Next came the presentation of the Top 40 initiatives to turn our community around. At this point Mayor Decoux allowed each member of council to stand up to present a page or two of his strategic plan.
I have listed each point and included a short comment with each.
1. Improve the way we do business through enhanced
planning, processes, procedures and communications.
All good things that every council does, very costly MDP will be at least $60,000
2. Establish a systematic, orderly and universal process for development.
Every development is unique especially in an area like this, can one size fit all work?
3. Conduct a feasibility study to determine which Municipal buildings need to be replaced or consolidated.
Previous councils started this process the information provided allowed the cost of this to drop to $54,000 instead of $95,000.
4. Review municipal organizational structure.
Will talk about this again later but previously we had four departments with five administrators we will now have three departments with up to seven administrators.
5. Create one Crowsnest Pass Fire and Rescue Department with one Chief and multiple Substations.
Will talk about this again later.
6. For programs and services provided, ensure all revenue opportunities are maximized. This is usually code for "how much more do we have to pay"
7. Establish a Community Economic Development Advisory Committee.
Hopefully this is not going to be a the same people as Community Futures(nothing against those people, let them carry on doing their job)we do not need to duplicate what they are already doing we
need to have new people with new ideas involved.
8. Create a plan to attract new development, business and industry.
Every council talks about this and wants to attract new business can be very costly especially when you start talking about "Offer incentives for relocation of industry" or "the addition of an Economic Development Officer"
9. Explore opportunities for enhanced post-secondary education and Centres of Excellence in the community.
Centre of Excellence in Field Studies in Crowsnest Pass. as been ongoing for at five years.
10. Explore the advantages and disadvantages of being in the power distribution business.
Our electrical distribution system as been subsidizing our power rates for thirty years.
11. Raise the profile of Crowsnest Pass with external audiences including the development of an integrated website.
Previous council looked at this very expensive to create and maintain.
12. Once new website is in place, launch a high intensity integrated communications strategy to support economic development activities.
Work with advertising agency to develop and implement this strategy. This will not come cheap.
13. Move forward on the implementation of the key recommendations of the approved Visitor Friendly Tourism Development Plan.
Consider marketing seed money through Council budget. Just a matter of money.
14. Establish a committee to review and re-develop Rum Runner Days and Thunder in the Valley with a focus on increasing safety and increasing potential for economic benefit to the community and local businesses.
I look forward to the improvements this coming July, this weekend as become extremely expensive for the municipality. But is so important To our business sector.
15. Raise the visibility of the multi-use, multi-season trail system as the premier North American attraction for these activities.
Absolutely future councils need to continue the good work that prior councils began over the last six years keep in mind that 95% of the funding for trails was in place or had been applied for prior to this council taking office.
16. Establish a Tourism Board to advise Council.
Another cost who will lead, administrate, pay for.
17. Seek opportunities to develop events that will attract tourists to Crowsnest Pass.
All councils have done this in the past, its not that long ago a group came to council with a really great idea, that council embraced and encouraged in every way it could "Sinister 7"
18. Review Terms of Reference, accountability and marketing of Pass Powderkeg to ensure economic sustainability.
All recreation facilities are subsidized, the question is always how many and to what degree. If anybody believes this facility places a burden on the taxpayer wait until you get an indoor swimming pool.
19. Achieve agreement with the Government of Alberta on the location and the timing of the realignment of Highway 3 so that this can be included in the Municipal Development Plan.
This as already been addressed the word "agreement" almost gives the impression that both parties were involved, the reality as always been that the province "tells"
20. Complete a Commercial Feasibility Study and Develop a Site Master Plan for the Former Crowsnest Centre.
It was appreciated hearing the Mayor agree with the previous position of council that the municipality could not afford this facility, that it had tremendous problems and the best thing was to make the site available for a hotel.
21. Develop an enhanced relationship with the provincial and federal governments and lobby for increased employment opportunities in Crowsnest Pass.
The Mayor was right most levels of government are centralizing their facilities not expanding.
22. Build partnerships and networks to enhance ongoing economic development opportunities.
All councils do this on an ongoing basis I look forward to the results over the next two years. The only problem when you get more than two parties together everybody sees a sense of entitlement for themselves and expects the largest piece of the pie.
23. Develop a strategy to enhance amenities for families and seniors to attract long-term residents to the community.
I hope we can find enough money to afford the amenities we have without increasing taxes.
24. Lobby the provincial government to retain and maintain the wilderness access roads for tourism and recreation activities.
This is all about the Atlas road and as been ongoing for a number of years. Spray Lakes is almost finished logging in that area. Many groups including the municipality want to maintain that road bottom line will be who steps up to the plate to pay for it.
25. Establish a dialogue with stakeholders regarding the expansion of Crowsnest Pass.
This as been going on for years, its basically hoping that one of our neighbours will give up some of its tax base to increase ours. Check out Cold Lakes efforts over the last fifteen years.
26. Approach the provincial government relative to a Crowsnest Pass Unique Area designation.
Last council convinced the province to give us special status, which allowed us to access both rural and urban grants. Council prior to that used the Crowsnest Regulation to have the province pay for our policing. You can only go cap in hand so many times.
27. Imbed a Heritage Resources Strategy in the Municipal Development Plan.
All councils have looked at and encouraged the development of our historical resources. Last council initiated the municipal heritage board.
28. Establish the historic neighbourhoods of Crowsnest Pass and develop appropriate signage.
Good luck with this issue it will be ongoing long after I'm gone and yes there will be costs.
29. Redefine the Terms of Reference of the Culture and Recreation Board as an advisory board to Council.
Is this really necessary? is there enough to justify two boards in these area does the Municipality have the resources to reach the goals of two separate groups.
30. Establish a Housing Advisory Committee.
The market place will decide what type of housing is required. Unless council is looking at affordable housing which will require the involvement of a developer, plus the municipality making either land or cash available.
31. Seek opportunities to work with regional partners to provide programs and services.
The neighbours have been doing this for years a good example is the regional landfill. Other opportunities should be looked at.
32. Commence rebranding strategy for Crowsnest Pass and redefine the image of the community.
Nothing wrong with promoting the community previous council looked at this, the biggest issue as always will be who foots the bill.
33. Create a Community Enhancement Strategy.
This process began with the previous council who took the brave step of bringing in a community standards bylaw. I hope this council never has to sit through the public meetings we did. The majority of last council recognized the importance of cleaning up our community.
34. Promote Crowsnest Pass as one community.
It will probably take not one more council but one more generation to achieve this.
35. Create a Master Green Space and Parks Plan.
I was under the impression that our previous community services director had started working on this a long time ago. Most people don’t know that we have twenty plus parks and it takes $50-80,000 to equip each one.
36. Explore servicing of existing industrial parks.
Just a matter of money and priorities the last number we had thrown at us was $15 million to Sentinel, and $3 million for Frank. Keep in mind if you are using your grants for this you won't be getting money for Infrastructure around town.
37. Address heavy truck parking issues through appropriate Bylaws.
This will be a very timely and costly issue to enforce. I remember the direct route issue with OHV's.
38. Investigate options for solid waste reduction and recycling.
If this community does curb side recycling at no additional cost to the taxpayers it will be famous.
39. Develop an emergency road connecting Blairmore and Coleman.
We have one and was told by previous administration that it would meet our needs.
40. Explore issues regarding random camping.
Enforcement issue,that will again be very timely and costly.
Note further comments: Most of these ideas are good very few of them new I would say probably 90% have been seen in previous reports. The number one issue here is going to be what every other councils ran into when they looked at these ideas, how do you pay for them. There is very little in this plan that does not include some sort of costs in most cases anywhere from the $1,000's to many millions.
During the election campaign we heard so many times about finding the inefficiencies, cutting the fat maybe that was going to be a source of revenue to do all of the above. Then I see a council go on to hire numerous new people and build layers of bureaucracy. This council or any further council can not lose sight of the fact that 60% of our population is on a fixed income and usually not a large one. Just this week they are advertising for a Building Inspector.
Then maybe the Mayor has some different ideas he put up a slide of Municipal costs on there were four areas chosen randomly (Politicians as seasoned as Mayor Decoux seldom picks numbers randomly).
Those areas were Municipal Payroll (almost $5,000,000) Cupe agreement expires December 31st.
Swimming Pool $160,000, Albert Stella Arena $78,000 and the Ski Hill $165,000.
Regardless the single largest issue is how are you going to pay for the above?