Tuesday, January 8, 2019


By Marianne Cole

Presentation by FCSS
 Andrea Vassallo, Manager of Clearwater Regional Family and Community Support Services outlined the numerous programs they coordinate for the benefit of residents of the town of Rocky, Clearwater County and the village of Caroline. Funding for these activities and the various community organizations they provide support for is provided on an 80-20% basis with 80% of the funding coming from the province. Three of the priorities they deal with are mental illness, poverty, and affordable housing. There are also several activities/programs for seniors, single newcomers to the area, and the youth. Councillor Laing, council’s representative on FCSS, noted that there are also more outreach programs for the outlying areas being recently organized as well.

Presentation by Wildrose School Division
 Several representatives from the Wildrose School Division came to give council an update on the plans for the Corridor Schools Capital Plan. Plans are to up-grade the Condor School to accommodate K to 6 classes. New information was provided that would see a replacement of the Leslieville School for Grades 7-12. The timeline was uncertain but hopes are to receive confirmation of the projects early this spring and have construction completed by September 2021. The funding “formula” provided for by the province was explained and it was noted that the province covers only the very basic funding for facilities based on per student populations. Extra gym size/features (room for bleaches, stage, etc.) must be covered by the local school division. Councillors brought up various concerns such as the Leslieville playground, skating rink, parking, water/sewer, and school track/field. It was also noted how the “extras” for the new school in Irma (Buffalo Trails School Division) was supported by both community funding and the Wainwright Municipality.

Presentation by Monica Ahlstrom and Kyle Wadden from Ahlstrom Air
Monica outlined the very distinct contributions Ahlstrom Air (stationed out of Nordegg) makes to the West Country and the significant concern over what may happen with the government’s proposal of establishing the Bighorn Wildland Park. Ahlstrom Air is a highly used “on demand” business and with the proposed new legislation, helicopters will be severely restricted in what they are allowed to do/where they may go. Permits will be required and this can take several days to get. An example was provided of the significantly greater cost of fighting the Nordegg area fire in 2013 where a permit was required and if immediate action could have taken place hundreds of thousands of dollars could have been saved. It was also noted that the government had announced in the Legislature that a supportive letter had been received from Clearwater County. Monica happened to be in the Legislature that day and heard that comment but, having seen the letter, knew it was an unbiased one asking for information. More discussion with Ahlstrom Air was going to take place in camera.

Presentation by Missing Link Internet
 Andrew Van Dirstein, Craig Bondy, and Phil Swanson with Missing Link Internet made a presentation which outlined the history of the organization and their efforts to provide improved broadband service. MLI is an amalgamation of Harewaves and Pure High Speed and all the partners have had significant experience with internet service provision. They mentioned their frustrations with trying to get both improved wireless service as well as fibre connectivity. Further discussion on how the county could become involved was going to take place in camera.

(Other items on the agenda included the Visitor Information Centre Agreement with the Town of Rocky and the Rocky Mtn. House Lagoon Summary Report, December 2018.)

Thursday, January 3, 2019


Proposed Bighorn Wildland Park
As you may have heard, our NDP government is proposing major changes to our very important West Country. The area involved in this proposal stretches from Sundre to Drayton Valley along the eastern slopes of the Rockies. Included in the plan is the creation of one new Wildland Park, three new Provincial Parks, four new Provincial Recreation Areas, one new PLUZ (Public Land Use Zone) where there are currently six, and an amendment to the Kiska-Wilson PLUZ. These changes will severely impact all current users---hunters, trappers, grazing lease holders, equine users, guiders/outfitters, campers, snowmobilers, and off highway vehicle users. The changes have been fueled by input from such groups as the Alberta Hiking Association, Y2Y (Yellowstone to Yukon) and CPAWS (Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society). These organizations have largely urban oriented membership and directors, with the latter two (especially Y2Y) getting significant American input and funding.

“Public engagement” opportunity has been provided by the provincial government with public meetings held earlier in the year as well as currently. At these meetings significant opposition has been expressed but one is left to wonder if the voice of the people will actually be heard or if these “opportunities” are merely for show.
So, what can we do??? First of all you are encouraged to:

* A. Write to the following: Our MLA Jason Nixon; Shannon Phillips, Minister of Alberta Environment and Parks; and Todd Loewen, the Opposition Environment Critic. (You are welcome to phone Marianne for email addresses or mailing addresses for these people.

* B. Attend one of the following meetings if you can: Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, 6:00PM-9:00PM, McKenzie Conference Centre, 5745-45Ave. , Drayton Valley; Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, 6:00PM-9:00PM, German Canadian Club, 38167-RR 280, Red Deer; Monday, January 14, 2019, 4:00PM-9:00PM, Sundre Community Center, #3, 96-2 Ave., NW, Sundre; Tuesday, January 15, 2019, 4:00PM-9:00PM, Radisson Edmonton South, 4440 Gateway Boulevard, Edmonton.
(Note: The CCTA is looking into organizing a bus to go to the meeting in Edmonton so that our rural voice might be heard. Keep posted for further info.)

* C. Check out the information on the “Bighorn Wildland Park” website as well as information on Alberta Environment and Parks website

County Budget County
Council approved their 2019 budget at a special meeting on December 17th. According to a News Release on December 18th, “The 2019 operating budget includes revenues of $51, 275, 519 and expenses of $52, 020,916. The capital budget includes
revenues of $12, 994, 121 and expenses of $42, 411, 427.” Compared to the 2018 budget the predicted revenues are up 10.6% and expenses are up 28%. In order to create a balanced budget $15, 613, 701 will be transferred from reserves. Some of the main expenses include gravel road improvements/grading, bridge repairs, water & sewer upgrades, Clearwater Broadband, and the Condor Public Services Building. Tax rates will be established in the New Year.

The Clearwater County Taxpayers’ Association Annual General Meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 8, 2019 at Arbutus Community Hall at 7:30PM. This will include election of officers and we certainly welcome/encourage new members to join us as we work for the common good of taxpayers in our county. At this meeting we will also be discussing what we can do as an organization with the Bighorn Wilderness issue.

Special roses are being sent this month to all those involved with our county operations, right from those “out in the field”, to those in the offices, and to our councillors. So often they are at the receiving end of people’s frustrations and only hear the negative. While we may not always agree, I really do think we have a lot to be thankful for in our area so we are sending Happy New Year wishes along with bouquets of roses to all those involved in making this county a great place to call home.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019, 7:30PM, Annual General Meeting, Arbutus Community Hall;

Tuesday, February 12, 2019, 7:30PM, Regular Monthly Meeting, Arbutus Community Hall