Thursday, February 23, 2012

Governance and Priorities Meeting Feb 21/2012

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


Anonymous said...

Wow, If this comes about we are all in for a big change. Those peace officers will have to write at least 100,000$ in tickets every year, each, to pay for themselves.It will be nice to clean this place up but after the first 6 -8 months where are they going to generate their incomes from.Careful where you spit..

Anonymous said...

Good reporting Dean. Much impressed with all you have presented. In response I have this to say...

No wonder this mayor and council want to do away with the 'Mountain Freedom' brand and logo. The way things are going there will soon be very little 'Freedom' in the Crowsnest Pass, and more and more 'structured' and soon to be 'entrenched' bureaucracy. The days of 'efficiencies' fueled by pure reason lacking in both morality and common sense is now upon us with the likes of Interim Manager Enforcement Services, Transitional Solutions Inc. Donna Tona.

Like Harper, will we in the Pass be able to recognize Canada (ourselves) come the next municipal election, once this present council is through with us? Or will irreversible harm and loss of both 'enjoyment' and 'quality of life' be lost forever?


Anonymous said...

I hope that we do not lose sight here of a very important issue while we debate the community peace officers. The school enrolment issue. By my math in 2020 we will be lucky if we have 400 kids here.
My eight year old we be going to school by herself if I am still here.
I would not be concerned about losing a school here, I would be concerned about losing two schools.
Especially once we get through the next provincial election and the victors have a free hand for at least four years.


Anonymous said...

Dean, if the council accepts the recommendations, as proposed by the Interim Solutions, then the taxpayers are in trouble indeed. What they are proposing is to hire some kids straight out of enfacement diploma course and unleash them on the unsuspecting home owners and visitors. The income generating requirements put onto these youngsters will backfire in several different ways. First, the cost recovery proposed by Ms. Tona is totally unrealistic. If her argument had any validity, Calgary and Edmonton would not have the policing funding difficulty that they have. The only enfacement income generating opportunity they have are automated photo radar and traffic light camera. Anywhere else, as soon as you put boots on the ground, you start generating cost and not income. Did she mention that the new officers will need to generate tons of paper and be available to be in court in Pincher Creek or Lethbridge should anyone, inevitably, contest one of their quota imposed tickets? Also, how long do you think will it take for the Pass to be seen as an unwelcoming place? The ATV and sled community in the south is not that big. I hope council will consider this matter carefully before they buy into this consultant's very one-sided recommendation.

Anonymous said...

If there is that much money to be made hire 10 of these guys. Then Mr Gallants promise of dropping taxes can come true.


Anonymous said...

"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."

This needs some explanation.

Either our "full of holes" bylaws are not enforceable because nobody knows what they mean (in which case, how can she say who is in violation?) or our Bylaw officer does not have the legal authority to enforce them (requiring a "Peace Officer" instead, in which case do we also need a Bylaw officer?).

Or does she mean violations of new patched up versions of the bylaws which have not yet been revealed to us plebes?

I don't see Community Standards enforcement being a big cash cow, as they will have to give warnings followed by written cleanup orders - they will only collect fines if these are ignored.

Anonymous said...

If I am reading this correctly we could end up with 2 peace officers and 1 bylaw officer. This a community of 6000 people, do we really need 3.One should be plenty.
Whats wrong with this council, can they not think independantly, is there no common sense amongst any of them.

Anonymous said...

8:49 Closer to 5000 people. With one of the lowest crime rates in the province.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone out there know what was said about riverrun at the council meeting?

Crowsnest Pass Home said...

The CAO reported that River Run Plaza (20 lots)as started the fore closure process.
It's in the package for the Feb 21 council meeting.

Anonymous said...

Regarding school situation; I grew up in a town of 5000, some 30 years ago in Alberta; we had one high school and one elementary school with kids bussed in from a radius of about 40 miles. I think the same people complaining about taxes would be the first to complain if the schools were amalgamated, as they should be. Why should taxes fund a half full school NOT

Anonymous said...

Anom 3:00pm- Our local municipal council does not administrate the schools here. Hell, they do not even get a say in how much school tax is collected. The schools are administrated by the Livingstone Range School Division#68 in Claresholm. Contact them and let them know you think we have too many schools here. Maybe you can save Edmonton some money they had not noticed. Please get back to us bunch of “tax complainers” and let us know how you made out.

Anonymous said...

Yes of course I know the schools are run out of Claresholm. As is done everywhere, if enrolment is low the schools will be shut down. This would not be the first place -nor the last I am sure. All of Canada is ageing, so less schools. Of course when that happens people will say, not my Johnny going on a bus for 10 minutes....

Anonymous said...

Council should approach the province and see if they will agree to reduce the education tax for our municipality if we agree to close a couple of schools.
If they don't we no this is going up again this year.
It does every year.
On the community peace officers this place will become unique we will have the first government employees that ever paid their own way.
Market that.
"Come to the pass see the Frank Slide, the river run project, and the only government employees that pay for themselves"

Anonymous said...

God I'm sick of these petty nazi tyrants ruining an otherwise nice place to live. One more house up for sale soon.