HIGHLIGHTS FROM CLEARWATER COUNTY COUNCIL MEETING
Tuesday, November 8, 2016
By Marianne Cole
The following items were highlights discussed at the council meeting:
1. Council representation on committees--- Councillor Greenwood brought forward a procedural concern regarding council representation on certain organizations. This concern stemmed from the appointment of a council member to the newly formed Clearwater Broadband Society. Following discussion on this, a motion was made to look at developing a procedural by-law in this regard.
2. Request for Proposal on telecommunications matters--- A proposal was brought forward “that Administration proceed with the development of a Request for Proposal for the development of a conceptual design, budget and business viability model relating to the construction or installation of communication towers and fibre optic cable to enhance high speed internet access” (quote from the agenda package) within the county. This would involve a 4 step phased in procedure:
- Phase 1—Business viability study on a focussed area (from the Ferrier area east to the county border, between Highways 11 and 12)
- Phase 2---Business viability study on the remaining populated area of the county
- Phase 3--- Define service area(s) and scope of project
- Phase 4--- Final Engineering, Budget, Tender document, Contract Award
There was excellent discussion on this matter with Councillors Duncan and Vandermeer suggesting that council look at other studies and reports that have already been done and could really provide information for Phase 1. Councillor Laing also suggested that administration could check out what information has also been gathered by the Clearwater Broadband Society. It was also noted that the Society might make a presentation on this matter at the next council meeting.
The result of the discussion was a motion to table further action.
3. Text with 911--- This matter was brought forward initially as an information item, noting that there is now a service through 911 which would allow for texting for hearing or speech impaired people to access emergency services. This is not an “open” service and people who qualify must register their cellphone in order to be able to access the service when necessary.
Again, excellent discussion took place. Councillor Graham began the discussion with concerns with cell phone service and dead areas. From there the discussion proceeded to action with motions being made to write letters expressing concerns with the very serious need for both improved cell phone and broadband service in the rural areas.
Brief information was given about our Supernet. When it was being put in, the province was going over budget. Bell stepped in and bought it, and Axia is now managing this “service”. (An “aside”: The talk is that service from Axia is highly priced and as a result is financially unfeasible to access.) From this discussion a motion was made to send letters of concern to both Municipal Affairs and Service Alberta.
4. Budget Preparation and Community Engagement Update--- Director of Corporate Services, Rodney Boyko presented council with an update on the budget preparation process, most notably the community engagement. This focussed primarily on the survey that is underway and is available on the county’s website as well as in hard copy at the county office.
This subsequently brought forward the CCTA’s information page that was put in the November 2 issue of the Western Star. As noted in the agenda package, “Staff believe the ad’s information is incomplete and may affect survey feedback/responses.” To counteract that it further states that, “Staff will develop communications materials and utilize various communications tools in an effort to address areas such as the following: Financial information…Rocky Mountain Regional Solid Waste Authority…Facilities…County Peace Officer Program…”
Limited discussion took place but Councillor Duncan brought up a concern with people not wanting to put their names on the surveys and Mr. Boyko responded that the names would be used for subsequent contact in order to get more information. Councillor Laing stated that she felt the Western Star information was good as it promoted an awareness of the survey and stimulated debate and dialogue.
5. Presentation by a Delegation from the Caroline and District Athletic and Agriculture Society--- This group was represented by Dwight Oliver, Deb Northcott, and Mr. Schellenberg. Deb gave an excellent presentation on the wide range of services provided at The Hub: skating rink, curling rink, health center, playschool program, fitness center, and campground. It was amazing to listen to the enthusiasm and the vision for expansion that this group has. They are to be highly commended for the super, wide-ranging provision of services, not only to residents of the immediate area but to rental groups from as far away as Calgary.
6. AAMDC Resolutions--- The 30 resolutions being brought forward to the AAMDC convention were discussed and suggestions made for either supporting or not supporting the resolution.
7. Councillor’s Verbal Report--- Councillor Vandermeer gave a report on two activities he had attended related to broadband service. The first was from the Clearwater Broadband Society. They have now received society status and would like to make a presentation to council. They would also like to access the report from the Taylor-Warwick study done last year. The second activity was a workshop he attended in Mountain View County. The main suggestion from this meeting was that individual jurisdictions need to act as the issues have been studied to death. Forming a committee to bring the problems with broadband to the province was also mentioned.