Monday, January 6, 2020

IN THE NEWS

Town/County Amalgamation 
This is likely the biggest news item and one that will be “on the books” for a while.
On December 12, 2019, Town Council voted unanimously to initiate talks with Clearwater County about amalgamation between the town and county. This came as a surprise to county councillors and has raised the ire of many county taxpayers.
As per the Municipal Government Act, any amalgamation would be a lengthy process and involve the following steps:

· Written notice of the proposed amalgamation submitted to the county and the Minister of Municipal Affairs
· Upon receipt of the notice the municipalities must meet to discuss the proposals and “negotiate the proposals in good faith”.
· Upon conclusion of the negotiations the initiating municipality must prepare a report describing the result of the negotiations and submit it to the Minister.
· The report must be signed by the initiating authority and the authority it proposes to amalgamate with. Note: A municipal authority that does not sign the report may include, in the report, its reasons for not signing.
· The report is then sent to the Minister.
· The Minister may initiate amalgamation if he/she believes the operation of the amalgamated authority will be more effective/efficient.
· The Minister may invite comments from the public and may conduct meetings of the public to discuss the probable effects of the amalgamation.
· In the end the Minister makes a recommendation to the Lieutenant Governor in Council to amalgamate the municipalities or not.

This is a lengthy process, providing ample time for residents from both the town and county to voice their opinions. Let us also hope that any meetings held by the town and county on this matter would be open to the public. We are the ones paying the bills and deserve full opportunity for involvement. 


2020 Budget 
 Following 3 days of budget deliberations in December, council approved the 2020 operating and capital budgets. According to the county’s news release of December 19, 2019, council’s goal is to “maintain the core services that enhance Clearwater County residents’ quality of life…through ongoing efforts to enhance efficiency and identify savings.” Figures for the Operating and Capital budgets are listed below with the 2019 figures in brackets: 


Operating: Revenue: $49,374,154 ($51,275,519) Expenses: $53,996,164 ($52,050,916)

Capital: Revenue: $17,083,500 ($12,994,121) Expenses: $52, 599,522 ($42,411,427)

Highlights of projects proposed for 2020 include Broadband ($5M), construction of the Leslieville Public Services Building to house the Leslieville Fire Station ($5.6M), gravel road rehabilitation ($5M), Taimi Road pavement from RR 40-0 to Hwy 12 ($3.2M), Sunchild Road Asphalt Overlay ($7.8M), Nordegg Development ($5.3M), Condor Lagoon upgrades ($1.7M) and bridge rehab and replacements ($5.6M).

In order to balance all the figures it would seem that money would have to come from reserves---we can be thankful we have some. We would also like to keep them and not have to spend them for the benefit of others that have not contributed. Let’s say no to amalgamation!


Smiles for the New Year  
Why do you need a jeweller on New Year’s Eve? To ring in the New Year.

What’s a New Year’s Resolution? Something that goes in one year and out the other. 

What did the farmer give his wife on New Year’s Eve? Hogs and kisses. 


Coming events: 
Wednesday, January 8, 2020, 7:30PM, Arbutus Community Hall, regular monthly meeting. 
 Further regular meeting dates have not yet been determined but will be discussed on Wednesday

Monday, November 11, 2019

IN THE NEWS


New Reeve and Deputy Reeve
In a secret ballot vote among all councillors, Tim Hoven defeated incumbent Jim Duncan to become Reeve at the Clearwater County annual organizational meeting on October 22. Councillor Hoven was first elected as councillor in 2017 and represents Division 6, the south-east area of the county. At the same time Michelle Swanson was elected Deputy Reeve, defeating John Vandermeer and Jim Duncan, also in a secret ballot vote. Councillor Swanson was also first elected in 2017 and represents Division 7, the area west of the North Saskatchewan River and north of Hwy. 12. We congratulate both Councillors Hoven and Swanson on their new positions, as well as thank Councillors Duncan and Vandermeer for their previous dedication as Reeve and Deputy Reeve.


Exciting School News
 A November 1 news release from Wild Rose School Division stated that they are “pleased to announce the Alberta Government has approved the David Thompson High School Corridor solution--- the modernization of Condor school, replacement (high school) in Leslieville and closure of DTHS”. Board Chairman Russ Hickman thanked area community members for their supportive voices as well as Clearwater County for their “critical support in making sure the sites for these projects are ready to go.”

In response to this announcement a meeting of the executive of Friends of the Corridor Schools (FCOS) met on Monday, November 4 to discuss the necessary fund raising plans to augment the provincial government funding for this project.

We encourage you to follow along with further developments on the Wild Rose School Division and FOCS web sites. We all need to work together and support the fund raising efforts to ensure high quality educational experiences for our young people. (Condor School website: https://condor.wrsd.ca/)


Meeting Procedures Bylaw
 As stated in their November 5 agenda package, Clearwater County Council will be considering amendments to their Meeting Procedures Bylaw “in preparation of live-streaming Council’s meetings.” Live-streaming was mentioned as a campaign initiative in the 2017 municipal election and we commend Council for continuing with their consideration of this matter.


Nordegg Mobile Home Park
 As mentioned in our October Beacon plans and discussion are underway for a new mobile home park in Nordegg. Currently plans indicate the development of 30 lots in an area east of the Public Works/Fire Hall building, down Quarry Road. Certainly there are potential benefits to having a mobile home park in Nordegg, but in order for the development to be successful the
lots with their accompanying guidelines must be welcoming and accommodate resident needs/wishes. In all likelihood the people that might purchase these lots would be outdoorsy people who would come with ATV’s and snowmobiles that they would like to be able to store in a garage. Concerns have been expressed that the lots sizes and restrictions would not allow for an appropriate sized garage or parking for an RV. Ultimately, it seems that more discussion/input from local residents/county taxpayers should have been done before the development plans were finalized. Following the recommendation and subsequent motion by Councillor Laing at the September 10, 2019 council meeting, an open house will be held in Nordegg on Friday, November 29, 2019. The value of this meeting is debatable as the groundwork is already complete. This whole situation brings to question, again, if the county really should be in the development business.

Cold Weather Smiles
How do you search Google on freezing cold days??? On the Winternet.
If you were living in an igloo, what would be the worst thing about global warming??? Lack of privacy.


Coming Events:
 Tuesday, November 19, 2019, 7:30PM, Arbutus Community Hall, Annual General Meeting.

Friday, October 4, 2019

IN THE NEWS

Nordegg Mobile Home Park
 At their regular Council meeting on Tuesday, October 10, Council voted 5-2 to table 2nd and 3rd reading on a land use bylaw rezoning related to land where the proposed mobile home park in Nordegg would be located. The proposed development would be to the east of the Nordegg Fire Hall, down Quarry Road. The land in question is currently zoned Agricultural but would need to be rezoned to Nordegg Manufactured Home District in order to proceed with development.
Following presentation of information by the County’s planning department on the project, Councillor Laing, representative for Nordegg, requested an open house to hear taxpayer concerns and comments prior to voting on 2nd and 3rd reading. She mentioned that with other types of development the County requests the developer to hold such a meeting so it would seem responsible for the County themselves to do likewise. Brief discussion took place before the vote passed to delay the subsequent readings. The public meeting will likely take place in November.

Mobile Home Park Rental Rates
 Mr. John Badduke from Pinewoods Estates in the Ferrier area west of Rocky attended the last CCTA meeting to explain the unreasonably high lot rental increases in privately owned mobile home parks in the county. This park was recently purchased by a developer from Abbotsford, BC and he has subsequently increased the lot rentals significantly, with more increases planned. This seems to be a common problem and there are no guidelines/controls to monitor the high rent increases. Mr. Badduke was asking for county resident support for his concerns and will be addressing Council in October to request their support in establishing guidelines to protect mobile home residents. While we note that this is a business matter, it does resemble the issue of foreign investors coming into the Vancouver area, causing housing prices to become unaffordable for local residents and to which the BC government responded by enforcing a tax on foreign investment to alleviate some of the problem.

Current Surveys
There are two surveys currently underway in the County. One is a Senior Needs Survey being conducted jointly by the County, town of Rocky, and the village of Caroline with the assistance of the local Family & Community Support Services. The objective of this survey is to gather information from residents aged 60+ on their wants and needs. The deadline for completion of this survey is October 20, 2019.
The second survey is a Community Recreation Facility Survey that is asking for people’s wants and needs relating to matters mostly surrounding community halls and the recreation facilities there. The deadline for completion of this survey is December 31, 2019.
Both surveys are available for completion on the County’s website or hard copies are available at the County office. Let your voice be heard.




Coming Events
Tuesday, October 15, 2019, 7:00PM, Arbutus Community Hall, Guest speakers from Grassroots Alberta and Friends of Science focusing on the “other” side of the story on climate change. Note earlier start time.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019, 7:30PM, Arbutus Community Hall, AGM