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.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

IN THE NEWS


1. Councillor Remuneration This was certainly a hot item on Facebook and along coffee row following an article in The Mountaineer on Wednesday, August 30, 2017. Thanks to an inadvertent “mistake” we received a copy of an “in camera” agenda item to be discussed by Council on Tuesday, August 22, namely councillor remuneration.
According to the agenda package information the proposed increases would take effect on January 1, 2018. The following charts give information on the current and proposed rates.
(Note: I have tried to copy and paste the charts but am sending them as an attachment and would like you to just put in the two charts---the 2017 rates and the proposed rates.)
In doing further research on councillor remuneration for Clearwater County and the six jurisdictions that border us, I found the average total compensation for our councillors and reeve is the SECOND LOWEST($36, 828 and $51, 653 respectively). The lowest is Ponoka County at a total compensation average for councillors at $36, 235 and reeve at $41, 910. The highest for councillors is Lacombe at $70, 014 and for reeve the highest is Red Deer at $86, 277. (Figures taken from the respective 2016 audited financial statements.)
In order for our council to reach average they would need about a 45% increase.
Note: From a phone call to Municipal Affairs I found out that this topic should be discussed in open council rather than in camera. It is, potentially, going to be discussed again at Council’s September 12th meeting.


2. North Area Structure Plan Discussion on the North Area Structure Plan has been stalled due to scheduling problems between the town and county. It appears that issues with the town’s sewage lagoon and general infrastructure servicing may also have an impact on future development there. Complete details on remedial requirements/costs for the lagoon are certainly necessary before plans with further development can proceed.

3. Ag. Rec. Facility There is no new information on this issue at this time. There have been two great Letters to the Editor in The Mountaineer (August 16 and August 23) on this matter with differing opinions. Interestingly there is a meeting at Cheap Charlie’s, at the Rodeo Grounds, on Tuesday, September 19 at 7:00PM. This “facilitated” meeting is being organized by the town in response to their earlier recreation survey. Various stakeholders and the general public are invited to attend. Whether the topic of specifically the Ag. Rec. facility is brought forward at that time remains to be seen.

4. Municipal Elections The Municipal Elections are just around the corner on Monday, October 16, 2017. Candidates will be filing their nomination papers on Monday, September 18 so as of now we don’t have a confirmed list of candidates. Those who have already publicly declared their candidacy are Cammie Laird, Division 2 (Incumbent Kyle Greenwood); and Angela Spongberg, Division 5 (Incumbent Theresa Laing). Councillor Earl Graham has stated he will NOT be seeking re-election in Division 6.

ROSES This month’s bouquet of roses goes out to all the members of the Rocky Mtn. Pro Chuckwagon Association and the volunteers who worked diligently to run the very successful Battle of the Rockies and WPCA Finals August 17-20. Not only did they provide super entertainment for the fans who completely filled the stands, but they also provided excellent financial opportunities for the community groups who benefitted from the 50-50 ticket sales along with the businesses who certainly appreciated the extra income this event generated. Huge kudos to all workers involved and to the fans who supported them.

RANT This really isn’t a rant---just a very serious encouragement to everyone to become informed and involved in the up-coming municipal elections. The results of this election, the people that we as Clearwater County residents elect, will determine how our tax dollars are spent for the next 4 years. I encourage everyone to find out what the opinions and priorities are for each candidate in your area. Give them your opinion on how you feel this county should be governed. Attend the candidates’ forums that are organized, and above all, GO OUT TO VOTE.


Coming Events: Thursday, September 14, 7:30PM, Leslieville Elks’ Hall, Regular CCTA meeting
Thursday, September 28 7:00PM, Leslieville Elks’ Hall, Candidates’ Forum
Thursday, October 12, 7:30PM, Leslieville Elks’ Hall, Regular CCTA meeting
Monday, October 16, 2017 MUNICIPAL ELECTION

Friday, June 30, 2017

COUNTY COUNCIL HIGHLIGHTS


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

By Marianne Cole

1.  Possibly the most notable highlight was Earl Graham’s news at the beginning of the meeting that he would not be seeking re-election this fall.  He noted that he had spoken to a couple of others that might be interested in running in his division.

2.  The council voted to uphold their previous practise of not providing maintenance on undeveloped road allowances.

3.  Three readings were given, and passed, to the Crimson lake Cottage Association’s request for a dust control agreement whereby dust control would be provided in 2017 and that a special tax to cover this cost would be applied to their taxes beginning in 2018 for the following three years.

4.  A delegation from the Rocky Ag. Society gave a brief report on the recent public meetings they had held to provide information and gather input on their proposed new Rocky Ag. Rec Facility. They had met with various potential user groups (4-H, equine groups, general public, and contractors/potential sponsors). In his report Art Terpsma stated that the attendance averaged 20-35 at these meetings.  I attended three out of the 4 meetings and at only one of them was there an attendance over 20 (23) and that was that the equine meeting but the count also included the Ag. Society members/presenters.  At the last one for the contractors/sponsors there was a total of 12 people, 5 of whom were Ag. Society members.

Art did mention that they had visited the new facility in Claresholm and that it is only 150 feet wide and geared for a competitor arena.  The previous feasibility study done for the proposed one here had suggested a width of 250 feet.

He also mentioned that a representative from Rimbey had attended one of the meetings to describe the hoops they had had to go through in building their facility.

In conclusion, Art mentioned that there is still lots of work to do and items to be ironed out.  This includes ownership of the land (who will hold title) and the operation procedure.  He was hoping that it could be a community building run by a community board.

Comments from the council included ones from Councillor Laing who asked about grant possibilities; Councillor Duncan who expressed concern about dropping the width as we don’t want to be hindering future possibilities; and Councillor Alexander who suggested that the Ag. Society meet with administration to address some of the concerns, admitting that there is lots of work to be done yet but we need to keep it going.


5.  A delegation from the Cartier Creek Subdivision (in the southwest area of the county, along the Red Deer River) attended to give an opposing point of view to the “encroachment” issues on municipal reserve in that development.  Previously a delegation had attended in December 2016 regarding violations on municipal reserve.  While a different perspective was presented on Tuesday, council decided to uphold their decision to follow guidelines set out in Municipal Government Act and enforce those regulations with their Land Use Bylaw Amendment for Enforcement Provisions.