Friday, October 28, 2011

Great Expectations in the Crowsnest Pass-Reality or Smoke and Mirrors

On November 9th at the Elks hall the Mayor will be presenting the strategic plan that will hopefully deal with and resolve the issues that were raised by the Mayor's Taskforce back in May.

I feel from reading the Mayor's report numerous times and based on the comments that I receive from people around town the highest profile issues are the following: The Economy, Tourism, Highway 3, Crowsnest Centre Site, Bridgegate River Run property and Residential Attraction and Retention.
To refresh every body's memories I will include what the Mayor's report had to say on each of these issues. Including the Action, Comments, Timeline, Cost and Source of Funds, and finally the measurement. What you will see below are direct quotes from the Task Force Report.

The Economy:

Adopt a community economic development model:
Disband the current Crowsnest Advisory Committee.
Establish a Community Economic Development Advisory Committee. This committee, established by Council, will advise Council and the EDO and will participate actively in oversight, planning and delivery of results. Council should select members for the Committee through a request for expressions of interest and submission of qualifications. One member of the Committee should be a member of Council. All other members should be chosen based on merit and diversity, resulting in a committee that is representative of the community, including youth and seniors representation.
Hire an Economic Development Officer (EDO) on contract until such time as this position can be added to the Municipal budget.
Establish a budget for administrative support within the budget for the EDO’s office.

The Community Economic Development Advisory Committee is an essential advisory body to work with Council and the EDO to maintain a strategic and effective focus on economic development and bring the voice of the community to these important initiatives.
Hiring an EDO is seen as a top priority in order to implement this Plan and change the direction of the economic future for the community

June-Sept 2011

Cost and Source of Funds
S80,000 per year for EDO salary from Municipal budget

Both in place by the end of Q3 2011


Establish a full-time Tourism Coordinator Position and implement the approved Visitor Friendly Tourism Development Plan.

Community Futures will establish a full-time Tourism Coordinator position. This individual will be responsible for supporting tourism initiatives and will work with the Travel Alberta, the DMO, tourism organizations and operators to achieve tourism growth objectives.

Sept – Nov 2011 and ongoing

Cost and source of Funds
Community Futures budget for Tourism Coordinator

Tourism Coordinator place by Q4 2011

Highway 3

Achieve agreement with the Government of Alberta on the location and timing of the realignment of Highway 3.

The uncertainty around this is a significant barrier to economic development in Crowsnest Pass and clarity will enable commitments from developers on major initiatives. The recent Alberta Competitiveness Council Report, “Moving Alberta Forward”,16 stated the need to increase the province’s ability to supply the Port of Vancouver and improvements to Highway 3 would be a significant contributor to this strategy.

June-November 2011

Cost and Source of Funds

Formal statement on plans for Highway 3

Crowsnest Centre Site

Demolish and remediate the former Crowsnest Centre site and issue an RFP to developers for proposals to redevelop the site.

This site represents a significant opportunity for economic development in the community which must be capitalized on without further delay.

June – Nov 2011

Cost and Source of Funds

New vision for development by Q4 2011

Bridgegate River Run Property

Investigate opportunities to re-appropriate the former Bridgegate River Run property and actively pursue proposals for redevelopment.

This site also represents a significant opportunity for economic development which must be capitalized on without further delay.

Sept 2011 – Dec 2011

Cost and Source of Funds

New vision for development by end of Q4 2011

Residential Attraction and Retention

Develop relationship with Human Resources at Teck and Devon to understand how Crowsnest Pass could assist them in their recruitment and retention processes and attract new residents to Crowsnest Pass:
Work with Teck to identify ways to support their current expansion process.
Identify long-term opportunities for ongoing attraction of employees to the organizations and to Crowsnest Pass, including affordable housing.

Teck and Devon are important partners in the Crowsnest Pass economic future and the relationship with these organizations must be mutually beneficial.

May – June 2011

Cost and Source of Funds
No Cost

Successful attraction of expanded workforce to Teck and Crowsnest Pass

Do you agree with these being the issues, should there be others. What do you feel should be done, and what are your expectations, wishes or hopes for resolution of these issues.
Do you think will are going to see timely achievable resolutions to the problems listed or will it be smoke and mirrors?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

G + P Meeting October 25, 2011

Adoption of Agenda:

CAO deleted item (b) under delegations, added item (c) Special Council Meeting under Topics for discussion, also added a Legal issue under In Camera.

Motion to accept agenda with additions passed unanimously


1. Kevin Phillips, Phillips Partners Inc-Electrical Distribution Overview. The municipality owns roughly half the electrical distribution system within the Crowsnest Pass. Phillips Partners is a private company that assists the municipality in the planning, operations and purchasing of power for that system.

2. Corey Froese-2000 Frank Slide Hazard Assessment-The CAO requested that this be deferred to a G+P meeting in November.

Topics for Discussion:

1. Amendment to Municipal Government Act Re: Advertising.-Administration brought forth a resolution to encourage the provincial government to allow municipals the option to advertise on their web sites, or social media sites instead of in a local newspaper by amending the MGA.

2. Manager of Operational Services-Position award- Administration informed all present that Robert Schultz former operations Manager for the Town of Innisfail would be starting in this position October 31,2011.

3. CAO requested that a Special Council meeting take place at 1pm on Thursday October 27, 2011 to deal with a personnel issue In Camera.

In Camera: Motion to go In Camera passed unanimously.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Council Meeting of October 18, 2011 Crowsnest Pass

Municipality of Crowsnest Pass

Oct 18,2011

Organizational meeting:

Committee Appointments: The only change made during this process was Councilor Mitchell took a position on the Ag Services Board then in turn Councilor Saindon took Mitchell’s place on the Municipal Bargaining Committee.

(The significance of this will be revealed in the next few months as the collective agreement with CUPE expires December 31st)

Motion to accept passed unanimously.

Deputy Mayor: Councilors Gallant and Londsbury agreed to switch positions in the rotation.

Motion to accept passed unanimously.

Meeting adjourned at 7:07pm

Council Meeting of October 18, 2011

Public Hearing: None

Adoption of Agenda: Acting CAO Myron Thompson added a personnel item under In Camera. Also requested Council to defer Item B under other Business to a later date. Motion to accept the Agenda as amended was passed unanimously

Adoption of previous minutes:
Minutes of the Council Meeting of Oct 4, 2011, with a minor correction. Motion to accept was passed unanimously

Delegations: None

Administrative and Agency Reports:
1. Kim Lutz-Appointments to the Agricultural Services Board Council passed a motion to accept Kim Lutz’s recommendations for the Board unanimously.

2. Enmax Contract- Motion to accept passed unanimously.

3. Request to lease road allowance-This involves a garage that as been sitting on municipal property since the late 1970’s on 18ave in Coleman. Motion was made by Councilor Mitchell to have the owner remove the garage at their expense by April 31st 2012. Motion to accept was passed by a vote of 5-2 (Saindon and Gallant opposed)

Business arising from the Minutes: None

1. Royal Canadian Legion Coleman branch. Looking for council member to attend Remembrance day services.

2. Municipal Heritage Board request for funding. They requested the municipality pay for the costs of accommodation and travel to attend a conference. Council informed administration that there was no money in the budget for these types of requests. Motion to deny the request was passed unanimously.

Committee Reports:

1. Minutes of August 23, 2011 G+P committee meeting, no discussion. Motion to accept passed unanimously.
2. Minutes of September 13, 2011 G+P committee meeting, no discussion. Motion to accept passed unanimously
3. Minutes of August 31, 2011 Subdivision and Development Board. Question raised regarding a retaining wall built in Bellevue, CAO Thompson told council the wall must be removed by the end of the month or legal action will begin. Motion to accept passed unanimously

1. Bylaw 834, 2011- Regulated Rate Tariff (all 3 reading). Motion passed first reading unanimously, second reading passed unanimously, consideration for third reading passed unanimously, third reading passed 5-2 (Saindon and Saje opposed)
2. Bylaw 835, 2011 –Default Supplier Tariff. (all 3 reading). Motion passed first reading unanimously, second reading passed unanimously, consideration for third reading passed unanimously, third reading passed 5-2 (Saindon and Saje opposed)

Note: Several councilors complained about being forced by administration to vote on all three readings of the bylaws above. They did not have to, unlike most issues presented at council that require a majority of council to support them before they take effect. Bylaws can only be given all three reading at one meeting only if after second reading all members of council vote in favor of allowing third reading to take place any one councilor could have forced this issue to be readdressed at the next council meeting.

Notices of Motion: None

Other Business:
1. Municipal Heritage Board Appointments/Advertising for new members. Council appointed John Kinnear by unanimous vote to sit on this board to represent the Ecomuseum board. No motion made to advertise the other vacant position.

2. Property Tax Bylaw 821,2011 deferred to a later meeting.

Council Member reports: Some councilors listed of meetings they attended.

Public Input: None

Motion to go In Camera: Passed Unanimously

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fire Departments create much debate in the Crowsnest Pass

Since the announcement in late September there as been a tremendous amount of debate about the changes within the fire departments in the Crowsnest pass.

First of all I feel not enough as been shared with the community, for years here there has been much discussion over the need for four fire departments. Were they all necessary could we get by with three, two, one who knows.

The arguments in favour of four departments given to me were due to the size of the community, and the fact that a lot of volunteers work shift work at the mines it was necessary to have the coverage we do.

The arguments against four departments were the cost of both operating them and the capital costs four fire trucks etc etc.

The two issues that I have heard come up again and again in the last three weeks are the issues of costs and volunteer coverage.

First of all costs, even from the people who felt that we did not need four fire halls, the question as been asked over and over again how does this plan save money. In my time on council the cost of running four fire departments was around $350,000 a year with each department costing anywhere from $75-100,000.
So the question being asked of me is where will the municipality save any money even if you close one, two fire halls. By hiring a full time fire chief, an assistant fire chief, increasing the honorariums and paying an higher rate of pay, this change will increase costs.

The second issue that keeps getting raised is the issue of coverage the new plan calls for ten people to be on call in the community night and day 365 days per year. Is that possible  using only volunteers most of whom work a shift schedule. With eighty firemen maybe, how long is that number going to stay at eighty? Acting CAO Robins stated in the Promoter a couple of issues back that they fully expect that number to drop over time, he also stated that this community has about three times the number of firemen for a community of our size. 

We have not heard the last of this issue, time will tell both how the new structure works and how cost effective it is. I truly hope the community doesn't receive a lessor service by creating a larger bureaucracy.

This is truly a decisive issue look at the polls on this blog 39% of the voters approve the restructuring 60% don't. The Promoter is at an even higher number opposed 67% and the Herald is pretty well spilt at 50/50.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lies and truths in the Crowsnest Pass

Issue of advertisng: Very interested to read the editiorial in the Pass Herald this week I will quote "For example, stating that it was costing taxpayers in the Crowsnest Pass $50,000 a year for advertising is a blatant lie"

Well folks lets set the record straight first of all the issue of advertising was on the G+P meeting agenda last night which was discussed by council for almost a half hour. Within that discussion is was pointed out by administration that the sum of between $6-700,000 as been spent in the last seven years on advertising. I have trouble with my math but that comes out to close to $100,000 per year.

Second of all I would like to point out the following:  go to November 2, 2010 Council Meeting Minutes on page 2 is a report on Ms Lisa Syguteks presentation to council regarding advertising it states the following regarding 2008 advertising costs  (remember it was tendered out for 2009 and 2010).
  • 2008 advertising in the Crowsnest Pass Herald – approximately $30,000
  • 2008 advertising in the competitor– approximately $35,000
For those of you that don't know Ms Sygutek is the publisher of the Pass Herald. If anybody requires further information I have the numbers for at least two years prior to 2008 just have to spend a little time digging them up.

But you don't have to take my word for it check with the municipality $700,000 for the last seven years and check the minutes from Nov 2,2010

More to follow:

Always intrigued me to watch a politician attempt to play both sides of an issue, the MGA does not require municipalities to advertise everything they do, the legal requirement calls for just a few issues to be advertised.
So last night within the debate about advertsing administration states that $6-700,000 as been spent in the last seven years. One of the councilors asks the question what would that number have been if we had only advertised what we were legally required to. Administration states that it would have been approximatly a $100,000.
Then Councilor Gallant speaks up he states the following "You know I supported us advertising in both papers it was important to communicate with the public to get our message out, but I also believe that we should only be advertising what the MGA requires us to do"
Well you can't have it both ways the CAO as just told you that if the municipality had advertised what it was legally required to do the advertising would have been cut by 85%. But on the other hand you stated it was important to advertise in both papers to communicate with the public!