Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Great Video of the Crowsnest Pass

I have received a number of requests to make available this great video of the Crowsnest Pass which I had previously posted on my blog, this was produced for Rocky Mountain Properties. What really impressed me was the job they did promoting all of the really good things about the Crowsnest Pass.


For the other folks that requested to see the Bridgecreek video. I do not have a copy right now but I am trying to locate one. If anybody can help by emailing me a copy I would be glad to post that also.

Follow up on Bridgecreek (latest development)

After my post of August 18 http://crowsnestpasshome.blogspot.com/2010/08/crowsnest-pass-and-bridgecreek.html .

Take a look at the story that came out in the local paper, and the spin that's been put on it to create the impression that council chased away a credible development that was looking to bring affordable housing to the Crowsnest Pass. The individual in the story makes its sound like this community and council have never supported him. (It must be getting close to an election, and then they use the same individual to spin the story even further to give credibility to blaming council for all of the problems in the Pass)
The story is available at http://www.passherald.ca/ also on the side of that page is a poll asking if you agree or disagree with councils position please participate and let the world know if you feel we made the right choice.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

How to push people away from your community. Taxes and more Taxes

Over the years I have always taken the position that Taxes should not be raised by more than the cost of living. Governments at every level need to look at areas of waste and inefficiencies and do every thing than can to be more efficient, before they increase the burden on the average taxpayer.
In this day and age communities are in competition to attract new people especially rural communities, the mines have hired a lot of people who have had the option to live here or in the Elk Valley, one of the important factors that plays in to that decision is Taxes, the cost of living in their chosen community.

The District of Sparwood has been tracking the cost of Taxes and Utilities between themselves and the surrounding communities. They used a typical, similar 1200 square foot home from each community.

Crowsnest Pass Taxes $2,352.04 Utilities $712 .44 for a total of $3,064.48
Fernie Taxes $2529.30 Utilities $ $539.79 for a Total of $3,069.09
Elkford Taxes $2063.73 Utilities $375.00 for a Total of $2,438.73
Sparwood Taxes $1,657.95 Utilities $663.60 for a Total of $2,321.55

That puts the Crowsnest Pass at a disadvantage versus Sparwood and Elkford, with our Taxes and Utilities being a full 32% higher than Sparwood and 26% higher than Elkford.

We as a community must be prudent financially to lessen this gap, we need to give people reasons to come here, not to choose elsewhere.

Every candidate in this coming election should be asked their position on raising Taxes, and anybody that as previously sat on council should be asked how they voted when there was tax increases much higher than the cost of living on the table.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Development in the Crowsnest Pass And Security Requirements

I have been asked by a number of people in the last few days about my Notice of Motion requiring security being provided to the municipality prior to a developer commencing a project.
The Motion appears below, I think we all understand the reasoning for it! maybe not read below, after the Motion.

Notice of Motion
"From this day, forth the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass shall require that all applicants entering into a development agreement within the boundaries of the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass.
Shall provide the Municipality one hundred percent (100%) of the performance security that is sufficient to ensure that all of the terms of the development agreement are fulfilled to the satisfaction of the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass.
All funds must be in the legal possession of the Municipality prior to the applicant commencing any part of the development agreement.
Under no circumstances will any developer be permitted to commence any type of excavation, stockpiling of materials, or disturbance of the land in question prior to the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass having the agreed to security deposit in its legal possession."

This Motion was debated on Tuesday night, with council choosing to send it to committee meeting to clarify the language (August 24).
The good Mayor attempted to argue that this would stop anybody from doing any kind of work on their properties, which everybody that knows that stuff, is covered of by a development permit.
This motion clearly only applies to development agreements, everybody understands that the purpose of this is to stop the possibility of a developer coming in making a hell of a mess, and leaving the community to live with it for years to come, with no financial recourse to clean up. I am not talking about stopping John Smith from building a shed in his back yard without a Million dollars in security being put up.
Maybe somebody is going to argue that we should take this risk again down the road.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Crowsnest Pass and Bridgecreek Development

At council on Tuesday August 17, we received a request from Bridgecreek to rezone the old glass shop in Blairmore from C2 to Direct Control. (Next door to the Blairmore Legion)
In the background information they informed us that they needed the property to be Direct Control because their proposed development (24 bungalow style residences) would not conform with present R3 guidelines in our municipal Land Use Bylaw.
In the information package they also informed us that they would be requesting Council to waive the "Off site levy charge" for the project. At approximatly $5000 a units it would be a loss to the municipality of $120,000.
A Motion was made be Councilor Taje to support first reading of the rezoning request, the Motion was defeated by a vote of 4-3 with Mayor Irwin Councilors Mitchell and Taje in favour.
Councilors Cole, Macleod, Salus and Ward opposed.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Crowsnest Pass politics Mayor Irwin major annoucement.

Mayor Irwin tonight announced his intentions for the coming election.
Stated tonight because of his age and number of years of service, he will not be running for the position of Mayor, but to allow the municipality to maintain access to his wealth of knowledge he will run for the position of Councilor.
Does this really mean that he is looking to lighten his load, or his he looking to install a puppet in the Mayors position and pull the strings in the background.
If the latter is the case who's the puppet?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Tendering of Municipal Engineering in the Crowsnest Pass

Over the weekend I spoke to a number of people about my letter to the editor regarding the "Sentinel Bridge", which is really about a much larger issue that of the lack of tendering of Municipal Engineering for the Crowsnest Pass Infrastructure projects.
Below is the letter I sent to the paper, I would like to reinforce once again this is not about questioning the quality of work provided by Stantec. Its only about ensuring that we have the best possible deal we has a Municipality can receive for our engineering.

Dear Editor

I would like to respond to a recent article in the local media. Intriguing to see it titled “On a Baffling Council Issue”, I read articles and columns every week that at first glance appear to discuss a local issue and then very quickly become a political tool for certain parts of the media to paint an impression of an issue, or the person involved that is what’s “baffling”.
Lets talk about the article, first of all clarification Council was discussing the Engineering for the bridge out at Sentinel, not the actual building of the bridge itself. The province as only offered to cover the cost of the engineering at this time; the article implies that the province as committed to build the bridge that is not correct. Once the engineering is done, we would enter the line up of projects seeking provincial funding, we all no, how fast that works look at the progress on the Highway 3 issue.
The bridge engineering was brought to Council’s attention on July 20, at that point, we had a debate about the issue and yes, I had concerns. I am a strong believer that every dollar of taxpayer’s money should be used to receive the maximum value. How do we do that? One of the ways is by tendering out for services that the municipality requires, a very large cost we have incurred over the years is engineering.
All of this engineering as been performed by the firm of Stantec for at least the last seven years. Now I have no issue with Stantec they appear to be providing us with whatever we need from an engineering point of view, are they charging us a competitive rate? Maybe, neither I nor the rest of the Council knows because we have not tendered out for that service.
This issue has been raised on various occasions over the last three years, Council was told that we could not look at other engineering firms because all of the various projects that the municipality was working on were already started by Stantec as part of our long term Infrastructure plan and that to bring in another firm would duplicate work and costs.
So along comes the Sentinel Bridge project, which is a totally separate project from any of our present Infrastructure and presents a good opportunity to see if other companies are interested in bidding on our engineering work, for whatever reason the Mayor decided not to call for a vote on the issue at that time. So yes, when it was raised on August 10 there was not that much debate that had already happened
It also astounds me that people that are often critical about the ways the Municipal government spends their tax dollars, make comments about not understanding why council would be concerned because the engineering was fully funded by the province.
(Are those not tax dollars)
In conclusion my issue was not the Sentinel Bridge Engineering, it is the fact that we have for at least the last seven years, handed over millions of dollars in taxpayers money to one company to do all of our engineering with no competition to see if we are getting the best deal.

Dean Ward

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Highlights of August 3 Council Meeting Crowsnest Pass

Lethbridge College is in the process of moving the Education Consortium to the MDM community centre, the lease on the relocation as now been signed by all parties.

The grant funding for our Infrastructure projects is starting to flow in last week we received $850,000 of our MSI grant. To this point the line of credit as not been used.

Council by a vote of 4-2 awarded the engineering for the Sentinel bridge to Stantec.

Two Notices of Motion were brought forth the first by Councilor Taje, requesting that council oppose the relocation of the power lines to the base of the valley going through the Frank area.

The second Notice of Motion was by Councilor Ward to bring forth a policy that no development agreements will be approved or developments allowed to proceed in the future without adequate security agreements being in place.

We also received an appraisal of the Crowsnest Centre which came in at a value of $1.4 million if the land was vacant, and between $1.75 to $2.3 million for the land and buildings. (depreciated replacement value)

Council also set the date for the advance poll at October 13 10am to 8pm at the Elks Hall in Blairmore

Council also selected August Kollee to be the returning officer.