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. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Tri-Council Meeting Notes

By Helge Nome

A meeting involving the councils of Clearwater County, the Town of Rocky Mountain House and the Village of Caroline was held in the Clearwater County Chambers on Wednesday, June 28. Regional issues were discussed and dealt with. 

On top of the agenda was a presentation on the geothermal potential of formations located several kilometers below county communities, including Caroline and Rocky Mountain House. 

A report prepared by Jonathan Banks, Research Scientist at the University of Alberta, was presented by its author who noted that the extraction of heat from brine that resides in local underground formations could be made commercially viable, especially if existing depleted deep oil/gas wells were used.

The three councils approved some administrative changes to the way regional fire rescue services are delivered in the area: Clearwater County will become the “managing partner” with direct managerial control of the service. The Regional Advisory Committee will not be involved in operational matters. To that end, the three councils individually gave 1st. 2nd. and 3rd. reading to a bylaw that sets out the committee parameters.

In a follow-up to this item. the three councils approved a new Intermunicipal  Regional Fire Rescue Services Agreement.

In line with the changes noted above, this time concerning the Rocky Mountain Regional Solid Waste Authority, the newly appointed manager is now reporting directly to Clearwater County’s Public Works Manager, Marshall Morton, rather than to a committee. This after major problems were uncovered with the operation and governance of the authority in the past.


Alberta’s proposed new electoral boundaries were discussed with a general concern being expressed over the inclusion of the Drayton Valley area in the local electorate. This would add some 14,000 people to the electorate and make it the most populous and unmanagable in Alberta, with Calgary and Edmonton benefiting from the changes.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Clearwater County Council Meeting Notes

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

By Helge Nome

Chickens won the day at the regular meeting of County Council when any household within a county hamlet or country residential acreage was given the green light to keep a maximum of six chickens (but no rooster!).
The decision was unanimous.

Greg Neale and Tom Daniels from Sundre Forest Products/ West Fraser told council about their problems in regards to new American duties of 24.12% slapped on their exports to the US and the pine beetle infestation in BC and Western Alberta, which is not expected to show more than a temporary setback due to a relatively cold winter.

Council was given an update on an invigorated Rocky/Kamikawa Japanese student exchange program by coordinator Kim Hastings.

Bill Shaw from Bill Shaw Consulting presented council with a revised draft of the North Rocky Major Area Structure Plan which covers the area between Highway 22 and the Rocky Airport. This is a work in its early stages with much consultation ahead involving the public and the Rocky Town Council. Many issues remain to be resolved.

New provincial electoral boundaries were discussed with concern being expressed over large urban municipalities benefiting at the expense of rural ones.


Council decided against changing its 2/3 majority requirement in regards to a request from the Hamlet of Withrow to connect it to a municipal wastewater system.

Friday, June 9, 2017


IN THE NEWS

By Marianne Cole

1. MASP  Work continues on finalizing the draft of the Major Area Structure Plan. This is a document that will govern future development to the north of Rocky. As mentioned in our March Beacon, this area covers 11 quarters of land that could potentially be used for commercial, industrial, and community services development.

According to a news release posted on the county’s website on May 31, 2017, the next steps in the process are:

· Review of the plan by the town and county councils

· Finalize the draft MASP

· Public review and input at one or more public meetings

· Sending the plan to stakeholders for additional comments

· Public hearing where the public can make official presentations

Although not mentioned in the news release, the final step after the public hearing would be for council to either adopt or reject the plan.

Note: Following the open house meeting in February, county residents had an opportunity to submit comments and suggestions on the proposed plan. While no public report of the survey results has been given, the results were presented to the Inter-municipal Development Committee on April 24, 2017 and a copy of the comment summary has been received by the CCTA. Many of the concerns raised focussed on need and the cost of the proposed development. Positive comments were expressed relating to encouraging business development.

2. Rocky Ag. Rec. Facility  The Rocky Ag. Society held their fourth open house meeting on Wednesday, May 24, this time encouraging attendance by businesses that might be interested in support/sponsorship of the proposed facilities. Again, attendance was dismal with only 12 people in attendance (5 Ag. Society members and 7 general public). Strong opposition by a businessman was stated, noting the tough economy at this time. Other comments suggested concern that the Ag. Society would not hold title to the land, potentially hindering grant funding, and that the push for this building on the county’s north property may be a “ploy” to begin development that would then promote the building of the administration building.

The Ag. Society will be making a presentation to County Council sometime in June regarding further plans/action.

3. Improving Broadband Service  In May the Clearwater Broadband Foundation made presentations to both county council and the CCTA monthly meeting explaining their proposed plans. They continue to work hard to research the most efficient methods of providing service through a combination of towers and fibre optic cable. They had plans for a pilot project in 2017 but unfortunately these plans were stymied when county council turned down a request for a loan to support this project at their May 9th meeting.

During further discussion at that meeting two additional motions were put forward: a. To have administration contact the town of Olds to see how they approached the legalities of funding O’net, and b. To accept the CBF’s proposal for the establishment of a three party consulting/tech review committee to verify the most efficient provision of services. Both motions were defeated in recorded votes where Councillors Vandermeer, Duncan, and Laing voted in favor while Councillors Maki, Alexander, Graham, and Greenwood were opposed.

The CBF will continue to investigate further options and the county council has instructed administration to seek out other available options to improve broadband service in the county.

ROSES A very special bouquet of roses goes out this month to all the Rocky REA and Fortis line workers for their efforts during the recent wind and rain storm. When many of us were sitting inside bemoaning our loss of power for a few hours these dedicated people were outside in nasty, potentially dangerous conditions working to ensure our services were restored as quickly as possible. We send you a HUGE thank you for constantly putting your lives “on the line” for our benefit.

RANT Recently it was reported in the news that the city of Calgary was asking for resident opinion on two proposed ventures---bidding for the 2026 Winter Olympics and building a new arena to replace the Saddledome. Public opinion was being sought BEFORE any action was being taken.

I thought how differently a path had been taken here in Clearwater County when residents were kept “in the dark” about building plans until expensive land had been purchased and costly architectural designs created.

What if there had been a different perspective here, to seek--- and value--- the opinions of those paying the bill? Could money have been saved, and trust increased, if a survey had been mailed out with tax notices in May of 2015??

Hind sight is always 20-20, but likewise there is always clear opportunity to move forward in a positive direction. Maybe the civic elections in October might be the first step to initiate a change of attitude and “modus operandi” (method of operation) for Clearwater County.

Coming Events

Regular monthly meetings, 7:30PM, Leslieville Elks’ Hall: June 15, 2017, September 14, 2017; October 12, 2017

Also keep eyes open for further open house/public meeting on the Major Area Structure Plan.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

May 23, 2017 COUNTY COUNCIL MEETING HILITE SUMMARY

By Dan Warkentin

D1. Some concern was expressed by local contractors that rates paid by the county are too low. County pays 75% of Industry guide. Motion to keep rates same as 2016 passed.

D2. Council passed motion to take over a 400 meter section of Industry resource road. Council will also review the policy regarding this type of road issue.

D3. Report from Withrow Waste water delegation accepted as information. An interesting example of the long term effect of small lot subdivisions.

D4. Womens shelter delegation reported that they will be conducting a “Homelessness” survey on Sept 13 and 14th. E1. Council passed a motion to reimburse the $300 application fee, for PRIVATE use communication towers (less than 50ft).

G1. Recommendation passed. We are not too bad off, sounds like Ponoka and Stettler have Hundreds of thousands that can’t be collected!

G2. Council passed a motion to approve an additional $100,000 for new financial software as recommended. The software total is $168,000. $70,000 had already been budgeted.

G3. Recommendation passed ALL THREE readings! Looks like administration now has a blank check for $5 million.

H3. Telus Delegation by Teresa. - regarding cell coverage, 4 towers now in service with another one under construction. - the fiber backbone “ring” is not yet complete. Currently one leg is from Red Deer to Rocky, and the one from Calg only goes to Caroline, there is no fiber now from Caroline to Rocky. Completing this would bring Cell coverage to the Caroline area. - she indicated the “Smart Hub” should work great if you can get Two bars on your cell phone. They have wireless Hi speed plans of 50Gb for $60/mth. - no immediate plans to develop further west * it would appear they may be asking for $$ to help complete the fiber from Caroline to Rocky in the “In camera” session?

Note: D1 - H3 are references to agenda items

Monday, May 15, 2017

IN THE NEWS

By Marianne Cole

1. Clearwater Broadband Foundation
The Clearwater Broadband Foundation continues to work diligently to present their vision for improved broadband/internet service within the county. They have made presentations to both the town and county councils and will be attending the May meeting of the CCTA on May 11, 2017 to describe their plans. In short, they are proposing a combination of fibre optic cable and towers to bring high quality service to county residents. According to information they have gathered, combining fibre optics with towers is a much more sustainable, efficient method of service than can be provided by towers alone. We really want to encourage everyone to attend this information session, and especially welcome the younger generation. They are the ones that will be most impacted by the service (or lack of it) in the future. As a bit of further enticement, we are offering two $75.00 gift certificates to The Source as door prizes.


2. Rocky Ag. Rec. Facility
The Rocky Ag. Society has been working hard to promote the building of an Ag. Rec. Facility on the county’s newly purchased land north of Rocky. Phase 1 would provide an indoor riding arena, lobby space, meeting room, wash racks, temporary indoor stabling (box stalls), administration offices, storage, and a concession area. The estimated cost of these “indoor spaces” (as per the feasibility study conducted by RC Strategies in 2015) would be $9, 283, 750. Phase 2 would include additional spectator seating, more box stalls, 1000 seating banquet hall, commercial kitchen, and more office space. The cost of the “indoor spaces” for Phase 2 would be $7, 527, 500. In addition to these indoor costs there would be outdoor costs to develop parking areas for vehicles and trailers.
The Rocky Ag. Society recently held three public meetings to promote their vision and urge community involvement. Attendance was marginal with only 15-20 people at each one. Highlights of the meetings were:
* At the meeting on Wednesday, April 19 a question was asked if this facility was necessary given that there are several private arenas that are available for rent in our area and perhaps we should be supporting them . (Note: In the feasibility study it listed 8 public indoor facilities within approximately 150 km. of Rocky---Thorsby, Rimbey, Ponoka, Stettler, etc.. No numbers were given in the study for privately owned facilities but “our” count is that there are 7 indoor
riding arenas within Clearwater County. Perhaps the Rocky Ag. Society could buy one of these if they want their own facility.)
* At the meeting on Wednesday, April 26 a guest from the Rimbey Ag. Society provided excellent information from their experience with building/operating a new indoor facility. He brought forward concerns relating to ownership of the land for this proposed building, the operation/managerial format, and how these issues could affect liability, permitting, and the accessability of grant funding.


3. Condor/Leslieville Fire Hall Plans
Discussion/planning continues with regards to the amalgamated facility for the Condor/Leslieville fire departments. At the April 11 county council meeting it was noted that PIVOTAL Project has been hired to fulfill the project management role (no cost for service given). They, in turn, have hired BR2 Architects to do the design work at a cost of $291, 165. The proposed land purchase price is $403, 992 and the building cost is approximately $2.1 million for a total of $2, 795, 157.
An alternate plan has, however, recently been suggested--- one which would keep the firehalls in their respective communities at a significantly reduced price.
As the Condor facility is in greater need of replacing, this “new” plan suggests that construction be done there first---on donated land. Information has been gathered to suggest a viable facility could be built there for $700,000 - $800,000. Because architectural fees are calculated according to building costs (normally @10%) those fees could be reduced as well. Building on donated land would eliminate the land cost. Ultimately you could have a new fire hall in Condor for less than half the cost of an amalgamated facility.
Another benefit of this second suggestion is that travel time to the various incidents could be potentially reduced by operating out of the two facilities. Furthermore, when necessary, a new facility could be built in Leslieville with money saved on the first go-round. In the meantime, money would be spent more efficiently and both communities get to keep their own fire departments.



Coming Events:
May 11, 2017 , regular monthly meeting

June 15, 2017, regular monthly meeting

September 14, 2017

(All meetings at 7:30PM at Leslieville Elks’ Hall)