Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Taxes 2015, looking at the numbers

Last Thursday (Oct 16) council and administration began the 2015 budget process, all meeting are open to the public and are being held in the council chambers. (Next meeting Oct 23, @ 2pm topic of discussion will be municipal reserves)

Last week administration reviewed the budget process with council who expressed their desire for a zero (0%) tax increase.  

Is that realistic? I think so. Right now the process as just begun, we do not know what all the issues are and what exactly administration will be presenting to us during the budget process. We certainly have the option of coming back to the public with something other than zero. That is a decision that will be made by the majority of council at the end of budget process. (January 31,2015) 

The following is some interesting Financial Information regarding the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass and will certainly weight on my mind as we move forward through this process.  


Net municipal property taxes collected 2007   $5,465,057

Net municipal property taxes for 2014 $6,729,350

Difference of $1,264,293 or 23.1%

Franchise Fee’s 

2007 we did not collect, 2014 we are collecting $700,000

During 2014 we are collecting additional revenue of  $2 million over what the municipality collected in 2007.    

Cost of living (CPI)

Jan 1st 2007 CPI was 109.4
Sept 1st 2014 CPI is 125.8

The CPI has increased by 15% from Jan 1,2007 to Sept 1,2014 our tax revenue alone increased by 23% during that same time frame easily keeping pace with inflation. 

The greatest cost any public sector organization incurs is wages/salaries/benefits, keep in mind the following numbers include all of our staff both unionized and administrative. This is where finding and eliminating inefficiencies is so critical. Neither we or any other organization, public or private sector can keep growing indefinitely.     


2007 Wages/Salaries/Benefits  $3,948,805

2014 Wages/Salaries/Benefits  $5,655,650

Difference on wages/salaries/benefits $1,706,845 or 43.2% 

Last night our Chief Finance Officer presented the following report that provides a lot of good information. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Good news in the Crowsnest Pass

Several things, I know it's not an economic boom but good news never the less:

1. Development permits we are already 25% ahead of the whole of 2013 with three months to go.

2. There has been as many real estate sales this year to the end of September as there was in the whole of 2013.

3. Our recreation department as created a new web site  that will provide you information on all our recreation program, facilities, parks, scheduling calendar, you can even buy ski passes on it. Please check it out, keep in mind it is new so there is bound to be glitches contact the rec department if you have any concerns.

4. We will be starting the 2015 budget process this Thursday 2-5pm in council chambers.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Riversdale Resources-- Crowsnest Pass

Coal mining revival in Crowsnest Pass eyed by Australian company

Riversdale will be hosting an open house today (Sept 30) from 2-6pm and tomorrow (Oct 1) from 2-7pm at the Crowsnest Pass Sports Complex.

They will be providing updates on the following topics:

Options for the rail and train load out.
Ongoing Environmental studies
Feasibility Study.

NOTE: Three options presented for the load-out, which I was told will be a 50' high enclosed building, trains will be up to 152 cars with three engines which is 8300' in length. The load-out will hold enough coal to load one train (16,000 plus tonnes) At two million tonnes there will be a train on average every third day.
Two options; show by my count nine holes of the golf courses including the club house area being taken out. To allow for the train to loop around and be loaded, on one option it shows the load-out about 1-1.5km up the hill from the highway. The second of these options shows the load-out adjacent to the highway a little east of where the golf course parking lot is. With both of these options the train will go under highway 3 roughly where the entrance to the old highway is, west of Tim Hortons.

The third option is running the coal by conveyor under the highway similar to the above, west of Tim Hortons again, with the belt going through the old pole plant yard to a load-out just west of that. There will be an additional rail siding there which will mean that the trains will require at least 8300' of track on each side of the load-out.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Tax Sale--River Run properties

If you have any interest at all in the River Run properties please read the following first:
this package is available in much more detail on the municipal web site at the following address:

For the person that called last week about purchasing a lot and parking their RV on it please read #6.

PLAN 0714930, BLOCK 1, LOTS 17-97, 99-113, 117-119, 121-156
PLAN 0714930, BLOCK 2, LOTS 1-36, 38-68
PLAN 0714930, BLOCK 3, LOTS 2-22, 24-69




(the “River Run Lands”)

In response to inquiries about the tax recovery process, the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass (the “Municipality”) advises all members of the public of the following:

1. The River Run Lands are within a legal subdivision, but are physically located within a large unimproved area. The entire area and each individual lot are unserviced. There are no roads and no ability to connect to utilities including water, sewer, electric, gas.

2. In May 2007, the cost estimates to complete the servicing infrastructure was $9.55

3. Under the terms of the existing development agreement, the developer is responsible for installing or paying for the installation of all services. The developer is in breach of these terms of the development agreement. The developer is bankrupt and its corporate status is inactive.

4. The Municipality does not have a legal obligation or plan to develop or service the River
Run Lands, and does not intend to do so as a municipal undertaking.

5. Because of the developer’s breaches of the development agreement, the Municipality has issued stop orders preventing further development. These stop orders are registered on title to each individual lot in the River Run Lands. The Municipality will not discharge the stop order until a suitable arrangement is made to fund and complete the necessary servicing by someone other than the Municipality.

6. As a result of the zoning of the River Run Lands, the Municipality cannot issue a development permit for the use of the lands. Practically, this means that a potential purchaser of the River Run Lands cannot erect any permanent or temporary structures or buildings on the lands, cannot park or store any vehicle, equipment or materials on the lands, or otherwise use the lands until the breaches in the development agreement has been remedied, and the servicing infrastructure has been installed.

7. The Municipality is not the owner of the River Run Lands. The Municipality is not a developer respecting the River Run Lands. The Municipality is offering the River Run Lands for sale under the authority the Municipal Government Act. Pursuant to the Municipal Government Act, the Municipality has a legal obligation to offer the River Run Lands for sale by public auction to recover the property tax arrears. The Municipality’s sole purpose for conducting the public auction of the River Run Lands is to recover property tax arrears.

8. There are other relevant and material facts that a potential purchaser of the River Run
Lands should review and be aware of. These facts may be obtained from documents on
the following databases:

Alberta Land Titles Office, Certificate of Title
Available online at:

Alberta Environment’s Environmental and Sustainable Resource Development’s Site
Repository (ESAR), Environmental Site Assessments:
Available online at:

The Energy Resources Conservation Board’s Abandoned Well Viewer
Available online at:

The Municipality of Crowsnest Pass’ website, Additional Documents:
Available online at:

IMPORTANT: The parcels of land are being offered for sale on an “as is, where is” basis
and the Municipality makes no representation and gives no warranty whatsoever as to
the adequacy of services, soil conditions, absence of presence of environmental
contamination, or the developability of the subject parcels of land for any intended used
by the purchaser. No bid will be accepted where the bidder attempts to attach conditions
precedent to the sale of any parcel. No terms and conditions of sale will be considered
other than those specified by the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass. Bidders will be required to sign a registration form indicating “Important Procedure Information”.


Animal Control Bylaw - Crowsnest Pass

A revised Animal control bylaw will be coming back to council shortly we are looking for the public's input. The "draft" bylaw is available at the following address: 

You can provide your input by contacting myself or any other member of council, or show up at upcoming council meeting either Oct 7 or Oct 21 and make a presentation during the public hearing on the bylaw. Has soon as I confirm the exact date I will post it here.

For comparison purposes the previous bylaw is available at:

Looking forward to comments and constructive criticism, the bylaw does not take effect until all three readings have been passed, so council could amend at any point if there is something we have missed.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Libraries and Logo's in the Crowsnest Pass

My observations on two issues I have heard a lot about over the last week:

Libraries - The Crowsnest Pass is one of 33 member of CARLS  the Chinook Arch Regional Library system. At our last council meeting we were presented next years budget for CARLS which we as a member, as do all the other municipalities get to vote on. There is a formula that so many members representing so much of the population have to vote for the budget for it to pass. I think anybody that uses our library understands that they do a great job, belonging to CARLS as worked well for us. We as a council did not vote for the budget and the "only" reason I heard around the table was due to the request for a 3% increase in the municipal contribution. It was stated by a number of councilors that 3% in the economic times we are in and the relative low cost of living rate, is just too much.
What will this change at our present library? nothing. Over the last week I have heard silliness from we will be losing access to the internet, the library will be closing, on and on. None of that is true. 

Logo's/Branding - The Crowsnest Pass logo and branding, certainly an issue that was brought up by many people prior to and during the election. Lot's of people are still not happy with it, some are. That's ok and everybody can have any opinion they want, it's no secret this issue came up at our last G+P meeting and will be coming back to our October meeting. It's no different than any other issue that's been placed on our agenda we will look at it debate it and maybe or maybe not do something about it. 
Did I hear any desire around the table to start this whole exercise "over" again? not one iota, did I hear anybody suggest that we should even spend a tiny fraction of what was spent previously? not one iota. This council is listening to the public if the taxpayers bring an issue up with us, yes we will research it, debate it, hear the arguments from anybody that's interested for or against and go from there. 
This last few days I have been reading people's comments on various media sites on this issue, good for you, speak up voice your opinions. That's democracy at work everybody should have a voice. No surprise here that's one of the great things about living in the Crowsnest Pass, people do speak up and are engaged politically. 
I guess the only surprise for me is a lot of those voices that are now being very critical of us for having the audacity to talk about the logo/branding for 15 minutes at a G+P meeting, were voices that were so silent when the process took place and $330,000 of taxpayers money was spent on something that didn't deserve to have anywhere near that kind of money spent on it.   

But that's ok, maybe those strong voices regret not speaking up before and want to ensure that the same mistakes are not repeated.        

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

G+P meeting Sept 9, 2014

Number of issues dealt with Tuesday night.

  1. Draft Bylaw 897 Animal Control-Council and administration provided their input, will be coming to council for first reading on Sept 16 if passed at that point will come back for subsequent reading on Oct 7,  I believe the bylaw is a great improvement from the previous bylaw, the bylaw will be open for public comment and input. 
  2. Dr Todd Shipman, Alberta Geological Survey made a presentation on the Turtle Mountain Early Warning Systems. Historically; council of the day in 2008 placed a restricted development area at the foot of the Turtle Mountain, based on the scientific information and legal opinion at the time. With the benefit of six more years of monitoring since then Dr Shipman informed us that the mountain is moving between 1mm and 2.3mm a year with anything less than 16mm being considered low risk. The government will be releasing a further report on the whole mountain by the spring. 
  3. Corporal McKenna, Crowsnest Pass RCMP presented a statistical report on crime rates in the Crowsnest Pass, he expressed to council that by RCMP standards we are a very safe, low crime community. 
  4. Municipal branding/logo, council received a report last night showing the costs for the whole branding/logo process. Remember not that long ago when I tossed around the numbers of $3-400,000, how some people labelled those numbers as ridiculous. For your information.
Brand Development $48,983
Website Development $20,370
Entrance Signs $193,520.21
Banners $23,732.83
Stationery, Business Cards $6,333.08
Flags $4,366.49
Parade Float $5,925.64
Merchandise $15,259.09
Decals for Trucks $1,577.84
Decals on glass st the municipal office $820.20

Total $320,888.38

Still left to complete landscaping at the entrance signs $? part of 2015 budget.

Council will be looking for public input in the coming months, on where we go from here on the brand/logo, certainly no desire from council to spend any where close to the amount of money spent previously.  

5. Other issues discussed Municipal Health and Safety Policy, Municipal Hiring Policy both of which council made a number of comments on. They will be revised and brought back to council shortly. In addition we discussed Thunder In the Valley/Rum Runner Days which should be coming up soon to allow interested groups and individuals to get involved. The flooding issues and poor condition of the Union Cemetery in Bellevue. Plus council raised a number of issues with the snow removal policy. 

Next Council Meeting September 16.

Note: I have been asked about a couple of legal issues which have not been finalized yet. There will be information coming as soon as they are complete.