Friday, March 27, 2020


By Marianne Cole

On Tuesday, March 24, 2020, Marianne Cole, on behalf of the Clearwater County Taxpayers’ Association, made a presentation to Clearwater County Council on the proposed plans for the new fire hall at Leslieville.

Originally this current council passed a motion in August of 2018 to build a 10,000 sq. ft., 5 bay facility at Condor for $4M; and an 8,950 sq. ft., 3 bay facility in Leslieville for $2.1M. 

Condor’s facility was completed in 2019. It sits on 8 acres of land and includes 10,000sq. ft. storage space (3 apparatus bays and 2 public works/ag.service bays) and 6,000 sq. ft. admin./staff space. 

Recent plans have seen a drastic change in the plans for Leslieville and a dramatic increase in costs:

1. Purchase of 27.43 acres of land for $365,000, to be allocated as follows: 
  a. fire hall building site, parking area and fire pond = 7.25 acres; 
  b. future training area, including fire training tower = 12 acres; 
  c. future parks and sports field = 8.18 acres. 

2. Site design/construction = $1, 056,000

3. Building = $3, 529, 000 (5 bay) and $3, 160,000 (3 bay)

4. Equipment = $170,000

5. TOTAL COST = $5, 120,000 (2.6 times greater than the original budget and $1, 317,000 more than Condor) Note: Not included in that figure is $500,000 for the training facility in 2021.


Justification of need for another large facility when a smaller one would suffice.

The need for two facilities in such close proximity---11km. apart. Other areas of the county are much farther away from ANY fire hall. 

The need for a training facility when there is one in Red Deer that local fire fighters can access at a cost of $4800/yr. No need to spend $500,000 on a facility here. 

The complete lack of figures/business plan related to the training facility. 

The need for another 6,000 sq. ft. of staff/admin space in Leslieville when there is that much in Condor.


Significant discussion by council followed the presentation and it was clearly evident that there was a divide on council--- the experienced vs. the rookies. The experienced councillors (Duncan, Vandermeer and Laing), most notably Vandermeer, expressed distinct concern for the definite need for figures related to the training facility along with the questionable need for over-spending on a large facility. The newer councillors (Laird, Lougheed, Hoven, and Swanson), along with county staff, focussed more on the emotional passions of ensuring support for our volunteers who willingly give of their time. 

In the end, two motions were made: 

1. Moved by Councillor Laing that council direct administration to re-design the fire hall for the hamlet of Leslieville, to be located on the newly purchased 27.43 acres of land and that this building with the land and site development not exceed $2.2M. DEFEATED 5/2 

2. Moved by Councillor Laird that council advise administration to proceed with Plan 2 which includes tender grading plan for Phase 1 and advertising for an RFP for the Leslieville Public Services Building as described including a 3 or 5 bay option. PASSED 5/2 

The timeline for the gathering of information and making of a final decision is about 5 weeks--- 3 weeks for advertising/receipt of RFP’s and 2 weeks for their evaluation and bringing the results back to council for approval. 

Currently the CCTA is discussing further plans and options to encourage citizen engagement that would ensure council makes the most financially responsible decision, reflective of resident wishes. We would love to hear your comments and concerns. You may reply to this website or send an email to


Sunday, March 1, 2020


Leslieville Fire Hall 
Concerns continue to be expressed over the plans and lack of information being provided to the taxpayers on the scope of this project.
At the February 9th CCTA meeting there was significant discussion on the matter and we were very happy to have 6 councillors in attendance to not only hear taxpayer concerns but also to share what information they could.
It was suggested that we organize a meeting so that information and concerns could be more widely addressed. Reeve Tim Hoven suggested that the county could host such an event and we graciously thanked him for the offer.
When the notice appeared in the February 19th Western Star for an “Open House” at the Leslieville Fire Hall we were distinctly disappointed with the format for the following reasons:

At an Open House people come and go so not everyone is present at the same time to hear the information offered or the questions asked/responses given.

Furthermore, people can talk to/question different “presenters” and get different, potentially conflicting information.

If the intent of hosting the event at the fire hall was to allow people to see the “state” of the facility, the equipment should be in there for an accurate picture of the crowded size, and then where would there be room for people to gather or information to be presented?

Having the most important part of the evening, the “presentation” at 6:00PM is definitely an inconvenient time. People are just arriving home from work and/or having supper. Also, wouldn’t it be more beneficial to see the fire hall before the presentation??

Finally, the last concern was over inadequate parking.

These concerns/frustrations were immediately voiced with members of council and administration. We were subsequently informed that the format would be changed. There would be a tour of the fire hall first, followed by a meeting at the Elk’s Hall. Consequently, we put together a page of information to be published in the February 26th edition of the Western Star so people could have some background information before the meeting. In the interest of transparency, and so those involved in hosting the event could have more prep time, a copy of this information was emailed to both council and administration on Friday, February 21. 

Ads then appeared in both The Mountaineer and Western Star advertising an “Open House” on March 5th with a “Presentation” at 6:00PM at the Elks’ Hall followed by a “Tour” of the fire hall at 7:00PM. This is a complete reversal of the information we received regarding the format and we definitely question its effectiveness with only a 1 hour presentation and the tour to follow. Our most sincere hope is that the “presentation” might allow for more time for citizen engagement/questions to adequately occur. 

Words have been floating around about County partnerships with Wild Rose School Division and an “unnamed” private company for “opportunities” on the newly purchased land/proposed Fire Hall. Unfortunately no concrete information has been available to date.
With the extensive amount of land purchased (27+ acres), it seems possible that the partnership with WRSD might involve future consideration for recreation fields (ball diamonds, track, soccer pitch, etc.). Such a partnership is certainly commendable.

The other option, a partnership with a “private company” for a potential fire fighter training facility leads to more questions. Who is the company? Why have they not come forward with their vision? What is the need?

Currently there is a quality training facility in Red Deer which our volunteer fire fighters access about 3 times per year. There is a rental fee for its use and attempts have been made to gather information on that cost but it was unavailable at time of printing. Hopefully we will have it for sharing at the March 5th meeting.

In the meantime, questions abound on the necessity/viability of such a facility with very limited use. Comments have been made that we could rent it out to other fire fighter groups but, with a centrally located option at Red Deer, who would travel out to Leslieville?? If this private facility become non-viable, who would be responsible/accept the future operating costs??? 

Smiles for March: 
Why do leprechauns love to garden? They have green thumbs.
Why shouldn’t you borrow money from a leprechaun? They are always a little short.

Coming Events:
 Clearwater Rural Crime Annual Meeting, Monday, March 2, 2020, 7:00PM Leslieville Community Hall 

 Clearwater County Information Open House re Fire Hall, Thursday, March 5, 2020, 6:00PM, Leslieville Elks’ Hall 

 Clearwater County Taxpayers’ Association regular monthly meeting, Monday, March 9, 2020, 7:30PM, Arbutus Community Hall