Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

A very Merry Christmas to everybody that takes the time to check out my Blog.
Please everybody have a good time and be responsible, cherish the time with your loved ones.

Merry Christmas

Friday, December 18, 2009

Response to Chasing away Business in The Crowsnest Pass

The following is a letter I sent to the Editor, in response to the article referring to the pine beetle crew that wanted to stay at the Crowsnest Centre.

Regarding the latest controversy of “Council chasing away business”. I was very surprised that this article did not present a fair and unbiased view of the issues and that councillors with opposing views were not interviewed and given the opportunity to comment.
First, Council members indeed were approached with the opportunity to provide accommodation to an enterprise for 50 people; 25 rooms for 52 days with access to an office and meeting areas. The Municipality would have been paid $16500 for those rooms. This works out to $12.69 per room per day for two people. The public has been told that the Centre does not compete with the commercial sector. The majority of Council believes that we have a hospitality industry in the Crowsnest Pass that has to pay taxes, pay staff, pay their utilities, make donations to various causes and make a profit. The majority of Council believes the hospitality industry should not have to compete unfairly with a subsidized Municipal facility. There is a good reason why hotels charge more than $12.69 per room.
Second, the majority of Council took the position that there are lots of rooms available in our community; our local commercial taxpaying hospitality industry. If only this enterprise had taken the time and effort to research the availability of rooms in the Crowsnest Pass. This enterprise demanded that their crew be accommodated in one location. I quote the president: "We can’t be moving our people form [sic] one under equipped hotel to another (my people will just quit) and we can’t be chasing them 4 times a day between multiple locations from BC to Frank". Their position was that having their crew scattered all over the Crowsnest Pass did not work for them. However, in the last letter from the contractor he stated: “We will house 16 of our crew in Longview in less than perfect accommodations. We will move the rest of our crew to Pincher Creek except for 10 people that we have in B&B’s in Coleman.”
The point that the majority of Council was trying to make was that we have a hospitality industry in the Crowsnest Pass that does not need to compete unfairly or at all with a subsidized Municipally owned facility supported by taxpayers dollars.

And to the lady from the local hotel that called and the B + B lady that approached me at the Bank, Thanks for your kind comments and support. (And yes I appreciate that they never called your establishments for rooms)

If you are interested in voicing an opinion on this issue you can either leave a comment here or go and vote on the local papers On line Poll at the following address.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Corporate Review in the Crowsnest Pass,

As a result of the release of the Corporate Review I posed the following question, I was a little surprised with the results.

Corporate Review for the Crowsnest Pass did it address the issues we are facing as a Community?

Yes very well done
12 (38%)

Yes but it should have gone further
15 (48%)

No it did not address the real issues
1 (3%)

No it was too critical
0 (0%)

No it was a waste of time, effort and money
3 (9%)

Only 9% of the votes felt it was a waste of money, and 48% felt the report was good but it should have gone further.
The question I am being asked by most people is when will something be done with the report? We directed our Administration to come back to us the first Council meeting in January with recommendations as to how we will implement the changes suggested in the report.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Further Questions regarding the Crowsnest Centre

In response to my last post I will present questions that I have been asked and the answers to the best of my ability.

Good post Dean, and thanks for keeping us informed and up-to-date on this ‘dirty’ business. I hope you send this in as a letter to the editor. The public needs to be made aware of these latest developments on the Centre's 'profitability', as expounded on by the Chairperson of the board who stated “we do not need financial assistance from the municipality for 2009”. Another $30,000 plus in unpaid bills you say, along with legal bills to date passing the $50,000 mark. In addition, by the time the lease/relocation business issue is dealt with, all told, this whole ‘rotten business’ will most likely cost our local taxpayers’ in the neighbourhood of several hundred thousand dollars. All because a certain group did not want to let go and respect the wishes of a duly elected majority of council. And let’s not forget the “Block of three on Council” involvement in this sordid affair. How can a mayor and councillors be so cavalier with taxpayers’ money? How could these three be so intransigent in their position that the public purse be damned?None of these people should ever see the inside of a board again, never mind sitting on council, for such poor management in the public interest, and lack of due diligence. I'm sure at least one newspaper will print it, whereas, the other will most likely have issues with 'liability', which is their standard lame excuse for not printing what they don't like, or they find potentially damaging to them personally, or their 'friends', and/or their cause.The people involved in this whole fiasco should be held liable and accountable. The blatant disregard for the public purse cannot, and must not, be tolerated. It is time this type of governance came to an end!
November 25, 2009 2:20 PM

John very good comments, and I agree with you on most of what you had to say. You know better than most how politics work in this town.

Why are you saying this nonsense?
Of course the Center is making money its been full every weekend.
The bills you talk about must be a mistake.
November 25, 2009 3:29 PM

Well that's what I have been hearing for the last year, in council chambers, in the media everywhere you go. Well somebody made mistakes.

We have 2 community centres?
November 25, 2009 5:50 PM

Yes we do the Crowsnest Centre and the MDM facility

Please send a letter to the editor of both papers...
The truth has come out!
November 25, 2009 5:10 PM

I sent a letter to only one local paper because the other has taken a position that they are not going to be involved in this debate

Turn the power off, turn the gas off, turn the phones off. I know you probably can not do this.What a shame that such a small group can cost the majority so much money.I wish there was an election today because the mayor and his group would be out on their ears.Maybe then we could move forward.
November 25, 2009 4:45 PM

I know where you are coming from and understand your frustration, but we have been receiving legal advice that we need to follow, the municipality has already been exposed to enough liabilty due to the actions of others.

What have we paid out on legal costs?
November 26, 2009 4:58 PM

Council was supplied figures a few weeks back, it breaks down to the following:
Cost to hold plebiscite $13,355.18
Costs regarding the petition and injunction $25,703
Cost to deal with Leases and CLC Bylaws $30,353.30
Total of $69,411.48

I think if any business stopped paying their bills that they would show that they have a positive cash flow (at least temporarily). However, that doesn't make them ‘profitable’. I'm surprised that so many people have bought the line of bull that they are selling. To me it was an obvious sham. The week before the plebiscite they were requesting $$$ from the municipal budget, the week after... they're profitable. Their claims to profitability are a poorly disguised desperate attempt to keep the Centre open.
November 27, 2009 9:39 AM

I don't see a question in here more comments, but I certainly understand and appreciate your comments. Last year much fanfare over a $30,000 profit in the media but no mention that 25% of their income ($100,000+) was municipal grants.

WHY is there such a problem getting the books for the center? FOIP is not a reason when the municipality owns it. Council has to do whatever it takes to have them audited. Enough of the BS!!!
November 27, 2009 8:19 AM

I agree totally with you, I have always had a problem understanding why a municipal owned facility, subsidized by the taxpayers is not accountable to the taxpayers through their elected representives. We have two other areas that are ran by societies for various reasons (Swimming Pool, Ski hill) but unlike the centre all of their financies must pass through the municipality. Our finance department can tell us at any time what is happening in those facilities. I am yet to hear that "I can not tell you who the tenants of the MDM are due to FOIP"

Do yu not answer questions put to you??
December 1, 2009 6:25 AM

Look above I have given it my best shot

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

If you say it is true enough times, will people really believe you?

If you say it is true enough times, will people really believe you?

Over the last number of years the debate as raged in the Crowsnest Pass over the Crowsnest Centre.
My position as always been that we do not need and cannot afford two community centres. My position was confirmed numerous times in the recent corporate review, which talks about us needing to rationalize services and facilities, that we have numerous areas of duplication.
Well the supporters of the centre have stated over the last two years that the place as gone through a massive turn around and that the place is profitable and paying its own way. In fact, at a Council Meeting held on Dec 16, 2008 the Chairperson of the board stated “we do not need financial assistance from the municipality for 2009”. All of this despite the fact that the place as been heavily subsidized by taxpayer’s dollars for twenty years, and as had more failed business plans than GMC. Over the last ten months every time the issue as been raised the “Block of three on Council” that supports the centre as cried shame on anybody that dares to challenge the Centre, how dare we challenge this facility when it is doing so well and making money?
Last night November 24,2009 council is presented a bill from Nexen for $12,000 told that it was not up to date its now more like $18,000, a Telus bill for $3,700 and a Epcor bill for $6,700 with these balances only being to the end of September. It was only back on June 2 of this year that we were presented a Nexen bill that the Mayor claimed was only a problem because it had been sent to the wrong address.
So much for being profitable, when I questioned the Council member who used to be on the board, who as spent the last ten months telling us the Centre is profitable, as to why the bills have not been paid he tells me that he was removed from that board and can not explain why.
In the Crowsnest Pass we have to change the way we do business we can not (as indicated by our Corporate Review) continue doing business the way we have. The taxpayers of this community have to make a decision if we continue on this path we will have to accept that we are going to pay a lot more in Taxes. If we are going to maintain everything we have, and then we must adequately support all of these facilities, both from an operational point of view and investing the dollars we need to upkeep these facilities. The Corporate review talks about us needing to spend $7.8million a year for the next ninety years just to replace what we have today, let alone doing anything new.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Reporting the News in the Crowsnest Pass

Reading a post on my fellow Bloggers site, regarding the issue of "media censorship" in the Crowsnest Pass.
I was a little surprised in my five years on Council I have not noticed any kind of censorship in the local papers until now. (Hate to be sarcastic)
Now if we want to talk about bias that's a different issue, some examples.
The four to three vote on council some of the media makes this sound like it's the regular way of doing business, they fail to report that 90%+ of all motions at council record a vote other than 4-3. Even in our corporate review it reports that the 4-3 is only common on significant issues (Crowsnest Centre).
The greater problem where the issue of bias comes in, is that the previous council and every council prior to that had some kind of spilt but because the spilt favoured the Mayor and his supporters that was acceptable and obviously not news worthy . Bias? maybe.
The Corporate Review itself after numerous discussions with various members of our community, I discussed with as many people as I could what came out of it based on what they had read in the media. Depending on the time of the week I spoke to people (One paper comes out on Tuesday the other on Friday) the first comments were all focused on the 4-3 and the perception that the issues Council faces are the fault of one part of council. The group of people I spoke to later in the week seem to feel that there are many issues related to council and its the fault of all of them. Bias? Maybe
The issue of the Crowsnest Centre from what has been printed in the media a total stranger to the Community not knowing the problems, would assume that Council is shutting down a solid, financially viable, some people have even suggested profitable, operation. Of course I do not believe that nonsense but I guess we will find out the truth at the end of the year when the Municipality takes it back over. Bias? Maybe
Speaking of the Corporate Review and thinking about Mr Prince's comments what did the Review have to say about the local media.
Page 69 "The relationship to the local newspapers appears to be mixed and may be based on the degree of support shown by one relative to the other to one "side" of Council" Does that say Bias?
Anyway I tip my hat to Mr Prince for raising this "new issue", I'm sure when he was on Council there was no issues with "Censorship, Bias, One sided reporting, Spilt votes, etc etc"

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Crowsnest Pass, Budget process!

Just an update on the process, Administration will be providing us with a brief overview of the budget to night (Nov 10).
Then Council and Administration will be meeting on Nov 28 and Nov 29 to review the entire 2010 budget. Administration was given direction to bring back a budget with no more than a 3% increase in expenditures.

Notes from the Corporate Review Crowsnest Pass


This council has become divided and views itself as a 4-3 Council (which we believe does not apply "across the board" but to those issues which council members may view as very significant).


He is perceived by the majority as being unwilling to change or adjust to the new circumstances resulting in a council and a community at loggerheads with no particular course of action planned to move forward.

He has not reached out to the majority bloc on council in any meaningful way and appears willing to ride out this term in the anticipation that the next election will bring about changes to the make-up of Council.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Crowsnest Pass Corporate Review

Interesting comments from the Crowsnest Pass Corporate Review

Council’s focus on day-to-day management and lack of attention to long range planning and bigger picture issues.

Aging infrastructure, lack of maintenance and planning

Planning for future growth and development

Dysfunction in Council. This issue, often defined in terms of personalities and personnel conflict, has continued on even though a number of members of council have changed. In fact, it has been recorded as a legacy over the life of the Crowsnest Pass, from its creation some twenty years ago.

There is currently a perception of block voting by the Mayor and other councilors, with many items receiving the same split vote.

The absence of longer range planning by Council is reflected in the administration. Management is distracted from its planning and evaluation functions by the effort required just keeping the ship afloat.

Concern over the increasing reliance on the residential tax base.

Concern with the lack of vision for the future

Another area of concern for the Crowsnest Learning Centre is the lack of financial reporting and abilities of the Society staff to do the necessary accounting work. The last annual financial statements are for 1997 and the current financial records are not considered adequate for the auditors to review. There is no budget process evident, including no Business Plan or no current operating budget for the Centre.

For the reader if you have not noticed yet all of these comments were taken from the Corporate Review of 2000, available on the Municipal Web site.

The more I read the present report and compare it to the previous report the more I realize that they are the same. The only thing that as changed is the cast, with one exception our leader, the Mayor.

Now it comes clear to me why the Mayor was so opposed to the Corporate Review!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Municipality of Crowsnest Pass Corporate Review now available.

Got a couple of hours to spare, go to the address below and have a read of the Corporate Review conducted by George Cuff and Associates. If you would like a paper copy they are available at the municipal office.
The report was presented to Council and Administration on Oct 29th, and then at a public meeting that same night. It as not been formally accepted by council yet, because it takes a formal council meeting for that process to happen. Next council meeting is Nov 3 at 7pm in the council chambers.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Interesting poll on the EKOS web site, check this story out and follow the direction of Canadians opinions on the various political parties.


Also available on the side under Interesting Blogs or Web Sites

2009 Infrastructure Crowsnest Pass

2009 Infrastructure Crowsnest Pass

As of August 4 2009 we have available for Infrastructure the following $3,933,696 that is made up of the following grants;
MSI Cap-$723,052
New Deal-$328,032
We will also be receiving an additional $3,245,195 from the AMWWP program

We will be spending the following: $9,069,330
Blairmore/Coleman Water Connect $127,124
Lagoons $4,553,600
16th ave Blairmore Waterline $6,000
27th and 227st Bellevue $439,288
226st Street Bellevue $188,816
225st Bellevue $193,620
23 ave 207 street $857,294
27ave and 29 ave $1,844,283
223st 29th ave to 31 ave $861,305

So that calculates out to the following;

$9,069,330 infrastructure spending
$3,933,696 in the bank Aug 4th
$3,245,195 from the Amwwp program
$13,306 from the municipality

which leaves a short fall of $1,877,133, which is to be covered by the short-term loan, how do we pay that off?

In March, we will be receiving the following;
AMIP $1,028,662
MSI Cap $578,669
New Deal $344,082
SIP $344,940

Total of $2,296,353

The only municipal dollars of this total of $9,069,330 that we are spending is $13,306 which means the work above is funded 99.85% by provincial/federal grants.

Regarding Lines of Credit the municipality as had in place each year a LOC of $1,000,000 this line as not been used in 2008 or 2009.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I will not publish certain comments

Today I received a comment that without using a name, clearly identifies a person that has belonged to two groups that have experienced financial difficulties over the years. To the best of my knowledge this person as not been charged with any offence, let along convicted so I will not be posting the comment or naming the organizations to give any sense of who this person is.
I have no problem 99% of the time allowing any comment even attacking myself, or anybody else that has stepped in to the public arena to be published on this site.
But I will not publish this comment or similar types of comments.

Dean Ward
Crowsnest Pass Home

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Harper Government Invests in Four Projects to Create Jobs in Rural Alberta

The Crowsnest Pass Economic Development Board is developing an implementation plan to provide recommendations on establishing a Discovery Centre for the Crowsnest Pass area. The implementation plan is considered an essential step towards the development of the larger initiative, which will generate new employment opportunities and increased economic activity for the region.

“The implementation plan will identify how the Crowsnest Discovery Centre could have a significant economic impact on the community and outline how the facility will reduce the footprint on the land by incorporating adaptive re-use of an existing structure,” said Shar Lazzarotto, Manager of Community Futures Crowsnest Pass. “We expect the facility to provide employment opportunities and economic generation to the community, and fit in well with the developers plan for the property and the community’s heritage theme.”

Budget parameters have been set in the Crowsnest Pass

Typically budget process in the Crowsnest Pass has gone along the following lines.
Department heads, and all outside groups present their list of priorities and financial requirements for the coming year to our Chief Financial Officer by the end of September. The first draft of budget is presented to council usually in late October with numbers driven by a huge tax increase.
Everybody comes in front of council and justifies there requirements with typically good arguments. But everybody understands that we cannot pay for and do everything so we spend the next two to three months and numerous meeting getting close to a realistic number.
Then the political maneuvering begins where the very vocal minority attempts to ensure that their pet projects are looked after. Suddenly we realize that we are in the month of April and panic sets in because the municipality is getting very tight on cash. So everybody takes a big gulp and passes a budget that they may not be totally satisfied with but its done.
Typically hate to use that word again but because we hold municipal elections every three years and politicians rely on the public having a short memory, the first year is a large increase (11%), the second year a moderate increase (3.8%) and the last year a low one (?%).
Well thanks to having a number of councilors that would prefer to do things differently this year, last night (Sept 15th) the majority of council voted to direct administration to present to council prior to Oct 30 a budget with a maximum increase in expenditures of 3%.
Certainly a good start should shorten the process up by a number of months which only makes sense when your budget year starts Jan 1.

While we are talking about money, we should take a look at municipal reserves. Came across some very interesting information in the last few days. The municipal reserves for the Crowsnest Pass are roughly $1.3 million we have 5700 residents that works out to $228 per person in reserves. How does that compare to the rest of the province?

Broken down by the various types of categories recognized in the province of Alberta here are the numbers.

Cities-$1199 per person
Special Municipalities-$3090 per person
MDs and Counties-$7300 per person
Towns-$1977 per person
Villages-$1257 per person
Summer Villages-$3068 per person

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Provincial Tories Lose Seat

What is this telling us? Or more importantly what is it telling Stelmach?

- Paul Hinman, Wildrose Alliance: 4,052, 37%
- Avalon Roberts, Liberal: 3,776, 34%
- Diane Colley-Urquhart, Progressive Conservative: 2,863, 26%
- Eric Carpendale, NDP: 148, 1%
- Len Skowronski, Social Credit: 118, 1%
- Antoni Grochowski, Independent: 71, 1%
Total votes: 11,028
Voter turnout: 40.5%

Monday, September 14, 2009

Surprise, Surprise a Match made in Heaven!


Only in my wildest dreams could I have pictured the "Grand Coalition" being the NDP and the Conservatives. The old time socialists must be loving this. I know, I know Jack did it because Harper gave in to "our" demands on EI reform. I can see the self justification happening from coast to coast of this wonderful country of ours.
Good thing Elizabeth May does not have a seat she would not know which coalition to join.
I tip my hat to Steven Harper he is a survivor.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Atlas Road Utilization

Back in August the majority of council voted against granting Spray Lakes Sawmills a road use agreement. Why?
On Dec 2 2008 Spray Lakes and SRD approached council regarding their logging plan for the Atlas Road area.
We as council were concerned, for several reasons. Firstly we do not have a sawmill here any longer which used to be a significant employer in the area. So that leaves our three largest employers in the area; the BC Mines, Government (Municipal, Provincial, Hospital etc) and Tourism.
Obviously the Mines and Government will not be negatively effected by logging but Tourism could be if the logging is not done in the proper areas and in a reasonable fashion. Would we has a council have good reason to be concerned about the logging on Atlas Road?
Yes when we were initially approached there was concern about logging going up the side of the Crowsnest Mountain, and being visible from the highway, there was concern about buffer areas along the river. There was concerns on the impact of the logging on the tourism operators in that area. The greatest concern for myself was the way that the Kananaskis Road had been logged the previous logging season, to which both Spray Lakes and SRD agreed mistakes had been made. That things were being done to clean up that area and ensure that it does not happen again, I certainly felt that between SRD and Spray Lakes there was not enough communication back to make council comfortable that future logging practices would be acceptable to all parties involved.
That is why I choice not to support a road use agreement.
We were informed this week that SRD and Spray Lakes are trying to schedule a date to sit down with council and get a better flow of communications going between the three groups.
On the rumour of the closure of the Atlas Road itself, we has a council have been led to believe that after Spray Lakes finishes utilizing that Road to truck its timber that they have no interest in maintaining the road. If that ends up being the case, then it becomes any issue of anybody else stepping up to maintain the road.

Poll Results for the Crowsnest Pass

Two poll results that surprised me in the strength of the numbers, the questions were;

Would you support the municipality conducting a feasibility study on building a multi use recreation facility?
26 of 31 votes (83%) were in favour

Did Council made the right decision not to proceed with the enhanced policing position?
22 of 23 (95%) agreed

Please be sure to vote on the latest poll as we look at federal politics.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Fall a wonderful time for an election!

Will the government collapse?
Will we have a fall election?
Is it all political posturing? (Think the grand alliance).
Will the NDP sell their souls to work with Harper?
Is Iggy just trying to get as much political mileage as possible, knowing full well the government will not fall. All the grand standing keeps the throw out Harper crowd happy for a while, then when it does not work he blames the NDP/Bloc for not having the backbone. Allows him to stand up during the real election campaign and talk about how he did everything to get rid of the Devil "Harper". The Liberals become the champion of every anti-conservative in the country. We are the only party that stood up to the Conservatives. Great campaign lines.
Why oh why if Iggy really wanted to get rid of Harper and the Conservatives did he not do it in January. Were Harper and the Conservatives different in January than they are today?
Will the Bloc milk Harper for another stimulus package for Quebec?
Will an election make our economic situation worse?
Do the Canadian people really want an election?
So many questions when will we get the answers?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Community geting creative to attract new development

It would be very interesting to know if this has been tried anywhere else and what kind of success they achieved?

EDMONTON — The town of Bruderheim hopes to spur development in an area hit by the recession by eliminating civic property taxes for three years on new home and business construction.
The town is about 40 kilometres northeast of Edmonton near the Industrial Heartland, where billions of dollars worth of proposed oil upgrader projects have been delayed or cancelled in the last two years.
Officials who once expected property assessments to grow by five to 10 per cent a year now feel values will go up by one per cent at most, chief administrative officer Tim Duhamel said Friday.
“There was a lot of optimism about growth in Bruderheim before the economy went south,” he said.
“A lot of the optimism that was around the town has gone down.”
Councillors approved the tax plan in June as a way to attract new residents and businesses, basing it on a similar scheme run by a town in Saskatchewan, Duhamel said.
“It’s wanting to separate us a little bit … to make us attractive as opposed to living in Fort Saskatchewan or Sherwood Park.”
The deal saves homeowners about $4,500 over three years in municipal taxes on the average house, although they still have to pay roughly the same amount in provincial education taxes, Duhamel said.
So far, he feels it has been a success, with three or four new houses underway, a stalled apartment building now scheduled to begin construction later this year and a company looking at setting up a plant in the town of 1,250.
“When you’re talking three, four, five, 10 new housing starts, that’s big for us.”
The program will be examined annually to decide whether it should continue, he said.

Alberta's Heritage Fund

Interesting comparisons

Alberta's Heritage Fund founded in 1976 Balance March 31 2009 $14 Billion

Norway's Petroleum Fund Started with $285 million USD in 1995 as of June 2009 Balance $395 Billion US

Alaska's Permanent Fund started in 1977 with $734,000 US as of March 2008 Balance of $28 Billion US, from 1982-2008 the Fund as paid out $29605.41 to every man, women, and child that's an average of $1096.50 per year.

Just something to think about.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Alberta Posts $6.9 Billion Deficit, Should we be concerned?

Are we spending too much money? Should we be bringing in more revenue? Should our government be tightening its belt?

Think about the following information Alberta spent $10,513 per person in the 2008-09 fiscal year, how does that compare to other provinces?


In 1996-1997 we were the fifth highest at $4,592 per person. In twelve years it as increased a whopping 129% that's an average of 10.75% per year. Is it realistic to maintain that kind of growth in expenditures?

What kind of trouble would we be in, if it wasn't for those whopping Surpluses?

Alberta Surpluses 2000-2008. All of the following are in the Billions

A total of $40.74 billion dollars in eight years

$17 Billion in the Sustainability Fund at this years level of deficit that will be gone sometime in 2011.

Should Albertans be concerned, what does Stelmach and his government need to do?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Walking Trails in the Crowsnest Pass

Good news, over the last four years we have been plodding away at building a system of walking trails in the Crowsnest Pass. On Tuesday we were presented with the Walking Trail Master Plan. We were told in conjunction with this news that we have received $184,000 from the Ottawa and $240,000 from Edmonton to complete our Trail System. By Spring of 2011 our Walking Trail System will extend from Leitch Collieries all the way to the lakes, linking every community in between.
Big hats off to everybody that was involved in this process. It really is going to be an accomplishment the Crowsnest Pass can be proud of for a long time.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Enhanced Policing Position Crowsnest Pass

I have stated elsewhere on this blog why I voted against the enhanced policing position, please take a minute and leave your vote and or comments on if you believe Council made the right decision to not proceed with the position.

Crowsnest Pass Update

Update all things political in the Crowsnest Pass

Anti harassment policy, is nothing to do with censorship, or attempting to control the public. We all have a right to voice our opinions, to take any position we like. All this policy is about is if a municipal employee feels that they are "unfairly" harassed it lays out a procedure as to how they should deal with the issue. This is not about censoring somebody who says unkind things about Dean Ward in a letter to the local paper. (I know that would never happen)

Gold Creek goes in front of the SDAB tomorrow night; the majority of council already supported this development. This really is no different from a lot of the other country residential around here. If we the Municipality are going to take a position that we do not want country residential, then we should do that and apply it to "all" future country residential. For five years, we have worked under the position that if an area could be serviced in a reasonable fashion then we would not approve country residential. All of a sudden, some of us decide that we are going to attempt to force these folks to service an area that would make the development uneconomical. When there are country residential areas closer to services, that some members of this council approved in the past but did not force to service.Then we have the same people arguing that this area is so sensitive for the wildlife, but also maintaining that they should be forced to put more homes in to the area.

Other developments in the Pass, we will see what the future brings. Yes, we have had developers come in here creating great expectations. Have they delivered? Judge for your self. Yes, I feel there were times a lot of people got caught up in the glitz and glamour of all the big promises, I don't believe I was one of those people.

Enhanced Policing was defeated by council last night; some people felt that enforcing municipal bylaws was only a small part of the job. I believe that council needs to review the unsightly premises bylaw, tighten up the rules of what is and is not allowed, and put some real consequences into the bylaw.

Corporate review is still on going, we are expecting the final report Sept/Oct, and from reading previous reviews done by Cuff it should have, some strong recommendations attached to it. Then the issue will be whether council is prepared to act on it or not. Through the debate, one of the councilors that were opposed to the process took the position that we would just do a study and then let it sit on a shelf and collect dust. Well that councilor and the rest of us will have the opportunity to not allow that to happen.

Crowsnest Centre the never-ending story, a motion was passed last night to have the municipal lawyer begin the process of removing the tenants from that building. (This is a legal issue and will be the last I comment on it)

Voting patterns of council, I ask the taxpayers to look at who votes with whom, I know I am repeating myself, but our Mayor and the local media have put a lot of focus on the "four" voting the same way on issues. When in reality better than 90% of the time the votes are something other than 4-3. Is it not time the pubic looks at why the "three" always vote the same way?

Food bank, there was discussions over the Food bank relocating to a municipal owned piece of property, that as now been put on hold as they are looking at alternative locations.

Infrastructure, is going to be a big issue here over the next two years it was brought to councils attention last night that we have a lot of projects coming up, that have been approved for funding by different levels of government, but require us to do the work in advance, then we have to wait for the funding, this will at times put the municipality into a very tight cash flow situation. We have to come up with a solution to this problem. Big concern for the future years is our population, if the numbers are down in the next Census we will be faced with reduced funding. This is where the weekenders create an issue in the sense that if the Pass is not their primary residence we do not receive funding for them. (Roughly $1200 per year per person, last census we dropped 800 people x $1200 equals $960,000 per year)

Ice Problems, I have received numerous calls over the last week regarding ice problems at our Coleman arena. The issue is we are having humidity problems due to the wet weather and our dehumidifier as not worked for a long time. This gets back to the issue of the number of facilities we run. Some people can not get it through their head that we only have a certain amount of dollars to spend on our facilities. So then you have to make a choice between putting dollars into operating or maintaining the facilities. To replace the dehumidifier is a $40,000 cost, it was dropped from last years budget because we did not have the dollars available. This gets back to making tough choices or running our arena during the summer and praying for dry weather (Not much of an operating plan).

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Enhanced Policing Position Crowsnest Pass

Would like to clear up some misconceptions about the enhanced policing position in the Crowsnest Pass.
First some background, over the last four years we have gone through four bylaw officers.
We have had trouble attracting people who are fully qualified for the position, several reasons one there is a shortage of qualified bylaw officers available, two until last year the position was only a 32 hour per week position, three the municipality pays their bylaw officer in the range of $24 per hour. Most municipalities around southern Alberta pay in the $30 per hour range.
(Easily confirmed if you go to CUPE Alberta's web site they show numerous collective agreements, that a person can compare to.
Any way when the latest bylaw officer choose to leave us, the option was raised of taking a different approach, that of hiring a "Enhanced Policing Position". Many questions were raised during the debate over that the position;
Availability- we were told originally that it could take up to a year for the RCMP to fill the position, with a bit of luck it turned out an officer became available for July 1st 2009.
Cost- The cost of the "Enhanced position" would cost us in the range of $126,000 per year, which would include the officer, vehicle, uniforms, office support, preparation for court etc etc, our Bylaw Officer cost was roughly $96,000 we were told that the difference would be made up by additional revenue coming in from increased enforcement, and by not spending money training less than qualified bylaw officers every year.
Municipal Bylaw Enforcement- I believe this is the key issue, we were told originally that this officer would enforce all municipal bylaws, (plus being a RCMP member would be free of any kind of political interference). As the process moved along Council was informed that a mistake, a miscommunication had been made, the "Enhanced Officer" would not be able to enforce any municipal bylaw that did not fall under either Alberta or Federal stature.
This means in simple terms that bylaws such as the "Unsightly premises, long weeds etc" would not be enforced.
So what began as a process to replace the Municipal Bylaw Officer, now as turned into determining if we want an additional RCMP member in our municipality, doing what the RCMP already does. (No discredit to the RCMP I think we are very lucky to have the people we do here).
We need a Bylaw officer here the suggestion as been made that those types of "Unsightly Premises" issues only happen during the summer months, that we could hire a summer student from the Bylaw Field to fill that role so now the $126,000 cost will become ?
The Enhanced position was a good idea, when we were working with the belief that we were gaining an additional RCMP member who would fill the role of a Bylaw Officer, that is no longer the case, that is why I will not support this position.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Poll Results regarding Vandalism and old mine buildings in the Crowsnest Pass

Sorry I slipped behind on my poll results:

First question was "Due to a recent out break of vandalism would you support a curfew for kids?"

The results were very mixed with voters feeling the following way:
No 8 votes 32%
Yes for up to 16 year olds 11 votes 44%
Yes for up to 18 year olds 6 votes 24%

I really struggle with this issue and obviously so do the people that take the time to voice there opinions. The majority of kids are good around here, this problem is being caused by a very small minority. At the council level we have asked for the Pincher Creek RCMP to come and talk to us about their experience in Pincher Creek

The second Poll was regarding the old mine building in Coleman:
The question was "What should happen to the old mine buildings in Coleman?"

Demolish them 21votes 75%
Retain a minimal part to maintain the historical value 1 votes 3%
Preserve them if the money is available 3 votes 11%
Preserve them even without funding 3 votes 11%

The people that took the time to vote on this poll make their feelings very clear.

The key questions that keep coming up here are; if we kept the buildings who would fund the cleanup, renovations, start up and ongoing operations? When you say the provincial/federal government, everybody points to the old Greenhill mine.
And anybody that thinks municipal dollars can go in to this place on an ongoing basis is dreaming.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Crowsnest Pass Closure of the old Hospital

Much as been said recently about the closure of the old hospital and the impact on its tenants. No question some people will attempt to gain as much political mileage out of this issue as possible. Some people will attempt to show that these tenants are being thrown out on the street with barely any notice.
Not for one moment does anybody take lightly the importance of any one of the groups presently using the old hospital. Because of that every one has taken the time to clearly give the public and the tenants ample notice, so that they would have time to find alternative locations. In fact at our council meeting of July 7 a motion was made to have the municipality continue to do everything possible to support the tenants of the Old Hospital to find and relocate to other sites. Surprisingly this motion was not supported by the whole of council. It as been suggested to us that we should give six months to a full years additional notice prior to closing the old hospital. Would any thing change with additional notice?
Does anybody for a second think that these suggestions are nothing but stalling tactics, six months from now puts us in the middle of winter, a full year from now puts us to just before the next election.
Lets review a little of the most recent history of the Crowsnest Centre Debate and then you decide if the tenants did not receive fair notice.

May 2008 CAO is presented a petition requiring a plebiscite on the Crowsnest Centre if petition numbers are validated
June 24, 2008 CAO informs Council that petition is valid, date of plebiscite set for Sept 22, 2008
July 8, 2008 Dates set for advance poll Sept 8, 2008
July 22, 2008 Wording set for plebiscite
Aug 5, 2008 Council informed that plebiscite wording as been forwarded to municipal lawyers.
Aug 19, 2008 CAO informs council that Bylaw 766 (Plebiscite wording) is valid
CAO presents report to council, providing list of tenants and other available locations
Mayor Irwin suggests that the losers of the plebiscite should resign from council.
Sept 22, 2008 Despite an attempt to have the plebiscite stopped by the courts (Which obviously failed), 69% of voters reject Bylaw 766
Oct 21, 2008 Motion passed by council to shut the old hospital.
Nov 4, 2008 Administration directed to bring paper work to the next council meeting to repeal Bylaws #265 and #404 (Bylaws allowing the Crowsnest Centre Board to run the Crowsnest Centre)
Nov 17, 2008 Council meets with Crowsnest Centre Board
Nov 18, 2008 First and Second reading of Bylaw #771 which would repeal Bylaws #265 and #404.
Nov 19, 2008 Council meets with Chinook Education Consortium, Adult Literacy, and Adult Education.
Dec 16, 2008 Public Hearing regarding rezoning of Centre property
Dec 17, 2008 Council meets with Food Bank
Jan 14, 2009 Council meets with Global Training
May 5, 2009 Notice of motion given to bring closing date to next council meeting
May 19, 2009 Date for the old hospital to be closed set by council for August 15, 2009
June 2, 2009 Council determines Utilities to the Old Hospital will be shut off August 17th and the building secured.

Notice was clearly given by council on Oct 21st 2008, that closure of the old hospital was coming, through December and January every tenant met with council, and was clearly informed of council direction on the old hospital. Two of those tenants have already moved or are in the process of moving. Some tenants choose “to not look” for alternative locations until the last few weeks, and we believe that some have not looked at all.
It has been stated from the beginning of this debate and at every step along the way that council is prepared to assist tenants to move in any reasonable way we can. Please despite the great media headlines it makes and the political mileage some will try to attain, we would hope that nobody would attempt to create the impression that any group is being thrown out on the street without fair notice and without repeated offers to assist from the municipal council.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Old mine site in Coleman

Check out the following article;

Should this site be saved? over the years I have heard many complaints about the old Mine site at the east end of the golf course. Designated an historical site years ago, and then no dollars provided to preserve it. My fear is that the same happens in Coleman, in these economic times will either the Feds or the Province throw in the necessary dollars to make these into operating functional historical sites or will they just throw a chain link fence around them and hope some day a rich benefactor comes in to save the site.

Curious to see what people think?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Crowsnest Pass Volunteers Needed

Here is your chance for all those folks that have voiced their concerns over the appearance of our community.

The Crowsnest Advisory Committee, as struck up two committees to look at the following areas; "Community Beautification" and "Signage Bylaws". We are looking for interested volunteers to sit on this committee.

Most of us on the committee really want to see the public get involved, and hear what you have to say, there will should not be a huge time commitment here just a few hours over a few months, to sit down as a group and discuss where we need to do a better job in our community.

Anybody interested please contact Cathy at 403 562 7108 (Leave message if no answer)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Revealing the Facts in the Crowsnest Pass (Crowsnest Centre Chapter 46)

On Tuesday night June 2, we had our regular meeting of the Crowsnest Pass Council.

The definition I have always been given for items to go into camera was that they must be either, Land, Legal or Personnel.
We were presented with an agenda that included four items in camera no question three of them fell under the criteria described previously. A fourth an issue with the Crowsnest Centre and its gas bill with Nexen, did not. Therefore, I moved to take that item out of camera and place it under Other Business. The Mayor disagreed with me so I challenged his ruling, after ten minutes of trying to figure out if our procedural bylaw required a two thirds or majority vote, the majority of council agreed with me the agenda was changed.

What led to this issue? on May 12 because the municipality guarantees the Crowsnest Centres gas bill with Nexen, the municipal accounting department was contacted and told that there was an outstanding balance of $21,720.97 owed to Nexen by the centre.

A cheque was issued for Nexen, now our municipal policy requires the signatures of one member of administration and one member of council on all cheques. I was called and asked if I could sign some cheques. Seeing this cheque for the centre, I requested to know from administration why we were doing this. For several reasons, this almost $22,000 was not allowed for in our budget, the Crowsnest Centre board are on record stating that they would require no financial assistance from the municipality this year. In addition, there have been many articles in the local media telling us how well the centre is doing. Therefore, I refused to sign the cheque and requested administration to bring this to the next council meeting with an explanation.

During the debate under other business, the Mayor scolded me for refusing to sign the cheque, when Councilor MacLeod questioned him as to “would you have signed the cheque?” “No”. “Would you have asked questions?” “Yes”. “So you would have done the same as Councilor Ward?” I could not hear the answer to this question clearly.

Anyway to resolving the issue of the outstanding balance and why it came to the municipality. We were told that apparently the bill had gone to the wrong address! Well these bills are over $5000 per month, you would not notice if your gas bill did not show up? These are a reoccurring payables something that as to be paid on a regular basis. Secondly, if the bills are not showing up and the business is doing well should the bill not be paid the moment it is brought to their attention?
Not over a five-week period, then we find out that the centre is requesting almost $3500 from the municipality, which would assist them with paying this overdue bill. Council had agreed to rebate the centre for the cost difference of running their old boiler versus a new one. Which I personally did not agree with but council did pass that motion so we have to live with it.

During our debate a question arising as to if there are any outstanding monies owed to the municipality by the centre, our Financial Officer tells us that there is. I asked the question how much? To which I am told that she would prefer to confirm the number and give it to us the next day. At that point, I ask is it more than $3500 to which I am told yes. Therefore, I made a motion that we not rebate the $3500 until the outstanding bill is cleared up, at this point Councilor Mitchell states that some of the bills are in dispute. Which may well be the case, but I felt then the municipality’s administration and the centre’s manager should sit down and resolve them. The majority of council agreed.

Now why would this information have not been made public?

Want a reason to visit the Crowsnest Pass

Some very good things coming up in the Crowsnest Pass;

June 20/21 is our annual Bellcrest Days

July 1 Canada Day Celebrations

July 4/5 Sinister 7 Ultra Marathon (Expected to have over 400 participants in just its second year)

July 8-11 Southern Alberta Summer Games

July 16-19 Rum Runner Days

August 1-3 Doors Open Heritage Festival

Many great reasons to come visit the Crowsnest Pass.

Ad Hoc Community (Now named the Crowsnest Advisory Committee or for short CAC)

Members of the Committee
From Council – These were picked at a council meeting when the Mayor requested volunteers, only three members of council stepped forward, kept the selection process fairly simple, if somebody else had stepped forth we would have held a vote.
John Irwin, John Salus, Dean Ward

From Community Futures- These were picked by the board its self only one member of council sits on this board, so council out side of that member had zero input into their selections.
Bill Kovach, John Slupsky, Shane Stewart

From Chamber of Commerce- I was told that they selected their members by a vote of the board of directors, from amongst the members that stepped forth. Again an internal process and from what I know no member of council is a Chamber Director so again zero input from council.
Richard Buckle, Lowry Toombs, Jenine Trotz

The accusation of the Board being dominated by the “old school” people that are unwilling to look at or accept change. Looking at this list in my humble opinion I only see one “old school”, will that individual dominate the other eight?

Public Involvement- yes council asked the board to again look at this issue, and we did most of the board felt it is very important to get the public involved in this process, quickly and effectively. Did the board agree to do this at the board level? No, at another equally important level? Yes

We requested that council approve a budget for up to a $1000 (which they did June 2) to start advertising for members of the public to participate on two sub committees. For two very important issues “Community Beautification initiative” and “Signage Bylaws”. This is a start for this process and will determine how effective CAC will be, hopefully the public will step forth.

At our meeting on June 1st we also approved the Terms of Reference for the committee which in part specified that sub committees will be made up jointly of members from the board and the public, but under no circumstances will the board be in a majority position on sub committees.

Within the terms of reference there is also a provision that the terms must be reviewed on an annual basis, and more often if a majority of the board feels they are not working.

We hope to be reviewing the names for the first sub committees at our next meeting and have the process started in July.

Were individuals promised a position on this board, not that I am aware of, were people encouraged to step forth and join the process? Absolutely, that opportunity will be provided shortly, and yes I am going out to encourage every person that as ever complained to me to step up and put their name in for these committees. Personally I see Community Beautification as one of the biggest issues we face. Do you have any idea how many times I hear criticism about some of the pig pens that are allowed to flourish in this community?

Anyway the CAC is not be perfect, but it as started and between all of us I feel we are going in the right direction and have the chance to do some really good things in the Crowsnest Pass.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Affordable Housing in the Crowsnest Pass

The committee is looking for your input on a very important issue whether you agree or disagree with the concept of Affordable Housing please going to the following link which is available on the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass web site and take a few moments to complete the survey.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Alberta's New Brand

For those who have not heard here is the story from the BBC regarding the UK beach used to promote Alberta

Word has it that they will be sending a team of photographers over to Switzerland shortly to get some great Mountain shots for their winter campaign.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Petition fails in the Crowsnest Pass

Well the results are in the petition to Municipal Affairs failed, 1150 valid signatures were required the Representative from the "Citizens to save the Crowsnest Pass" claimed they had 1201 signatures so somewhere between 51 or more signatures were determined to be invalid.

Will we ever know how many signatures for sure were thrown out? No the ministry only rules wether the petition was valid or invalid. So in theory there is somewhere between one and 1149 valid signatures on the petition, I'm sure either side of this debate will argue in the direction that works for them.

Some questions that were asked of myself regarding this petition, my answers are purely my opinion.

What started this petition? Some very vocal members of the public who disagree with the position of the majority of council.

Who was behind the petition? A group called the "Citizens to save the Crowsnest Pass"

If these people were so concerned why did they not run in the last election?
Maybe they did, or maybe they are laying the ground work for the next election

Did I believe that 20% of the taxpayers felt council was heading in the wrong direction?
No and obviously neither did the Minister of Municipal Affairs

Did I believe that some people felt they were misled into signing the petition? told that to clean up the river run mess, or to save the Blairmore arena they should sign the petition for example?
I have a tough time believing those statements that would be dishonest and misleading!

Should council be concerned about a large group of taxpayers signing a petition?
Of course we should, that is why the majority of council dealt with issues that were raised by the "Citizens to save the Crowsnest Pass" and many other taxpayers.

What issues were raised by this group that the majority of council as recognized?
Corporate review, taxes last year over 11% increase this year 3.8%. We preserved our reserves by not moving forward on the Coleman Shop and yes we should be building them. Services we had some minor reductions but the vast majority of our core services remain in tact.

Was I has a councilor concerned about a municipal review? not one bit the issue here in the Crowsnest Pass is not that democracy is not working, of course its working just not the way some people would like it to be.

The other reason I was not concerned about the review, prior to this petition being started the majority of council took the position that we should have a review of the municipality, that we need to determine where the strengths and weaknesses are.

The Minister's letter stated the following:
"However, I suggest that the municipality consider engaging a third party to conduct a review of the administrative and governance processes in place. The review presents an opportunity to evaluate the municipality's strengths and identify potentials for improvement."
Does that not sound like a corporate review?

Do I respect the opinions of the people that signed that petition? of course I do 99% of those people are good people but lets move forward now, lets recognize that some people are using the tools they have at hand to promote their future political ambitions.

Elections are a great part of the democratic process, I would encourage anybody that as the interest to step forward in October of 2010.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Latest Poll Results

Should council be reviewing the community standards bylaw?

In the most one sided vote I have seen so far 92% of the people that took the time to vote felt we should. With the emergence of the Crowsnest Revitalization report, and the new Ad hoc committee I definitely feel this issue is going to receive some attention.

One item brought up several times in the revitalization report was making the community more appealing to the eye.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Crowsnest Revitalization Initiative

On Tuesday April 14 Shane Stewart Representative of a group of fifteen concerned citizens from many different parts of the community, presented to council a report put together by themselves labeled the "Crowsnest Revitalization Initiative" a blueprint for a Sustainable Community through Local Collaboration.

A summary of the report was provided with the complete package coming to council shortly, some highlights of the report:

"A call to action"
85% of the CNP tax base is generated from residential taxes
The population of the CNP has declined 8.2% between 2001 and 2006
During the same period the Province of Alberta grew 10.6%
We have the eldest average aged community in Alberta at 48
34.6% of all local households earn less than $25,000 per annum.

"Goals and Objectives"
Provide employment opportunities
Complete Comprehensive tourism plan
Increase small business where there are some service gaps
Develop Historical attractions
Revitalize our image, look and perception
Engender community pride and unity
Focus on community enhancement projects

CNP is not sustainable in its current form
Ratepayers must be apprised of the seriousness of the situation
Refer CRI study to the Ad Hoc Committee for Refinement
Council should form a Tourism Task force as soon as possible
Community must invest in itself through Marketing- i.e. Branding and New Logo
Undertake a Coordinated effort to Clean up the community
Executive search for an Economic Development Officer as soon as possible
The Committee is Not in Favour of a Formal park but For Responsible Conservation and Controlled use of Crown Lands

In conjunction with this presentation the Ad Hoc Committee also had its first meeting last week.

The above was certainly a good start to the process and hopefully everybody will seize the opportunity to move this community forward.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Good News for the Crowsnest Pass from Teck today

Teck today announces Bridge and Term Loan Extension – US$4.4 Billion of 2009 Payments Deferred.
With all the economic doom and gloom coming out right now, its great to get some good news.
Even though Tecks problems are not over its sounds like this deal buys them some time and gives them a chance.
They now only have to come up with $1.9 billion by the end of October, and have three years to settle the rest of their debt.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Municipal Development Plan in the Crowsnest Pass

Over the last couple of weeks I have been criticized a number of times for not supporting a new Municipal Development Plan.

The present plan is indeed out dated, the population of the Crowsnest Pass has changed significantly over the last ten years. The public deserves to have their input in to a new plan. I agree with all of those statements, so why did I not support proceeding with a new Municipal Development Plan this year? For the following reasons:

First of all the process is expensive (minimum of $50,000 I've been told by politicians in other municipalities that its probably closer to $100,000), its timely would probably take 6-12 months.

I recognize that the time and money need to be spent, but not now not until the Alberta Government decides where it is going with its regional plans under the Land Use Framework.
The Crowsnest Pass could come up with a plan that does not conform with the Land Use framework and all that time and money would be for nothing.

Take the time to read the Land Use Framework Plan the link is on the left hand side of the blog and below.

I will point out some areas to make my point:

Strategy 2 (Page 7)
"The Secretariat will develop regional plans in conjunction with government departments and Regional Advisory Councils. Final decisions on regional plans rests with Cabinet"

Are regional plans in place? have they been accepted by cabinet? No and No.

Strategy 3 (Page 7)

" A cumulative effects management approach will be used in regional plans to manage the combined impacts of existing and new activities within the region"

Within the region a cumulative effects approach will be used, once again the regional plan needs to be in place to see how we fit within it.

Provincial Leadership (Page 19)

"The Land Use Framework leaves final decision making authority with the same local officials who currently exercise it. However in the future; these decisions will have to be consistent with regional plans"

How can we be consistent with the regional plan until it is in place?

Strategy 1 (Page 19)

"Municipalities and provincial government departments will be required to comply with regional plans in their decision making"

How can our MDP conform with the regional plan until it is in place?

Local Planning (Page 26)

"However in the face of increasing pressures and conflicts the Government of Alberta needs to ensure that provincial interests are addressed at a local scale"

Would our plan conform with provincial interests? we do not know they have not told us what they are.

Municipal Planning (Page 26)

"Municipalities will be required to ensure their plans and decisions are consistent with regional plans"

We will not know the regional plan until sometime in 2010

Municipalities will;

"Prepare context statements outlining how their MDP's will align with and address provincial directions stated in regional plans, and amend municipal planning documents to adopt and align with regional planning directions"

How can we do the above without the regional plan?

Appeal Mechanisms (Page 27)

"Decision making bodies will be required to comply with regional plans and if any regional plan compliance issues arise, they will be resolved in existing review and appeal systems"

then it goes on to make the following statement;

"Because they are approved by Cabinet, regional plans are government policies and cannot be appealed"

So if you put a MDP in places that does not conform with the regional plan you do not even have the ability to appeal the regional plan.

On Page 47 the Land Use Framework clearly states that the regional plan for our area will be completed in 2010, why would anybody take the risk with taxpayers money of putting together a MDP prior to that?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Did you know? Canada's Debt

As of today Canada's debt is over $460 Billion dollars, thats a big number!
It works out to $13733 for every man, woman and child.
And its growing by $93 million per day or $1069 per second.
Its like having a credit card that never gets paid off, the balance just gets larger and larger!

Under Interesting Blogs check out the Canada Debt, see what we has a nation owe.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wow! we finally have a Budget in the Crowsnest Pass

Well its finally here the Crowsnest Pass Budget/Millrate was passed last night (April 14th).

How much does it hit our taxpayers? 3.8% average increase, please keep in mind that due to fluctuations in market assessment some properties will be higher some will be lower.

Nobody including myself likes tax increases but this was certainly a step in the right direction after last years whopping 11.2% increase.

I have never voted for a tax increase in the last four budgets! why now? because for the first time in five years I was part of a council where the majority was willing to make tough decisions, was willing to make cuts where necessary. We all understand that costs go up each year but I always argued that taxes should not increase as long as a municipality is operating inefficiently.

How as council demonstrated its willingness to become more efficient?

First of all a Corporate Review, the majority as agreed that we need to have an independent non political outside body advise us as to where we could do better.

We made significant steps to reduce duplication of services, we will no longer be advertising in two local newspapers, we will no longer be doing a spring and fall cleanup.

We placed a moratorium on hiring, two positions that were scheduled to be put in place this summer, will not be filled.

We reduced funding to non profit organizations by 10%.

We reduced funding to our fire and rescue departments by close to $40,000

We reduced our equipment replacement program by 40%.

We reduced funding for country residential road maintenance, dust suppression and sidewalks by $55,000.

Finally the majority of council decided that we needed to lead by example and saved $10,000 by not sending Representatives to the FCM Convention in Whistler BC.

Most of these cuts were tough decisions especially when you have to reduce funding to non-profit groups but we can not keep on doing business the way we have.

Taxpayers cannot maintain double digit tax increases on an annual basis, just the areas listed above resulted in a yearly savings of $382,000 which is equal to a 6.3% tax increase add that to the 3.8% we agreed on and we would be above 10% again.

My hope here is that all of council will embrace the corporate review process, look at the results and take advantage of the recommendations that come forth to be even more efficient.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bellevue Mine (Crowsnest Pass)

New addition to my Blog, check out under Interesting blogs the link to the Bellevue Mine one of the many attractions that makes a trip to the Crowsnest Pass well worth while. The folks up there do a great job of making you feel welcome.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Demographics in the Crowsnest Pass

Information on the changing demographics in the Crowsnest Pass.

According to the 2001 and 2006 census for Canada.

Our population in 2001 was 6262 in 2001 it was 5749 a drop of 8.2% which appears to be the largest drop of any community I can find in Alberta on a percentage basis.

Our population of 0-19 years old was 1450 in 2001 which represented 23.2% of our population, in 2006 that same age group had dropped to 1130 and 19.7% of our population

Our population of 55 years old and older was 1980 in 2001 which represented 31.6% of our population, in 2006 55 and older was 2115 or 36.8% of our over all population.

How do these demographics compare to the province as a whole:

Alberta 0-19 years old 26.4% of the population Crowsnest Pass 19.7%
Alberta 55+ 20.6% of the population Crowsnest Pass 36.8%

Anybody get a sense of what direction we are heading in? interested in more of this type of information check the 2006 census link on the left hand side of my blog.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Community Standards Bylaws Crowsnest Pass

Over the last twenty seven years of living in the probably one of the most beautiful places in the world, its been brought to my attention alot. That despite the fact that ninety five per cent or higher of the people that reside here. Work very hard to look after there homes and yards there is still that small percentage that have the belief that they have a "right" to live like slobs. This not only affects those hard working people that live around them, it reflects on our whole community. Is it time for us has a council to review our Community Standards Bylaw?

Available at look close to the bottom of the page its bylaw number 534.

I hear lots of people talking about selling "Tourism" as our future, in my mind how we present ourselves as a community will have an impact on how well we do.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Latest Poll Results

Out of 36 people that choose to respond to my latest blog, "Which of the following areas should be cut to reduce the 2009 tax increase" Here are the results in order of preference.

Advertise in only one local paper 27 votes 75%
Eliminate part time position 22 votes 61%
Money into Marketing/Economic development 17 votes 47%
Thunder In The Valley Weekend 15 votes 41%
Corporate Review 15 votes 41%
Seniors Tax Break 14 votes 38%
Museum/Allied Arts/Bellevue Mine 14 votes 38%
Municipal Development Plan 11 votes 30%
Other 1 vote 2%

Thanks again for participating

New addition to my Blog

Under Interesting Blogs is the link to the 2006 Census for all kinds of information regarding the Crowsnest Pass

The big secret is out (Councilor wages in the Crowsnest Pass)

Over the last few days I have heard comments going around the community about it being a big secret as to how much a councilor in the Crowsnest Pass makes. Well I have "news" for those people its no big secret you can go right to the Municipality Web site look under Finance and all the numbers are there just check "Audited Financial Statements" they go back to 2002 just do a little math, like I did and the numbers are there for anybody interested.

Irwin 2002-2007 $113670
Taje 2004-2007 $51772
Ward 2004-2007 $40272
Stolarik 2004-2007 $38697
Chorney 2002-2007 $72320
Woodman 2004-2007 $37772
Sygutek 2004-2007 $31582
Salus 2007 $3490
Mitchell 2007 $2960
Cole 2002-2004 and 2007 $36440
Macleod 2007 $2750
Marra 2002-2004 $30290
Rejman 2002-2004 $31465
Stanley 2002-2004 $32035
Sterling 2002-2004 $30035

We should have the numbers for 2008 within the next six weeks at that time I will update the numbers above.

Budget Gap Closes in the Crowsnest Pass

I am now working on my fifth budget since I have been a councilor in the Crowsnest Pass. The annual exercise of trying to make to few dollars go to far. Every year we take dollars away from our various municipal departments, organizations that the taxpayers wish to assist. Then we nail our taxpayers with increases to fill the gap left over. All the time I have been arguing that we need to take a look at a number of areas where we duplicate services. One of those areas has been advertising all of our municipal business in two local newspapers. Despite some silly arguments that were presented:
Some people do not read one paper or the other- what about the people that read neither.
Not advertising in both papers may affect the business viability of one paper or the other-What if we had two bids on a water line could not the same argument be made?
One paper may be favoured over another-Its a tender process does anybody think our administration is going to recommend a higher bid?
The newspapers have different levels of circulation-Do we pick a contractor to pave streets because he paves more streets than his competition?
Well finally common sense prevails, the council of the Crowsnest Pass saw fit to go with advertising in one paper, the advertising will be tendered and hopefully we have some very competitive bids come forth.
This will close our budget gap by probably somewhere between $30,000 and $40,000 per year.
Just in the four and a half years I have been on council we have spent somewhere between $150,000 and $200,000 in duplicating our advertising.

That amount could buy a Grader for our public works department, support our allied arts contribution for 7-10 years, run our second arena for a year. Or take 2.5% of this years tax increase.

Also last night we decided to go one step further on the path to fiscal responsibility, we will no longer be advertising our utility bills due date. A practice that we were throwing away $3-4000 per year on.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Big Petition in the Crowsnest Pass / Crowsnest Centre

Have been asked by a number of people what is happening as far as the "Big petition" and the "Crowsnest Centre" legal opinion.

The Big Petition is with Municipal Affairs who appointed one of their staff to verify the petition itself, we are told we should know the outcome soon.

The Crowsnest Centre legal opinion we finally have in our possession and will be discussed further Tuesday night (March 17). I can not discuss it at this point because it is an "In camera" issue. I am hoping that after Tuesday's meeting it will be made public I can not imagine any councilor not being willing to share this document with the taxpayers.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Interesting Quote

Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it.. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it --Ronald Reagan

Friday, February 27, 2009

Tennis Courts in the Crowsnest Pass (Good news/Bad news)

At the last council meeting all the members of council present voted to turn over the operation of the tennis courts in Blairmore to the Blairmore Lions club.
Good News, because there is no question the Lions Club will do an excellent job of looking after the area, for anybody that does not know take a look at the park they presently operate (next to the swimming pool).
Bad News, this again is a reflection of the problems we have in the Crowsnest Pass of doing to many things poorly instead of doing some things well. (living within your means)
We have in the Crowsnest Pass at last count 23 parks, a park just like any other facility needs to be maintained and upgraded on a regular basis.
I do not advocate for one second that we should not have parks, but 23? how do we maintain and replace them?
I am told in to days world a park should be upgraded every five years, so on average we should be upgrading 4.5 parks per year. (Cost $30-80,000 per park).
Within the discussion about handing over the Tennis courts to the Lions club I asked the question of how many dollars would be saved the answer was none, because we did not plan on spending any dollars on the courts. In fact the Mayor was quoted in one of the local papers as saying that's the problem we have at the Tennis courts is because we have not spent any money on them.
I agree, the only problem is where would the money have come from? any suggestions? should we increase taxes more to pay for Tennis Courts?

Anyway once again I thank the Blairmore Lions for stepping forward, and thank them in advance for the great job they will do on the Tennis Courts and surrounding areas.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Looking for ideas! Cutting Municipal Costs in the Crowsnest Pass

Anybody following my blog can see that we are having a difficult job keeping taxes under control in the Crowsnest Pass. I would certainly enjoy hearing from my readers any suggestions that would help us out. If you are a little shy and do not wish to post on the blog send your suggestions to

Thanks Dean

Why has the Crowsnest Pass budget not been passed yet? Questions and Answers

A local newspaper asks the question is the council taking to long to pass a budget? Well if the taxpayers are ok with a 7.5% increase the answer is yes but I certainly would not agree to an increase of that amount.

Why is it taking so long to pass a budget with a lower rate of increase?
Simple councilors must be willing to make cuts to bring the increase down to a reasonable level.

Why has this not happened? well I can only speak for myself, being a member of council means one must be willing to bring forth suggestions, make motions and decide on tough choices. Is council prepared to do that? I am.

How much money are we talking about? roughly $150,000 just to get down to 5%

Are there ways to close that gap? of course there always is ways to be more efficient, do we have a choice if I or you was spending more money than we had coming in we would have to make tough choices?

What are some of the suggestions? The following are some of the ideas that have been thrown out for debate. I would welcome other ideas if somebody wished to present them. But here are the options presented so far.

Advertising in one local Newspaper would save $25,000 a year minimum.

Seniors rebate, a couple of years back council put in place a policy that tax rates for seniors on lower income levels would be maintained at 2006 levels. The problem with that is twenty years from now those folks would still be at 2006 levels. By going to 2007 levels $10,000 would be saved.

Marketing Consortia/Economic Development
We have in the budget $37,500 for these areas, do we need to leave all that money there? we have not had a Economic Development officer for almost a year, we also have formed a new adhoc committee to look at this area and make some recommendations, by the time this new board does that, a good chunk of the year will be gone by.

Community Organizations Funding
What has been thrown on the table is a 20-25% reduction in funding for such things as the Bellevue mine, Allied Arts, Museum, Thunder in the Valley weekend etc. Which would generate a savings of between $42-52,000

Eliminate a Part time personnel position
Would save $35,000.

Eliminate the Corporate Review
When you are in a difficult financial position it becomes evident that you need to look within, using a totally unbiased non political approach to determine where you could be more efficient. A number of councilors including myself have recommended that we hire a consultant to do this, cost $65,000

Municipal Development Plan
It has been suggested that we start a municipal development plan this year, it has been a quite a few years since we did this, does it need to be done? of course, should it be now? Strategy #1 of the Land Use Framework states "Municipalities, other local authorities and provincial government departments will be required to comply with each regional plan" When will we know what are regional plan is? next year. Do we spend $50,000 this year and find out next year that our development plan does not conform with the regional plan? tough choice.

None of the above suggestions have been decided on by council yet, but they certainly do give us options to reduce the burden on the taxpayers the choices are indeed tough, but never the less must be made.

Municipal Taxes in the Crowsnest Pass

Well the results are in from another poll, from 24 people that voted the numbers came out to the following:

17 felt 5% was to high
5 felt they could live with 5%
0 felt that 7.5% is ridiculous
2 felt they could live with 7.5 if that what it took to maintain all services

It's pretty clear to me where the taxpayers sit, and I am not basing that judgement just on this poll. All one has to do is talk to folks around town.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Big Petition in the Crowsnest Pass

Yes I have a large number of people calling me with concerns regarding the petition:

What can we do? I feel like I was tricked in to signing the petition.
I have had the following comments made by people that signed the petition, they claimed to have been told by various people that encouraged them to sign the petition:
If you want to keep the Alberta Stella open sign up
If you want to stop the coal dust sign up
It's doesn't matter if you are a primary resident of the pass you can still sign
It doesn't matter if you are under 18 sign up
Do you really need to know whats on the petition just sign up and help us out

There is something you can do call the numbers at the bottom of the blog and let the minister of municipal affairs know what really happened here. Ask them to verify the signatures on the petition. And please remember your name will be held in the strictest confidence.

Read article 572 of the MGA:

572(1) The Minister may order an inquiry described in subsection (2) if the Minister receives
(a) a sufficient petition requesting the inquiry that is signed,
(i) in the case of a municipality other than a summer village, by electors of the municipality equal in number to at least 20% of the population, and
(ii) in the case of a summer village, by at least 20% of the electors of the summer village,
(b) a request for the inquiry from a council.
(2) An inquiry may be conducted into
(a) the affairs of the municipality,
(b) the conduct of a councillor, or an employee or agent of the municipality, or
(c) the conduct of a person who has an agreement with the municipality relating to the duties or obligations of the municipality or a person under the agreement.
(3) The Minister may appoint one or more persons to conduct an inquiry under this section.
(4) The person or persons appointed to conduct an inquiry are entitled to the fees and expenses specified by the Minister and the Minister may direct who is to pay for the inquiry.
(5) The person or persons appointed to conduct an inquiry have all the powers and duties of a commissioner appointed under the Public Inquiries Act.
(6) The person or persons appointed to conduct an inquiry must report to the Minister and the council and, if there was a petition under subsection (1)(a), to the representative of the petitioners.

No where in this section does it state that this action will force the municipality to keep over an arena, nowhere does it state that the municipality will be forced to clear up the coal problem.

If you really felt that you were misled on the petition, phone municipal affairs you can do it for free.

1. Phone 310-0000 they will ask you to put in a 10 digit number 780 427 2225 you will get through to the Municipal Advisers number explain to them your concerns

2. Phone 310-0000 they again will ask you to put in a 10 digit number 780-427-3744 you will get through to Ray Danyluks the Minister of municipal affairs number explain to him your concerns.

3. Remember the numbers above are for free.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Development in the Crowsnest Pass

First of all I have received numerous phone calls and emails regarding development in the Crowsnest Pass. I have also had a number of people direct me to a Canadian Business on line thread that is circulating right now. Do I have my own opinions of what's going on? of course. But being an elected councilor of the Crowsnest Pass I can only comment on what I know to be facts. Which with nothing being official coming out yet leaves me very little I can say.
But a couple of comments I will make and let me be clear:
"I Councilor Dean Ward have not ever been an employee of a developer that has had any business dealings in the Crowsnest Pass"
Also at this time I will not be commenting to, or answering any questions regarding any other member of council that has been an employee of a developer. If you have issues with any other individual that has been involved with any developer take those issues up with that person not myself. Even though I understand peoples frustrations, please do not be calling myself in a very anger tone I will only be responsible for my own actions.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Budget Delibrations Continue In the Crowsnest Pass

Well here we are continuing down the path of trying to get a budget in the Crowsnest Pass. As we go through the old process of drag it out, stall and wait until the last possible moment to come up with the tax rate for the next year.
Monday night we did make a little progress we eliminated one of our cleanups, a request from the Chamber of Commerce for $25,000, a request to spend an extra $27,000 grooming trails, and will bring in $3,000 to remove deep freezes.
That leaves a gap of $156,461 to get down to 5% which is still high when you compare to other municipalities check the list on the left side of this blog. To pay that amount the increase would have to go to 7.5% and zero dollars would be placed into reserves. Some will argue that dollars should not go into reserves during difficult economical times, take a look on the Municipal Web site you will see that we have been depleting reserves for the last six years.
The problem we have, is we has councilors must be prepared to make difficult choices to get down to reasonable tax increase.
Councilors need to do one of several things, come to budget meetings prepared with ideas on how to decrease the budget shortfall, be willing to look at reducing services/programs/expenditures, or be prepared to go with a 7.5% tax Increase.
It gets so tiring listening to "I'm not prepared to look at that", "we can't cut that", well bring your idea's lets debate them, I have no problem going with better ideas than mine.

Or maybe the good taxpayers of the Crowsnest Pass can live with a 7.5% increase this year!

Crowsnest Pass Feelings about the Federal Budget

Well another poll closes and here are the results:

Harper did the right thing 9 votes 52%
Should have spent more 0 votes
Not happy but they had no choice 3 votes 17%
Its terrible we will be in debt forever 5 votes 29%

I sure hope this plan of pumping taxpayers dollars into the economy works, especially after seeing January unemployment numbers in both Canada and the USA. (130,000 and 600,000 jobs lost). If it does not work we will be in big trouble and leave our kids and grand children the opportunity to pay for our mistakes

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

OHV poll results for the Crowsnest Pass

To the question of allowing OHV's in our residential areas, as unscientific as it may be 44 people voted, with 27 opposed (61%) and 17 in favor (39%). Strange as it seems that's what I am hearing around town.

Information on Municipality of Crowsnest Pass

Under Municipal Blogs/Web Sites I have placed the link to the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass.
For financial information go to Finance and Systems. Under there you will fing the 2007 audited statement. On Page 4 under Liabilities you will find Long Term Debt ($2,167,472) this is explained on Page 15 under Note 7. The payment on the debt for 2009 is $385,125 which is made up of Principal $272,741 and Interest of $112,384 for a total of $385,125.

Debt $2,167,472 works out to $380 per person (5700 people)
Payment for 2009 $385,125 works out to $68 per person (5700 people)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Did anybody Notice?

Posted on CBC is a Summary Statement of Transactions

From 2007 to 2014 the federal government will pay (Should I say Taxpayers) $242.8 billion in finance charges ($7141 per Canadian) on the Public Debt which will be standing at $541.8 billion by 2014. That works out to $15,935 (34,000,000 Canadians) for every Man Women and Child in this country.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Questions Re Development in the Crowsnest Pass

I am being asked many questions regarding the state of development in the Crowsnest Pass, if you could send me all your questions, regarding this issue by this weekend to I will do an update this weekend and answer all the questions I can.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The day the coalition died (Dec 4,2008)

Lets talk about the realities of politics, for the few weeks leading up to Dec 4th the left wing voters of the country were like kids with the festive calender counting down the days until Christmas.
Harper took a calculated shot at killing the oppositions funding when the other parties were down and out. Play along with me and recognize that the oppositions real anger was not at the lack of economic stimulus, Harper not having the right plan to bring the country through the crisis it was all about political funding.
Does anybody believe for a second that the Liberals would jump into bed with the NDP and invite the Bloc into the room for a "menage a trois" over the "Economy" yes if Harper had stayed away from the political funding the parties would have done what politicians do they would have sat in parliament whined about the governments economic stimulus plan and waited for the right opportunity to bring the government down.
But never the less you had Dion (bumbling idiot recording his speech to the nation on a cell phone), Layton (the only way I will ever be in government is if I jump to the Liberals like Bob Rae), and Duceppe (what can I squeeze out of these Anglo fools now) sitting in a room saying "my God if Harper gets this through our parties are all done financially". To their credit they came up with this coalition idea, and it may well have worked they would have brought down the government forced an election, and with the economy getting worse and worse blamed it all on the Conservatives, (whose fault could it be).
Then Harper pulled off his best move when the the Governor General agreed to prorogue Parliament it gave him the one thing he needed time.
Back to the realities of politics Dec 4th was the beginning of the end for the coalition at that point it was put on life support and the back room wheeling and dealing began.
To the Liberals credit they replaced the prime architect of the coalition Stephane Dion with Michael Ignatieff (Bob Rae is just to left wing for even the Liberals and yes folks there really is a reason the NDP nevers gets more than 15% of the vote).
At this point Ignatieff had to look at two issues (remember by now the Conservatives had long backed off on the political funding issue) what does the coalition have to offer me and what does Stephen Harper have.
The coalition well that will bring down the government and then I will spend eighteen months listening to Jack talk about his socialist utopia, and Gillies saying I can support this vote if Quebec gets the following. And my goodness this recession stuff his getting worse by the day.
Harper does not want to lose power so the calls are going back and forth " Michael what do you need in this budget to not defeat it? massive spending lets throw money at everybody".
So put yourself in Ignatieff's shoes you pick the coalition you spend eighteen months keeping Jack and Gillies on board, and dealing with a recession that his going to get very ugly.
Or do you step forward and claim victory because you forced Harper to come forward with massive dollars for programs to stimulate the economy, let Harper and the Conservatives deal with the blood bath that our country will be for the next year or two. Then force an election and blame everything that the country has gone through for the last two years on the Conservatives. Makes for good politics doesn't it.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Budget Update for the Crowsnest Pass

Well Jan 21st came and went we started the meeting with $251,461 to cut just to get down to a 5% increase. We debated issues such as one cleanup versus two, our local advertising, the dollars we use to market our community, what we give to non profit groups and the levels of service we provide. Then we cancelled our meeting for tonight and rescheduled it for Feb 2th.

The net result of three hours of debate and going around and around, with some members of council taking the position that you can do two cleanups cheaper than one. (I am not joking)

Was we were left with $251,461 to cut, to once again get down to a 5% tax increase (which is high)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Budget Process in the Crowsnest Pass Continues

Update for January 21st

Council is scheduled to meet tonight and tomorrow regarding the 2009 municipal budget.
Administration as presented us with a package tonight that allows for a 5% tax increase but needs council to make cuts to a total of $251,461 to reach that level. Some difficult choices must be made.
Each one percent increase in taxes brings the municipality in roughly $61,000.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Interesting Article in this weeks Crowsnest Pass Promoter

RE: Development in the Crowsnest Pass

Atlas Road Logging Crowsnest Pass

Just received word that Spray Lakes will start logging Monday on the Atlas Road. I sincerely hope they do a better job than they did on the Kananaskis Road, and I hope SRD does a better job of staying on top of them.

I guess the Crowsnest Pass will be saved from the Pine Beetle!