HIGHLIGHTS FROM COUNTY COUNCIL, MARCH 14, 2017
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,
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.