Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Crowsnest Employer suffers serious incident

A large number of residents of the Crowsnest Pass, work at the Greenhills mine in Elkford.
There was a very serious incident yesterday thank God nobody was hurt. Depending how serious the damage was, and the course of action Teck takes will determine the impact on its employees and the local economy.

June 29, 2010
Teck Reports Serious Incident at Greenhills
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - June 28, 2010) - Teck Resources Limited (TSX: TCK.A and TCK.B, NYSE: TCK) ("Teck") reported that an explosion occurred in the coal dryer at Teck's Greenhills coal mine near Elkford British Columbia today at approximately 3.15 p.m. All employees, visitors and contractors have been accounted for. Four employees have been treated for minor smoke inhalation. Teck has mobilized teams to control a brush fire triggered by the explosion. The cause of the accident is not known at this time. Damage to the dryer building is extensive. It is expected to be several days before the damage can be fully assessed and the extent of the interruption of production at Greenhills can be estimated.Regulatory agencies and authorities have been notified.Teck has an 80% interest in Greenhills. Greenhills's planned 2010 production was approximately 4.3 million tonnes of metallurgical coal, of which Teck's share is approximately 3.4 million tonnes.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Walking Trails in the Crowsnest Pass

Did you know walking is listed by more people than any other form of exercise, has the number one favourite type of recreation.
In the Pass we have developed a master plan for walking trails that will eventually link all parts of our community from the lakes out to Leitch Collieries, this plan is available on the municipal web site http://www.town.crowsnestpass.ab.ca/
A lot of people deserve credit for this accomplishment, the previous council for starting the process, (those members that supported it and even those that didn't who are now taking credit), our community services department, the present council for continuing with it. Almost all of the trails have been funded with grants (not residential tax dollars). We now have a Walking Trails Coordinator Jenice Smith based at the MDM who is working very hard to get the corporate sector involved.
We really need to give credit this week to a couple of corporations who stepped up to the plate this week, namely Spray Lakes Sawmills to the tune of $10,000 and Turtle Mountain Pharmacy $6000.
Also did not want to miss businesses that have given support previously, Mountain Radio, Full Moon Adventure Company, A&B Liquor Store, and Prima Technical Services.
The Walking Trails are a great accomplishment for this community, and are utilized by a lot of people.

Wildrose Party grows again?

Today at 2pm Danielle Smith Leader of the Wildrose Party is holding a press conference, prior to her parties convention.
The rumour mill is running rampant that former Conservative Party MLA and Tory Minister Guy Boutilier will be joining the party.
Will this be another nail in the coffin for Ed Stelmach?
With the annoucement yesterday that the province's deficit was only $1 billion last year, I am assuming that was suppose to be a good news story to deflect from what the Wildrose is doing this weekend.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Alberta Electoral Boundaries Commission

The Alberta Electoral Boundaries Commission released its report today, the number of MLA's will increase by four to eighty seven, with one addition in Edmonton, two in Calgary and the Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo will be spilt into two ridings.


The impact on the Livingston-Macleod will be the following:
The Blood Reserve is transferred to Cardston-Taber-Warner. The portion of the existing Highwood electoral division south of High River and a small area on the Northwest is transferred to this electoral division. The portion of the existing Foothills-Rocky View electoral division south of the Tsuu T'ina Nation Reserve is transferred to this electoral division.
The population of the new riding will be 42,420 3.77% higher than the average riding.

Movie Gallery in the Crowsnest Pass

It as been recently implied to me that the Movie Gallery in the Crowsnest Pass is closing down due the actions of our local government, here is the real story. Could this perhaps be another example of the type of Miss Information circulated in the Pass for many, many years

Movie Gallery closing most of its stores in Canada

Edmonton and area stores liquidating assets

EDMONTON — Movie Gallery Canada is closing 131 of its video-rental stores and selling off $33 million of inventory, the companies handling the liquidation announced Friday.
"The at-home video rental market has become increasingly more challenging with the rise of strong competition from cable providers, Internet, kiosk operators and subscription-based mail-delivery services," said David Peress, president of Hudson Capital Partners.
The Movie Gallery chain has closed its U.S. stores and is shuttering the majority of its Canadian locations.
A Canadian store-closing liquidation sale is being handled by a joint-venture group including Hudson, Schottenstein Bernstein Corp. and Tiger Capital Group.
Starting today, everything in the closing stores will be sold at discount prices, including DVDs, Bluray movies, video games and store fixtures. The sale is expected to last six weeks.
There are 51 Movie Gallery and VHQ stores in Alberta, including two Edmonton locations at 2347 & 2349 Rabbit Hill Rd. and 18352 Lessard Rd. as well as stores in Fort Saskatchewan, Leduc and Stony Plain.Read more: http://www.edmontonjournal.com/business/Movie+Gallery+closing+video+rental+stores/3143493/story.html#ixzz0sGk34khn

Ottawa $55 Billion deficit and we are subsidizing Business

My fellow blogger Mr Prince beat me to it! http://blog.johnprince.ca/2010/06/pork-barreling-politics-alive-and-well.html

I ask the question how does the average Joe on the street get his information on politics, it should be through a totally unbiased media that reports the "news". How can the media be unbiased when it is paid off by the government in power. On the release below you will see that Ted Menzies is providing $420,605 to the local "unbiased" media in his riding.
When you do the math on 308 riddings that's $129,546,340 that's a lot of money.


Does anybody know anything about this program? when did it start, who brought it in? why are the feds doing this?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Crowsnest Seniors Housing Board Looking for support

June 22 Mrs Pat Lundy Chairperson of the Crowsnest Seniors Housing Board approached council looking for support to expand the York Creek Lodge.
The present Lodge opened in July 1980, it has 58 units 52 of which are singles and 6 are doubles.
The rooms and hallways are to small for to days standards, most rooms are only 200'ft and the hallways are only 5 feet wide.
The board told us where are losing seniors to other communities where they can receive a higher standard of care.
They also informed us that they were informed by Alberta Health Services that there is a need for 65 more beds (40 DAL 20 DALD Dementia beds, and 5 Community support beds)
They intend to submit a grant request to the Alberta government in August, which will include a needs assessment that was conducted to support the numbers above.
There will be a public presentation on July 7th at 7:30pm at the York Creek Lodge for anybody interested.
The Board is estimating that the cost could be anywhere from $22-26 million, they are anticipating grants from the Alberta Government for 50-75%, a $1 million commitment from the community, corporate support, and a mortgage for the balance.
The $1 million from the community is to demonstrate to the province that the community recognizes the needs of our seniors and supports them.
With 50% of our population 55 or older this is a issue that must be addressed.

Update Crowsnest Pass on Municipal Finances

The audited financial report is in for the Municipality, this year the audit was conducted by Young Park and McNab out of Lethbridge.

Here's the highlights, the first number will be year end 2009 the second number year end 2008:

Municipal Taxes Collected $6,359,661 versus $6,115,266

User Fees and Sales of Goods $4,195,220 versus $4,205,213

Taxes and grants in place of Taxes Receivable $357,519 versus $268,407

Employee Benefit Obligations $342,193 versus $358,071

Long Term Debt $1,751,989 versus $1,894,731

Reserves $1,371,184 versus $1,326,757

Alberta School Foundation Fund $2,234,452 versus $2,134,806
Crowsnest Pass Senior Housing $167,766 versus $152,515

Salaries Wages and Benefits $4,572,803 versus $4,339,524

Salary and Benefits for Council $102,210 versus $102,220

Chief Administrative Officer $114,438 versus $120,921

Designated Officers $250,959 versus $239,993

Debt Limit as set by the MGA $18,710,717 actual debt $1,751,989

Consolidation of Controlled Corporations
Crowsnest Centre Revenue $274,382 Expenses $402,776 Loss of $128,394
Libraries Revenue $152,600 Expenses $144,266 Profit of $8,334

Unrestricted Surplus $234,061 versus $65,332

Copies of the financial statement are available at the Municipal Office

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Miss Information in the Crowsnest Pass

Had a call today from a taxpayer, who was very upset (to say the least) that he could no longer change his oil on his car at home. He was told in one of our local coffee shops it was all the fault of Council and the new Community Standards Bylaw.
Well I asked him if he had read the bylaw, to my surprise the answer was no. So I asked him to take a look at the Municipal Website have a read, especially of Section 13 and give me a call back.
Available at http://www.town.crowsnestpass.ab.ca/
About two hours later he called me back, he told me the source of his information obviously either did not understand the bylaw or misled him. (Hard to believe).
I would ask everybody to have a read of the bylaw, the intent was never to take away the opportunity for people to do anything on there property it was to clean up the community, should not be that big of a deal 95% of our taxpayers all ready follow the standards laid out by the bylaw.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Got a lot of spare time looking for a job in the Crowsnest Pass

Financial Statements were provided at the June 15th Council meeting here is what each member of council received for remuneration in 2009

---------------------2009------------ 2008

Mayor Irwin -------$20,920--------- $18,440
Councilor Salus -----$15,440--------- $18,190
Councilor Mitchell --$14,380--------- $14,020
Councilor Ward ----$14,210---------- $13,640
Councilor Cole -----$13,850---------- $13,010
Councilor Macleod -$12,320---------- $11,250
Councilor Taje -----$11,090---------- $13,670

Monday, June 14, 2010

Looking for historical information on Crowsnest Pass Councils

I was asked the following by one of my readers can anybody help, I know some of the details but not all.

"Different question I was reading the various Corporate reviews available on the Municipal Site.
Came accross the following comments from the Review of May 17,2000.
"There is currently a perception of block voting by the Mayor and councillors, with many items receiving the same spilt vote.
"Which Mayor was this, who were the councillors and what was the spilt?
None of these people would be sitting on the present council would they?
I think I know the answer and the word hypocrit, is flowing through my mind."

Friday, June 11, 2010

Crowsnest Pass Indoor swimming Pool

Last Friday June 4th I attended a presentation put on by our Grade six students, (who did a great job) they were spilt up in to small groups 3-4 kids and each group tackled a different subject. One of the groups was looking at an Indoor Swimming pool.
Great idea and I agree it would be an great addition to our community, and probably would attract some young families here.

I tried to find information on what it would cost to provide a decent facility, the best way to do this is to find a community that's going through it now.
Below is a link to the "Kicking Horse Lifestyle Centre" proposed for the Town of Golden BC, Mountain Community like ourselves, population 4000 immediate rural area takes it to 7200, their proposed facility is an Aquatic Centre with a surf park, six lane swimming pool, Theatre/multi purpose meeting rooms, Health and Wellness centre, and a Food and Beverage area.
The cost of there facility is $11,857,000 they have assumed that it is going to pay to operate itself in the first year (Based on 101,000 users per year) and make a small profit by the fifth year of operation. They have also assumed that they will not receive any grants for the facility.

Payments on $12,000,000 over twenty five years at 4% interest would cost $760,085 per year.

Using a couple of different assumptions we will provide some costs to do the same in the Pass.

We in the Crowsnest Pass will collect $6.6 million in residential taxes this year, $760,085 would represent an 11.5 % tax increase our taxes average roughly $2000 per year so that would cost the average taxpayer $230 per year.

Assume that half that cost is covered by grants and we only have to finance $6,000,000 then the cost per tax payer would be $115 per year.

Now the operational side, their projections count on the facility receiving 101,000 users per year or 277 people every day of the year. Is that realistic?

Last year the Town of Pincher subsidized their pool by approximately $350,000 the taxpayers subsidize our present pool to the tune of $150,000 per year so the additional cost would be $200,000 per year or the equivalent of another 3% increase per year or $60 on the average tax bill.

Now recognizing that we are only comparing to the proposal below because it gives us a baseline to work with, we could do something bigger, smaller whatever the taxpayers would like to see.
The question becomes would our taxpayers be prepared to pay the additional costs, keep in mind that half our taxpayers are 55 or older and either on fixed incomes or soon to be.
I look forward to comments.

Approximate costs per taxpayers

Facility fully financed ($12,000,000) $230 per year plus $60 per year to operate equals $290 per year.
Facility half financed ($6,000,000) $115 per year plus $60 per year to operate equals $175 per year.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Interesting Population Stats on the Crowsnest Pass and surrounding area

The following stats reflect the population decline in the Crowsnest Pass and surrounding area from 1981 to present.

----------------1981---1986---1991---1996---2001---2006---2006 vs 81

Crowsnest Pass--7340---7577---6680---6356---6262---5749-----78%

Elkford BC-------3126---3187---2846---2729---2589---2463-----79%

Sparwood BC----4157---4540---4211---3982---3812---3618-----87%

Fernie BC-------5444---5188---5012---4877---4611---4217------77%

Pincher Creek---3825---3800--3660---3659---3666---3625-----95%


Why the analysis? well first of all I know we have a problem with population decline in the Crowsnest Pass, and we all know that there are obvious reasons for that.
I also have a theory that the population decline is directed related to the work practices of our largest employer (BC coal mines). I have long taken the position that the implementation of the four on four off schedule at the mines had a huge impact on our community. These numbers I believe support that, if you look above the four on four off schedule was implemented in 1983-84 the numbers peak in 1986. The work schedule was relatively new at that point and only a few people were living outside the area, as time marched on more and more mine employees realized the mobility that schedule provides them.
Prior to that time nobody had more than two days a week off, much more difficult to live outside the area.
If you examine the numbers CNP, Elkford and Fernie suffered relatively the same decline in population, 21 to 23%. Where Sparwood dropped 13% still significant but not as bad as the others, I would argue that Sparwood did not suffer to the same degree due to it being blessed with logistics, being right in the middle of all the mines.
Then to further prove my theory I provided the numbers for the Town of Pincher Creek close to our area but not very dependent on the mines for employment, its population only dropped 5% over that same time frame, which I'm sure you would find is consistent with rural Alberta outside of the energy sector.
You may ask why is this information relevant?
Well barring the mines going back to eight shifts, (which will never happen the employees like the four days off and it is more efficient for the employer)
Our resident population is going to keep declining in the overall area, even with the mines hiring people are finding that they can live in Lethbridge and work here.
The competition between local communties to attract people moving here is going to become more and more fierce. People that do choice to live here are going to look at the individual communities, and determine which best suits their needs we will never be able to compete with the towns in the Elk Valley as far as proximity but we have to compete with them in other ways. Appearance is a prime example.

A sad but relevant story

Last weekend I went and spent the weekend in Missoula Montana.
While there I was sitting in the Mall on a bench killing time while the wife was shopping, I started chatting with a fella sitting at the next table to me. In the course of the conversation I found out that he was from Sparwood, moved there from Calgary last year for a job at the mine running equipment, with his wife and two young kids.
Being the curious person that I am I asked him why did he pick Sparwood, why not the Pass.
To which he replied that he originally looked at Fernie, Sparwood, Elkford and the Pass, ruled out Fernie because he felt it was too expense, ruled out Elkford because his family felt it was out of the way, lacked choices in shopping etc.
So he got down to a choice between a house in the Pass and one in Sparwood, finally picked Sparwood because he felt the area was more attractive. I was a little surprised with this comment, so I asked how can you say that we have all of the attractions of the outdoors that Sparwood does.
To which he replied "I am not talking about the out doors I am talking within your community" he went on further to challenge me to take a ride around Sparwood and point out the number of homes where you have driveways full of decrepit vehicles, where you have buildings that look like they have been falling a part for the last sixty years.

Why do I raise this story now? well for one its relevant based on what the majority of this council believes in as far as cleaning up our community.
The main reason and its truly sad we need to bring families like this to the Pass, we need the income levels that the mines pay, we need those people to spend their dollars in the community supporting our local businesses and we need those kids in our school system.
A family lost because some of us do not want to clean up, and that is sad.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Letter they would not publish, Censorship in the Crowsnest Pass

I have received a number of calls from people interested in the letter that the paper refused to publish, it was plain and simply an attempt to respond to the comments made about me by The Thunder in the Valley Committee last week. They presented the arguement that they did not want to provide me the opportunity to have "free" advertising in their paper. I attempted to explain my comments on the Thunder in the Valley weekend, and my clarification statement clearing showing that in no way was I attempting to attack that event, group or persons involved.
But I understand they own the paper and wish to create a certain mindset about myself in the eyes of the community.
I just find it hard to believe, especially after all the speechs I have heard over the years regarding "free speech," I feel its only fair if you are going to attack somebody that you are prepared to give them the opportunity to defend themselves.
But I guess if your goal is only to get one side of the story out, and make an individual look as bad as possible, so be it.

Dear Editor

In response to the Thunder in the Valley Committee, letter than appeared in the paper of June 1, 2010.
The comments related to myself, concerns information I posted on my own personnel blog. As regular readers of my blog are aware I am often asked questions about the municipality and especially about where our tax dollars are spent. I always attempt to answer every question that is directed to me, that is part of a councilors job, to address all taxpayers concerns.
Anyway, here is the rest of the story; on May 6, I posted my original comments, Titled “Thunder in the Valley”
“Great weekend that draws lots of people in to the Valley, and is a boon for most of our businesses, every year I am asked what does it cost us the taxpayers. So here are the budget numbers for 2010.Donation for Fireworks $4500, Traffic Control $6200, Policing $10000, Garbage + Toilets $11500, Activties + Entertainers $18000, Total $50200This number does not allow for any municipal wages that go into the weekend.”
This came about from a number of people that requested from me what Thunder in the Valley weekend costs the taxpayers of the Crowsnest Pass. I did not get a whole lot of reaction outside of my blog until a few people approached me last week, so I went back to my comments and realized that the comments needed clarification.
On May 27 I posted the following comments, Titled “Thunder in the Valley Clarification” Taken a bunch of heat in the last few days about my post May 6 2010 "Thunder in the Valley"So today I am going to clarify things so a few narrow minded people do not take the opportunity to make political hay out of my comments.Yes, I made a mistake on the title it should have been Rum Runner Days & Thunder in the Valley. I did not intend to focus all of the attention on just Thunder in the Valley.Second the reason for the post, often I receive requests on where "your" tax dollars are spent, when I am asked I attempt to supply that information, I was asked in person via email and phone what the taxpayers spent on this weekend, I posted that information.For example, I was asked last week how much we spent on snow clearing this year versus last, why would I not supply that information?Do I has a councilor have the right to say I am not going to tell you?
Third, I have been accused of attacking groups that put this event on, not true read the post whom do I attack in my post. Look at the words “Great weekend that draws lots of people in to the Valley" which of those words are negative?"and is a boon for most of our businesses" which of those words are negative? quite the contrary I think they speak very positively about the whole weekend.Now do I have concerns about this weekend? of course when you have 30,000 people here if one percent of them are idiots that is 300 people, (could do a lot of damage in a small town). Yes, I see that side of it, I work that weekend as a jail guard at the local RCMP establishment and I see what those people have to contend with.
As far as the comments to my post, I post almost all of the comments that I receive go back and read some of the Crowsnest Centre stuff on this Blog some of the comments I received they were not all favorable to myself. The only comments I have refused to post since I started this blog were a couple of which I believed to be libel, and a couple of comments that made fun of a local person’s medical condition.Anyway, back to the point of this "clarification" the original post was presented as an answer to questions I was asked by taxpayers. In addition, under no circumstances was it an attack on any individual or group(s), and if somebody took it that way I apologize.The idiots put aside this weekend brings a lot of good, business, and publicity to this town”
If you wish to read the original comments they are all available at http://crowsnestpasshome.blogspot.com/ further if you do not agree with something I have to say, or a position I take, you can always contact me through my blog, via email, phone or in person.

Dean Ward

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Community Standards Bylaws Crowsnest Pass

The finalized bylaw is available at the following site.

http://www.town.crowsnestpass.ab.ca/ down on the bottom left hand corner.

It was sitting on the Mayor's desk last night waiting for his signature.