Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Years from the Crowsnest Pass

2008 is almost over it was a tough year, looking ahead 2009 will be even more challenging for the entire world, not just the Crowsnest Pass, being Canadians we will find away to get through it and eventually be stronger than we are today.

I hope everybody takes a moment to say a little prayer for the people of Sparwood BC (I lived in Sparwood from 74-82 and still have family there) its a great community, there is a lot of good people there who have not surprised me by the way they have rallied around those poor families.

Please enjoy the New Year Celebrations in a responsible manner and think of others when you can.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Inspection of Municipal council (Crowsnest Pass)

I have been asked by a number of people what an inspection of council (Corporate review) would look like. The Town of Pincher just had one completed the report is available at the address below.

and then click on Municipal Inspection Report

I find especially interesting what the report has to say on Page 13 + 14 regarding municipal facilities being ran by a group other than council.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Budget Process in the Crowsnest Pass Update Dec 11

Well after five nights of reviewing our budget line by line, and giving our CAO and department heads the opportunity to defend their individual departments requests.
After making some huge steps to get our budget under control such as spending a half of a hour debating about whether we are going to charge or not charge our individual residents to remove deep freezes ($4300 this year).
We recognized that council is not going to resolve the almost $1.7 million dollar shortfall we have. So Council directed administration to bring us back a budget with an tax increase of no more than 6% for Jan 21.
Concern raised by administration that some of our service levels may be affected by restricting our tax increase to 6% I am sure that taxpayers will not lose sight of the fact that we increased taxes by 11.2% last year.
It looks like we are going to have to make some difficult choices or raise taxes by 6% or more!
The scary part is 86% of our tax base is residential, and after getting a update from our assessor commercial property as virtually increased by nothing in the last year so all of the tax burden is going to fall back on the residential home owner.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Crowsnest Pass update on Ottawa Politics

Have a friend in Ottawa who as just updated me with the following rumors making the rounds in the political centre of our universe.

Michael Ignatieff is going to change his last name to one that more than 3% of Canadians can pronounce.

Bob Rae is stepping down to take the opportunity of a life time and lead the NDP provincially in Alberta.

The Conservatives/Harper are going to donate their $10 million dollars from the public purse to the automakers telethon the weekend before Christmas, and are challenging all other parties to do the same.

Elizabeth May will be announcing shortly that she will not take a position in the senate if the coalition defeats Harper, instead she is taking the opportunity of a life time to step down and lead the Green Party provincially in Alberta.

Jean Charest announces that now he as achieved all of his goals in Quebec he will be stepping down to run for the leadership of the Conservative Party, he is expected to face a stiff challenge from Belinda Stronach, now she as decided not to run for the liberal leadership.

Stephane Dion announces that he is moving to the Crowsnest Pass to achieve is long term dream of being the Communications Director for the Citizens to save the Crowsnest Pass

Monday, December 8, 2008

Budget Process in the Crowsnest Pass Continues

Well tomorrow night we are back at it. We will be reviewing Administration, Culture and Recreation departments Tuesday night Dec 9th. Followed up by Public Works Wednesday night Dec 10th.
Right now we are looking at a budget that is presently under funded by close to $1.7 million (that is the amount that taxes would have to increase if we did not cut anything.
Made up of the following:

Tax Shortfall --------------------$1,442,479
2007 Municipal deficit -----------$110,000
2007 Crowsnest Centre deficit ---$94,031
2008 Municipal deficit -----------$???????
2008 Crowsnest Centre deficit--- $???????


Friday, December 5, 2008

New addition to my Blog

Snow is on the ground, almost ski season please check out on the left hand side under interesting blogs and websites. The Pass Powderkeg site, up until Dec 12 the ski hill is holding an half price sale on ski passes. Come and see one of the few places a family can ski right into downtown for a very reasonable price.

The saga of misinformation in the Crowsnest Pass

Word as it there is a new group in town called "The Citizens to Save the Crowsnest Pass" after two weeks of advertising and a flyer being stuck in all our mail boxes, they had a meeting Wednesday night. I am told that somewhere around 80 people showed up, part of their platform was "the vote on council being 4-3 (92% of the time)?" their words not mine. They seem to feel that democracy as been derailed (by people voting for what they believe in). In my last term on council there was a number of 4-3 votes nobody seem to have an issue with that. (Wonder why?)
Anyway it appears that this group is running around with a petition trying to seek municipal affairs to come in and do a review of our council. Which is more than welcome, in fact the majority of council as requested a full corporate review of our entire municipality. So when this group comes forth with thousands of signatures it will only emphasize that council should indeed proceed with this process.
Back to the issue one of my fellow councilors gave me some interesting numbers this morning, after reviewing the council minutes since the beginning of the present term. And understanding that our minutes do not show an actual score on motions made by council. They show either Unanimous, Carried (could be 6-1, 5-2, 4-3 etc) or defeated.
From November 20th 2007 to Nov 18 2008 we had 26 meetings, during those meeting there was a total of 584 motions made at our council.
Of those 474 were passed unanimously (81.2%) 86 were carried (14.7%) and 24 were defeated (4.1%).

By the way the suggestion that the votes had been 4-3, 92% of the time would require that 537 of those motions would have been carried.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Logging on the Atlas Road (Crowsnest Pass)

Tuesday night Dec 2, both SRD and Spray Lakes came to council to present their reasoning for logging on the Atlas Road.

We heard lots of interesting stuff on the pine beetle which I believe everybody recognizes is a problem. But I am far from convinced that taking out swaths of trees in some places no more than a few hundred metres wide are going to stop the pine beetle. Especially when you are talking about a creature no bigger than a grain of rice, that comes from BC on winds that can blow in excess of a hundred Km per hour.

I raised the question "will this area look similar to what the Kananaskis Road does today?" I was told no. "I asked what went wrong on the Kananaskis Road" I was told an investigation is taking place by SRD on that area due to the logging procedures not being followed.

I also asked "how do we ensure that it does not happen again?" I was assured once again that the logging plan will be followed on the Atlas Road. To which I asked "what happens if it isn't?"
To which I was told that the procedures would be enforced if they don't follow them, the unfortunate part is at that point the trees are gone.

Just a theory, and I may well be wrong but right now the lumber market is in the toilet, so mills are reducing their costs by logging the low cost area's, on flat ground, with a road going threw it close to Highway 3. If these Beetle infested trees were 30 km from the nearest road, on a 20 degree slope would we have been talking about them last night?.

By the way the Kananaskis Road was also logged by Spray Lakes Contractors!

Monday, December 1, 2008

What price will "WE" pay? Some comments and questions.

Crazy things are happening in Ottawa

Harper took things to the brink, he thought the opposition would blink, they didn't.
Did he think that they would bring down the government, force an election and then he would get the majority he so badly wants.
Shrewd decision by the opposition to form a coalition.
The opposition takes the position that the Tories did nothing to stimulate the economy.
Would they have been so outraged if the government was not taking away the parties political dollars? What did they do for the 140 years prior too the taxpayers funding them?
Some people argue that the taxpayer funds the parties so they can avoid being influenced by big business, large unions. When did that stop?
The coalition how much money will they put in to stimulate the economy?
How will the government pay for these programs? deficit, increased taxes, borrowing?
How will they choose who gets the money and who does not?
Will they pour Billions of dollars in to companies that will go bankrupt in six months anyway?
If the Taxpayers are being asked to share the pain, will the big companies employees? (All the way from the guy on the production line to the CAO)
What is the price of this coalition?
Who will the NDP look after?
The Bloc, will Quebec get it's fair share or more?

Taxpayers there will be a price to pay, and ultimately it will be the taxpayers. Do not be naive do not think that Harper pushed this to the edge for the betterment of the country, nor the Liberals, NDP, or the Bloc are forming this coalition because it is the right thing to do.

This is indeed all about power and who will have it.