Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Clearwater County Budget Notes

By Helge Nome

The recently elected Clearwater County Council held its 2018 Budget deliberations over a period of three days last week, beginning on Wednesday, December 13. A wrap up session was held on
Tuesday, December 19.

To a regular observer of County affairs, it was obvious that there are major changes underway:
A new CAO and new department heads for Public Works and Corporate affairs presented the budget to Council.

The 2018 budget was formally adopted by Council on December 19 and details will be available when the information is released to the public on the county website next week.
The big change from the 2017 budget was the removal of some $20 million previously set aside for the planned administrative complex in the Rocky North development and the reallocation of $10 million to the Internet reserve. It was also decided to set an amount of $150,000 aside to hire an internet service manager.

Council was informed that to date $4.2 million has been spent on the Rocky North development,
which also has a mandated sand/salt storage facility

It was obvious that Council is committed to the idea of providing enhanced internet service to local residents and leverage county reserves to that end. The way that the infrastructure will be created and managed has yet to be determined, but in order to access external funding (provincial and federal) the county will likely need to be directly involved in the project.

At this time the county has $73 million in aggregate reserves, some of which were reallocated to road paving projects In  the upcoming year. According to Reeve Vandermeer, Red Deer County has made road paving a priority in its budget. The cost per kilometer of paving is about $1 million.

Discussions on the upcoming tax collectible from county residents took place. Last year tax collection fell short by some $2 million and the idea of raising residential taxes by 1% and non residential taxes by 3% seemed to have general council support.

As a matter of interest, the cost of the County newsletter that is mailed to 6,600 county residents bimonthly is about $6,000.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

1. North Nordegg Subdivision Resident Dust Suppression Request 
A letter from area residents in this subdivision was presented to council asking that the two main arteries leading into the area (one on the west and one on the east) receive improved dust suppression. Most recently a product called MG 30 had been applied and this basically turned the road into “snot” when it rained. MG 30 is a water based product mixed with various chemicals such as calcium chloride and/or magnesium hydroxide. Another suggested product, SP90, is oil based, mixed with gravel and packed. This is more costly but has a longer life span and is more “user friendly”. After good discussion council passed a motion to provide dust suppression using the SP90 product.

2. Meeting Procedure By-law Final Draft Approved
The major change here is that the council agenda package will be sent out on the Wednesday prior to council meetings. This gives councillors the much needed time to read through, consult, and research information on topics on the agenda. Previously they had received the agenda on Friday afternoon with meeting on Tuesday morning. Another important change was that there would be more information listed as to the topics to be discussed in camera and that the public attending the meeting when council went in camera would be notified as to when the in camera session was ended. They would then be invited to come back in to the public meeting.

3. Code of Conduct By-Law Final Draft Approved
The main change here was that if there is a complaint related to a council member that complaint would be brought to/addressed by the reeve and deputy reeve instead of the CAO (Chief Administrative Officer).

4. Municipal Governance Training
Various opportunities for councillor training were discussed and a motion was passed that administration look first into organizing the Munis 101 and Sage Analytics workshops with potentially a Parliamentary Procedures workshop at a later date.

5. Invitation to council from MP Jim Eglinski
An invitation to attend a Community Crime Awareness Meeting on December 18, 2017 at 7:00PM at the Caroline Community Hub was received. A motion authorizing council to attend was passed.

6. Council Compensation
Excellent discussion took place on councillor remuneration and the proposed County and Board Remuneration Policy. During the discussion it was noted that currently council remuneration is at the 16th percentile of surrounding jurisdictions. As of January 18th the increase approved at the September 12 council meeting would put compensation at the 25th percentile. It was suggested that remuneration would not need to move above the 40th percentile as compensation is not an initiative driver for council involvement.
Most of the discussion focussed on the establishment of a Council Compensation Committee with the proposal that this be a 5 member committee made up of 2 past councillors and 3 members-at-large. The suggestion was made that councillor compensation be reviewed prior to election so it doesn’t look “self-serving”.

7. MRWSA Report on Rural Homelessness
A very interesting report was given by Gwen MacGregor, Point-In-Time Coordinator, and Cindy Easton, Executive Director of the Mountain Rose Women’s Shelter Association on homelessness in the town of Rocky and Clearwater County. They had conducted a survey in September 2017 with 68 surveys completed. At that time 46 people were “unsheltered” and staying in various forms of accommodation. In the survey the participants were asked what the reasons were for their current situation and what accommodation they had been using. A comparative survey is being planned for May/June. This is a community issue and will need to be addressed through various partnerships.
8. Clearwater Broadband Foundation Public Presentation Jennifer McDougall, Chairman of the Clearwater Broadband Foundation, along with four other members of their board attended to present information about their activities, proposed plans, and a request for funding. Following their presentation the meeting went in camera to discuss, with council, their proposal. The in camera session was intended to protect third party interest.
Following a recess for lunch the council meeting reconvened. The Clearwater Broadband Foundation request for $9.5 million was declined

9. All Hallows Church set to be moved  Council agreed in principle to transferring ownership of the Cheddderville Church to the Community Historical Society of Caroline once the society secures sufficient funds for relocation and land reclamation costs.

Saturday, December 2, 2017


 A very successful Annual General Meeting was held on November 9, 2017 with 42 attendees. Executive and Board Members for the next year will be: President—Marianne Cole; Vice President--- Dan Warkentin; Secretary--- Susan Durand; Treasurer--- Pat Butler; Board Members: Trish Bingham, Jim Foesier, Al Gaetz, Ken Qually, and Larry Titford. Our MLA Jason Nixon was the guest speaker and did an excellent job addressing happenings in the Legislature and people’s concerns, most notably crime issues and Bill 24 re school/parent communications.

2. CAO Change
 Following special council meetings on November 2 and 3, Ron Leaf resigned as the Chief Administrative Officer for the County. Rick Emmons was then appointed as acting CAO and was affirmed as the Interim CAO at Council’s meeting on Tuesday, November 28, 2017.

3. Winter Gravel
 Councillors have received a request from Public Works for information as to where they feel winter gravelling is needed in their divisions. A couple councillors expressed a desire to gather information from residents as to where this might be necessary or beneficial. I said I would put it out in our newsletter and encourage any of you with thoughts on this to contact your councillor.

4. County Council Meeting Highlights, November 28, 2017

Bylaw Reviews/Changes
 Discussion took place on both the Meetings Procedures and Code of Conduct bylaws. Meaningful changes to the Meetings Procedures Bylaws proposed earlier release of the council agenda package with the agenda coming out on Wednesday prior to council meeting rather than Friday. As for the Code of Conduct Bylaws the changes focussed on reporting issues with councillors to the reeve or deputy reeve rather than the CAO.

Live Video Feed of Council Meetings
This idea was brought forward during the election campaign as a method of increasing transparency. An initial estimate of cost for such a system was $75,000, but council asked that more information be gathered not only on various systems but also other ideas to promote transparency.

Rocky and District Chamber of Commerce Request for Funding
President Colleen Dwyer and Executive Director Prab Lashar attended council meeting again to present further information on their operation as well as reiterate their earlier request for financial assistance. They mentioned the various community events they organize/promote and their benefit to the area’s economy. They highlighted their recent hosting of CBC who was doing a special documentary on the Duvernay geological area (the eastern slopes of the Rockies). We will try to notify you when this documentary will be aired.

Concerns from councillors were voiced about the ways the Chamber might ensure future financial stability and a cooperative coordination of promoting the economy with other groups such as Ignite Rocky and the Caroline Chamber of Commerce. In the end Council voted to provide the Chamber with a $30,000 grant.  

Broadband/internet Discussions
 Tracy With from Banister Research presented an excellent report on the broadband survey that Banister had conducted with both businesses and residents in the county in October. They had conducted phone surveys and paper copies could also have been printed off from the county’s website. 380 phone interviews were conducted and 42 paper copies were received.

Questions focussed on what services were used (internet, TV, and phone, both landline and cell), as well as the level of satisfaction with each. The summary suggested that both businesses and residents felt there is a definite need to access faster, more reliable service as these are essential services.
Concerns were expressed equally by both groups over the potential costs that might be incurred with adding to the current levels of service along with suggestions that the county should not be involved in this type of project.

Council will be developing a Broadband Framework Policy and we certainly encourage public input. Stephen Bull from the province’s Internet Secretariat will be addressing council on January 9, 2018. He is very knowledgeable on this matter and has spoken to council before. It would be a great opportunity for anyone to gather information on this subject which will be a major item for council to address in the next year. We need to be informed as best we can and then pass on our ideas to council.

A special bouquet of roses goes out to all our council members. It has been a breath of fresh air to attend council and experience the welcoming, congenial atmosphere. Along with that is a noted desire and effort to make decisions in an open, transparent manner, reflective of the best interests of economic well-being, financial responsibility, and resident benefit. You all deserve a special Christmas bouquet and best wishes for a great New Year.

January 9, 2018, 9:00AM County Council Meeting Stephen Bull from Internet Secretariat speaking.
January 11, 2018. 7:00PM CCTA Regular Monthly Meeting. Reeve John Vandermeer speaking.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017


1.  Interesting Election Results    
Electors county wide spoke very clearly in most divisions that a change in council was necessary.  The only close race came in Division 6 where there was a one vote split between two new candidates, and a re-count affirmed the original winner.  County results are as follows:
Division 1:  Jim Duncan (acclaimed)
Division 2:  Cammie Laird---  293;  Dick Wymenga--- 161;  Kyle Greenwood--- 72
Division 3:  Daryl Lougheed--- 225;  Curt Maki--- 146:  Megan Jeffery--- 19
Division 4:  John Vandermeer (acclaimed)
Division 5:  Theresa Laing--- 407;  Bob Bryant--- 108;   Andrea Garnier Spongberg--- 35
Division 6:  Timothy Hoven--- 148;  Diana Spencer--- 147;  Lorissa Nafziger--- 50
Division 7:  Michelle Swanson--- 312;  Pat Alexander--- 164

2.  New Reeve Chosen
At County Council’s organizational meeting on October 24th council chose John Vandermeer as the new Reeve with Jim Duncan as the Deputy Reeve.  For both this is their third term as councillor. Council and Member at Large representatives were also chosen for the numerous boards that the county is involved with.  The County still needs Members at Large for the following boards:  Central Alberta Economic Partnership---1 member;  Clearwater County Heritage Board---1 member;  Subdivision Development Appeal Board--- 1 member and 2 Alternate members.  Applications for these positions as well as a complete list of the boards and their members can be found on the county’s web-site under News Releases.

3.  Questions re Caroline’s Salt/Sand Storage Facility Answered
Questions had been recently raised about issues at the new Caroline salt/sand storage facility being built and “talk” had circulated about cement being hauled away and then new re-poured.  In a phone call to Public Works on November 3, 2017 it was explained that the original plans were for a 40’ x 60’ building (the same size as the existing facility).  The footings had been poured for that when it was revealed that the new plow/sand truck was 39 ½’ long, and with the new plan having side doors, the width of the facility was insufficient.  Consequently the footings on one side had to be removed and the building’s size changed to 60’ x 60’.  This has moved the completion date back somewhat but it is expected that the facility will be done by the end of December.

4.  Special Speaker for January Meeting
Our new Reeve, John Vandermeer has kindly agreed to speak at the January 11, 2018 meeting.  Originally invited to be a guest speaker at our up-coming Annual General Meeting on November 9, John suggested that he would have much more information to share at the later meeting.  Much of the time since his selection as Reeve has been taken with orientation, and this will be followed by the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties convention in mid-November.

5.  Guest Speaker for Annual General Meeting
Our MLA, Jason Nixon, will be our guest speaker for our AGM on Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 7:00PM at the Leslieville Elks’ Hall.  Jason was recently chosen by the newly elected UCP (United Conservative Party) leader Jason Kenney as the interim UCP House Leader/Opposition Leader as Kenney does not currently hold a seat in the Legislature. It certainly speaks well for the confidence that the UCP party has in our MLA and it will be very interesting to hear about current plans and issues on the provincial level.

ROSES:    Special bouquets of roses go out to every person who took the time to go and vote in the civic elections on October 16th.  It was great to see the increase in voter numbers and the distinct voice that was proclaimed. Congratulations to all the winners.  Roses also go out to all the volunteers and family members who gave their time and efforts to support the various candidates that were running.  The success of this election was the result of a combination of dedicated efforts.  Roses are being sent to everyone involved!
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:     People who disagree with you doesn’t make them better or less.  (Anonymous)
COMING EVENTS:   Annual General Meeting,Thursday, November 9, 2017, 7:00PM, Leslieville Elks’ Hall
      Regular Monthly Meeting, Thursday, January 11, 2018, Leslieville Elks’ Hall

(NOTE: All monthly meetings will now be starting at 7:00PM until we change to 7:30PM in May.)

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


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.

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


 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


(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


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


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


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


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


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)

By Marianne Cole

1. Development on County land in Caroline.
> Phase 1 (planned for the northern part of the property) included the creation of 11 industrial lots and the county’s lot for its salt/sand storage facility.
> Phase 2 includes the southern portion, along Highway 54, with 10 proposed highway commercial lots.
> Phase 1 development has been approved by council but Phase 2 development was contingent upon the county and village receiving the Small Communities Fund (SCF) grant. This was unsuccessful.
> About 75% of Phase 1 infrastructure construction was completed last fall but weather prevented completion. Northside Construction Partnership is scheduled to return shortly to complete the earthwork. Then the construction of the salt/sand storage facility will proceed.
> Discussion took place on servicing the lots in both Phase 1 and 2, focussing on the impact on Caroline’s water/sewer system as well as receiving approval from Alberta Environment re the impact on nearby wetlands.
> A motion was made directing administration to discuss Phase 2 development with the village, investigate the water/sewer implications, and bring back a more detailed report for approval.

2. Land Use Bylaw Amendment passes first reading.
> This draft bylaw would establish penalties and definite courses of action for those whose developments contravene development bylaws (encroachment on neighboring properties, not abiding by building permits, etc.)
> Action here is usually complaint driven and begins with a letter informing the offender of contraventions. This is followed up, if necessary, by further action and penalties.

3. Condor Community Centre Request.
> Council approved the granting of $18,000.00 to assist Condor Community with renovations to their hall. (Approximate cost $53,000. The community has the remaining funds.)

4. Compassionate Care Hospice Society Letter of Support.
> The Society was formed in 2016 and is now actively working to establish a hospice center in Rocky that would provide compassionate, quality comfort care for people with a life-limiting illness and their families.
> Steve Taylor, Vice Chair of the Society attended council to ask that a letter of support from the County be sent to Alberta Health Services on behalf of the Society. This request was granted.

5. Town on Rocky Recreation Master Plan
> Roger Smolnicky, Director of Recreation for the town, and a representative from McElhanney Consulting were present to discuss the process the town is engaged in to provide a framework for future recreation programs used by the town and county.
> Recently a survey re. the available facilities and usage was completed with an approximate 60-40 % split of town-county respondents.
> The results of this survey will be presented to the town on May 16 and to the county following that (likely May 23).

6. Clearwater Broadband Foundation.
> Michelle Swanson, Chairman, made a brief presentation regarding the CBF’s previous request for funding and the county’s subsequent request for a review of the CBF’s proposals.
> Part of the county’s review included getting legal opinion regarding the CBF’s non-profit status and the county’s legal ability to provide a loan to a “for profit” organization.
> Significant discussion took place on the possibility that the legal firm may not have investigated the “non-profit” status as fully as it could have. (It did not investigate the O’Net/Olds Institute system which has non-profit status.)
> Discussion also took place on Michelle’s suggestion that a “Tech Review Committee” be established with the town, county, and the CBF each arranging for a tech consultant to be part of the committee that would evaluate the pro’s and con’s of fibre optics and tower systems. Currently there seems to be a distinct difference of opinion on council on the benefits of each system.
> In the end Council passed a motion to not approve the loan to the CBF. They also passed a motion requesting an administrative report on the available options to improve broadband services in Clearwater County.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017


By Marianne Cole

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

1. Summer Tour--- This was first held last year and was organized by our Ag Services Department in cooperation with the North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance. It involved a canoe trip on the North Saskatchewan River with provincial rural caucus members and other dignitaries. This year an ATV trip is being planned for August, potentially in the Rig Street or Big Horn areas. The purpose of this would be to promote the benefit of designated Public Land Use Zones (PLUZ), along with advocating for the work the county has been doing on maintaining west country trails.

2. Clearwater Regional Fire Services--- Pivotal Project has been retained as project manager for the construction of the new Condor/Leslieville Fire Hall. They in turn advertised for a request for proposal (RFP) for a Primary Consultant who would be in charge of engineering and design. The successful applicant for this, BR2Architecture, was chosen after to scoring the highest on a summary evaluation. Their fee for service will be $291, 165.
(Note: It is stated in the agenda package that “Section 1.8 of the RFP states that the County is not bound by the lowest bid in evaluation and award of the RFP.” This is most interesting as other instances of RFP’s have noted that the county must accept the lowest bid, which raises the question, why the difference? )

3. Nordegg Historic CIBC Bank Building--- Due to its deteriorated physical state and hazard to public safety, the building had been slated for demolition. A very generous offer from TdB Construction (Ted deBoer)has been put forward to reinvest the demolition cost into stabilizing the structure and maintaining its original fa├žade. This would allow for future development/use of this historic structure.

4. Pine Beetle Resilience Project--- Mr. Rob Friberg, a PhD student from the University of British Columbia outlined his proposal to work with communities on the western side of Alberta to study strategies that might make our forests more resilient to pine beetle attacks. His proposal would involve interviews with local residents, elected officials, and industry personnel as part of a focus group. County council voted to support his endeavors.

5. Financial Matters

 > Federal budget--- Highlights noted were the $28.5 million deficit, funding for “green” water    (mostly for First Nations), affordable housing, and the gas tax fund. Councillor Maki suggested that  our council reps who attend the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference should make  every effort to pass on to the appropriate federal politicians that the “green” infrastructure must  include funding for the internet in rural Canada.

 > Reserve Transfers--- Because some projects budgeted for in 2016 didn’t materialize there is an  unallocated amount of $629, 128 in unrestricted reserves. Discussion took place on what to do with  this…leave as is or put into a restricted fund. Leaving it as unrestricted gives council flexibility as to  its use, and it was also suggested that council can review the current reserve balances at its A & P  (Agenda and Priority) meeting next week. It was also suggested that it may be prudent to review the  tax rate bylaw before making a decision on reserve transfers.

 > 2016 Audited Financial Statements--- Phil Dirks, representative from Hawkings Epp Dumont,  along with Rhonda Serhan from the county, reviewed the 2016 audited financial statements. He  noted that the county is in a healthy position financially, that the county staff was very helpful, and  that accounting procedures are very satisfactory. Two concerns that had been raised by taxpayers  were addressed: a.) The Regional Waste Authority financials will now be under the control of the  county as we are a managing partner, and b.) The debenture servicing costs relate to the renovations  done on the Westview Lodge, and that the penalty for paying off the loan would be greater that the  interest costs. A key note of interest for taxpayers is that revenue last year was $3.3 million higher  than expected, and that the accumulated surplus per capita is $5,500, just over the average of $5, 300  for the jurisdictions Hawkings Epp Dumont compared.

 > Tax Rate Bylaw--- Discussion took place on setting the 2017 tax rates. It was noted that a budget  deficit of $213, 757 could occur due to a decrease in revenue resulting from lower assessments.  However, it was also mentioned that well drilling dollars are already up for 2017 so that could  alleviate a deficit. In the end it was decided that there be no increase in municipal taxes, though there  will be a 1% increase in Education Tax (government controlled).

6. CCTA Letter of Invitation--- Following a motion made at its March meeting, the CCTA had sent a letter to each councillor inviting them, as taxpayers, to attend any of the CCTA’s monthly meetings. Subsequently this letter was discussed today.
It was noted that perhaps a policy is needed before a decision on this is made and that the new MGA is proposing a matrix for such a policy. Councillor Laing suggested it should be left up to each councillor to decide on what community meetings they might attend if invited. It was noted that administration is in the process of preparing a draft policy for the next A & P meeting of council on this matter.

By Marianne Cole

1. Joint Town/County Council Meeting, March 14

Following the County’s February 16th public meeting on the proposed Area Structure Plan for the land north of Rocky, the town requested a joint meeting of town and county councils. Highlights were:

 * Concern was expressed by town councillors that they hadn’t been consulted on the content of        the ASP before it went public.
 * It was noted that all meetings of the Intermunicipal Development Plan committee had been “in  camera” and information was not shared with either council prior to the February meeting.
 * Elected members of the committee are Pat Alexander, Curt Maki, and Jim Duncan from the County  and Fred Nash, Jason Alderson, and Don Verhesen from the Town. The respective CAO’s and    planning department personnel also attended.
 * County councillor Earl Graham suggested that committee level “in camera” sessions could be  brought back to a whole council in camera session. Ron Leaf suggested councils get legal advice on  the matter.
 * County councillors were generally in favor of proceeding with the Area Structure Plan although  one councillor suggested more info was needed on financing and the Rocky’s lagoon system.
 * Town councillors were more reserved, with concerns over financial benefit along with lagoon  issues and transparency of information.
 * In the end Ron Leaf said that there is lots of work, negotiations, and public consultation needed  before final plans are approved.

2. Results of the Town’s Economic Feasibility Study

The results of the town’s economic feasibility study on the Joint Development Agreement with the county on lands to the north of Rocky was recently presented to the town with the following highlights:

 * The JDA could have a positive fiscal impact on the town but there are risks.
 * The timing and magnitude of growth from the JDA is uncertain and subject to current economic  conditions.
 * With current population trends, the town does have plenty of land for residential growth, but has a  limited supply of commercial and industrial land.
 * In further questioning by town councillors it was noted that if the town doesn’t grow, there is no  need for more land.

3. Clearwater County Crime Watch

The Clearwater County Crime Watch held their annual general meeting at the Leslieville Community Centre on Wednesday, March 29. Special highlights of the meeting were:

 * Presentation by a representative of the Action Coalition on Trafficking. She explained that human    trafficking is not limited to young females for the sex trade, but can involve both
 genders in any situation where they are held against their will, under duress, with little or no pay, and  in potentially deplorable living conditions.
 * Presentation by Sgt. Jay Penner of the Rocky RCMP. He indicated that the incidence of domestic  violence has gone up 130% in Clearwater County in the last year. Much of it attributed to drugs and  the economic conditions. The RCMP is working diligently to curb drug use and crime with their  strategy of tracking/watching repeat offenders and those on parole.

The County’s Crime Watch group is desperately needing board members and we encourage anyone interested in helping support this very beneficial group to contact Marianne Cole or Trish Bingham.

ROSES: This month’s bouquet of roses goes out to the Clearwater Broadband Foundation’s board of directors. They have worked diligently to gather information on the benefits and feasibility of improved broadband services to county residents. This has been an issue that area residents have indicated was of significant importance to them. We certainly commend the CBF for their diligence and efforts to work together for the provision of a very beneficial service for county residents.

RANT: As I reflect on the various development discussions/meetings that have taken place this past year I am reminded of the continual opinions of county taxpayers:

 * The CCTA’s survey in February 2016 indicated overwhelming opposition to the county’s building  plans.
 * At the Dovercourt meeting in May the requested show of hands showed huge opposition to the  building developments.
 * The county’s own satisfaction survey this past fall indicated significant opposition to the building  plans but strong support for improved broadband service.
 * At the ASP open house in February the need for additional development and concern for the  economic benefit was again brought forward.

With the county taxpayer sentiments being so clearly expressed in opposition, I continue to wonder why the county presses on with their development plans. Isn’t there a cost to the continual consultant work? Why continue if there is so much opposition? OR… Do the opinions of county taxpayers, those footing the bill, have absolutely no relevance? Is there any validity to the promise that we would be consulted before any decisions are made? Even after consultation, will the decisions made follow the wishes of the majority??? Perhaps the fall election will be the only real way to ensure our voice is heard and definitive answers to this whole quandary are provided. One could only hope.

Coming Events:

April 13, 2017, Regular monthly meeting, 7:00PM

May 11, 2017, Regular monthly meeting, 7:30PM

Note: Meeting time change in May from 7:00PM to 7:30pm

Wednesday, March 15, 2017


By Marianne Cole

The meeting began with all members of each council present and about 23 people in the “gallery”. These are the highlights of the meeting:

1. Presentation by Clearwater Broadband Foundation Michelle Swanson and John Reid gave a brief outline of their vision and efforts to promote the improvement of broadband services in the area. This is the first time that the town has heard, publicly, about their efforts so it was suggested by Councillor Mizera that the town needed more information on the costs involved before making a decision to get involved financially.

2. Area Structure Plan The meeting then proceeded to the main item on the agenda which was discussion on developments to the north. These are the highlights of that discussion:

Ron Leaf gave a brief introduction indicating that the Open House meeting on February 16 was to introduce the Area Structure Plan and gather information. There was no intent to short circuit the process. He then asked that the councils consider 2 questions:

                    Do you agree with what the 2 councils are doing?

                    Would you review the documents in that context?

Mayor Nash said he believed that the process is there and he is willing to look at the plans but that there are more questions that need to be considered. He indicated that this if for the long term and that we’re here to do what’s best for the area.

Reeve Alexander said that the whole reason for this development is for the town. This development could have been taken a 5 miles or more out of town but that wouldn’t be helpful. He further added that we are only one community and he thinks we can find a solution.

Rick Emmons then gave a history of the process that lead up to the presentation of the Area Structure Plan in February. Both councils had met in 2014 to discuss future development. From there an Intermunicipal Development Committee was struck with representatives from both the town and county administration and councils. They met “in camera” and no information about their discussions was presented to either council. Neither council had heard/seen the information on the ASP prior to the open house on February 16.

Bill Shaw, planning consultant, then addressed the meeting and presented information on the ASP and the process that had taken place.

The meeting then proceeded with each member of each council giving their opinion on the process and the plans. Below is a summary of the general feelings of each council:

Town: Generally the town council was in favor of moving forward with the development plans but concerns were raised about:

    The process (the lack of information/transparency given to both councils)

    The need for more information on the economics of the plan and the status of the lagoon

    The economic benefit has to be equal for both areas; unfair to kill development/business in one
     area in favor of another

County: Generally the county council was in favor of moving forward with the following a summary of their comments:

    Being ready for development (have infrastructure in place for developers) is necessary • Need to be     careful not to over invest

    Moving forward together is better than individually
    Need results of the lagoon study and the economic feasibility study before any final decisions are

    Concern with tone expressed by some of the town councillors

    Disappointment with the blame for lack of transparency on the county as the town also had
    representation on the Intermunicipal Development Committee

Towards the end of the discussion the question was raised if there will be a new Intermunicipal Development Plan or will the Joint Development Agreement take precedence? Ron Leaf indicated that there would be a new IDP but that involves due process and public consultation. Todd Becker, town CAO, indicated that the Joint Service Agreement also needs to be approved.

Town councillor Mizera suggested that in order to promote greater transparency that joint council meetings be held instead of the planning/discussions/decisions being made by the Intermunicipal Development Committee. Discussion took place suggesting that a joint council group is too large to effectively manage so it is best that the committee meet with better communication to follow. Ron Leaf concluded the session by saying that a public hearing will be held on these documents before any final decisions are made. If the hearing went in September/October a second one would be needed after the election if there were new councillors that hadn’t been given the opportunity to be involved.

The meeting then proceeded “in camera”.

By Marianne Cole

1. Clearwater Regional Fire Rescue Services The new Regional Fire Chief, Seven Debienne, was introduced. He comes to our area with significant experience and a passion for his job. He explained that Fire Season is just around the corner but with the wet fall and recent snowfall we are in a much better situation with less fire hazard risk.

2.Assessment and Tax Implications There was growth in the residential assessment that resulted in increased revenue in that category of $62, 000 for 2017. There is, however, some assessment that is at risk, mainly in the Machinery and Equipment category with potentially 5 companies making up uncollectables of about $200,000. The 2017 Tax Rate Bylaw will be discussed in Council on April 11, 2017.

3. Reserve Transfer for Broadband Administrative Report At the Council meeting on February 28, the Clearwater Broadband Foundation made an excellent presentation on their work and efforts to promote the improvement of broadband service in the county. At that time they asked the county for a loan of $3.48 million to begin their projects for 2017. This request was tabled until council could be provided with an administrative report. That was given today and it suggested that in order to move forward the following steps must be taken:

     A Business Plan Review must be undertaken to assess the feasibility and viability of the plan.

     A Legal Review must be done to evaluate the legality of the county lending the Foundation

    A Technical Review must be done to compare the Foundation’s proposals to new and emerging  

The costs for this broadband evaluation report was not budgeted for so a motion was passed that the $35, 000 cost come from the Internet Reserve.

4. Clearwater County hamlet Residential Chicken Bylaw A request had been made by a resident in a hamlet to obtain a permit for having chickens in a hamlet. As the county does not have a bylaw in this regard the matter was brought to council for discussion. It was suggested that the bylaw should also apply to multi-lot Country Residential areas as well so the matter was tabled in order to make that addition to the bylaw.

5. SuperNet and Broadband Internet Mr. Stephen Ball, Assistant Deputy Minister of the SuperNet Secretariat, Service Alberta made an excellent presentation on the history, development, and current status of the SuperNet (a system of fibre optic cables and wireless towers formed into a network of electronics carrying signals to public facilities). In 2001 the government committed $193 million to build and own a network connecting facilities in rural communities. At the same time Bell committed $102 million to an urban network. By 2005 the government had run out of money and renegotiated contracts transferring the majority of rural infrastructure to Bell. Axia was given the exclusive license to use and operate the SuperNet until June 30, 2018. (So at the moment Bell owns the “parts” and Axia manages the “operation”.) By allowing this type of arrangement/control the province has created an unequal playing base as it is a financial problem for ISPs (Independent Service Providers) to access the SuperNet.

Currently there is work being done on the future of the SuperNet contract and discussions are taking place on what needs to be done to enhance rural broadband services. Mr. Ball suggested that a provincial broadband strategy is necessary and is working with AAMDC on this. Many municipalities are considering the role they should play in providing broadband services.

Sunday, March 5, 2017


1. Area Structure Plan 
The county held an Open House in Rocky on February 16 with about 100 people in attendance. The Area Structure Plan is a document which lays out a plan for future land usage for 11 quarters of land north of Rocky. It stipulates allowable locations for various uses such as industrial, business services, commercial, community services, and recreation lodging facilities. Following the presentation by Bill Shaw, consultant for the plan development, attendees were given an opportunity to ask questions or express concerns. Topics brought forward were the need for these developments, the costs of infrastructure, potential return on “investments”, and issues with Rocky’s water/waste water system. No financial information was available at the meeting. Further steps in approving the plan include:

 • another open house once a final draft is completed, (financial information available then)
 • first reading to approve the document,
 • second reading with an official public hearing where      residents can make public presentation
 • third reading to approve/reject the document This process could take several months to complete.

 We will keep you posted on all future events.

2. Rocky’s Waste Water System
 It recently came to light that there may be potential problems with Rocky’s waste water system, a service that has definite implications for the county’s development plans. As such, representatives from the town made a presentation on this topic at county council’s meeting on Tuesday, February 28. According to their information, tests done in the fall of 2016 identified that levels of total suspended solids and un-ionized levels of ammonia entering the North Saskatchewan River exceeded federal government standards. Consequently the town has commissioned an investigation of the situation with possible fixes and their costs. The results of this study will be known in March. Concerns were raised at the meeting as to when the county was made aware of the problem, what the costs of fixing the situation might be, and how these costs could affect the county budget/future development plans. Apparently the county was made aware of the problem last fall but the information was not shared with council at that time or during budget deliberations.

3. Clearwater Broadband Society
 Clayton Berg and John Reid, members of the Clearwater Broadband Society, made an excellent presentation at council’s last meeting on the need for, and benefit of, improved broadband service in a community. The statistics they presented clearly indicated the very positive economic benefits, along with resident service advantages, from improved technology. The CBS is suggesting a combination of fibre optic cable and communication towers be used to provide the improved service. They hope to establish 6 “ground testing projects” in 2017 and asked the county for $3.48 million to help fund their efforts.

*** Note: On the County’s Service Level Feedback Survey completed last fall, internet/telecommunications mobility was the most highly mentioned “desired enhancement”.

ROSES A special bouquet of roses goes out this month to town councillor Manfred Ullman for taking the initiative to publicly address concerns with the Rocky north developments as well as bringing to light issues with Rocky’s sewage lagoon. Both topics have significant implication for both the town and county finances. As such, the very people that provide the funding, the taxpayers, deserve complete, accurate financial disclosure. Special thanks Manfred for initiating the process.

 RANT With the recent events described throughout this newsletter, I am reminded about the importance of transparency in any form of interpersonal relations. Certainly for two municipalities to work cohesively there has to be clear, complete communication on any shared responsibilities, but most importantly, financial ones. In addition, there should be equally substantial information given to those providing the funding… the taxpayer. As such I leave you with these valuable quotes that reiterate the value of open communication.

• A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity. Dalai Lama
• Trust, honesty, humility, transparency, and accountability are the building blocks of a positive
reputation. Mike Paul
• Truth never damages a cause that is just. Mahatma Gandhi

 May these thoughts become guidelines for future action within our community.

Coming Events
March 9, 2017 April 13, 2017 Regular monthly meetings, 7:00PM, Leslieville Elks’ Hall

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Clearwater County Council Meeting Notes

by Helge Nome

All councillors were present at the regular meeting on February 28 to hear a delegation from the Town of Rocky Mountain House report on public concerns over a discharge from the Town sewage lagoon into the North Saskatchewan River.
The Town’s Director of Engineering and Operations, Rod Fraser, reported that levels of solids and ammonia products, exceeding new federal regulations, had indeed been discharged into the river and that the Town is working to identify the causes. Several county councillors expressed concern over a lack of communications between the Town and County in light of the fact that the two municipalities are sharing the cost and use of the Rocky Mountain House wastewater treatment facility.

Maintenance of another shared facility, the Credit Union Co-op Aquatic Centre in Rocky Mountain House, was discussed as well with a request for an additional $61,400 to shore up the deck around the pool in 2017. Doing all the work needed in 2017, rather than spreading it out over two years as originally planned, will result in an overall cost saving. Council approved the additional funding. 

A delegation from the Clearwater Broadband Foundation, a local recently formed not-for-profit society, made a video presentation arguing for the case of optical fibre as the solution for local residents’ access to the internet. John Reid, Secretary/Treasurer of the foundation, stated the intention of the group of digging in fibre clusters to serve six different areas of the county, including one in Nordegg. These clusters would initially be served by signals from/to adjacent microwave towers to be erected by the group. Funding, in the form of $3.48 million of loans guaranteed by the County, would be needed for these projects. Council accepted the presentation as information.

Based on a recommendation from Public Works, Council decided to post “No winter maintenance” signs on roads in the west country that are not being graded in the winter. It was noted that snowmobilers can and do use these snowy roads.