Sunday, November 1, 2015


County’s New Land Development
Plans are now proceeding with developing the county’s newly purchased land north of Rocky.  Some of the highlights of recent decisions include:
“Clearwater County recently engaged Pivotal Project Management and WSP Engineering to assist with the design and conceptual planning…” (CC news release, October 22)
Plans include, “40,000 square feet of shop space, and 30,000 square feet of office space as well as a 20 acre operations yard.”  (The Mountaineer, October 27)
Pivotal Project Management is the project management division of WSP. It is headquartered in Toronto but has offices in Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton, and Calgary.  Information on their web-site describes large urban developments they have been involved with but no rural projects were listed.
WSP is the re-branded name of Genivar and is headquartered in Montreal.  It does have an office in Rocky.  According to their web-site WSP specializes in infrastructure planning, design, program/construction management, operations and maintenance.
As reported in the Mountaineer the overall cost of this project is estimated to be $18million.  This is in addition to the purchase price of $1.2 million for this bare quarter of productive farmland.  We will keep you up-dated on further happenings as they occur.

County’s Communications Committee
A draft frame of reference for the county’s communications committee was presented to council on October 27.  In the accompanying information some interesting figures were given regarding age distribution and social media/internet usage.  Noted highlights were:
64.3% of Clearwater County’s residents are over the age of 35.  (Pre 1945--- 13.2%; 1945-1960--- 24%; 1961-1980--- 27.1%) This includes the majority of county taxpayers, those who are still actively working as well as those who are retired. 
Concerning social media, data provided shows that on the county’s site on October 20, 2015 there were 959 Twitter users and 967 Facebook followers.  Each of those numbers represents about 8% of the county’s 12,000 population.
Of the internet service providers that visitors to the county website used, 27% used Telus, 16% used Shaw Communications, and 12% used Comtech.  CCI, Xplornet, Bell, Service Alberta, and Harewaves were each used by less than 5% according to figures provided by Google Analytics.
      It would be very interesting, and perhaps a useful tool, for a survey to be done to determine if technology provision is an area of concern for the majority of taxpayers as well as a desired use of taxpayer dollars.
Roses:  A huge bouquet of roses goes out this month to our local emergency first responders.  They willingly give of their time and efforts to provide us with a variety of necessary services, often in the face of severe tragedy.  Not only do they themselves selflessly volunteer, but their families are also impacted by our responders’ involvement.  We sincerely want to recognize and thank all of them for their dedication, expertise, compassion, and unbridled service to our community.

Rant:  This month’s rant focusses on the 3 T’s---transparency, truth, and trust. Just as the 3 R’s have long been touted as the basics of sound education, the 3T’s must become the foundation for solid government.  Regardless of the level of government, elected representatives are responsible to their electorate and as such should be expected to provide them with open, complete (transparent), and truthful information concerning all operations and activities.  This should be a reasonable expectation for those funding the bills, the taxpayers.  Only when there is an atmosphere of truthful transparency accorded the people can they reciprocate with due trust in their representatives. 

Coming Events:
Thursday, November 12, 7:00PM, Leslieville Elks’ Hall, CCTA Annual Meeting.  Guest speaker, Don Bester, President of the Alberta Surface Rights Group speaking on oil lease concerns.

Thursday, January 14, 2016, Regular monthly meeting.  7:00PM Leslieville Elks’ Hall

Monday, October 12, 2015

Standing Committee on Communications Struck  
Clearwater County Council recently formed a Standing Committee on Communications to investigate directions the county should take with regards to providing or not providing telecommunication services throughout the county.  The committee is made up of two councillors, Jim Duncan (Division 1) and John Vandermeer  (Division 4) as well as Members at Large from each of the county divisions:  Division 1, Stacy Ingham;  Division 2, John Reid;  Division 3, Helge Nome; Division 4, Mike Maki;  Division 5, Scott Sheldrake;  Division 6, Terry Hunt;  and Division 7, Michelle Swanson.  There are also representatives from the three Chambers of Commerce in the county, industry, and the school division.
The committee is currently working on establishing guide lines for their operation and gathering ideas/input as to the direction county taxpayers would support on this issue.  We encourage you to voice your opinion and contact any of the committee members.

Linear Tax Concerns
Current discussion and pressure from urban centers to “pool” linear tax revenue may have very serious consequences for Clearwater County if the Alberta government proceeds with legislation in this regard.  Here are some facts:
  • Linear tax is collected by municipalities for the placement of pipelines, telecommunications systems, and power lines
  • M&E (Machinery and Equipment) tax is collected for the placement of property such as underground tanks, compressors, refineries, and pulp/paper plants.
  • There is a push by the urban centers to have the tax income from these sources “pooled” by the provincial government and redistributed on a per capita basis.
  • This would result in a HUGE loss of revenue for rural municipalities who would still have to bear the brunt of maintaining infrastructure (roads and bridges) that deteriorates at a faster rate due to industry activities.
  • Clearwater County would lose $24million (44.4%) of its annual revenue and receive only $2.5 million back on a per capita basis
What can we do??  It is vitally important that we support the county in their opposition to linear pooling.  Call your MLA Jason Nixon, send an e-mail, or write a letter to him, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, or even the premier.  Our tax dollars are at stake.
RosesThis month’s bouquet of roses goes to all the organizers and vendors of Market Place on Main and the Country Market.  These are great places for locals to purchase fresh, locally grown produce as well as support area vendors of various other goods and services.  Special kudos to everyone for their efforts in providing these super, community focussed endeavors.
Rant:  This month’s rant focusses on the negative impact of frac trucks hauling to and from the Di-Corp facility located west of Leslieville.  Reports have been received of trucks going into the opposing (westbound) lane as they turn east onto SH598 from the Alhambra Road.  Then, not only do they not gain normal speed before turning into the Di-Corp facility, but they re-enter 598 very slowly and take significant time to speed up.  At certain times of the day this becomes a hazard as well as a serious inconvenience.
This was a major concern expressed by locals when the development hearings/appeals were held in 2014.  The need for turning lanes fell on deaf ears in the Alberta Transportation department as well as in the county.  Perhaps the only wake-up call will come when a serious accident/death occurs…a pricey penalty for not valuing common sense comments from those most affected!

Coming Events:
October 8, Monthly meeting, 7:30PM, Leslieville Elks’ Hall

November 12--- CCTA Annual Meeting, 7:00PM,Leslieville Elks’ Hall;  Guest speaker- Don Bester, speaking on Alberta Surface Rights issues  

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Monthly Meeting Agenda
Thursday, October 8, 2015

  1. Welcome and introductions
  2. Approval of agenda
  3. Adoption of minutes of previous meeting
  4. Approval of financial report

  1. Business arising from the minutes
    1. Letter to Council--- Copy attached;  hand delivered to County office, Sept. 15, no reply as of Monday
5.2  Business Cards--- sample attached
5.3  Annual Meeting--- Speaker remuneration
5.4  Reeve from Brazeau County to speak
5.5  Directors/Officer Insurance

  1. New business
    1. Report from County Council meeting - Helge
--- Linear pooling and publication of minutes of council and committee meetings

    1. Speaker from Municipal Affairs on municipal transparancy???
6.3   Large ticket handed out to local farmer and 1 ½ hr. delay during combining
6.4   December Meeting????  

  1.   Open Forum

8.  Next meetings:  November 12, 7:00PM,  ANNUAL MTG;  December, 10 (?), January 14, 2016
9.  Adjournment

(Note:  Open Forum is an opportunity for attendees to bring up any concerns they have related to the county.)

Thursday, September 3, 2015

WELCOME BACK!  After a two month break from meetings we’re glad to be back tackling issues of importance to county taxpayers along with welcoming fresh ideas for up-coming activities.  Besides our regular meetings we maintain our Clearwater County Taxpayers’ web-site and are in the process of planning our November annual meeting.  Future ideas to consider are perhaps hosting a taxpayers’ association conference and sending out a county wide questionnaire to gather input on county matters.  Mixed in with this are the issues that are continually brought to our attention by taxpayers asking for our support.
  • CAO SALARY—In late June (after trying for 4 months) we finally received confirmation that county council had approved an 11.6% increase in the Chief Administration Officer’s salary for 2015.  This is an increase of $24, 347, up from $208, 257 in 2014 to $232, 597 in 2015.  Added to the salary is a projected cost of benefits for 2015 of $35, 698, though that actual figure won’t be known until the end of the year.

  • STANDING COMMITTEE ON COMMUNICATIONS---The County Council recently took action to get public opinion on the possible direction it should take with providing better internet service to residents in the county.  To facilitate this it formed a Standing Committee to be comprised of councillors, industry representatives, and members at large from each of the electoral divisions of the county.

  • NORDEGG TRAILS INITIATIVE--- A concept plan has been developed for a series of trails in and around the Nordegg townsite.  It would include maintained trails for motorized OHV’s (quads and snowmobiles) as well as non-motorized trails for hikers, bikers, and horse-back riders.  The trail system would connect the town site and north sub-division as well as join these two areas with other out-lying trails.  Input on this plan was being accepted until the end of August.

A special bouquet of roses this month goes to the Clearwater County Council for establishing the Standing Committee on Communications.  It is great to see them wanting to involve county residents in making these important decisions by asking for a representative from each division to sit on the committee.  We might only hope that residents take the opportunity to become involved in this important venture.

This month’s rant focusses on yet another bundle of money to be potentially cast into the Nordegg pit, this time on developing a series of trails in and around the hamlet.  It is absolutely disgusting that more money will be tossed that direction when the Nordegg budget line is already in a deficit of $1.4 million.  Not only is this a recreational, non-essential expenditure, but in all likelihood it will be used mostly by out of county visitors.  In the meantime we are told there is no money to plow seniors’ driveways or fix the James River Bridge, both of which are essential to the well-being of our own taxpayers.  Where is the logic in spending money to provide an easy route for a visitor to go for ice cream while forcing a tax-paying farmer to risk life as he takes his equipment onto a busy highway due to the closure of his normal route???  Has common sense drowned in the Slough of Reserves??

September 10, 2015---   7:30 PM, Regular Monthly Meeting
October 8, 2015--- 7:30 PM, Regular Monthly Meeting
November 12, 2015--- 7:00PM,  ANNUAL MEETING


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

 Recent huge expenditures by Clearwater County have prompted a special edition of the Clearwater County Taxpayers’ Association newsletter, The Beacon.  We trust our county taxpayers will appreciate our efforts to inform them of where a large amount of their tax dollars are being spent.

  • Caroline Land Purchase---In January the County purchased 112 acres of land on the north-east corner of Caroline for $560,000 or $5,000 per acre.  This is more than double the average purchase price for similar land in the county.  The reason for the purchase was to accommodate a necessary salt and sand storage facility.  Only 11 acres, however, are needed for that purpose.  The remainder is to be developed for resale as light industrial, highway commercial, or residential property.
  • Caroline Land Development---In June county council approved a $4.9 million plan to develop phase one of a light industrial and commercial area on their recently purchased land at Caroline.  This cost will cover the construction of the salt/sand facility and the creation of 11 additional industrial lots.  Of the $4.9 million, $1.2 million will be dedicated to the construction of the county’s facility, while the remainder will cover a storm water drainage pond, a paved access road, lot grading and landscaping, utility installation, wetland compensation, Hwy. 54 intersection upgrades and associated engineering and contingency funds.
  • Rocky Mtn. House Land Purchase--- Now in July it was announced that the county had purchased 154 acres near the Rocky Mtn. House airport for $1.2 million dollars or $7, 792 per acre.  This is more than 3.5 times the average price for hay/pasture land according to Farm Credit Canada averages for this area.  This land will also be used for a new salt/sand facility and a new public works/ag services building, using up about 60 acres of the property.  The remainder will be available for “future development”.
  • CAO Salary---Earlier in the year council approved an 11.6% increase in the CAO’s salary from $208, 257 in 2014 to $232, 597 in 2015 (an increase of $24, 347 for the year).  Added to that is a projected cost of benefits for 2015 of $35, 698, though the actual figure will not be known until the end of the year.  This year’s increase follows previous increases of 3.9% in 2014, 4.85% in 2013, and 14.9% in 2012.

It is absolutely ludicrous that our tax dollars are being spent at rates grossly exceeding the norms.  To not only spend from 2 to 3 times the normal purchase price, but then to purchase significantly more land than is actually needed, shows complete disregard for fiscal responsibility.  It is unacceptable for our tax dollars to be used for risky ventures such as such as questionable commercial development in today’s recessive economy.  All things considered, it seems that those making financial decisions are completely out of touch with reality and county taxpayers are left to bear the brunt of such irresponsibility… or is it a calculated attempt to use up a significant portion of the $58 million in reserves before the new provincial government sees the taxpayer funded gold mine???
If you would like to share your views or have comments on any of this information you may kindly contact any of our Board members listed below or come to our meetings.

September 10, 2015, Regular monthly meeting

October 8, 2015, Regular monthly meeting

Saturday, June 13, 2015


Presentations to Councils
Presentations have been recently made to both Rocky Town Council and Clearwater County Council by two separate groups questioning, among other things, their fiscal responsibility.  Dale Shippelt made the presentation to the town, raising spending questions and even suggesting an audit review. Marianne Cole and Helge Nome made a presentation to the county council and brought up three issues: The Strategic Plan for 2015-2018, Highway Clean-up, and County Finances.  Both presentations received coverage in the Mountaineer with very negative comments expressed towards the presenters. 

A common area of concern is the question of finances/operation of the Rocky Regional Waste Authority.  It seems there is a lot of unnecessary expenditure and a possibility of mismanaged funds which are jointly supported by the town and county.  The group of concerned residents from the town has been communicating with the CCTA due to joint tax dollars being affected in this area.

Of special concern to the county residents is the $58 million in reserves while an 8% tax rate increase on non-residential property was approved by council.

Strategic Plan 2015-2018
A draft plan has been developed and public input is being sought.  A copy is available on line, but as it is a 41 page document so it may be easier to get a copy at the county office.  It is really important that we give our input now as the opportunity for general public input into the draft was not given. This document sets the direction for operating/spending for the next three years.  Written submissions have to be in by June 18 and there are public open houses in Rocky at the county office on June 16 from 4:00PM – 8:00PM and in Caroline at the Caroline Community Hub on June 18, also from 4:00PM – 8:00PM.

Highway Clean-up
The CCTA was refused the opportunity to earn $600.00 by doing a portion of county road clean-up under the judgement that we are a “political/special interest” group.  Attempts were made to explain our mandate to work for the benefit of all taxpayers, and that we be allowed to participate in the project, but we were unsuccessful.  The matter was brought to council at our presentation on May 26 with the result that county policy on the issue will be reviewed.

ROSES:  Huge bouquets of roses go out to all the volunteers who willingly donate countless hours to ensure the success of the Rocky Rodeo and Pony Chuckwagon races as well as the annual parade.  Their efforts ensure the success of events that provide enjoyment for everyone.

RANT:  The focus of this month’s rant is The Mountaineer.  Following presentations to both town and county councils, editorials and articles were written with very negative slants towards the presenters.  It would seem that The Mountaineer is supportive of any/all financial decisions made by the town/county and those that question those actions are highly criticized.  It’s really unfortunate that citizens who volunteer their time in an effort to ensure everyone’s tax dollar is spent in the most efficient, mutually beneficial manner receive the brunt of harsh criticism.

Coming Events:
June 11, Regular monthly meeting
September 10, Regular monthly meeting
(All meetings at 7:30PM at the Leslieville Elks’ Hall.  Everyone welcome.)