Two very interesting delegations at this meeting
First, was a Crowsnest Pass School Presentation led by Wes Wescott Principal of the High School, mostly focused around what is happening in the school? How they are approaching various groups to get the public more involved in where the school system is going. Some disturbing news they discussed the topic of school enrolment even though the mines have been hiring new employees by the hundreds, School enrolment is still dropping, in fact he stated that they anticipate enrolment to continue to drop 3% a year on average between now and 2020.
Second delegation was the Pass Powderkeg, truly one of the unique things about our municipality where else do you have a very affordable, family orientated facility like this in the middle of your community. The group gave a review of their master plan, which has some very ambitious plans for the future of the ski hill; they talked about a chairlift, Tube Park etc. Big dollars involved with this facility the question is always going to be how many taxpayer dollars you put in.
Then came the issue of the Standard Operating Procedures Manual for the Crowsnest Pass Municipal Enforcement Services.
Last item on the agenda sounded about has exciting as watching paint dry. However, I thought what the hell lets hear what they have to say. Especially thinking back to the fall when the Community Peace Officer issue was raised at the Chamber of Commerce Luncheon and how it was not going to cost the taxpayers a penny.
Interim Manager Enforcement Services, Transitional Solutions Inc. Donna Tona started the presentation regarding the manual, I got the feeling very quickly that this is quiet an in depth manual by the time she was finished I recognized it is going to take some highly qualified people to fill these positions.
Councilor Saindon asked when these positions will be filled (June 1) he wanted to know if that was realistic, she said yes lots of young guys coming out of school would love to come here (Strange nowhere in the discussion was there a mention of our present bylaw officer taking one of these positions, maybe we are going to have two peace officers and a bylaw officer, further stream lining of the municipality)
Then the question of cost was asked (did not think there would be any but maybe there’s a plan) council was told that it would be in the range of $35-40,000 per peace officer just to set them up with a truck and equipment, then the question was asked how long would it take for these officers to recoup their start up cost? By February 2013.
So then the discussion began around getting authority from the Solicitor General office to patrol Highway 3 through the municipality, Ms Tona explained that you could not do that until you have the peace officers in place. (Mayor Decoux remarked that is a bit of a catch 22) which she agreed too but stated do not fear if we do not get Highway 3, there are ample opportunities to generate revenue in the rest of the municipality.
This in turn brought up the issue of the unsightly premises bylaw, to which Ms Tona responded that there are 270-280 location in the Pass that are currently in violation of that bylaw. (Wow, I knew we had some horrible looking places in the Pass but 10% of what is here!).
Followed by the issue of OHV’s and how will the officers cash in on that revenue opportunity, Ms Tona advised it would not be difficult to place a peace officer at the various staging areas.
Councilor Gail asked the question wouldn’t all this enforcement push people away from the Pass to which Ms Tona stated there could be a strong reaction for 6-8 months, but people will adjust.
Several things that were not addressed during this meeting:
· I have never heard of one community where Community Peace Officers recover 100% of there costs. (I could be wrong but if I am why don’t the RCMP follow the same model and make the burden of policing on the taxpayers zero)
· Are these community Peace Officers going to be CUPE members, if there not I suspect that will be an issue in the bargaining process that just began two weeks ago.
· If they are going to be CUPE members then there is no classification for Community Peace Officers in the collective agreement that will have to be negotiated.
· Negotiations I expect could take a while yet. (unless Council’s has given up the drive to find efficiencies, or CUPE in an highly unlikely scenario just decides to roll over)
· June 1 is only 14 weeks away.This machine we call the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass is just getting larger and larger, how long will it be sustainable