Friday, March 2, 2018


By Marianne Cole

1. Eckville Arena Request
A letter had been received from the Eckville Arena Operating Association requesting financial assistance with repairing the roof on the major mechanical room of their arena. Included with the letter was a list of figures showing substantial usage of that arena by Clearwater County residents, both youth and adult. Much discussion took place, focussing largely on the implications of funding requests from neighbouring municipalities. In the end the request was denied.

2. Council Compensation Committee Appointments
Members-at-large and past councillor representatives to sit on a remuneration committee were selected. They will have a four month term with a mandate to review councillor and board member compensation for the next three years. Members-at-large include Darryl Park, Lynn Webster, and Dickson Wood while past council reps are Ken Qually and Dick Wymenga.

3. Leslieville/Condor Fire Halls
Council has set April 3rd and 4th, with an alternate of the 5th, for town hall meetings in each community to discuss the future of their fire halls. Each evening will start at 6:30PM with a tour of the facility followed by a meeting at 7:00PM. The dates will be confirmed following confirmation of hall availability and then this will be publicized in the local paper and on the county’s website.

4. Clearwater County Broadband Policy 
Council approved a Broadband Policy which outlines the county’s goals and action in providing better broadband/internet service to our area. Key points of the policy state that the county “will develop an Open Access Network of broadband infrastructure to provide internet accessibility to the majority of county residents and businesses”. The policy further states that “Clearwater County will pursue grants to complete the OAN and leverage partnership opportunities” and the county “will not provide end-user internet services, rather invest in the OAN in an effort to encourage competition from ISP’s” (Internet Service Providers).

5. Village of Caroline Sr. Independent Living Initiative
Mayor John Rimmer of Caroline attended the meeting to outline the need for, and possible action on, developing increased senior housing for the southern portion of the county. After excellent discussion Council directed Administration to draft a letter of support for this initiative.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018


1. Broadband Policy Framework
Council continues to discuss the most efficient, fiscally responsible way to help improve broadband service in the county. At its meeting on January 23 council directed Administration to prepare a “Terms of Reference” policy giving council more specific direction for the development of enhanced broadband coverage. This project will involve public engagement through education articles in local newspapers and on the county’s website as well as community hall meetings. Watch for further info and be ready to assist the councillors with your opinion.

2. CPO Program
 Currently we are down to 4 Community Police Officers (from 5) and there was discussion at the last council meeting on whether to go back to 5 or keep as 4. CPO’s are limited to bylaw enforcement with no power on criminal matters, but it was noted that, potentially, with a night shift, it might be beneficial to have them “out there” as extra eyes. Currently the summer shifts end at 10:00PM and the winter shifts end at 8:00PM. In the end a motion to hire a 5th CPO was defeated but a motion to continue discussion on ways to improve the program for the benefit of residents was passed.

3. Leslieville/Condor Fire Halls
 The discussion continues on this topic. At Tuesday’s council meeting the county’s fire chief noted that the volunteer fire fighting members wanted to maintain the two stations. Discussion took place on the benefits of having two facilities with potentially similar designs but different “footprints”, noting that they did not have to be identical. Council made it clear that they will engage the public with community meetings before decisions are made and there is no time line for proceeding.

4. Council/Board/Committee Remuneration Policy
 Council is currently working on establishing a policy that would see the organization of a committee to work on setting future remuneration for councillors and members of county boards or committees. It has been suggested that a Council Compensation Committee be established to review this matter. It would be made up of no more than 5 public members who would meet a maximum of 3 times while working with administration to research the necessary information. Ads would be posted on the county’s website asking for interested parties to apply. A final draft of this policy will be prepared by administration and brought back to council for approval.

“Friends are as companions on a journey aiding each other on the road to a happier life.” Pythagoras
“Side by side or miles apart, truest friends are always close at heart.” Anonymous

Coming Events:
Thursday, February 8, 2018, 7:30 PM, Arbutus Community Hall, Regular Meeting with Guest Speaker
Thursday, March 8, 2018, 7:30 PM, Arbutus Community Hall, Regular Meeting

Friday, January 26, 2018

Regular Monthly Meeting, Thursday, February 8, 2018
7:30PM, Arbutus Community Hall

Guest speaker: Karl Zajes, Surface Rights Consultant
And President of the Warburg/Pembina Surface Rights Group
Speaking on: Oil/Gas Industry Leases, Rental reviews, and Orphan wells 

Everyone welcome. Refreshments served


By Marianne Cole

It continues to be a “breath of fresh air” to attend county council meetings. There is very respectful, open discussion on all agenda topics with a visible effort to make fiscally responsible decisions along with a desire to promote public engagement. Highlights from the January 23rd meeting are:

1. Recommendations from the January 15th Agenda & Priorities Meeting
Broadband Policy Framework: Council directed Administration to prepare a Terms of Reference for council with a direction for the development of enhanced broadband coverage for the county. The project will involve public engagement through education articles in local newspapers and on the county’s website as well as community hall meetings.

CPO Program: Significant discussion took place on the Community Police Officer program and its focus/limitations. Suggestions were made that while the CPO’s are limited to bylaw enforcement rather than criminal matters, it might be beneficial to have them “out there” as extra eyes. Discussion took place on possibly arranging for more night shifts. In the end a motion to hire a 5th CPO was defeated but a motion to continue discussion on ways to improve the program was passed.

Leslieville/Condor Fire Halls: The county’s fire chief reported that the members want to maintain two stations. Discussion took place on the benefits of having two stations with potentially similar designs but different footprints as the facilities do not need to be identical. Council made it clear that they will engage the public before decisions are made and there is no time line of action.

2. Presentation by Sgt. Jason Penner, Acting Detachment Commander, RCMP
Sgt. Penner noted some staff changes with Staff Sgt. Groves working on a Central Alberta Crime Protection committee/initiative, one corporal assisting in Rimbey, and one corporal retiring.

The local detachment continues to work on their goals to meet with/interact with the communities they serve while focussing on property protection and identifying/monitoring criminals.
To that end they are looking at crime hotspots and a crime analyst/investigator will hopefully be on staff by May.

Another public engagement effort is the recently started “Coffee with a Cop” opportunity that will be held at McDonald’s from 10-11AM once a month. Information will be coming out shortly on the dates.

3. Presentation by Cole Thomson, Community Area Lead, TransCanada NOVA Transmission Ltd.
Mr. Thomson outlined their operation, focussing on the proposed new Natural Gas Transmision Line for the west side of the province. This will involve two large scale projects in Clearwater County---one near Nordegg and the other near Caroline. This was very positive news as it will not only increase the tax revenue for the county but will provide extensive work opportunities along with a large economic benefit for hotels, restaurants, and other businesses in our area. Mr. Thomson will also be making a presentation to the West Central Stakeholders Association meeting at Leslieville Community Hall at 3:30PM on February 1, 2018.

4. Presentation by Jessica Reilly, Senior Fisheries Biologist, Alberta Environment and Parks
Ms. Reilly outlined here research on the various trout numbers in Clearwater County waterways and the causes for the decline in some populations. They will be working with the county’s Public Works Department to help fix some of the problems where culverts/road crossings are interfering with the trout movements.

5. Council Board &Committee Remuneration Policy
Earlier in the fall the 2018 remuneration had been established so the discussion focussed mainly on the establishment of a committee to review compensation in subsequent years. In the end it was decided that a Council Compensation Committee be established. It would be made up of no more than 5 public members who would meet a maximum of 3 times while working with administration to research the necessary information. Ads would be posted on the county’s website asking for interested parties to apply. A final draft of this policy will be prepared by administration and brought back to council for approval.

Thursday, January 11, 2018


By Marianne Cole

1. Presentation by Kelly and Andrea Spongberg
 The Spongbergs made a presentation outlining the paving improvements they had made on the Airport Road (RR7-0) to make it ban free. They reviewed the various communiques between them and the county dating as far back as 2013. The County’s Endeavor to Assist Policy was thought to initially provide a shared cost plan, but that policy was revised in 2015, excluding the county from shared cost requirements stated in the policy.
In the end council passes two motions: 1. That the Endeavor to Assist Policy be reviewed; and 2. That the Spngberg’s request for cost sharing on the road improvements be tabled until after the review is completed.

2. Presentation re. Hosting the 2019 Alberta Masters Games
 Roger Smolnicky, Recreation Director with the town of Rocky made a presentation regarding the joint town/county bid to host the 2019 Alberta Masters Games. He outlined the various sports/competitions that would be held for ages 30/35 and up, as well as ages 50 and up. He explained how the area’s facilities would be used to host these activities along with outlining the necessary funding. In that regard he mentioned the potential Community Facilities Improvement Program (CFIP) grants that could be applied for and that these would leave long-lasting improvements to the area’s community.
In the end council passes a motion to provide $75,000 of funding that will hopefully be matched by the town.

3. Presentation by Stephen Bull, Assistant Deputy Minister, Service Alberta
 Mr. Bull made an excellent presentation on issues related to improved broadband service in Alberta. Highlights were:
SuperNet up-date--- The province’s current contract with Axia (current operator of the SuperNet) expires in June 2018. Requests for Proposals (RFP’s) for a new contract were put out in the fall.
The province is looking for a partner that would to a quality job of providing service province wide, with the #1 priority of continuing service for current users (government offices, hospitals, schools).
Two proposals were received---from Bell and Axia.
The government is currently scoring/evaluating the proposals to ensure the proposed plans are feasible, with a goal to have a contract ready by February/March. Mr. Bull also discussed the concern for providing necessary connectivity for First Responders, noting problems with coverage around Caroline. Councillor Laird noted problems west and north of Rocky as well.
Mr. Bull brought forward the work being done on a Provincial Broadband Strategy, with the need to gather input from industry groups as well as municipalities. He posed a number of questions that will be addressed, focussing mainly on funding and operations options. Council suggested that they be given a month to 6 weeks to respond when the survey is sent to them.

4. The County’s own Broadband Policy Framework
 A draft of the possible policy framework was presented but will be discussed at greater length at Council’s Agenda and Priorities meeting on Monday.

Monday, January 8, 2018


1. Fire Destroys Leslieville Elks’ Hall 
 A devastating fire on December 29 destroyed the Leslieville Elks’ Hall. Arson is suspected and one person was taken into custody the same evening. Formal charges have not yet been laid, pending completion of the investigation.
This is a serious loss to the community. Aside from being the home for the very community minded, charity supporting Elks’ Lodge, it was the meeting place for various groups, among them our Clearwater County Taxpayers’ Association.
Prior to being the Elks’ Hall, it was a rural school and holds many memories for those who attended it. Along with the loss of the physical structure there was a significant amount of memorabilia as well as elegant elk mounts, all of which are irreplaceable.
As a result of the fire the CCTA will now be holding their regular monthly meetings at the Arbutus Community Hall. It is located 1 mile south of Hwy. 11 on the Arbutus Road (RR 6-3). You will see the hall on your right but you will need to just turn right and go west briefly to get to the approach into the hall.

2. Significant Changes in County Administration 
 As mentioned in our December Beacon, Ron Leaf, past Chief Administrative Officer, resigned and the CAO position has been taken over for the interim by Rick Emmons. Other changes are as follows:
Former Director of Corporate Services, Rodney Boyko, has been replaced by Murray Hagan who held that position in 2010. Mr. Boyko has been hired on as the Chief Financial Officer of the Rocky REA.
Marshal Morton, former Director of Public Works has been replaced by current county employees. Erik Hansen will now supervise the infrastructure matters and Kurt Magnus will oversee the operations area of public works.
The position of Director of Community Protective Services (held by Ted Hickey) has been eliminated. With the restructuring, Clearwater Regional Fire Rescue Services will be supervised by the CAO, Rick Emmons, while Community Police Officers will be supervised by the Infrastructure Department of Public Works.
In all, the equivalent of five full time positions have been eliminated, evidence of council’s new vision of providing more efficiently managed services.

3. Broadband Services
The provision of improved broadband services will be a very significant issue in the coming year. A year ago the federal government declared this an essential service, but how it is to
be implemented and at what cost remains to be seen. Clearwater County Council is dedicated to working on this matter and is looking for public input. We encourage everyone to do as much research as possible, attend meetings on this subject, and pass your views on to your councillor.

4. Road Paving 
This was an area of major concern expressed by residents during the fall election. According to Reeve John Vandermeer in a December 27, 2017 county news release, “residents also indicated additional asphalt projects should be a priority for this Counci, and as such, we’ve allocated funding to progress with paving a few more road segments in 2018 and 2019.”

A very huge bouquet of roses goes out to all our emergency responders. Recent incidents in Leslieville(the Elks’ Hall fire) and Rocky (the take down by the RCMP of suspects involved in armed robberies) are clear examples how these dedicated individuals continually exert unfailing efforts and put their lives at risk for our benefit/protection. Their dedication continues in all manner of circumstances (including -30 degree temperatures) when we are basking in the comforts of warmth and safety of our own homes. Huge kudos to these very special service providers.

 With the impending decisions on broadband service provisions, it is absolutely crucial for each one of us to do what we can to gather information and make our voices heard. In so doing, it is vital to consider that this is not a matter affecting just the immediate future but one that has a long term impact on the well-being of our economy and the residents of Clearwater County. There are many unanswered questions about what is necessary, what is the most efficient method of implementation, and who should ultimately be financially responsible. It behoves each one of us to do our due diligence in assisting council with our input on this “pillar for the future”.

Coming Events
1. Thursday, January 11, 2018, 7:30PM, ARBUTUS COMMUNITY HALL, Regular monthly meeting. Reeve John Vandermeer, guest speaker.
2. Thursday, February 8, 7:30PM, Regular monthly meeting, Arbutus Community Hall

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Clearwater County Budget Notes

By Helge Nome

The recently elected Clearwater County Council held its 2018 Budget deliberations over a period of three days last week, beginning on Wednesday, December 13. A wrap up session was held on
Tuesday, December 19.

To a regular observer of County affairs, it was obvious that there are major changes underway:
A new CAO and new department heads for Public Works and Corporate affairs presented the budget to Council.

The 2018 budget was formally adopted by Council on December 19 and details will be available when the information is released to the public on the county website next week.
The big change from the 2017 budget was the removal of some $20 million previously set aside for the planned administrative complex in the Rocky North development and the reallocation of $10 million to the Internet reserve. It was also decided to set an amount of $150,000 aside to hire an internet service manager.

Council was informed that to date $4.2 million has been spent on the Rocky North development,
which also has a mandated sand/salt storage facility

It was obvious that Council is committed to the idea of providing enhanced internet service to local residents and leverage county reserves to that end. The way that the infrastructure will be created and managed has yet to be determined, but in order to access external funding (provincial and federal) the county will likely need to be directly involved in the project.

At this time the county has $73 million in aggregate reserves, some of which were reallocated to road paving projects In  the upcoming year. According to Reeve Vandermeer, Red Deer County has made road paving a priority in its budget. The cost per kilometer of paving is about $1 million.

Discussions on the upcoming tax collectible from county residents took place. Last year tax collection fell short by some $2 million and the idea of raising residential taxes by 1% and non residential taxes by 3% seemed to have general council support.

As a matter of interest, the cost of the County newsletter that is mailed to 6,600 county residents bimonthly is about $6,000.