Friday, June 27, 2008

Interesting Possibilty for the Crowsnest Pass

Tuesday night we had a group approach council about taking over our municipal owned ski hill to turn it into a year round facility. Basically Tuesday's presentation was just to see if council had any interest in pursuing the concept. We directed them to go to the next step and bring a proposal back to us in writing.
Lots of issues with this little gem of a facility both good and bad, the taxpayers of the Crowsnest Pass have put a lot of money in to this hill we have to protect that investment. In the last four years the hill as seen a remarkable turn around and is being utilized like it hasn't been in years. This was achieved by making the ski hill very accessible/affordable for families, that affordability must be also protected.
There is no question that the Crowsnest Pass needs a major attraction to bring people in, would some type of tube/water park draw people here? I believe so, there are 12-15000 cars passing by our community every day in the summer. The investment for this type of project will be enormous, it is important that we make sure this group or any other group stepping forward has solid financial backing, the where with all to start and finish a project of this size, and then the ability to operate it until the business builds up to a sustainable level.
We by all means should be prepared to look at this idea but we have to proceed very cautiously there are few communities that have the luxury of this type of facility right in there back yard.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Crowsnest Centre, the Process as Begun

On Tuesday night June 24 the results of the petition were presented to council, well sort of, we were told that the petition was successful. The number of signatures on the petition? Who knows, the number of names that were valid or invalid? Who knows? Despite numerous requests for this information, the response council received was “the petition was sufficient” Should we be surprised? it happens again and again whenever requests for information are made about the Crowsnest Centre the wall of silence comes up, we can’t tell you because of firstly FOIP, then PIPA. Anyway, what does this mean? Sept 22nd we will be having a public vote on a bylaw that will determine what? The Statement on the petition was “bring to a public vote a by-law ensuring that the continuing existence and operation of the Crowsnest Centre Property (Plan 731227 Block H, containing 3.51 hectares) be used for public and community purposes as a Community and Learning Centre, and for providing other municipal services” what does all that mean? Well there will be many questions asked and many statements made over the next three months, some will be true and some will be “slightly” exaggerated. This is sure to be a fully charged, interesting political debate.
Cost to the taxpayers of the Crowsnest Pass $13-14000.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

How true it really is!

Politics, it seems to me, for years, or all too long, has been concerned with right or left instead of right or wrong. ~Richard Armour

Land Use Framework and what does it mean to the little guys?

The land use framework has put out by the province, will divide the province in to six regions based on watersheds.
Regional advisory councils will be set up for each region, appointed by the provincial government, to determine regional land use objectives.
We lucky folks are in a region that runs from North of Red Deer south to the US border and encompasses everything from BC to the Saskatchewan border. Including of course Calgary, by my calculations our 5700 people will be part of a region consisting of a population of 1.5 to 2 million people we will be 0.25% of the regional population.
We know the board for the region will be picked by the provincial government, key questions who will sit on that board? how many will be elected representatives? how many bureaucrats? how many other experts?. What will be the spilt between urban and rural, if you do any kind of representation by population or political clout (Bronconnier's name jumps to mind).
I believe certainly in our region we are going to be the resource base and playground for Calgary.
How much power will small municipalities have to maintain the direction of development in their community, will density issues for example be determined by the region or the community, look at today's Calgary Sun Bronconnier is whining about country residential lots outside his city limits.
I believe these boards and their regional objectives will be totally dominated by the needs of the major centres in each region. Is this the beginning of the end of municipal government especially in small communities like ours?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Politicians Wage Increases, How should it be done?

Reading all the news about the big increase the politicians gave themselves in Edmonton, makes me realise there needs to be a different and better way to set politicians wages.
I think there are two problems with what as happened in Edmonton; First of all the amount of the increase is obscene, if the argument is made that these people have not received a proper increase for years. That they are not in line with the private sector, I say too bad have a proper review system in place and do it on a regular basis. Second problem is that they determine their own pay increase, there are not to many of us in this world that get to be both the employer and the employee at the negotiating table.
Suggestions for a better way to set politicians wages; in the Crowsnest Pass the out going council sets the rate for the next council, the only problem with that is it becomes a political versus a practical decision.
In Hinton they had a committee made up of community members that reviewed their remuneration, would that work? only if the membership of the committee was seen to be totally non political by the public at large.
Whatever process is decided on, it should not be left in the hands of the people that get to make the decision (politicians), it should be done on a regular basis so you don't see obscene increases of 20-30%. And most importantly it needs to be done in a clear, transparent manner.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Crowsnest Centre Petition, What's happening?

Received a number of calls about the Crowsnest Centre Petition.
Questions I'm being asked!
When will council know the status of the petition?
We has council do not have the answers yet, the petition was presented to the CAO several weeks ago, according to the MGA he has 30 days to get back to council on the validity of the petition.
When will that be? Council is usually the first and third Tuesday of the month, for the month of June the second council meeting was rescheduled to June 24th.
What is required for the petition to be valid?
Putting it in layman terms;
According to Section 223 (2) (a) of the MGA 10% of the Population must sign, based on the last census we had 5756 people which means 576 signatures.
What constitutes a petition? Section 224 (1) one or more pages each of which must contain an identical statement of the purpose of the petition.
What is a valid petitioner? Section 224 (2) (a-d) must contain printed surname and given name, the petitioners signature, street address of the petitioner or the legal description of the land on which the petitioner lives, and the date on which the petitioner signs the petition.
What else is required? Section 224 (3) (a-b) Each signature must be witnessed by an adult person who must sign opposite the signature of the petitioner, and take an affidavit that the signatures witnessed are those of the persons entitled to sign the petition.
Is there enough signatures on the petition? We don't know yet, but if you read the local media a person is led to believe that there are 700 signatures on the petition.
Are there enough valid signatures on the petition? If the 700 signature number is real I would have a tough time believing that they are not valid, I would suspect that the organizers of the petition went over it with a fine tooth comb before they handed it in.
What if there is enough valid signatures? Then my understanding is that we have to hold a plebiscite within 90 days, of the petition being presented to council.
Do you believe that everybody that signed the petition supports the Centre? No I don't but I'm sure some people would disagree with me.

These are all the questions I have been asked so far, I hope the above is informative, if you have any comments or further questions, please place them on here, or email me at

Friday, June 13, 2008

Municipal spending Watch, How is the Crowsnest Pass Doing?

How responsible is your community financially? Can your community maintain the present level of spending?
The arguments always presented for communities to increase taxes are that population growth and the resulting demands, in addition to inflation are taking away the spending power of the tax dollars collected.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business just released a study that shows how Alberta and its individual municipalities are doing in this area. Under the title of "Alberta Municipal Spending Watch" its a very interesting report and certainly goes a long way to showing that population and inflation are only part of the additional spending.
For example Alberta as a province from 2000-2006 saw a combined population and inflation increase of 33.8%, during that same time frame municipal spending increased by 55.6%.
Our community the Crowsnest Pass saw a combined population and inflation increase of 17.1%, during that 2000-2006 time frame our spending increased by 46.2%.
Obviously if your population isn't growing neither will your tax base which means that the burden on the individual tax payer becomes ever greater.
The report is available on the Federations web site, check out and see how your community is doing.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Real Estate numbers for the Crowsnest Pass 2008 versus 2007

Once again I would like to thank Randall for the information. Is the following a trend? or are we just of to a slow start?

Lots of Randall's comments make sense, the coal market is very encouraging right now but I have been around the industry my whole life, and it will not be strong forever, it is no different than development, (the old saying about putting all your eggs in one basket), your economy at what ever level must be diversified.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Rural Hospitals and Health Care Concerns in the Crowsnest Pass

In response to my fellow bloggers and the major media outlets discussing rural hospitals closures.
Should we be concerned in the Crowsnest Pass? of course the hospital is indeed one of our greatest assets. Should we do something? of course we need to lobby our MLA, ministers whatever we can do.
Closure of our hospital would have a huge impact on our community, according to Census Canada 2006 a full 37% of our population is 55 or older, our median age is 48 one of the highest in the province of Alberta. Most of the people that are purchasing homes in the Crowsnest Pass over the last couple of years are weekenders, those people that have the ability to buy a second home are usually older, talking to local Realtors one of the selling features they use is the availability of a local hospital.
The people of Alberta just recently gave the government a ringing endorsement of their leadership, direction and policies. I have always argued that at every level of government you need an effective opposition. We all know 90% of the MLA's in the legislature are Conservatives, there is no opposition to force them to look at both sides of an issue, they do indeed have a free hand for the next four years.
Change is happening in the health care system, in the last few months the government has scrapped the regional health boards, they are taking over the EMS system, just today three top executives in the health system walked away from their jobs. Now the concept of closing rural hospitals is being floated around. In a province that is going to have a surplus of a couple of billion dollars based on $78 per barrel Oil (Not even close to today's price). In the Crowsnest Pass we are 45km away from the next nearest hospital in Pincher Creek, when you look at the numbers I have quoted above losing our hospital would indeed be devastating!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Terrible news in the Crowsnest Pass today

Today received terrible news Artic Spa's one the largest employers in the Crowsnest Pass laid of the vast majority of it's employee's. This is so sad and I really feel for the employee's I have gone through this myself several times. Understand from talking to a number of the laid off employees this afternoon that the company as a large inventory of hot tubs backed up. Sounds like its not a temporary situation, the laid off employee's told me they would be receiving their severance pay next week. This really once again emphasizes the need for all groups in the community to work together and attract secondary industry to our area.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Is Alberta Recession Proof?

I look at the US Economy and it concerns me, I think its fair to say that the US is in to, or getting very close to a recession. The problems with the US economy are being driven closer to the edge by the ever increasing cost of fuel.
Which in turn is having a huge financial impact on Alberta. We are looking at an enormous surplus this year in Alberta, I believe every dollar over the budgeted $78 per barrel is worth $415 million dollars to the Alberta Government. Do the math that indicates at $130 a barrel, a surplus of many billions.
The problem with this is the expectations in Alberta of the provincial government to keep increasing their expenditures by 10% or more per year can only be maintained by that strong price of oil.
The same oil that is driving the US economy to the verge of recession. Something will and must give, the price of oil will only stay high as long as political uncertainty in the US and the Middle East is maintained and the demand for oil stays so high. Political uncertainty when will that be fixed? who knows.
Demand that's another issue as the price continues to climb, that will at some point begin to decline. Recently American Airlines cancelled 26% of its flights because they were not economical at today's fuel prices. GMC just announced today it is shutting down four plants that build big trucks and SUV's. Why because people are moving to more fuel efficient vehicles. Its affecting farmers in the US, fishermen in London, truckers in Paris, people all over the world that are reducing their usage of fuel because they have no choice.
What would Alberta's residents, its municipalities, its large cities do, if all of a sudden in a year or two the availability of huge surpluses disappeared?