was a divide on council--- the experienced vs. the rookies. The experienced councillors (Duncan, Vandermeer and Laing), most notably Vandermeer, expressed distinct concern for the definite need for figures related to the training facility along with the questionable need for over-spending on a large facility. The newer councillors (Laird, Lougheed, Hoven, and Swanson), along with county staff, focussed more on the emotional passions of ensuring support for our volunteers who willingly give of their time. 

In the end, two motions were made: 

1. Moved by Councillor Laing that council direct administration to re-design the fire hall for the hamlet of Leslieville, to be located on the newly purchased 27.43 acres of land and that this building with the land and site development not exceed $2.2M. DEFEATED 5/2 

2. Moved by Councillor Laird that council advise administration to proceed with Plan 2 which includes tender grading plan for Phase 1 and advertising for an RFP for the Leslieville Public Services Building as described including a 3 or 5 bay option. PASSED 5/2 

The timeline for the gathering of information and making of a final decision is about 5 weeks--- 3 weeks for advertising/receipt of RFP’s and 2 weeks for their evaluation and bringing the results back to council for approval. 

Currently the CCTA is discussing further plans and options to encourage citizen engagement that would ensure council makes the most financially responsible decision, reflective of resident wishes. We would love to hear your comments and concerns. You may reply to this website or send an email to mcmajic@telus.net.

IT IS ALL OF OUR TAX DOLLARS AT STAKE

Sunday, March 1, 2020

IN THE NEWS


Leslieville Fire Hall 
Concerns continue to be expressed over the plans and lack of information being provided to the taxpayers on the scope of this project.
At the February 9th CCTA meeting there was significant discussion on the matter and we were very happy to have 6 councillors in attendance to not only hear taxpayer concerns but also to share what information they could.
It was suggested that we organize a meeting so that information and concerns could be more widely addressed. Reeve Tim Hoven suggested that the county could host such an event and we graciously thanked him for the offer.
When the notice appeared in the February 19th Western Star for an “Open House” at the Leslieville Fire Hall we were distinctly disappointed with the format for the following reasons:

At an Open House people come and go so not everyone is present at the same time to hear the information offered or the questions asked/responses given.

Furthermore, people can talk to/question different “presenters” and get different, potentially conflicting information.

If the intent of hosting the event at the fire hall was to allow people to see the “state” of the facility, the equipment should be in there for an accurate picture of the crowded size, and then where would there be room for people to gather or information to be presented?

Having the most important part of the evening, the “presentation” at 6:00PM is definitely an inconvenient time. People are just arriving home from work and/or having supper. Also, wouldn’t it be more beneficial to see the fire hall before the presentation??

Finally, the last concern was over inadequate parking.

These concerns/frustrations were immediately voiced with members of council and administration. We were subsequently informed that the format would be changed. There would be a tour of the fire hall first, followed by a meeting at the Elk’s Hall. Consequently, we put together a page of information to be published in the February 26th edition of the Western Star so people could have some background information before the meeting. In the interest of transparency, and so those involved in hosting the event could have more prep time, a copy of this information was emailed to both council and administration on Friday, February 21. 

Ads then appeared in both The Mountaineer and Western Star advertising an “Open House” on March 5th with a “Presentation” at 6:00PM at the Elks’ Hall followed by a “Tour” of the fire hall at 7:00PM. This is a complete reversal of the information we received regarding the format and we definitely question its effectiveness with only a 1 hour presentation and the tour to follow. Our most sincere hope is that the “presentation” might allow for more time for citizen engagement/questions to adequately occur. 

Partnerships 
Words have been floating around about County partnerships with Wild Rose School Division and an “unnamed” private company for “opportunities” on the newly purchased land/proposed Fire Hall. Unfortunately no concrete information has been available to date.
With the extensive amount of land purchased (27+ acres), it seems possible that the partnership with WRSD might involve future consideration for recreation fields (ball diamonds, track, soccer pitch, etc.). Such a partnership is certainly commendable.

The other option, a partnership with a “private company” for a potential fire fighter training facility leads to more questions. Who is the company? Why have they not come forward with their vision? What is the need?

Currently there is a quality training facility in Red Deer which our volunteer fire fighters access about 3 times per year. There is a rental fee for its use and attempts have been made to gather information on that cost but it was unavailable at time of printing. Hopefully we will have it for sharing at the March 5th meeting.

In the meantime, questions abound on the necessity/viability of such a facility with very limited use. Comments have been made that we could rent it out to other fire fighter groups but, with a centrally located option at Red Deer, who would travel out to Leslieville?? If this private facility become non-viable, who would be responsible/accept the future operating costs??? 

A LOT OF UNANSWERED QUESTIONS REMAIN. WE ENCOURAGE EVERYONE TO ATTEND THE MEETING AT THE ELKS’ HALL AT 6:00PM ON MARCH 5TH.
 
Smiles for March: 
Why do leprechauns love to garden? They have green thumbs.
Why shouldn’t you borrow money from a leprechaun? They are always a little short.

Coming Events:
 Clearwater Rural Crime Annual Meeting, Monday, March 2, 2020, 7:00PM Leslieville Community Hall 

 Clearwater County Information Open House re Fire Hall, Thursday, March 5, 2020, 6:00PM, Leslieville Elks’ Hall 

 Clearwater County Taxpayers’ Association regular monthly meeting, Monday, March 9, 2020, 7:30PM, Arbutus Community Hall

Friday, February 14, 2020

Email To Clearwater County Council



Hi all,
The link below is to the Strategic Planning Session on January 20 with video in regards to the proposed RFP for a new Leslievile fire hall:  
https://clearwatercounty.civicweb.net/document/8628?splitscreen=true&media=true

I would suggest that you watch it because it reveals the power of the new technology that you have introduced into council chambers.
Your body language can be examined in detail by any observer.
So, now you are like athletes on the world stage 🙂

Anyway, if you reflect on this footage, I think it is pretty obvious that things have moved sideways with two fire halls proposed with a price tag of some $10 million
virtually side by side serving about one third of the county population.

Need I say more?

Regards,
Helge

Sunday, February 2, 2020

IN THE NEWS


Leslieville Fire Hall  
According to the January 14, 2020 County Council Meeting Minutes Council passed a motion to purchase 27.43 acres of land for $350,000. This property is located on the south side of the “Withrow Road” running east from Leslieville and is adjacent to the east side of the current Leslieville School. While plans are not yet finalized for the complete use of this property, indications are that the new Leslieville Fire Hall will be located there. According to the budget Council approved in December, $5,120,000 has been allocated from the 2020 capital budget and $500,000 from the 2021 budget for this new facility. 

Municipal Development Plan Review 
Also at their January 14th meeting, Council approved the terms of reference for the up-coming Municipal Development Plan review. The Municipal Development Plan is the document that governs land development in the county including residential subdivisions, industrial development, and all accompanying land uses. The current MDP was adopted in 2010. Information about the process and how county residents can be involved will be on the county’s website as well as on Facebook. It is also hoped that current information will be regularly publicized in the local papers so that our more senior residents will have easy access to relevant happenings with this important process. It is crucial that there be equal opportunity for input by all. As the process progresses, plans are to hold open house meetings in Nordegg, Rocky Mountain House, Leslieville, and Caroline. We encourage everyone to become involved, as the decisions that are made will determine how our land is used/protected as well as what our community will look like in the years to come. 

2019 County Financial Contributions 
 With special thanks to the Administration in the county office, most specifically Murray Hagan, we have received information on the amount of money the County contributed to the town of Rocky, the village of Caroline, and Regional Services for the 2019 year.
 
Category
To the Town of Rocky
To Village of Caroline
To Regional Services
Recreation
$824, 400
$421, 648

Culture (Library)
$170, 000
$ 25, 000

Culture (Museum)
$ 30, 000
$ 12, 000

Fire (HQ)


$400, 597
Fire Stations


$1, 447, 988
Police (Admin)(RCMP)
$205, 000


Police (SRO)**
$135, 200


Police (Victim Services)
$ 10, 000


Solid Waste


$2, 119, 873
FCSS


$ 88, 550
Health (recruitment)
$ 12, 000


Health (clinic)

$10, 000

Seniors Funding

$4, 500
$1, 060, 598
Airport
$26, 500


Volunteer Recognition

$2, 500

Revenue Sharing
$750, 000
$50, 000

TOTAL
$2, 163, 000
$527, 373
$5, 117, 606



















**SRO is the RCMP School Resource Officer
THE GRAND TOTAL OF COUNTY TO COMMUNITY CONTRIBUTION (“3C FUNDING”) IS $7, 808, 079. County taxpayers are certainly contributing substantially to the well-being of our whole community. 


Smiles for February:  
1. Why do skunks love Valentine’s Day? Because they’re scent-imental creatures.
2. What did the toast say to the butter on Valentine’s Day? You’re my butter half.
3. What did the rabbit say to his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day? Some bunny loves you.

Coming Events
 Note: All regular meetings will now be held the second Monday of each month.
February 10, 2020, 7:30PM, Arbutus Hall, Regular Meeting
March 9, 2020, 7:30PM, Arbutus Hall, Regular Meeting 


Also please make a change to our Board members: Please drop Sharon Rubeling and add Jim Pearson. Thanks a bunchJJ