Thursday, June 3, 2021


By Marianne Cole

MDP Review 

In the CAO’s report presented at the May 25th council meeting, it was noted that the MDP Steering Committee (which includes all council members) met, in camera, on May 14th to discuss further process options. The following suggestions were made:

· Small in-person meetings (@ 15 attendees) could be held in 4 locations across the county, potentially in June/July.

· There could potentially be two rounds of meetings with multiple sessions held per day (morning, afternoon, evening).

· Pre-registration would be required and no repeat attendance would be allowed.

· The anticipated number of attendees might range from 180 to 360 people. (Note: This is about 3.6% of our county population.)

· While Council anticipates a meeting in August to review comments and decide on revisions, the MDP review may not be completed before the 2021 municipal elections this fall.

It is interesting to note that two letters on this matter were included in the May 25th meeting agenda. One was from Century 21 and the other from the Rocky Chamber of Commerce. Both promoted improved internet/technology capabilities as well as land use changes such as increasing acreage sizes along with the allowable number per quarter.

The CCTA has also written a letter suggesting that the County send out a survey to all county residents/landowners with information about the MDP review in order to provide equal opportunity for all to have input into this important document that could affect everyone. No response to this suggestion has been received.

Broadband Update 

In his verbal report at the Council meeting, Interim CAO Murray Hagan noted that Council’s Broadband workshop on May 21st had been “worthwhile” and that feedback from the ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) had been “helpful”. No further information was given verbally or in the written report as to what the ISP’s had actually indicated about the project.

It was also noted at the Council meeting that the “Point of Presence” (POP) facility in Rocky will be ready in September/October. This facility will house the broadband project operations. It is interesting to note that Supernet’s operation works out of a single room in Calgary while serving a whole province.

While fibre optic cable installation to Ferrier (Phase 1 of the county’s 6 step projects) is complete, no information is being given to the ISP’s on connectivity procedures/costs. This is definitely needed so that use could begin and the county could get some of their money back.

Regional Governance 

Study This was the survey/study, initiated by the town, on the possibility of town/county/village of Caroline amalgamation. Originally the timeline indicated that a report would be released in April. When no information had been released by mid-May, I contacted the consultant in charge of the study. He indicated that the report had be publicized on the Regional Governance Study website on April 16th. I’m not sure how many people check out on a regular basis, so how were we to even know a report had been published?? Nothing on the matter has been mentioned in local media.

In reviewing the 67 page document the following highlights were noted:

· 462 people took active part in the online open house, survey, and on-line learning session (out of @17,000 town and county residents).

· Of those, 73% were residents or landowners in Clearwater County. (Were those numbers due to the wrap that the CCTA did in the Western Star?????)

· Generally, the majority were opposed to any idea of amalgamating with the town.

The next step in the process is for County Council to review/discuss the report in camera, before more information will be publicly released, likely later in June.

Resumption of CCTA Meetings

With the province’s easing of Covid restrictions we will be having our regular June meeting on Wednesday, June 16, 2021 at 7:30PM at the Arbutus Community Hall.

COMING EVENTS: Regular meeting, Wednesday, June 16, 2021.

Monday, May 3, 2021


By Marianne Cole

2021 Tax Rate

 At their April 27th meeting, Councillors unanimously passed a motion to maintain a 0% tax rate increase for 2021. During an informative discussion it was noted that with lower assessments county taxpayers should see a small decrease in their tax bills. An unknown factor would be the school requisition which is determined by the province.

Another very positive move came from a motion made by Councillor Lougheed to have administration gather information on a potential rebate that could be given to taxpayers. The money for that could come from the tax rate stabilization reserves which currently sit at $12, 898, 394. Further information will be presented to Council at their May 11th meeting. Let’s hope this new rebate idea gets official ratification at that time.

MDP Review 

At the April 13th meeting, by a vote of 4-3, Council defeated a motion made by Councillor Vandermeer to postpone the Municipal Development Plan Review until such time as Covid restrictions would be eased and in-person meetings could be held. This was a very strong request put forward on the survey done by the CCTA in the Western Star in February as well as during the virtual/on-line meetings held at that time. Interestingly, at the MDP Review Committee meeting held on March 13th, the committee (made up of all councillors) favored postponing the review. Now, one month later, when an official motion is made, 4 councillors (Duncan, Laird, Laing, and Swanson) voted against the postponement.

As explained by Planning the next step is for them to review the original draft along with public comments made, and make changes as suggested. They will then bring that draft back to Council for review and 1st reading. That will be followed by a public hearing in some way and then 2nd and 3rd reading could take place. The timeline for all this could be May---July.

In order for Council to have valid, verifiable information on the support for/opposition to the most contentious issue of subdivisions, the CCTA has written a letter suggesting that a survey on the matter be included with the tax notices to be sent out shortly. This would allow all taxpayers equal opportunity to voice their opinion and it is hoped that the results would then guide Council’s decisions.

Solid Waste Disposal Cards 

As most of you likely know, as of June 1st all county residents will require a special card in order to drop off waste at their regional landfills. Landowners can get for 2 free cards while renters will need to pay $35.00 for their cards. In questioning that difference, it was explained that landowners already support the operation of waste disposal services through the property taxes they pay.

As for other waste disposal matters, most notably questions/concerns about the future of the now closed, formerly joint-use facility in town, I was told that “discussions are on-going”. We will keep you posted on any happenings there.

ICF Agreement 

On April 23, 2021, Clearwater County and the Town of Rocky Mtn. House finally approved their Inter-municipal Collaboration Framework. This is a document, mandated by the province, that stipulates how the two jurisdictions will work together on planning and jointly used services. While the county had easily signed agreements with all their other neighbors, it took quite some time to come to an agreement with the town.

At the same time a new Community Support Service Agreement was also signed. This mandates that for the next 5 years, the county will pay the town $406, 644 yearly to cover infrastructure costs. That figure was reached following careful calculation of the value of the tax-exempt properties that both municipalities have within the other’s jurisdiction. This new agreement replaces the former long-standing agreement that the county would pay the town $750,000 annually for general operating costs. We certainly commend the county negotiating team/council on their diligence in developing this new agreement.

May Smiles 

Why should you start a gardening business??? To rake in the cash.

What kind of garden did the baker have??? A flour garden.

Why did the gardener bury all her money??? To make her soil rich.

Coming Events: 

Currently uncertain due to Covid Restrictions, but we hope to have a regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, May 19, 2021 at 7:30PM at the Arbutus Community Hall. Everyone welcome.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021


By Marianne Cole

Municipal Development Plan Review 

The MDP review process has been temporarily paused. We will keep you posted with any further news as it becomes available.

Regional Governance 

The first efforts on public engagement regarding town/county/village amalgamation have now been completed. A virtual meeting was held on February 17th and then people had until March 10th to submit their survey responses on the matter. As the consultants had done a very poor job of putting out information on the matter, the CCTA put together a wrap around the March 3rd issue of the Western Star. It outlined the potential impacts of joining the local municipalities under one jurisdiction. We heard very positive comments about this effort to give county residents more valuable information on such an important issue.

66 surveys were handed in to the county office and it is unknown how many were handed in to the town and village, or how many were submitted on line. A report is now being prepared by the consultants and we hope to hear those results in April.

Up-Coming Tax Rate 

Significant discussion took place at the March 17th CCTA meeting on the up-coming tax rate. As a result, a motion was passed that we write a letter to County Council asking for a reduction in the tax rate, as well as a potential rebate on taxes for businesses in the county. We are well aware of the reduced income that the county currently receives due to the down-turn in the oil industry, but county residents and businesses are also being impacted financially by the economy and Covid. Reduced taxes could potentially result in a community benefit.

We also requested council direct administration to practise as much fiscal restraint/efficiency as possible.

Another concern expressed at the meeting was related to our current reserves. There is a worry that the province will look at our significant reserves (current overall total of $106, 778, 399) and subsequently reduce their normal financial support.

Following our meeting I did some research to compare our finances with those of two of our neighboring jurisdictions. The chart below shows some of the more interesting highlights. Compared to others, we can perhaps be thankful for the prudent operation of our council and administration. We trust that it will continue with the current budget and subsequent tax rate.


Category                     Neighbor 1                          Clearwater County                  Neighbor 2

1. 2019 Revenue         $29, 527, 880                     $56, 751,795                            $62, 342, 757

2. 2019 Expenses        $31, 992, 315                     $52, 163, 359                           $79, 140, 676

3. Surplus/Deficit        $2, 464, 435                       $4, 588, 436                             $16, 797, 919

4. Accumulated

surplus/reserves           $43, 310, 314                    $106, 778, 399                         $52, 380, 944

5. Reeve/mayor

remuneration &

benefits total                $97, 416                            $63, 640                                   $102, 739

6. Average of



benefits                       $57, 675                             $52, 182                                   $67, 348


comparisons:              7, 770                                  11, 900                                     19, 500

Note: The 2020 figures are not yet available. The audited financial statements are usually presented the end of April/beginning of May.

Change of Meeting Date 

Due to the up-coming Blue Mountain Power Corp.’s annual meeting being set for the same date as our regular monthly meeting, we are moving or next meeting to one week earlier. It will be held on Wednesday, April 14, 2021 at 7:30PM at the Arbutus Community Hall. Everyone is welcome and social distancing is in effect.


Regular monthly meetings: Wednesday, April 14, 2021; Wednesday, May 19, 2021 7:30PM, Arbutus Community Hall

Easter Smiles:

How do you catch a unique Easter Bunny? Unique up on it.

Why shouldn’t you tell an Easter egg a joke? Because it might crack up.

Why did the Easter egg hide? He was a little chicken.

Monday, March 1, 2021


By Marianne Cole


This issue of our CCTA newsletter will focus on one main topic---the Regional Governance Study currently underway. In short, this is a preliminary investigation into the various possibilities of government for the County, the Town of Rocky, and the Village of Caroline.


Discussion on this issue began a couple of years ago when potential “amalgamation” was first proposed by the town. The three councils each discussed the matter and it seemed that the most favorable/beneficial option for the county was to just investigate joining the County and the Village of Caroline. It was felt that taking one small step first and evaluating those results before proceeding with a larger step would be the wisest choice. This suggestion was communicated to both the Town and Village. The Village was supportive; the Town not. The County and Village subsequently applied for an Alberta Community Partnership Grant to support costs of investigating just the dual amalgamation. Initially the grant was refused but was later awarded for a reduced amount.

In the meantime, the Town submitted an application under the same program with the intent of doing a “regional” study, even though both the County and the Village had indicated they did not support the idea. Their application was successful and the investigation process has now begun with a regional focus.


A Steering Committee to oversee the process was established with the Mayors of the town and village, the County Reeve, Councillors from all three jurisdictions, and the CAO’s from each municipality. Applications were opened up for consultants to do the information gathering and report preparation. As a result Nichols Applied Management along with ISL Engineering and Land Services have been hired. They have released the following timeline and steps:

January: Review the current situation and conduct interviews with the respective councils and administration.

February: Public engagement that would include providing online information, doing a virtual (online) open house meeting, and conducting a survey.

March-May: Develop options and recommendations based on the background review and the public engagement feedback. Submit a report to the Steering Committee.

May: Hopefully hold in-person open houses, virtual open house, and complete another survey. A summary of the feedback would then be shared with the Steering Committee.

Following the information gathering and presentation to the Steering Committee it is up to the three councils to make further decisions.


While there are seven possibilities listed in the “Regional Governance Study” information there are in reality 5 options:

1. Status Quo Everything remains the same with collaborative regional partnerships.

2. Single Municipal District The three municipalities (County, village, and town) would amalgamate into one single Municipal District.

3. Dissolution of the Village Caroline would give up its status as a village to become a hamlet in Clearwater County (like Leslieville or Condor). This would leave the County and the town as separate entities.

4. Amalgamation of County and Village This would be similar to the above option but electoral divisions in the County would be adjusted to give Caroline its own representation on County Council.

5. Amalgamation of the Town and County The town of Rocky and Clearwater County would be joined into a single Municipal District. An electoral system would need to be developed to elect one council. Staff would be consolidated into a single administration. Caroline would maintain its status as a village.


This is a very crucial issue that commands significantly more information be given to the public in methods other than the over-dependence on social media/virtual technology. To rely so heavily on this method of public engagement shows, again, a definite lack of understanding of/respect for, the rural community and its issues with connectivity and variety of technology skill set.

All residents of each one of the 3 municipalities involved deserve equal opportunity to gather information and provide input. This can only be done effectively if information has been provided in a number of ways that would address any possible restrictions. While open, in-person meetings are viewed as most desired, other effective methods could include individual information mail outs that would include a survey, as well as a potential wrap around the most widely circulated newspaper in our area, the Western Star.

Many of us have witnessed the recent distinct friction between the Town and County with a perceived unwillingness by the Town for equal “give and take”. It was earlier evident in the frustrating discussions between the Town and the Rodeo Board re the grandstand grant/ North Saskatchewan River Park lease. Recently, other conflicting issues (such as waste disposal and airport matters) have come forward. Such discord has, historically, not been a problem between the Town and County. In spite of these problems, the County has remained committed to fulfilling its community support financially. In 2019 this amounted to $7,808,079. The 2020 total has yet to be audited/published.

With an election on the horizon perhaps there is a possibility that we could return to more congenial, cooperative negotiations on matters of joint concern. As such we should not now be forced into a situation that could potentially have very serious repercussions to, above all, our County finances.


The deadline for submission has been extended to March 10, 2021.

Coming Events: 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021, 7:30PM, Arbutus Community Hall, Regular CCTA monthly meeting

Monday, February 8, 2021


By Marianne Cole

CCTA Wrap and Survey Results 

As a result of comments we had heard about the lack of knowledge of the County’s Municipal Development Review process, the CCTA decided to put a “wrap” around the January 20th issue of the Western Star. In it we highlighted proposed changes to the current MDP, most notably increasing the number of allowable parcels out of a quarter, dropping the size restrictions on those parcels, and putting gravel extraction permit applications under a Direct Control District. We received very positive comments about our efforts to inform people. In addition to providing this information we also included a survey on people’s ideas of public engagement in this process. Amazingly, we received 124 responses before the January 31 deadline. From those responses the most notable results were:

78 people had not heard of the review process prior to publication of the wrap.

107 said they were not satisfied with either the amount of information they had received or the opportunity to have input.

98 thought in-person meetings were the best method of public engagement.

112 wanted the process delayed until meetings could be held.

The top three most noted comments focussed on the need to protect agricultural land, worries about increasing farmer/acreage owner conflict, and a questionable review process with heavy reliance on social media to provide/gather information.

The CCTA sincerely thanks everyone who took the time to complete the survey. The results will be published in the February 10th issue of the Western Star and we will also be sharing them with County Council.

County’s Virtual MDP Review Meetings 

In an effort to provide opportunity for public engagement on the Municipal Development Plan Review, the County hosted 8 “virtual” (on your computer) meetings between January 25th and Thursday, February 4th, with approximately 180 people joining in. Attendance averaged in the 20’s per meeting and went from a low of 12 to a high of 56 at the last meeting. (This compares to a total of 574 participants in 19 in-person meetings during the 2010 MDP Review. This certainly supports a common frustration we have heard regarding the fact that virtual meetings cannot be accessed by many in Clearwater County.)

Each meeting began with Craig Teal, a consultant from Parkland Community Planning Services in Red Deer giving a presentation on the key parts of the proposed plan followed by open discussions. There was absolutely great participation from several of our young farmers whose concerns focussed mainly on the negative impacts of farming by increasing subdivision opportunities. There was also significant concern/questions related to the process, along with a desire to delay matters until in-person meetings could be held. Certainly there was some support for the changes and they were voiced as well.

Going forward, the County’s Planning Department will prepare a summary of the information, present it to council, and then it will be up to Council to accept the document as is, make changes, or delay the process until in-person meetings can be held. We will keep you posted!!!

Regional Waste Management 

As many of you likely are aware, the Rocky Transfer Station has now been closed. According to a news release posted on the County’s website, “Clearwater County, the Town of Rocky Mountain House and the Village of Caroline have mutually agreed that the Rocky Mountain Regional Solid Waste Authority (RMRSWA) was not meeting the respective needs of each municipality. As a result, the RMRSWA is being dissolved and the Rocky Transfer Station will be permanently closed, effective January 31, 2021.”

As a replacement, a temporary transfer station has been set up on the County’s property near the airport north of town for county use and the town has its new Eco-Centre. All other rural transfer stations will continue operation as is.

At the Tuesday February 9th County Council meeting Council will be considering a fee structure for disposals at the Regional Landfill as well as at the Rural Transfer Stations. The proposal suggests no charge for bagged household waste less than a pick-up load in size, along with a minimum of $17.50 for a pick-up or trailer less than 8 ft. (based on an average of 250 kgs.) A more complete list of suggested fees will likely be available following Tuesday’s meeting.

First reading passed 

On Tuesday, January 26th Council passed 1st reading of a bylaw to include “Solar Farm” as a Discretionary Use in the Agriculture District A. The proposal was put forward by Blue Mountain Power Corp. and “would allow for Agriculture District A landowners a development opportunity to utilize a portion of land for electricity generation…rather than re-zoning parcels to industrial.” (Clearwater County agenda package, January 26, 2021)

Following the passing of 1st reading this will now proceed to a Public hearing before consideration of 2nd and 3rd reading. One might wonder what plans Blue Mtn. Power has.

Valentine Smiles  

What do you call two birds in love???  Tweet hearts!!

Do you think skunks celebrate Valentine’s Day??? Yes, they’re very scent-imental!!

Coming Events: 

NO REGULAR MEETING ON FEBRUARY 17, 2021 due to covid restrictions. We’ll see what March brings.

Thursday, February 4, 2021


Here are the results of the survey that was part of the information published in the Western Star two weeks ago. 124 responses were received in just 10 days


1. Prior to this information were you aware of the MDP review process?

Yes 35  No 78

2. If yes, how did you find out about the potential changes to the MDP? (Check all that apply)

Local radio 1  Social media 3  County website 5  County Newsletter 21

Local Papers 24  Clearwater County Taxpayers’ Assoc. 26  Friends 29

3. Are you satisfied with the amount of information that has been available about the proposed MDP? 

Yes 10  No 107

4. Are you satisfied with the opportunities you have had for input into the MDP review?

Yes 7  No 107

5. How do you think residents could better gather information and provide input?

In person meetings 98  Mail out survey 79  Social media/virtual meetings 28

6. Would you like to see the process delayed until open in-person meetings could be held?

Yes 112  No 5  Undecided 1

Comments: (Listed in order from highest to lowest number of comments.)**concerns with protecting agricultural land, **possible negative impacts with increased subdivisions, **transparency issues/lack of information or public input in the review process,**problem with relying on social media/virtual meetings for input, **concern with Direct Control Districts.


We will be sharing this information with County Council as we work together for the common good. 

Clearwater County Taxpayers’ Association.

Friday, January 8, 2021


By Marianne Cole

CCTA Welcomes New Board Member 

At our Annual Meeting on November 9, 2020 we welcomed a new member, Tim Plante from the Arbutus area to our slate of Directors. Tim operates Alhambra Vacuum service and is also on the local Blue Mountain Power Corp. Board. We certainly welcome a new, younger, voice to our group. Another change in the board was the movement of Helge Nome from Director to Vice President. Other positions remained as follows: President: Marianne Cole; Secretary: Susan Durand; Treasurer: Pat Butler; Directors: Al Gaetz, Jim Foesier, Larry Titford, and Jim Pearson. Another important decision made at the meeting was to change the regular meeting dates to the third Wednesday of the month. This will eliminate conflicts with holiday Mondays.


At the December 8th Council meeting there was significant discussion on matters related to broadband/improving connectivity in the County. In the end Council passed one motion to “approve the engineering of County wide fiber to the premises for 80% of the populated area within Clearwater County for grant writing purposes commencing with the rapid responses applications due January 15, 2021.” The engineering will provide more valuable information on the action and related costs of providing fibre optic cable to residences in a large part of the County.

A second motion “that Council approves the preparation and submission of a grant application to the January 15, 2021 Universal Broadband Fund intake deadline for a fibre construction project that includes backbone extension and fibre to as many premises as can be accommodated within the $5million maximum project size for Rocky Mountain House to Ricinus” was defeated. A couple of the points mentioned in opposition to the motion noted that it would be difficult for administration to adequately gather the necessary information for the grant application in such a short time, and that the extra staff time might not be positively used in light of the fact that the grant application is already over-subscribed, lessening our chances of receiving any benefit.

With the engineering information, however, we hope that we will be better prepared for further government grant funding as it becomes available.

2021 Budget 

Council met for two days of budget deliberations on December 16th and 17th. Highlights from the Capital Budget included a reduction of $8, 472, 205 (17.1%) from the 2020 budget ($49, 480, 186) to $41, 007, 981 for 2021. The proposed Operating Budget for 2021 could, on the other hand, see an increase of $3, 707,911 (6.5%). Interesting proposed reductions in this part of the budget included $44, 570 (8.3%) for councillor remuneration as well as reduced spending for the office of the CAO as well as agriculture. On the other hand increases are proposed for public works, corporate services, planning, and emergency services. It will be interesting to see what the actual 2020 numbers are when the audited statements are available later this spring. The question always remains as to how much our county income has been/will be reduced and what implication that has for taxes in 2021

MDP Review 

The process for reviewing our Municipal Development Plan has now been going on for almost a year. This is a document that sets forth the guidelines for land use and development for the next 10 years or more, and has the potential to impact each one of our county residents. The most recent draft was just posted on the County’s website on Monday, January 4th but a hard copy can be picked up at the County office. Because of Covid19 the office is closed to the public but you can call ahead and someone will bring you a copy to the door.

There are some very significant proposed changes to the current MDP, namely:

· More seemingly general ambiguous guidelines as the words “shall” have often been changed to “may”. (e.g. While Clearwater County prefers that industrial and commercial developments be located in a business park, they may approve such for outside a planned business park.)

· Overall reduction in recognizing the value of conserving agricultural land. The conservation of agricultural land has been removed as a goal in the natural capital section (where it was #1 in the 2010 document) and is not stipulated in the agriculture section of this current draft either.

· Proposed allowance of 3 separate titles per quarter, along with the potential for a 4th title. This means there could be up to 3 subdivisions per quarter AND there is absolutely no stipulation of size restrictions on the parcels to be sub-divided.

· Aggregate and resource extraction is proposed to be under a Direct Control District, meaning that County Council alone will be the decision maker for all such applications. This means that in the event of a decision on a development permit application that is unfavorable to either the developer or area residents, there is NO OPPORTUNITY FOR AN APPEAL. (See MGA, Section 641.4-a)

These are just some of the more troublesome guidelines in the new draft of the MDP and it is absolutely crucial that people become involved in expressing their opinion. Because of Covid19 restrictions the County has organized 8 “virtual” open houses starting on January 25th. This means that you can go on your computer, listen to a presentation and then ask questions. You can check Page 28 of the January 6, 2021 Western Star for all dates and times. Such an opportunity is better than nothing but it is hardly as effective as in-person meetings. There are many residents in our County that either do not have computers or have such limited connectivity that a virtual meeting is impossible. IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF A DOCUMENT THAT HAS THE POTENTIAL TO AFFECT ANY RESIDENT OF CLEARWATER COUNTY IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT EVERYONE HAS EQUAL OPPORTUNITY TO GATHER INFORMATION AND EXPRESS THEIR OPINION. THE PAUSE BUTTON MUST BE PRESSED ON THIS PROCESS UNTIL SUCH TIME AS OPEN MEETINGS ARE ALLOWED. WE URGE YOU TO CONTACT YOUR COUNCILLOR AND ASK FOR THIS PAUSE.

Thoughts for the new year

“There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.” C.S. Lewis “Learn from yesterday, live for today, and hope for tomorrow.” Albert Einstein

Up-coming Events

 Due to Covid restrictions being extended there will be no meeting on January 20, 2021. We hope for one on February 17, 2021 at 7:30PM at Arbutus Community Hall.

Board Members 

Marianne Cole, Helge Nome, Susan Durand, Pat Butler, Jim Foesier, Al Gaetz, Larry Titford, Jim Pearson, and Tim Plante.