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.