Saturday, November 12, 2011

Great Expectations in the Crowsnest Pass! Realized or still just Smoke and Mirrors (Part 2)

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?


Anonymous said...

I’m getting confused. So council studied the studies, then had the studies studied,( by their task force), who gave council a plan, then council studied the plan and now they plan to make a plan? Who will study the plan?

Anonymous said...

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?

I would disagree with you on this. I think investors would like to have suitably zoned land available to buy, and then pay their $10 for a building permit and business license and be good to go. They don't want to get into lengthy dealings with local politicos involving controversial rezonings with unhappy neighbors.

Anonymous said...

39. Develop an emergency road connecting Blairmore and Coleman.
We have one and was told by previous administration that it would meet our needs.

Is there an emergency route from the Drain crossing through the Lost Lemon in case the other Blairmore crossings are blocked by a train?

Crowsnest Pass Home said...


I'm sure developers would love to have it that easy.
But most of the process is laid out in the MGA.
There must be a process that allows the public to get involved and voice there concerns.
If you look at some of our zonning it allows for a wide mixture of choices.
Most times the arguements are not in my back yard, but sometimes a good arguement does pop up.
Also there must be room for discretion in a town starved for tax base would you not be willing to waiver a little bit on somebody that is going to develop a piece of land that would bring in $200,000 a year in taxes?

Yes we were told by our administration that the road with the walking trail on it between Coleman and Blairmore could be used in the event of an emergency to get people out of Bush town

Sun Nov 13, 09:51:00 AM 2011

Crowsnest Pass Home said...

Further to my previous comment for 9:20 lets take a piece of land next to yourself and have council decide based on a new master plan of laying forth all these various zones. They decide that your area would be a good fit for duplex's so the municipality would argue that this land should be zoned Duplex residential R2. But the people that are looking at this land come to council and argue some of the land due to the geography of the area would allow the occasional triple plex more density more tax base, better use of services. Council agrees but R-2does not allow for triple plex's.
So council zones the land to allow for triple plex's (R2-A) mulitple residential. Interest in the land wanes for a number of years new developer comes into town see's that this piece of land is zoned R2He pays his $10 to the municipal and recognizes that he can make tons of money on this piece of land by building eightplexs.
But now based on your suggestion there would be no opportunity for the neighbours to speak up about the fact that ten years ago the previous fellow was only building triple plexs.
Because when you go over and look at R2-A he is indeed allowed to build eight plexs. Even further under discretionary use he could build condominiums with councils approval.
Unfortunaly if you are looking for a process that does not contain any kind of public or political process you will be waiting for along time.

Anonymous said...

And if all of this fails they will develop a new policy to handle failure.

There is only one policy I'm interested in its called the do not raise my taxes to finance your dreams policy.


Anonymous said...

There are a few key points I would like to make. We relocated to the Crowsnest in the last year after being around the area camping and things for quite a few years. We have always followed the politics here as we were always thinking of relocating here one day. And you know what, nothing has changed. Same issues as 20 years ago. Unbelieveable. Number 1 is there should only be one place called CROWNEST. One set of everything. On the whole even with all the municipalities it is still really small. But people won't like that. I was even warned that some people from Coleman do not talk to people in Blairmore.This is unbelievable and with this type of attitude nothing can change. Need new faces, not relatives and friends. The customer service around here mostly sucks and that is probably why. Better to go to Pincher Creek where they actually seem happy to get your business. In the summer I was in the store and there was a lady "begging" to use the washroom. The clerk kept putting her off and finally let her in. What is the big deal about customers using the washroom. Don't get it. Oh well, see what happens, not sure if this is a place to live in "Forever". Lastly, people going to the meeting must have been given something to drink. Pretty passive lot!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Does anyone understand why the reserves are so low for the Crowsnest compared to other similar places?

Anonymous said...

It sounds like we are getting an Indoor swimming pool soon.
Mr Saindon's comments sound very optimistic!

Anonymous said...

Didn't last council rezone the Crowsnest Center site to commercial?


Anonymous said...

Re: Dean Sun Nov 13, 10:21
So, why is it that we have so many (can you tell me the number?) R1 lots in new "developments" that nobody wants, but other "developers" are given upzoning for higher density in established residential areas? They get these with no building commitment and often just flip the land for a quick profit.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the swimming pool, which is going to cost taxpayers a fortune for a small group to use. Why not do like some other smaller areas and have a hotel built, with a pool, that can be accessed by the public for a small fee??? Makes sense to me.
Also, why is there so much idling of vehicles in Blairmore. It makes the air worse!

Anonymous said...

The highlight of the night for me was those lovely little sticky pastries, from TIM hORTONS

Anonymous said...

The Mayor gave excuses for failure to enforce community standards. They hired a TS consultant to tell them our bylaws are full of holes and we should hire another TS consultant to write new bylaws, and hire a Peace Officer.

But the Alberta Municipal Government Act already gives us powers to deal with community standards issues:

Order to remedy dangers and unsightly property
546(0.1) In this section,
(a) “detrimental to the surrounding area” includes causing the decline of the market value of property in the surrounding area;
(b) “unsightly condition”,
(i) in respect of a structure, includes a structure whose exterior shows signs of significant physical deterioration, and
(ii) in respect of land, includes land that shows signs of a serious disregard for general maintenance or upkeep.
(1) If, in the opinion of a designated officer, a structure, excavation or hole is dangerous to public safety or property, because of its unsightly condition, is detrimental to the surrounding area, the designated officer may by written order

(a) require the owner of the structure to
(i) eliminate the danger to public safety in the manner specified, or
(ii) remove or demolish the structure and level the site;
(b) require the owner of the land that contains the excavation or hole to
(i) eliminate the danger to public safety in the manner specified, or
(ii) fill in the excavation or hole and level the site;
(c) require the owner of the property that is in an unsightly condition to
(i) improve the appearance of the property in the manner specified, or
(ii) if the property is a structure, remove or demolish the structure and level the site.
(2) The order may
(a) state a time within which the person must comply with the order;
(b) state that if the person does not comply with the order within a specified time, the municipality will take the action or measure at the expense of the person.

All we need is a designated officer who has taken an oath and an appeal procedure similar to what we have for taxes and development.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:58

If Council wanted to be strict about community standards, they would have done so. They clearly do not wish to upset the shabby status quo. The MGA is moot!

This could be such a beautiful place if the derelict cars and junk-filled yards could be cleaned up. We all want it and most of us work toward it, but powerful families laugh at the tidy rabble.

The mayor tells us that enforcement is difficult and council has bought time for the slobs by kicking the process to a bunch of disinterested consultants.

Lets not have any action, no matter how obvious. Lets study and write policy and then have studies of the studies! then we can waste an evening moaning about how difficult it is.

I'm disappointed, frustrated and bitter.