Friday, December 31, 2010

2010, reflecting back and looking ahead to 2011.

Looking back on 2010, I will be the first to admit the election did not go quite the way I expected it to. Certainly in my mind the taxpayers in the Crowsnest Pass made some mistakes, time will prove me right or wrong.
I served the community for the last six years standing up for what I believe to be right, could I have done some things differently that would have hurt less politically? You bet.

Over the last six years I had the pleasure to work with many different types of people, on council some of the people I worked with were very good people that cared very much about this community, people that had the “balls” to stand up for change, those people I have much respect for. It would have been easy to just line up behind the Mayor and carry on doing business the way it has always been done in the past.

The municipal staff, I know at times some of the public sees them as a group of pampered, Monday to Friday employees that put in a minimal effort and collect a good pay cheque.
While I’m sure just like any employer there is a few of those, over the last six years I learnt that the vast majority of your municipal staff put in a honest effort day after day and really care about this municipality and their jobs.

The media, looking back over the last six years I will let the reader decide if I was treated fairly.

The positions council took in 2010, we could have done what previous councils have done, “nothing” in an election year but instead we choose to do our job to the end.

In 2010 I was proud that council achieved the following:

We passed a budget with a 3.2% tax increase, with a goal of rebuilding the municipal reserves, a $450,000 surplus was slated to go back into those reserves.

When the year end financials come in I anticipate that 2010 will be the third year in a row that thanks to sound financial management the municipality will show a surplus, compared to the previous six years it was a strong change in direction.

We froze hiring, government does not need to get larger through the recession of the last few years, the private sector became leaner and more efficient to survive, government
needs to learn the same lessons.

We froze overtime with the exception of emergency situations, if the truth was known that saved a lot of dollars. If government employees are working overtime for reasons
other than an emergency, then the administration should be looking at more efficient ways to do things.

We finally resolved the issue of running two half empty community centers, the community now has a center that is full. What’s really interesting, is I have not met a tenant yet at the MDM that does not prefer being there.

The River Run issue, many mistakes were made, one good thing that came out of it was a policy was put in place that development like this will never happen again unless adequate security is in place.
Over the last six years Council was mislead on this issue, at times by foolish dreams and exaggerated promises, at times by people that were strong advocates of this group, and at times by people that should have known better.

Community Standards was in my mind a huge issue, as far as moving this community forward. The days of having “twenty three” old junkers in your drive way and the God given right to live like a slob while everybody around you is trying to make their residence presentable needs to come to an end. This was a first step in that direction.

Administration, council chose to make changes, were they all dealt with perfectly. I recognize a better job could have been done. But what every politician knows at times processes are manipulated to get the outcome certain people desire.
I’m not going to debate the merits of those changes that were made here, but they are done and now history, anybody that would like to debate those changes should take the time to read the Cuff report, it was fairly clear about some of the issues the municipality had to move forward on.

Over all I believe that council achieved a lot in 2010.

Looking forward to 2011, for me personally I’m not going away the Crowsnest Pass as been my home for 27 years and will be for the rest of my life.
I hope to stay involved I have put my name forward for a couple of committee’s (SDA, and the York Creek Seniors) hopefully I will be given fair consideration by council.
If I’m not successful I will attempt to get involved with other areas that need help in the community.

Looking at politics for the next year, what direction will the new council take with the following issues will indeed be very interesting:

2011 Budget-Will spending increase?

Tax Increases-We all hope it stays low!

Water Meters-Conservation yes, cash cow No

Hiring Freeze-Bigger government is it really necessary?

Overtime-Sure a water line freezes, or we get 30cm of snow on a weekend when else?

Duplication of services-Wait until they get into the politics of this issue!

River Run-I remember a member of the previous council telling us “It’s not a big deal just take a cat and push the piles back into the holes”, It will not be any where near that simple.

Crowsnest Centre-This issue will be talked about a long time after I’m gone, if they decide to fire it back up, where does the dollars and tenants come from for this money pit. If they try to sell it, various expectations are going to be way beyond reality that building is a huge liability for any prospective buyer.

Community Standards-will the new council carry on with what was started, will they back off and soften the bylaw?

Affordable Housing-Everybody agrees the need is here, the golden question how do you
achieve it, the last developer that expressed an interest was also building a 5000 seat arena at the lakes.

New Recreation Centre- great idea, where do you put it? How do you pay for it? How do
you carry the future burden.

Infrastructure-this issue will never end, the problem the administration and the politicians
know that there are lots in the ground to be done. However the public wants to see the visible infrastructure see above.

Anyway here’s looking forward to a great year in 2011 for the Crowsnest Pass.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

For any of my readers that work at the Coal Mines

Interesting situation in Australia right now, certainly would expect for the next while that the demand for canadian coal will be greater than ever:

Teck anticipates to ship at least 25 million tonnes next year, at a price increase of 20% that would be $45 per tonne or $1.125 billion. WOW

Issue with water Meters-make them affordable.

When you cut through all the issues on water meters what it really comes down to short term is cost.

What administration proposed was to put in 560 meters a year for the next five years at a cost of $280,000 per year. ($500 per meter)
How would that be paid for? the municipality would pay for the meters up front, and the resident would pay the municipality back over a year on their utility bills.
Not very complicated except $500 divided by 6 utility bills equals $83.33 per bill, that's a lot for somebody on a fixed income.
Here's a different solution, why not buy the meters with dollars in the reserve fund, allow the residents to pay for them over a five year period, two things happen then the resident only pays an additional $16.67 per utility bill much more affordable. Second the only thing the municipality loses is the interest they would be making on that money at today's rates they are lucky to be getting 1.5% which equates to $4200 a year.
I'm sure $4200 a year could be cut somewhere else in the budget to make up that lost revenue.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Update on municipal advertising (Crowsnest Pass)

Note: Council Meeting of Dec 21,2010.
After reviewing my notes I realized I missed some critical information on the advertising issue.

During the discussion on the draft advertising policy Lynne Cox the Director of Legislative services and Human Resources. Mentioned that the dollars in the proposed budget for advertising presented to council were based on providing one page of advertising in each paper at the rates set forth in the present contract $180 per page.
She also stated that she only had one quote from a local paper at that point, that would provide advertising at a 30% reduction of their regular rates.
The last time I checked the local papers were charging somewhere between $7-800 per full page at a 30% discount that would put them somewhere between $490-$560 per page. At a minimum a 270% increase over what the municipality is presently paying and then double it, based on duplicating the advertising in two papers.

Crowsnest Pass, Budget will spur debate? Maybe

Well so far local politics have been fairly mellow and laid back since the election. I don't say that in a critical way because that's normal, new councilors getting familiar with the job, what administration does, the various programs and services the municipality provides it all takes time.

Ultimately unless you are going to have seven people sit in a room for three years and just play follow the leader, debate will come its bound to. Take any group of seven people you are going to have different goals, objectives, agendas etc. If you are not going to have debate over various issues then you may as well leave six people at home and let one person make all the decisions.

So anyway to the point of my post, I feel that debate is coming especially after reading Councilor Saindon's blog. Then refreshing my memory with what the various councilors had to say during the election campaign, this leads me to believe that their are indeed some issues that are going to create quite a lot of debate over the next month or so, in both council chambers, and out in the public.

Three issues I would like to discuss at this point that I feel are very pressing and relevant based on the various positions taken during the election.

1. Duplication of services.
Previous council had to deal with this issue regarding the duplication of Community centres and arenas. Maybe this council will take a different position than we did and restart the Crowsnest Centre, or put ice back in the Albert Stella? We shall see.

But if they are going to deal with this issue, they will at some point have to look at Town Shops, Fire Departments, Equipment Fleets, even arms lengths groups. Everyone of them very political contentious issues.

2. Water Meters, tough issue 560 meters a year for the next five years. Is the municipality going to charge two rates for water based on having a meter or not? Would that be fair, somebody that wastes water with a meter pays extra, somebody without a meter could waste water for free for up to the next five years. What about commercial users, will they be metered? tough on a business like a car wash? etc.

Cost $500 a meter paid by the owner of the residence over one year, half our taxpayers are seniors, administration as already proposed to increase utility bills. Now seniors are going to have to pay an additional $80 on every utility bill that's tough on a fixed income.

There is no question that we use a lot of water in the Pass, three times the provincial average.
Something as to be done from a conservation point of view, but I believe that by the time this issue makes it through the local coffee shops it will become too hot of a political potato and probably put aside for future review.

3. Spring cleanup, I read with much interest Councilor Saindon's comments on this issue, from what I have seen over the last six years, he is right this is the kind of luxury service this community can not afford. What will be interesting is to see where the rest of council stands on this issue, especially Councilor Mitchell every time this debate came up in the last three years he supported our former Mayor in maintaining this service, in fact if my memory is serving me well he even supported maintaining two cleanups. (Spring and Fall).

Three things that I hope are considered during the debate on the cleanup, Public Works are requesting an additional 1.5 positions in the workforce. If you took the man hours that are used on cleanup it would come to more than those 1.5 positions even in the most efficient years.
Second in the last six years on I was on council I would estimate that well in excess of a million dollars as been spent on cleanups, money that should have been used to buy new equipment that administration is now recommending that the municipality go $550,000 in debt for.
Third how many other jobs were put aside while our public works crew was busy on cleanup, and how much overtime was incurred to get those jobs completed in a timely fashion.

Anyway I think budget will spur some lively debate, lets keep in mind these are only the tip of the iceberg.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Update more info on Bridgecreek

This information comes from the site provided by from one of my commentors below.

Q & A
CV in Distress

Crowsnest Creek
This site is for information of investors in the Bridge Creek Mortgage Bond I and II. The site was established at the request of investors. The information on this page is password protected documents. The protected area is available only to investors who have registered via the registration form and contribution to the costs paid. You can register through the pages Log .
You can add the information on this website are no rights. Although we do our best information is accurate and complete representation, we can for the contents of the site is not responsible. If you have questions that can be directed to The questions will be answered as far as possible, combined on the page FAQ.

Only the last four news items below. Older posts can be found on the page Documents .
Bradley Becker and personal bankruptcy
Messrs. Bradley and Becker are reportedly at his own request, one week ago to personally bankrupt . We have contacted the administrator, but it has never delivered. This means that personal injury claims against the two men probably nothing will run.
It is unlikely that the receiver can mean a lot to the bondholders. For example, he will not actively engaged in the management of the River Run / Bridge Creek companies or the project itself.
It may be possible that Jon Mintoft as CEO of River Run through the receiver to have more information than hitherto on the Bradley and Becker did. This will hopefully facilitate the project to restart.

Website partly auctions
It appears that shielded files on the documents page in the Bridge Creek site were accessible through a cumbersome way. We then screened all the documents removed. Is now working for a better and safer solution. It is expected that by the end of this year ready.
Because this is too long is also working on a temporary interim solution. Hopefully that will soon be ready, so we all connected bondholders back safely to inform.

Meeting of bondholders
On October 12 a meeting will be held as of the bondholders, who joined the initiative have joined CVinNood. All bondholders received message, but only those who have registered and have paid, to attend the meeting. You can register on our site or page Join or this PDF Registration Form .

Dismissal Bradley and Zinner!
Bill Bradley and Gabor Zinner take effect immediately resigned as a director of Bridge Creek Corporation. The ownership of the land will be the order of a court in that company are located. An outsider is appointed to sort things out.
We will of course liaise with the new management. It is good news that are probably in a constructive manner and based on real data about the project can be provided. Also it probably had a better answer to the question where the money of investors remained.

The only problem with this is it only speaks to the personnel bankruptcy.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Crowsnest Pass Council Highlights for December 21.

Crowsnest Council meeting Dec 21, 2010

Call to Order 7pm

Public Hearing None

Adoption of Agenda
Councilor Mitchell moved item #3 under other business to In Camera plus added one other personnel item to In camera
Councilor Gallant added to other business item #9 Affordable Housing Committee
Motion to accept the agenda as presented passed unanimously.

Adoption of previous minutes
1. Motion to accept Dec 7, 2010 Council with Larry Mitchell being added to attendance at the AAMDC convention in March (Missed in previous minutes) passed unanimously.

2. Minutes of Special Budget Meeting Dec 13, 2010 were not dealt with.

Delegations None

Administration and Agency Reports.
Sergeant Scott Howard from the RCMP presented his quarterly report, which includes detachment activity for the months of June, July, and August.

Business arising from the minutes
1. Draft advertising Policy
After much debate, it was decided to table this policy until January, but to commence advertising in both papers as of January 1st. Motion passed unanimously.

1. From Hector Goudreau-Regarding property legislation.
Motion that a letter be written thanking the minister for the information, also requesting that any further information coming from this legislation is shared with the municipality. Passed unanimously

Committee Reports
1. FCSS Minutes for October 27, 2010 passed unanimously

Bylaws None

Notices of Motion
Mayor Decoux informed council that he will be bringing forward a Motion in January to create a permanent Policy Committee that will be made up of himself, the CAO and the legislative Secretary. In addition members of the public or municipal departments will be included as deemed necessary.

Other Business
1. Adoption of 2011 Interim Budget
Motion was made to adopt one of three options presented by administration council attempted to move option 2 which would have accepted the budget as presented by administration with the issues of new hiring and water meters put on hold until council received further information. This option was defeated then a second motion came forth to carry on with 2010’s budget as an interim until council as the opportunity to pass a new budget. The second motion passed unanimously.

2. Contract Extension with Enmax, this will not be ready until the end of April will be brought back to council at that point

3. Subdivision Development authority Board appointment. Surprisingly this was moved to In camera, usually and according to the MGA only issues regarding Land, Legal, or Labour, go In Camera.

4. Subdivision Development Appeal Board Appointment. Motion was made to appoint Rupert Hewison to the board, passed unanimously.

5. Appointment to the Municipal Heritage Board. Under the terms of reference of this board a member of council sits on the board to represent the SDA board, a motion was made to appoint Councilor Mitchell to this board, which passed unanimously

6.Request to lease Municipal Lands for Parking. This was regarding Mohawk Excavating application to lease the MDM lands for another year to park their equipment on. Councilor Gallant excused himself due to a conflict of interest. Councilor Gail made a motion to have administration attempt to find a site in the Frank Industrial park that could be fenced, lighten, and power supplied for commercial equipment to park on. This motion was defeated by a tie vote.
A motion was then made to deny the applicants request, this was passed unanimously.

7. Business Appreciation Certificate, Motion was made to accept Councilor Gallants recommendation passed unanimously.

8. Oldman Watershed Council support request. Motion was made to support this group to the tune of $1724 per year (30 cents per capita) passed unanimously. Second motion made to send Councilor Saje to the AGM of this particular group. Motion passed unanimously
Pending Coferences. Motion was made to send Mayor Decoux, Councilors Mitchell, Gail, and the CAO to the AAMDC in Edmonton March 21-23. In addition Mayor Decoux and Councilor Saje to the FCM in Halifax June 2-6. Motion was passed with Councilor Saindon opposed.

9. Affordable Housing Committee. Councilor Gallant requested that all information regarding this committee be brought forth to council at the G+P meeting on Jan 11,2011.

Council Member reports
Comments revolved around the following issues: Municipal Heritage board not meeting since April. York Creek Lodge expansions and renovations, in addition the municipality will be required to provide land for the future expansion.

Public Input None

In Camera- One personnel issue, and the SDA board appointment

Business Out of Camera

Motion by Councilor Mitchell to reject the recommendations of the SDA board for appointments due to it being made prior to the closing deadline for board applicants.
Motion passed unanimously.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Inflation rate for Alberta

Interesting information today from the Canadian Government on the rate of inflation for November Alberta is down to 0.1%
That bodes well for the residential taxpayer that is anticipating tax increases to keep in line with the rate of inflation.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Surprise Surprise Development in the Crowsnest Pass

I use the word surprise for two reasons:

First of all Bridgecreek is going (gone into) receivership according to a very good source "The Pass Herald" see their front page story this week at the address below.

Second the article in the Herald states that former Councilors Ward, Cole, Salus, and Macleod made the right decisions regarding the municipalities involvement with this group. WOW

Does anybody know anything about this new CEO Jon Mintoft?

More to follow on this story

Friday, December 17, 2010

Crowsnest Pass G + P meeting Dec 14, 2010

Governance and Priorities Committee Meeting Dec 14, 2010

Call to order @ 7:10pm

Adoption of agenda
Councilor Mitchell added two items under Topics for Discussion
#4 Absenteeism on Committees of members at large
#5 Municipal Liability Insurance for Councilors traveling out of town

Motion to accept amended agenda accepted Unanimously


1. Allied Arts Overview
Good presentation by Jean Bailey on behalf of our Art Gallery in Frank, everybody should check this out, a lot of rural communities do not have this luxury.

2. Lethbridge College Overview
Kathy Brown gave a short presentation on what the College is doing at the MDM, the types of courses they have to offer, and how happy they are with their new location

3. Mohawk Excavating
Bill Ogertschnig owner of Mohawk Excavating leased a piece of land from the municipality on the MDM property to park his equipment on. The lease was only for one year, he requested that council renew the agreement for one more year. One neighbor spoke in opposition to this, feeling that this was not an area to park industrial equipment.

Topics for Discussion:

Business Appreciation Certificate
Councilor Gallant raised the issue of giving businesses a Appreciation Certificate that do upgrades to their present properties, Administration did not feel this would creat a substantial work load increase so the Committee accept the motion to recommend this to council Unanimously.

Stake out Policy
Administration recommended that this come back to council when the revisions to the land use bylaw are brought back to council at a later date. Accepted Unanimously

Pending Conferences-2011
Determined that Mayor Decoux, Councilors Mitchell and Gail would attend the AAMDC Convention in Edmonton March 21-23 2011
Mayor Decoux and Councilor Saje will be attending the FCM Convention in Halifax June 2-6 2011

Absenteeism on committee’s members at large.: Councilor Mitchell raised the issue of a member on the Subdivision Board missing several meeting to go down south every winter, was asking if the municipality had a policy regarding this, Mayor Decoux requested that it be discussed further during the In Camera session.

Municipal Liability Insurance: This issue was raised by Councilor Mitchell are Councilors covered by Municipal Insurance when traveling out of town on municipal business, Administration stated that they are.

Note: Councilor Saindon was not present.

Committee went to "In Camera" after a short break.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Crowsnest Pass Proposed Budget Increases 2011

This is only proposed at this point:

Taxes 5.5%
Water + Sewer 10%
Water Meters to be placed in 560 homes a year for the next five years, to be paid for by the resident $500 to be paid over one year, $40 per month.
Debt of $540,000 to purchase a Grader and an Excavator
Almost all the new employee positions that previous council rejected are back.
Spring Clean up will be drastically reduced.
Reductions in FCSS funding for external groups

Added Dec 16th Policing costs for Rummer Runner Days weekend administration was notified by the province that this will be increasing from $10,000 to $40,000

Funding for external groups from the FCSS will drop from $100,000 to $90,000.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Budget starts In the Crowsnest Pass 2011

Monday @ the municipal office starting at 4pm.

Just a couple of what I believe to be relevant information from the election campaign now this process is beginning.

As a councilor, I will not vote for any increase to property taxes for any reason - period! It is time to take a hard look at the services we have and the way business is conducted by the municipality.

My many years of experience in operations within large corporations reveals to me that we have a huge opportunity to take these cost reductions and use them to keep our tax increases at or near 0%.

First comment there is no possibility of miss interpretation of that statement, the second comment what is near to zero?

Never Ending story-Advertising in the Crowsnest Pass

It really is a never ending story.

Some facts to think about:

Some councilors can not understand why the advertising budget dropped so drastically from 2008 to 2010.

I will answer it again and hopefully it gets through, in 2008 the municipality was paying up to $800 a page two times a week. Simply put 2 x $800 (1 page each paper) equals $1600 per week.
Thanks to a competitive tendering process 2010 $180 per page, one paper equals $180 per week.

Certainly explains to me the drop from 2008-$66111 to 2010-$8444 does it not?

Why did previous council not focus on radio? first of all we only have one local radio station if we were going to allow non local radio stations in to the bidding process should we also have allowed the Prairie Post in to the paper process?
Second of all the advertising budget in 2008 was $87057 of that amount $13158 was radio or 15% of the overall expense. The local papers were 76% of the total cost, paper advertising took five times as much taxpayers dollars as radio.

Several members of council talk about enhancing the flow of communications to the public!
That's nonsense anybody that's looking for announcements on bylaws, public hearing etc will check the municipal web site or the paper that has the contract for the year, or contact the office.

In the last year and a half the number of complaints the municipality, or council received about having difficulties finding out municipal information due to the fact that it was only advertised in one paper? Zero

Council members this week spoke about other ways of getting out information to the public, Facebook, Twitter, Municipal web site, etc. (Maybe the taxpayers would be glad to advertise on blogs?)
Silly question, if these suggestions work, would it not make even less sense to advertise in both papers?

You can make all the arguments you want but this advertising in both papers as been done for one reason and one reason only, because some people are feared by the flack previous councilors took in the local media over the last couple of years.

Interesting to hear one of the councilors refer to how he heard at the convention, the importance of maintaining good relationships with the local media.

Dec 7th they did.

At least thats the way I see it!

Crowsnest Pass Council Highlights for December 7.

Council Meeting of December 7, 2010

Public Hearings

Bylaw 810 (Passburg) Rezoning to Group Country Residential.
Nobody spoke for or against

Bylaw 811 and 812 (Frank) Road Closure.
Nobody spoke for or against

Bylaw 813 (Passburg) Road Closure
Nobody spoke for or against

Adoption of agenda: No additions Motion passed unanimously

Adoption of previous minutes: One slight amendment Motion passed unanimously

Business arising from the minutes:
Advertising Review-Advertising to stay with the Promoter until year end then will be advertised in both papers, to be administrated by administration according to a new Policy on advertising to be brought back to the next council meeting.
Motion to accept passed unanimously

1. Letter from Hector Goudreau regarding MSI Communications activities
2. Municipal Planning Orientation- to be provided by ORRSC on Jan 13 in Cowley
3. Pass Powderkeg Operating Grant-$12,000 from Alberta Lotteries, Motion to send to letter of thanks passed Unanimously

Committee Report

G + P Meeting Minutes from November 9 Motion to accept Passed Unanimously with one minor wording change.

Bylaw 810 (Rezoning Passburg) Passed 2nd reading Unanimously Passed 3rd Reading Unanimously
Bylaw 811 (Road Closure Frank) Passed 1st reading Unanimously
Bylaw 812 (Road Closure Frank) Passed 1st reading Unanimously
Bylaw 813 (Road Closure Passburg) Passed 1st reading Unanimously
Bylaw 814 (Land Use Bylaw Amendment) Passed 1st reading Unanimously
Bylaw 815 (Short term Borrowing, New Snow Groomer for the Ski Hill $180,000) Passed 1st reading Unanimously, Passed 2nd reading Unanimously, Passed Consideration for third reading Unanimously, Passed 3rd reading Unanimously

Notice of Motion: Mayor Decoux changed this to a motion, that administration goes back over the last six years of council minutes to determine which council resolutions were never implemented. Motion to accept passed Unanimously

Other Business

1. Financial Statement presented to council Motion to accept passed Unanimously
2. Business Appreciation Certificate Motion to defer to G + P meeting passed Unanimously
3. Subdivision and Development Appeal Board Appointment, Motion to accept Rupert Hewison passed Unanimously
4. Special Budget Meeting Dates, Monday Dec 13 @ 4pm and Tuesday Dec 14 @ 3:30pm Motion to accept passed Unanimously
5. Cancellation of the G+P meeting for Dec 28th Motion to accept passed Unanimously
6. Council Retreat Meeting date set for Jan 6, 2010

Council Member Reports
Council members spoke about their experiences at the AUMA and AAMDC conventions.
Several comments that jumped out were:
Establishing good relations with local media.
The possibility of the Municipality selling its “Carbon credits to create a new revenue stream”
Reference to Premier Stelmach’s less than optimistic comments regarding the availability of provincial funding over the next few years.

Public Input: None

Incamera: (Personnel Issue)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Crowsnest Pass, Investors in Bridgecreek, Good News

Here's your chance folks, all of those people that have had so much to say about Bridgecreek, River's Run, Trouts Landing over the last number of years.

Somebody is looking at doing a big story on this, it will not happen unless people step forward, want to be anonymous that's fine. Call the following number 403-563-0425 if you have information, step forward now is not the time to go quiet.

We all know there were people around here that were on the inside of this thing maybe now is the time they will step forward and do the "honest" thing.

On the good news side I was reading Brian Gallants blog available at

Paying special attention to his comments regarding the AUMA convention:

"All I can say so far is “wow”! I am having a great experience at the AUMA convention. Beyond the educational component we are all making great connections and contacts. Here are just a few of the highlights for me."

"We had the opportunity to talk with the Minister of Transportation regarding the ongoing issues with Hwy 3. He did not have much time as every MLA had 100 people trying to get their ear but he did say that he understands our challenges as a community. He wants to meet with us in the near future."

" I made a number of contacts from a variety of industries. One of our education sessions talked about a potential revenue steam and one particular company is perfectly situated to help us make it happen. A win-win arrangement and I am keen to know more. More to come once I have the details. I have a pile of brochures to deliver to our administration. There are people out there who can help us save some money. "

I felt the same way at my first AUMA convention, but after a couple I started feeling like they were a waste of the taxpayers money. Its true when an MLA or Minister comes out on the floor they are swarmed by many different people looking for something. Have a discussion today with a hundred different people and see how many you remember tomorrow.

The highway 3 situation, over the last six years if they had paved one foot of highway for ever meeting we had the road would have been done by now.
Anyway not that long ago we met with Darryl Camplin and another senior manager from Alberta Transport, they committed to putting traffic lights at the turn off into Blairmore by Tim Hortons, and at the Highway 40 turn off in Coleman in 2011.
In 2012 they were going to deal with Intersection in Frank by the Industrial park and the Intersection by the Volker Stevin shop in West Coleman.
Both of these projects were subject to dollars coming forth from the province at the time we last met with them there was no money approved.

On the new contacts with industries and generation of new revenue streams, I and a lot of other residents are looking forward with great anticipation to new industry coming into town, and anything that will lessen the burden on the residential taxpayer.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Night of mixed emotions Federal Byelections

Last night must have been a night of mixed emotions for the Federal leaders.

Three seats up for election, people will argue its only a by election nobody cares, it will mean nothing six months from now.

Well I disagree I think it means lots:

Nobody is going to have a majority position in the Candian parliament without either taking a lot of seats in Quebec or Ontario. Well the Bloc for the most part has Quebec sewed up so that leaves Ontario.

Last night the Vaughan riding, right in the middle of vote rich Southern Ontario, safe Liberal seat been held by the Liberals since it was created.
Michael Ignatieff’s took a very visible position in this riding, they even had the ever popular future Liberal leader Justin Trudeau campaign, still lost the seat. Will this lead to a domino effect in the surrounding area? are there really "safe" Liberal seats in southern Ontario.

Is this a reflection of Ignatieff's leadership? What is he now 1-7 on by elections? Didn't Stephen Dion's career end after similar results.

I'll bet Stephen Harper went to bed with a big smile on his face last night. What did he lose in these By election's? nothing gained Vaughan, held on to Dauphin with a 31% lead over the next candidate. Watched the Liberals and NDP fight over Winnipeg North which I'm sure Ignatieff and the Liberals will be latching on to this morning as his step forward.

Where does Jack Layton fit in all of this? head of a party that is becoming a less and less of a player in the Canadian world of politics and at the end of the day an ally for the Conservatives as between them and the Liberals they will continue to spilt the left wing vote.

Maybe the real story will come out in the Crowsnest Pass?

Check out this link:

"Is anyone willing to talk to a reporter doing a major story on Bridgecreek in the Pass? Is there anyone who invested who's willing to go on record or has some inside knowledge of the company? If so, let me know - I'd like to talk."

Hopefully anybody that ever been involved with this will see this as an opportunity to step forward and tell the whole "honest" truth.

Wow I bet there are people sitting in front of their computers right now, saying I hope this reporter speaks about "everything" that happened here!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Bridgecreek RiverRun story

For those that have been asking here is the Bridgegate River Run story that appeared in the Lethbridge Herald October 18.

Dream Interrupted.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Should we be anonymous or not in the Crowsnest Pass?

Good question, I have posted comments from people that are more often than not "anonymous" should I, other bloggers, or for that matter any form of media allow the practice?
I have posted comments from people that say I'm the new gal in town if you have something to say, say it to my face. I have received emails from a couple of people that say I should not allow this, I have had it said to me on the street.
Should people be forced to put their name to something before it's posted, or printed? in a perfect world I would say yes.

But the world we live in, is far from perfect, you know what if people could speak there mind freely and not feel intimidated that would be great. If people could speak there mind and not feel they were going to have to face retribution in the public forum, that would be great.
Some people only know how to survive by attacking, threatening, or intimidation.
Does this happen in this community you bet, I hope one of our new leaders stands up to one of these bullies and they will find out very quickly what they are really like.

Back to the issue should we in the blogging business allow anonymous comments? you bet.
Over the years I have always signed my name to anything I have written, but that's me. Some people are just not comfortable doing that, they worry about the crap I have spoke about above. They worry about the impact on their friends, family or in some cases their business so you know what folks if you want to sign your name that's great, if you don't that's great too.

The only anonymous I will not allow is something that attacks a persons medical conditions, or is in my humble opinion libelous. (Yes I have had several of these)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Crowsnest Pass Budget 2011, Tough choices begin.

Before you know it Budget time will be here and believe me the choices will not be easy ones.

One of the toughest issues to deal with his the hiring of additional employees, on one hand you have the public perception that there is more than an ample number of employees.
Then on the other hand you have the workforce and administration that are faced with an ever changing working environment, attempting to cater to the demands of certain sectors of the public that wishes to see the Municipality provide additional services.

Previous council took the position that a hiring freeze was put into place, and instructed administration in the last budget process to get by with what they had.

What most people do not understand is that the Municipality collects approximately $6.5 million in property taxes.
Last year the municipality paid out approximately $4.6 million in wages.
On January 1st 2011 the employees are entitled to a wage increase of 4% on a payroll of the municipalities size that is an increase in cost of $184,000.

Last year the Public works dept requested an additional sewer plant operator, extra Linesman, the HR department had requested an half time assistant position.
Prior to the budget I sat on the FCSS committee where there was much discussion about hiring an additional person to handle the FCSS department.

The previous council also took the position that through better scheduling, the public works department could get by with two less casual positions.

I'm sure that administration will attempt to bring forth at least some of these positions again, if not all of them.
Cost to the budget $250,000 for the Sewer plant operator, Linesman, Assistant, and two Casual positions.
Additional person for the FCSS position $50,000.
Wage Increase approximately $184,000

Total additional cost of employees $484,000.

Keeping in mind that total taxes collected were approximately $6.5 million, which means each additional $65,000 spent results in a 1% increase in taxes.

$484,000 divided by $65,000 equals a 7.45% tax increase.

Now are there ways to avoid this tax increase? absolutely.

You can not do the positions, or you can find equivalent cuts in other areas of the operational budget.
Maybe there are services that can be cut, or inefficiences elimanated or a combination of both.

Lets not forget the $484,000 figure does not include any additional costs for the rest of the budget.

One example:
Lets think about marketing of the community, the municipality used to participate in what was know as the Marketing Consortium we placed $20,000 a year into a fund that marketed the community, well when we looked at the marketing that was being done for that money it was to say the least, very unimpressive.
Previous council stopped providing that $20,000. Now we have new councilors that are advocating better marketing of the community which I agree with, but you are not going to do anything effective for the previous dollars.
I was told by a person in another community that does a fair amount of marketing to allow at least a $100,000 per year, if you want to do a real job.
Add that to the above another 1.54%

What does that mean to the average taxpayer in the Crowsnest Pass? at $2000 a year in taxes a further 9%=$180 a year.

Just something to think about.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Another Wildrose MLA?

Check out this story from today's Globe and Mail

Raj Sherman, Alberta MLA booted from caucus after criticizing healthcare policies.

“What has done has been done,” the premier said

“This is an issue of caucus discipline,” PC whip Robin Campbell

How much longer will steady Eddie last?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Advertising looking at the numbers.

According to NAD, which is a joint venture of the Canadian Newspaper Association and the Canadian Community Newspapers Association, 73% of adults, read weekly newspapers.

In the Crowsnest Pass according to the 2006 Canadian Census, we had 2630 private dwellings that were occupied by usual residents.
Seventy three percent of that number would come to 1920 homes.
Why is that relevant? Well when the Herald made their presentation to Council they stated that the “verified” circulation in the Pass was 2300 for the Pass Herald, and somewhere between 14-1800 for the Promoter. Lets assume for arguments sake that the number for the Promoter is 1600.

We know longer have a problem with the municipality communicating with the taxpayers it happening already, according to numbers presented to council 87.5% of homes have access to the Herald, and 61% have access to the Promoter.
Obviously in one situation we are way above the national average in readership, and in the other we are only 12% below the national average, there does not appear to be any problem getting municipal advertising into homes through either paper.
Let the tendering process continue, its working both from a financial prospective and one of providing the necessary communication with the public.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Your chance to vote on Advertising

Please take a moment, one of the local papers is giving you a chance to vote on the municipal advertising.
One paper or both, your tax dollars, your choice.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Crowsnest Council Meeting November 16, the thoughts of a former Councilor

First of all I found it very interesting that Mayor Decoux would bring forth Notices of Motions regarding the Crowsnest Centre, River Run Project, the duplication of Services and Facilities for the April/May time frame.
Then announce that this time frame is to coincide with the release of the report from his Economic Task Force.
Whats puzzling his that the task force as not been put in place yet, it was on the agenda the last two weeks, but did not even show up this week, the public was told that it would have seven members and be given 90 days from its commencement of its duties to complete its report.
There as been no release of information on the much anticipated makeup of this committee, and when they will commence.
What raises this concern, well first of all the Mayor did state when he was a candidate for election that this task force would be struck within two weeks of the election. (At least that's the way I heard it) I would assume that struck means more than council agreeing to do it.
The second thing that raises my concern is the time frame, the G+P meeting for next week is cancelled, so even if this issue comes forth at the next council meeting Dec 7.
It only leaves 118 days from there until the first Notice Of Motion April 5th, take out two weeks for Christmas and New Years, a week for Administration and Council to review it leaves 97 days to do the study, works in theory but I suspect very ambitious to say the least.

Second issue from last night, Municipal advertising review which came up under other Business I like most people after the last meeting assumed that there was going to be a Motion made to accept the recommendation to advertise in both papers.
The Mayor raised the issue of finding out just a mere few hours prior to the meeting that the Municipality had a exclusive deal with the Promoter until the end of the year and requested that it be tabled to allow administration to look at the legalities of this issue.
At that time I said to myself no big deal they will just pass it in two weeks.

What made me take a second look at this was later in the meeting the Public Input session a resident by the name of Siegfried Sajitz stood up raised his concerns making a number of points about the advertising.
One of which really caught my attention, how does Council give a clear indication that it is going to advertise in both papers and direct administration to go negotiate the best deal with both papers.
In my humble brain the light went on, imagine going in to a car dealer telling him that you are definitely going to buy a car at this dealership now give me the best deal you can.

The point in my opinion, the Mayor is buying time, why would you waste taxpayers dollars on getting a legal opinion on a contract that ends in 44 days.
Simple the Municipality is paying $180 a week for a one page ad in the Promoter, that price came as the result of a bidding process. Eliminate the bidding process that drove that price, indicate to the previous bidders that you are going to pay for there services anyway. Then tell administration to go negotiate the best deal with them.
What would I do if I was in the papers shoes, I would say thanks for this opportunity, now here is my price ?$.
How would I come to a price? well I would look back at what we used to charge $7-800 a page and think well we don't want to appear to be greedy and more importantly make the previous council right, so we will go in say around $600 a page, with the intent that if the Municipality cries enough we will come back at say the $450-500 per page.
Why is all of this relevant, well put the pieces together the Mayor is buying time for a reason that is really not relevant and right now administration is going through the crying process, is it really called bargaining?

Crowsnest Pass Council Meeting November 16, 2010.

Councilors Gallant and Saindon were not present both away at the AADMC Convention in Edmonton

Mayor Decoux started the meeting by welcoming new CAO Tully Clifford to the Crowsnest Pass.
In addition he commended Myron Thompson and his Public Works crew for the job they did preparing for the Christmas Parade on November 12th

Adoption of Agenda
Motion to accept as presented passed Unanimously

Adoption of previous minutes
Motion to accept as presented passed Unanimously

Delegations None

Administration Report
At this point Mayor Decoux had new CAO Tully Clifford present himself to Council.
He then handed over the Admin presentation to Myron Thompson to talk about the Health and Safety External audit which is done every three years, good news unlike three years ago we passed the audit by 82%
Motion to accept the report passed Unanimously

Business Arising None

Committee Reports
Minutes from FCSS for Sept 22 meeting
Minutes from Protective Services Sept 20 meeting
Motion to accept passed Unanimously

Bylaws None

Notice Of Motion
1/Mayor Decoux proposes to bring forth a Motion regarding the Land and Building containing the Crowsnest Centre (April 5,2011)

2/Mayor Decoux proposes to bring forth a Motion regarding the property known as "River Run"(April 19,2011)

3/Mayor Decoux proposes to bring forth a Motion regarding the area of the Cuff Report that talks about the duplication of services and facilities in the Crowsnest Pass (May 3,2011)

Mayor Decoux also informed the crowd gathered that this Motion were timed to correspond with the release of the report being put together by his Economic Task Force.

Other Business
1/ Waiving of ice fees for Pee Wee Tournament
Note: This now sends the request for waiver back to the Culture and Rec Board, to suggest that there is any likely hood that the board would vote against council's wish chances are slim.
Motion to accept passed Unanimously

2/ Municipal Advertising Council did not realize that the deal with the Promoter was exclusive until 3:30pm November 16. The Mayor moved to table this until the next meeting to give Administration time to look at the legal side of this issue.
Motion to table passed Unanimously

3/Dates for Orientation with Administration
Nov 30 and Dec 1 Motion to accept passed Unanimously

4/Travel Alberta Open House
Motion to send Councilor Gallant to on Nov 22 passed Unanimously

5/Date for tour with Spray Lakes Saw Mills
Motion to accept Dec 17 passed Unanimously

6/Council Retreat Dec 8
Motion to accept passed Unanimously

7/Ball Soccer Complex-Outstanding bill owned to Drain Brothers
Motion to pay $10,000 out of 2010 operational budget and $15,871 out of 2011 operational budget passed Unanimously

8/Waving of Off site Levy for Food Bank
Motion to accept passed Unanimously

9/Request to lease Road Allowance-Crowsnest Mountain Resort
Administration made a recommendation to not do this, Motion made to accept that recommendation passed Unanimously

10/Brighter Futures Multi Year Lease
Three year lease last tenant at the MDM to go through this process, now all tenants are on a three year lease with one fixed rate for all groups and a 3% increase each year of the lease.
Motion to accept passed Unanimously

11/Signing Authority-CAO, Director of Finance and all members of council given signing authority for the Municipality. Motion to accept passed Unanimously

12/Councilor Absence-Saindon will miss the Dec 14 meeting
Motion to accept passed Unanimously

13/Council appointments to the Culture and Rec Board
Motion to accept Sarah Gallant to the Board passed Unanimously
Motion to accept Janis Entem to the Board passed Unanimously

14/Council appointments to the Municipal Heritage Board
Motion to accept Barbara McClary to the Board passed Unanimously

15/Cancellation of the November 23 G + P meeting-Five Councilors away at AUMA convention, Motion to accept cancellation passed Unanimously

Council Member Reports
Councilor Sage spoke about a meeting he attended with the South west Rockies group, suggested that they need to be more aware of the Crowsnest in their promoting of area tourism and also suggested that Crowsnest Businesses can advertise on their web site.
Councilor Londsbury recommended that the Mayor should write a letter to all the legions commending them for the great job they do on Remembrance Services
Mayor Decoux spoke about the excellent job all the legions do, and suggested that the Municipality attempt to put together the paperwork to allow a fly by, by the Canadian Snowbirds this summer

Public Input
Siegfried Sajitz (excuse spelling if I got it wrong)
Took the floor to raise his concerns about the Municipalities direction on advertising, he asked council if this was an effective spending of the taxpayers dollars, he asked if the numbers presented by the Herald had been confirmed by administration. He also asked if there had ever been any complaints from the public about not being able to access Municipal Advertising. He also questioned the wisdom of telling both papers that you will advertise in both, then telling your administration to go bargain with them for the best possible deal.
He asked council to stick with the present policy and give it to the lowest bidder.

In Camera-None

Motion to adjourn passed Unanimously

Friday, November 12, 2010

Halloween, where did all the kids go?

Interesting I read an editorial the other day about the lack of kids looking for candy on Halloween and how the numbers are way down over the last ten years.
I agree I had sixteen kids this time ten years ago I would have had fifty or more.
The suggestion was made that maybe kids get too much money now days, they don't have to go out for free candy.
Other people have suggested that you can't get kids out from in front of their computers, or off there psp's.
I'm going to throw out a crazy suggestion, maybe just maybe we don' t have as many kids as we used to.
Now I know some people will argue with me, that's fine I'm a numbers kind of guy.

So lets take a look at the enrollment numbers for the last 15 years.

1995-1996------- 221-------- 163------ 399------- 389-------- 1172
1996-1997------- 225-------- 142------ 379------- 407---------1153
1997-1998------- 227-------- 141-------353------- 382-------- 1103
1998-1999------- 218-------- 149------ 338------- 385-------- 1090
1999-2000------ 205-------- 146------ 309------- 376-------- 1036
2000-2001------ 193-------- 155------ 299------- 357-------- 1004
2001-2002------ 180-------- 145------ 292------- 350--------- 967
2002-2003------------------ 246------ 436------- 257--------- 939
2003-2004------------------ 241-------190------- 442--------- 873
2004-2005------------------ 238------ 165-------- 427--------- 830
2005-2006------------------ 210------ 164-------- 381--------- 755
2006-2007------------------ 205------ 150-------- 357--------- 712
2007-2008------------------ 168------ 170---------325--------- 663
2008-2009------------------ 154------ 171-------- 319---------- 644
2009-2010------------------ 156------ 167-------- 317---------- 640

Just looking at 2000 to 2010 we have dropped 364 kids, now some would argue that's not a big number but take a 36% drop and apply it to Lethbridge, Calgary etc.
On the bright side the numbers have levelled off the last two years thank goodness the mines have been hiring like crazy.
Anyway there will be a Census taken next year with the results in the spring of 2012, hopefully we will not maintain our status as the oldest community in Alberta.

Waiving of Fees for groups in the Crowsnest Pass

I have now received a comment on my blog and a couple of emails, regarding the potential waiving of ice fees for the proposed Pee Wee provincial tournament in late March.
The question being asked is how do other groups go about this?
There is a policy in place regarding this issue, for the Rec and Culture board to recommend waiving of fees.
This group went straight to council, with the reason given to council that they were working with tight time frames.
So what should other groups do?
Two choices apply to the culture and rec board go in front of them explain your reasons for your request, whether it be financial hardship, special event, etc.
Or send a letter to the CAO requesting that you go straight in front of council and let them address it, put together a bit of a presentation, always wise to suggest during your presentation that you will be bringing people into town, putting the community on the map, and giving something back.
For example Minor Hockey is going to make a contribution to the netting at the Complex.
Don't be afraid to lobby a couple of councilors prior to your presentation it helps, call the municipal office they will give you the councilors phone numbers.

The likely hood of success? I do not know it worked for this group give it a try, there are a lot of groups in our community that are struggling financially I'm sure would be glad for the assistance

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remembrance Day

Very good link to Sasha's blog talking about Remembrance Day, I wanted to post something while I was thinking about it I read this and it really does say it all.

Thanks Sasha for posting this.

Any way this is a day that we should recognize the sacrifices that people have made so we have the ability and the freedom to do what we do.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Advertising versus Food Banks only in the Crowsnest Pass

Time for a comment that hopefully spurs some debate.
Tuesday night I sat witness to listening to a council provide a number of reasons why they should advertise in both papers, better communications, the cost of doing business, not beating up vendors, fulfilling their civic duty etc, etc, one councilor even suggested with proper placement we could do it even cheaper. Wow good stuff
This year we had a contract with the promoter to provide advertising at $180 per page x 50 weeks $9000. Administration was directed to go negotiate with the papers to provide advertising in both. When we did both in 2008 we were paying $700 a page lets assume that they do it for even half that amount the cost will become $350 x 2 x 50 = $35,000 a year in theory council just agreed to an additional cost of $78,000 over the next three years assuming only one page a week. (Good Luck)
Anyway this is not the main issue with this post, what amazed me, was what happened a hour later the Food Bank had a request in front of council to waive the Off site Levy on their new building.
(Theory of Off site Levies, are that municipalities charge a set amount to developers or owners of a bare piece of property when they build on it. Dollars that are placed in a reserve to be used down the road to help off set the cost of additional Infrastructure needed due to increase development)
Well the Food Bank being a non profit group ran mostly by volunteers, working on a very tight budget looking to develop a building to house their new home in. Came to council requesting that they waive the off site levy to assist them (approx $7800).
I figured this is a no brainer, especially after council had agreed to support a couple of local for profit businesses to the tune of $70,000-$100,000 over the next three years.
What took place then was one councilor raised the concern about waiving monies that would be set aside for future infrastructure (Gallant), this councilor and a couple of others then suggested that they nickel and dime the Food Bank and look at the possibility of waiving half the Levy.
At that point the Mayor called for a vote to waive 100% it was passed with Councilors Saindon and Londsbury opposed, Gallant put aside his concerns and voted for.

Really amazing there was more concern and opposition to waiving $7800 for a Food Bank than there was to spending $70-100,000 over the next three years in additional advertising costs.

Crowsnest Council Meeting Nov 9th, 2010 (G+P)

Tuesday November 9, 2010 Governance and Priorities Committee Meeting

Please keep in mind this is the G+P meeting so even though much debate takes place the issues dealt with at these meeting here will be moved forward as recommendations to the Council meeting

Adoption of Agenda
Motion to accept carried unanimously.


Topics for Discussions
  1. Waiver of Arena Ice Fees-This was minor hockey’s request to waive ice fees for the provincial pee wee tournament in late March, if successfully awarded to the Pass the fees will be waived for that weekend (approx $2800) and Minor Hockey in return will donate to the cost of netting for the Complex ($ amount not presented). Passed Unanimously Recommend to Council
  2. Advertising Review-Debate took place on better communicating with the public, the cost of doing business, etc etc. Decision was made to go back to advertising in both papers, and for administration to come back with a policy that covers all communications with various types of media. Passed Unanimously Recommend to Council
  3. Dates for Orientation with Administration November 30, and Facility Tour Dec 1st.
  4. Travel Alberta Open House-Council decided to have Councilor Gallant attend. Passed Unanimously Recommend to Council
  5. Ball Soccer Complex Request-Administration brought forth a bill due for the ball soccer Complex in Frank, owned to Drain Brothers since 2007/08. (Why it was not brought up with council previously I do not know, maybe I missed that meeting.) Administration recommended that it be paid with $10,000 from the Ball Complex budget and $15,000 from reserves. Councilor Mitchell suggested that the $15,000 come out of next years budget. Passed by a vote of 6-1 (Saje opposed)
  6. Tour Date with Spray Lakes. Determined it would take place Dec 17. Passed Unanimously Recommend to Council
  7. Economic Task Force Initiative-withdrew by the Mayor not ready at this point still working on putting together
  8. Waiving of Off site Levy for the Food Bank-Food Bank requested Council waive the off site levy ($7800) for their new building on 19th avenue. Council debated the merits of waiving 50% versus 100%, additionally there was concern raised about the standard of the building. The position was taken that 100% of the Off site Levy would be waived this passed by 5-2 (Saindon and Londsbury opposed)
  9. Note-This item was added with direction from administration that this should have been added at the start of the meeting. Cancellation of the November 23, 2010 G + P meeting. Passed by a vote of 6-1 (Saje opposed)

    At this point Council adjourned to go into Camera.

Municipal Advertising in the Crowsnest Pass

During the debate on the municipal advertising in the local papers, a couple of councilors could not grasp the large difference between the cost of advertising in 2007/08 and 2010.
Numbers are available at below:

In 2007 the municipality spent approximatly $57,300.
In 2008 the municipality spent approximatly $66,100.
In 2010 the municipality as spent to the end of September $8,400.

The difference that nobody really wanted to explain, was this in 2007 the municipality was paying roughly $700 a page in two papers, so if you had 1 page per week in two papers for 50 weeks that was $700 x 2 x 50 = $70,000
Now in 2010 the municipality is paying $180 a page in one paper for 50 weeks. That is $180 x 1 x 50 = $9000
That is a fairly large difference isn't it, certainly makes 2008 versus 2010 much clearer.

A lesson as been learnt!

After my crushing defeat at the hands of the voters on October 18. I decided that I was going to take some time, to figure out why, analyze the positions I had taken over the last six years. Take the three year break handed to me, watch what the new council does, learn from the mistakes that I made and hopefully in 2013 take another run at council offering the public a wiser and more experienced candidate.
Therefore, I toiled from Oct 19 to Nov 2, thinking a lot about the last six years. I thought to myself obviously I upset some people with the Crowsnest Centre, some people with the elimination of ice in the Albert Stella, some were upset about the Community Standards Bylaw, the River Run project, the changes in management, even last weeks paper somebody was upset about us not hiring “more” municipal employees.
Then I went to a Council meeting the night of November 2, Ms Lisa Sygutek made a presentation to Council regarding the issue of advertising in both local papers. To my surprise near the end of her presentation she went on a little rant about how the voters in the Crowsnest Pass had sent a clear message to the new council that they were not happy with the previous council, and this was due to the fact that they had chosen not to “communicate” with the public by refusing to place municipal advertising in both papers.
My first reaction was this is nuts, I lost the election because I refused to spend taxpayers money advertising in both papers.
Then I said to myself I should think about this, maybe it’s not nuts. Maybe the last three years of all those articles written with a slight negative slant, all those editorials attacking every thing the majority of the previous council supported, maybe that little ad on the key page of the paper with the 45 weeks to the next election did have an impact, so I decide I need to think about this a little more, maybe just maybe there is a lesson to be learnt here.
In the meantime, I go back to Council for their Committee meeting on November 9, on the agenda is the issue of advertising I am looking forward to the debate.
About three minutes in I realize these new councilors are obviously much smarter than the previous council, (despite the comments presented, which I will address later), they have already learnt the lesson above. They want the positive headlines, the glowing editorials; they do not want to see the countdown to the next election under the Bricks and Bouquets.
An old politician once said the moment an election is over the campaign for the next one begins.
I tip my hat to the quick learners.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Jim Prentice leaving politics for CIBC

Jim Prentice leaves politics for CIBC

This should be of interest to my readers.

Presentation to Crowsnest Pass Council Regarding Advertising

After a number of requests and to further the opportunity for debate I am posting the presentation given to Council on November 2 by the Pass Herald regarding the issue of advertising in the local papers.

Pass Herald Presentation

Pg 1 History
1930 first issue
Celebrated 80th anniversary
3rd oldest business in the Crowsnest Pass
100% locally owned and operated
Designed and constructed entirely local
Printing alone is outside community
7 full time and 4 part time employees

Pg 2 Historic Costing

Date CJPR----Promot-- Herald----- Ext-- Ski Hill--- Billbo-Hospit-- Total
2007 $9719---$31,278-- $25,973--$0------ $2,328-- $0-----$205-- $69,503
2008 $13,158-$35,278-- $30,833- $6,630-- $973----$0-----$205-- $87,057
2009 $7,552-- $7,817--- $15,683--$7,808-- $930----$0-----$205-- $39,994
2010 $5,294-- $7,772--- $672-----$222---- $6,736--$3,439-$205-- $24,339

Pg 3 2008 Cost Detail

2008 advertising to Pass Herald $30,833
Notice of Public Hearing are paid by Development Fees
Then there is a pie chart that breaks that number down to:
True Advertising Cost $19,006, Notice of Public Hearings, $11,827

Pg 4 Development Permits
· Municipalities should strive to be revenue neutral
· Development Permit Fee $750 each
· Paid to municipality by developers
· Presently only advertising “Notices of public Hearings” in single paper
· ½ page advertising cost $80
· Must run in two issues $160
· Net Profit $590

Pg 5 Comparison with Alberta
7 communties
Similar Infrastructure and population
3 previous employers of current CAO

Communities listed with 2009 actuals and 2010 Budget
BarHead 2010 $17,700 Pincher Creek 2009 $32,800 2010 $52,050Community A 2010 $45,000 Okotoks 2010 $70,000 High Level 2010 $37,698 Peace River 2010 $61,679
Fort Macleod 2009 $39,545 2010 $40,800
Pg 6 Two Paper Comparison

Canmore Outlook/Leader
2009 $64,347
2010 $95,937

Majority goes to Outlook because:
“Majority of advertising goes to Outlook as they are considered the more reputable newspaper, with higher circulation and produced in community. Notice of Public Hearings specifically go to each newspaper… as is paid by developer”

Pg 7 Two Paper Comparison

· Banff Craig + Canyon/Outlook
· 2009 $51,000
· Craig + Canyon $42,000
· Outlook $9,000

· Vermilion Standard/Voice
· 2009 $39,000
· Majority in standard because local
· Both papers get Notices of Public Hearings

Pg 8 Two Paper Comparison

Is just a graph that reflects the numbers above and shows a 2009 average of $51,500 spent in each of the three communities

Pg 9 Value to Community

Annual Budget $18,000,000
Total advertising $40,000
Based on 2008 both papers equal
Public Hearings removed
Total % of budget 0.2%
Cost per voter $6.95

Pg 10 Government

Evan Burger MLA “when there are two newspapers serving a community such as Crowsnest Pass we try to give equal value to each… government musy be fiscally responsible while recognizing the impact on small business”
Ted Menzies MP “I choose to advertise in as many of the local papers in my riding as possible to ensure that the entire riding receives a copy of my adds”

Pg 11 Equality

Has administration required external advertising to bid?
Calgary Herald, Winnipeg Post, Lethbridge Herald
Has administration evaluated the circulation of the written vs verbal?
Radio is exclusive
More money spent on highway billboard and ski hill web page than local information

Pg 12 Present Proposal

2011 RFP is due Nov 26, 2010
Resolution is to be bid annually
“The opportunity to provide this service will be offered to any business that provides newsprint coverage in the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass, with the intent to tender from now to the end of the year. In the following year the service will be tendered on a calendar year basis.” M#3901-09
Administration asked for 3 year proposal
Why contradiction to resolution?

Pg 13 Conclusion
What is the value of an open and honest government?
Then there is a graph presented that review the dollars spent by all the communities listed above for 2009 and 2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Alberta Tory MLAs defend taking freebies

Interesting article in the Edmonton Journal today check it out.

I am expecting some of my Liberal and NDP friends to come back and tell me how terrible the Conservatives are, and how their party members would never do this.

Crowsnest Pass Council Meeting Nov 2, 2010

Tuesday Nov 2 Meeting of Council

Another light agenda:

No public Hearings

Agenda was adopted with an addition personnel in Camera added by Councilor Mitchell, and the Xmas parade route requested by the Chamber of Commerce under other business
Motion to accept was passed Unanimously

Previous Minutes Both Meeting of Oct 26, (Organizational and Regular Council) were accepted Unanimously

Delegations: Just one as previously reported Lisa Sygutek made a presentation to Council explaining the advantages of advertising in both local papers.
(I will provide more information about the presentation later)

Administration Report:
CAO Lundy gave a presentation, speaking regarding this being his last meeting of Council thanked everybody he had been involved with during his time here.
Spoke to the amount of development permits in town this year, noticed that there are two major projects on the books (Fas Gas renovation and the Devon Wind Turbine)
Notified that the Hillcrest Lagoon would be commissioned by the end of November
All stimulus projects will be completed by the end of March, also suggested that's letters of thanks be sent to the provincial and federal governments
Also corrected a misquote by Ms Sygutek she had stated that the advertising RFP's were for three years, he stated that they were for one year and that both papers were also asked to look at the option of a three year agreements.
A question was asked regarding the relationship between the Municipality and Stantec, how it was determined that Stantec would do all of the municipal engineering. The CAO stated that RFP had gone to a number of engineering firms in 2005/06.

Note: I racked my brains on this one I did not remember that RFP coming back to council in that time frame and I checked the minutes from that time frame, I could not find a motion of council accepting a RFP in those years for engineering (Maybe I missed it)
There was no other administrative reports.
Motion was made to send a letters of thanks to the various Government level passed Unanimously
Motion was made to accept Administrative Reports passed Unanimously

Business arising from the minutes:
Subdivision and Development Appeal Board had two members appointed at the previous meeting only one was required
Motion was made to accept Councilor Gallant on the board passed Unanimously
Motion was made to accept Councilor Londsbury as the alternate also passed Unanimously

Letter from Luke Ouellette regarding the AltaLink Transmission Lines Motion was made to send a letter to Alberta Enviroment which was passed Unaimously

Letter from Spray Lakes Regarding an open house at the Heritage Inn in Pincher Creek Nov 18th 3pm to 8pm, Motion to accept as Information passed Unanimously

Committee Reports
None presented

Bylaw 810, 2010 was presented for first reading Motion passed Unanimously it will now be advertised.

Notices of Motion
Mayor Decoux moved this to later in the meeting after the In camera section

Other Business
Task Force Creation
Mayor Decoux informed council that he is working on this it will consist of no more than seven people, will be completed within 90 days from its conception. He will be bringing it back for council to review at next weeks G +P meeting
Motion was made to accept passed Unanimously

Purchase of chairs for Mayor and Council
Motion was passed Unanimously to spent up to $200 per chair to replace present chairs.
Mayor Decoux also requested that a policy be drawn up for replacing furniture.

Stake out of Construction Site Policy
This was tabled by council due to concerns regarding the language and intent of the policy motion passed Unanimously

Crowsnest Minor Hockey Alberta Pee Wee Championship Tournament
Late March Minor Hockey is attempting to bring the Pee Wee Championship tournament to the Crowsnest Pass (seven teams), they requested Council to give a letter of support which they did by Unanimous vote and requested that fees be waived for that weekend 45 hours of ice time at $57.40 per hour, in return Minor Hockey would make a donation to assist the Municipality in purchasing netting for the Complex.

Xmas parade route
The Chamber requested approval for a road closure for a Xmas parade Motion was passed Unanimously to accept

Council Member Reports
Councilor Mitchell spoke to a Protective Services Meeting he had attended and a Council Orientation put on by George Cuff, Mayor Decoux also spoke about the Cuff orientation and thanked the previous council for providing an excellent report that will provide great guidance for the new Council.

Public Input

At that point Council voted Unanimously to take a short break and go into Camera.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Crowsnest Council up coming issue November 2

Well Tuesday night on the agenda is a visit from Lisa S regarding the Crowsnest Herald.
Later in the month the new council will decide which paper to give the advertising to for 2011.

Or will they abandon the tendering practice that as reduced the cost of advertising considerably????

Be real interesting to see where the new council members sit on this issue, especially the ones that spoke about sound fiscal management.

Last numbers I had available 2008 total advertising was right around $90,000, (last year of advertising in both papers) this year we were on track for less than $30,000 by year end.

Keep in mind each $64,000 is equivalent to 1% of our property taxes.

The smart answer here is to keep saving the taxpayers 1% on there taxes every year, council should take the lowest bid.

Did you know before we tendered the advertising the municipality was paying between $7-800 per page, now we are paying less than $200 per page.

Amazing what a little healthy competition does.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Crowsnest Pass, First Council Meeting Oct 26 2010

It was sure different after six years and probably somewhere between 2-300 meetings in Council Chambers to sit on the other side of the room. But never the less I did and will attempt to attend when I can because this community and what happens to it is very important to me.

The meeting started with the Organizational Meeting, the swearing in and introduction of the new council members, then the various committee appointments were made which the public was not provided a copy of, but I imagine will be available soon.
That meeting was adjourned then the Mayor went on to the regular meeting of council.

Very light agenda (normal for the first meeting).

CAO Lundy spoke about the following:
Highway 3 and the need to meet with Darrel Camplin from Alberta Transportation
Meeting with senior RCMP regarding enhanced policing for events such as Thunder in the Valley
Repairs Off Road Vehicle Trails
Lack of program for Pine Beetle issues on private lands

Each department head then did a short speech to introduce themselves and their departments.

Other Business Included:

Mayor Decoux will be bringing forth a motion to strike up his Task Force.
Council Workshop and Tours week of November 29th
George Cuff will be doing an orientation with council on November 2
Alberta Southwest Information Session on November 3
Chamber of Commerce AGM on November 4
Mayors and Reeves Meeting on November 5
Remembrance Day Services on Nov 11
AAMDC convention Nov 15-17 in Edmonton
AUMA convention Nov 23-25 in Edmonton

Shortly after the meeting was adjourned.

Real meeting start next week.

The Mayor handled himself in what appeared to me to be a very professional manner, due to the lightness of the agenda none of the councilors really had the opportunity to be very involved.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Crowsnest Pass Moving Forward

Well its been a week now since the election, only 1090 days to the next one (but who's counting).

Many lessons to be learnt the first obviously the agony of defeat, but that's OK that's part of what life is all about.

Another lesson is the kindness in the comments made by many good people over the last week those I appreciate.

Next lesson I have learnt is how two faced a "few" people are, they know who they are the one's that say one thing to my face and another behind my back.

After the dismay of losing I have spent the last three or four days asking people where I went wrong, (any constructive comments I would appreciate).
I found real strange the fellow at Tim Hortons that told me that I should have lied to the Quad Squad, I said what do you mean? he said well you told them you would not look at the OHV bylaw but I know of at least three candidates that said they would, but have no intention of doing anything about it. I hope those are not the type of people we elected to our council.

I always prided myself on the ability to understand numbers, and recognize very much the financial situation of the municipality, its massive dependency on the residential tax base.

In a way its almost a relief to know that others are going to have the burden of dealing with that for the next three years, I will watch very curiously to see how well these folks do with that.
Keeping in mind that we raised taxes 3% this year and left the new council with an anticipated surplus of $450,000 for the 2010 financial year.

The commitments that were made during the election, I am very excited to see how the new council follows through with these:
  • The 90 day Task force made up of prominent citizens with some outside expertise.
  • The make up of that committee, and more importantly the recommendations they bring forth and the implementation of such recommendations.
  • The marketing of the community, the rejuvenated economic growth that will be brought forth.
  • Bringing in of new Business and how that will be achieved (Tax Incentives, etc).
  • The ongoing commitment to reduce inefficiencies at the municipality, whether it be the issue of duplication of services and facilities, or anywhere else that tax dollars are not spent effectively.
  • The drive to keep tax increases at or around 0% or even reducing them, budget will be in there laps in November and hopefully keeping with last councils precedent of having it completed prior to year end we will have a clear picture of this council's financial direction in 2010.
  • The issue of affordable housing, where will the homes go, how many will be built, the types of affordable housing, what financial commitment will the municipality make.
  • The Recreation Facility/Indoor Pool, this issue created a lot of conversation and excitement during the election, where will it go, when will it be built, what will it cost the taxpayers.

Now I recognize that all of these commitments will not be achieved over night, but I wish the new council well there are some fairly lofty expectations out there. But when they achieve the things listed above that will be a good sign that this community is doing well.

At the end of the day that is what is most important that the community is successful.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Thank You

The Pass as spoken, I understand that and accept it. Hopefully the people that have been chosen will live up to the promises and committments that they have made.

But on to the more important issue at this time, I want to take a moment to thank all of those people that helped me and supported me, not just this election but the two previous one's.

I want to thank all the people the municipal employees, various boards, committees and volunter groups that I have had the pleasure of working with over the last six years.

Most of all I want to take a moment to thank my wife and family, and my close friends who have stood besides me now, in the past and the future.

Dean Ward

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Dean's Crowsnest Election Poll the results are in.

I know its not scientific, and will not mean a dam thing 31 hours from now, but it will be interesting to say how my readers opinions compare to the actual results.

Here we go:
Ward 84 votes
Saje 69 votes
Gallant 63 votes
Cole 58 votes
Londsbury 55 votes
Macleod 55 votes
Saindon 49 votes
Mitchell 27 votes
Hoff 22 votes
Sygutek 21 votes
Irwin 20 votes
Bottrell 17 votes
Sandau 17 votes
Raines 16 votes
JaegerBaird 14 votes
Thomson 14 votes
Gail 11 votes
Glavin 11 votes
Vaters 6 votes

Irregardless of what's here I wish all candidates good luck. Where ever we all end up on the list I know most of us are running for the best interest of the community.

Crowsnest Centre they just won't let it go!

Received this comment on the 12th.

"Good choice on letting the assets of the Crowsnest Centre go down the road for cents on e dollar. Very community minded. I am sure folks in places like Coaldale, etc are appreciating it! Too bad we don't have something like decent chairs in the Elks hall! Well done!"

This was my response.

The assets of the Crowsnest Centre.

The taxpayers of the Crowsnest Pass and the province of Alberta put over $4 million of their money into the centre over the years.
In 2006 council despite my objections gave the Centre a $35,000 line of credit that we were assured by the supporters of the centre on council that they would pay back, two years later the taxpayers took the hit on that.
Then the board approaches council after all the money that the community as put in to the place and offers us the assets at what the majority of council felt was a very inflated price.
The supporters of the centre again said we were wrong.The assets sold at auction for one third of what the taxpayers were asked to pay.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Crowsnest Pass Voters

The message is getting out there, people are voting apparently the number that turned out for the advance poll was more than double what we had in 2007.

Some clear choices here, you get vote for experience, there are six incumbents running.
You know what positions they took over the last three years if you want to maintain some of those directions then you should seriously consider some of the incumbents.

New Candidates, take a hard look at them please keep in mind that there words today are only promises the voter does not have the benefit of these candidates performance to determine if they are promises that will be followed through.
Interesting the other day I read the candidates promises from 2004, and then compared them to there actual performance. It would be equally interesting to do the same in three years.

The approach that I am hearing more and more of over the last week is that there will be a blend of possibly fifty percent incumbents and fifty percent new candidates.
If that's the will of the voters it makes a lot of sense a mixture of experience with new blood, new ideas.

Just please take a hard look at all of the candidates, and try to see them all for what they really are and make sure that they represent the direction you want to see the community go in.

No point in voting for somebody that saying they are going to look at building new facilities when he really means I'm going to re open the centre.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Crowsnest Pass Food Bank

Yesterday we had a emergency sub division board meeting, to deal with the zoning for the Food Bank, the Food Bank would be placed right across from the Forestry Office building.
Historically this land was sold three years ago to the same developer (Southmore) that developed lots to the west of the Ski Hill.
This developer purchased the land from the municipality with the condition that it be built on within two years, (council position is that this forces developers to build and results in a greater tax base for us).
For reasons that have impacted every developer (recession, lack of builders and or buyers) the developer did not meet his time commitment, so we gave him an extension for the reasons above. During this extension time frame the developer began talking to a non profit group that was looking for an home. The Food Bank, understanding that it takes a while to get a mortgage in this day and age especially for a non profit group the time dragged by past the last extension.
Side note the municipality had promised the Food Bank a piece of land next to the old Blairmore seniors building on the same green belt, as this proposed site. That was subject to the Food Bank getting a mortgage for a building and the town getting the land back if the Food Bank closed, there comes the problem the banks would not have first claim against the land so very difficult to get a mortgage.
So the Food bank worked out a deal with the developer to locate on the land across from the SRD building.
Council then as to make a decision to extend the time frame for another year which we did, today we have an empty piece of land doing nothing for the community, if we took the land back we would have an empty piece of land doing nothing for the community.
Council agrees we extend the time frame, now the Food Bank just as to go in front of sub division board and get zoning. The applicant asks for a special meeting which they have to pay a large sum for to get that approval, they are up against the wall for timing because they want to start the building before freeze up so its completed for a spring opening.
So back to the start we have our sub division board meeting yesterday all the neighbours that are legally required to be informed were mailed notifications.
So we get to the public input part of the meeting and one of the neighbours steps forward to speak, its our Mayor, Mr Irwin he comes forth to speak against the Food Bank location.
Several reasons he believes the building will sit on top of the water line which municipal maps does not show but we agree it should be checked, he argues that the developer did not meet time lines which council understood, accepted and was willing to work with the developer on.
(interesting to hear the sudden interest in making developers accountable)
He also spoke about the loss of green space and area for recreation, even though he had no problem with the piece of green space at the other end of the road being used by the food bank.
In a attempt to stall this until freeze up, with the intent that knowing if the building did not start soon it would push it well back, he requested that it be tabled.
The board agreed based on the water concern but we also recognized the urgency for the food bank and after being told that it could be determined today we tabled the meeting until Monday.

I just found it very interesting to hear our Mayor stand up and try to stop a Food Bank, a building that looks very nice and will fit in with the surrounding area, will never have more than half a dozen cars parked in front of it (That something new for that area). And would only be open for seven hours a week.
Anyway the meeting will held on Monday at 4pm in Council Chambers and anybody that wishes to speak for or against this issue is welcome.

Note: This was passed Monday the 18th by the Sub division board with conditions of course, anybody that's interested can get them from the municipal office.
For the person that asked me by email yes the Mayor (Irwin) did speak against the Food Bank again.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Poll Results to 9:30am October 14 (Three days to vote)

I know its not scientific, and I know blogs only appeal to a certain element of the population.

But some interesting results so far on my Blog and Mr Prince's, the first six choices on my poll are:


The first six on Mr Prince's Blog are:


Same six names, different order but never the less the same six.
Then where it gets really interesting is names through positions seven to ten.

On both they are identical:

Once again I realize, this is not Angus Reid and election day may be totally different, but it is interesting how the names are lining up.
But now the readers of both Blogs if your not happy you still have time to vote.

You can link over to Mr Prince's blog my clicking on "the Pass" under Interesting blogs to the right of my page.

So Vote

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mayor's Poll Crowsnest Pass

Anybody know what happened to the Mayor's Poll on the Herald site no results posted, last I checked Salus was in the lead.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My responses to the Crowsnest Pass Herald

These should be appearing in the Herald today or tomorrow.

1. What specific issues or projects do you feel it is the most important for the Municipality to focus on in the next three years?

a) Economic Development-We need to hire an economic development officer, we will not attract business here without this position, it needs to be an individual hired on a contract basis that as a strong incentive to perform.
b) Tax Base-We must work to increase our tax base by encouraging responsible development working with credible developers.
c) Recreation centre Indoor swimming pool, we need it to attract young families but we must determine how much burden it will place on the taxpayers and bring it back in a plebiscite.

2. How would you rate the current state of the Municipality, both economically and politically?

a) Politically the situation as been greatly exaggerated, the 4-3 vote was created as a smoke screen to detract people away from the real issue “change”. We had a 4-3 vote from 2004-07 and 1998-2001, nobody said a word. Four councilors have voted the same way on a minority of issues it escapes me as to why the other three members of council have not been asked, why they always vote the same way.
b) Economically the municipalities primary employer (mines) are now all working well and thriving. What we lack here other than government is a secondary industry which gets back to the issue of economic development officer.

3. What specific strategies do you feel should be employed to increase the local tax base?

a) Economic Development Officer to attract new business.
b) Development in partnership with credible developers.
c) Making attractive commercial property available to bring in businesses we can not attract those businesses like Pincher has, unless we have highway property available.

4. Short of increasing the tax base, what would you do to promote the continuation of municipal services without dramatic tax increases? Are there any areas where you feel the Municipality should spend less or more than it currently does?

a) We has a community must examine every dollar we spend and determine if we could receive better value at a lower cost. For example it as been many years since we last tendered out our engineering this is an area that we have spent millions of dollars on. How do we know we are receiving a fair deal without tendering it?
b) Where we need to spend more money is on promoting the community, whether it is marketing or economic development, there are literally thousands of communities hoping to attract business, we have to stand out to attract them.