Friday, June 29, 2012

Looking for a job in the Crowsnest Pass

I was asked last night if the Fire Chief's position and the recently vacated Manager of Operational Services positions are being filled, the answer is available at the following address:

The comment regarding more vacancies is correct check out

Surprised it was not posted on the municipal web site

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Town hall meeting my views

In response to several comments on my previous post (10:12 and 12:45).
With that post I attempted to let my readers know what happened at the meeting.
No I did not provide my opinion on the likely hood of these announcements being successful.

So here goes; first of all I will state I hope every one of them comes true because I believe every one of them would be good for the Pass. Some to greater degrees than others but all good for the growth of this community.

1/Economic Development Committee and Economic Development Officer.
First of all the committee it will be very interesting to see the make up of this committee, it needs to be a mixture of different types of expertise. With a combination of both old and new blood, if the committee does not have that mixture it will start with a lack of credibility. There is already a perception of "outsiders" ramming change down the throats of the locals. 
The Economic Development Officer this community only needs one if he/she is going to actually bring something here, yes we are talking results which can only be ensured by having somebody on a short term contract that is looking to impress quickly. If they use this community as a stepping stone who cares as long as we get the benefit while they are here. Do not for a minute think that we are going to get somebody cheap it will cost us a minimum of $100-150K a year to get anybody decent.

2/River Run
Wouldn't it be great to see something happen on that site. But seriously I think we would be lucky to get 10-12 units at the east end in the next two years. (Proximity to water/sewer) Do I think  anybody is going to spend $10-15 million doing all the infrastructure on that site in these economic times? good luck.

3/Gaining tax base from MD of Ranchlands.
This is a political issue the only way this will happen is if  municipal affairs decides it should. There are not many great examples in the province of  poor municipalities gobbling up wealthy municipalities. Keep in mind this is not a problem unique to the Crowsnest Pass, Cold lake as fought this fight for years, and at least they had the argument that they were providing services and facilities to the surrounding areas. How many of those 80 residents of the MD of Ranchland do you think count on the Crowsnest Pass for services or facilities. Maybe the present Mayor can carry more influence in Edmonton than the previous Mayor time will tell. This really will come down to a political decision, does anybody think that the Town of Pincher Creek with its struggles will not be casting it eyes to the MD of Pincher Creek, think of all the money that Shell plant and Windmills bring in.

4/Crowsnest Centre Demolition and Development
Wow the building gone by first snow fall? I was told today that it's a 4-5 month job considering the asbestos that needs to be taken out of there, realistically it will not be done in winter months I think we will see it gone next year. Today I requested a breakdown of the bidders and their quotes on that job I would be very surprised if the majority of the bids came in, below or at $600,000 and I will be surprised if there was more than 3 or 4 bidders that place is going to be like a pandora's box when they open it up.
The hotel before we get too excited keep in mind that council only passed a motion last week (June 18) to "begin" negotiations with the developer. That will not happen over night if the developer is going to demolish the building that cost will be brought into the selling price of the property, the Mayor stated last week that the hotel sounds like a "Best Western" well keep in mind that there is one going into Sparwood right now and the  District of Sparwood is offering tax breaks to new businesses. That will be a topic of discussion during these negotiations, don't kid yourself does anybody think this community is bargaining from a position of strength with this developer. Off site levies they were only put on hold for the rest of this year, they will also be a topic of discussion. Time frames, the developer is going to want to have the flexibility to take as long as possible to fill that property the municipality is going to want it filled up as quickly as possible.
The other question that nobody as asked, will this hotel have an impact on the rebuilding of the BCMI in Blairmore? I hope not, I would hate to see us lose a 50 room hotel to gain a 75 room hotel.
Yes I believe there will be a hotel on that property one day, it is a prime location with a lot of traffic going by every day of the year. I do not think it will happen as fast as people are hoping.

Just to add to my early comments I hope every one of these announcements comes true very quickly. My dream for 2013 is to see an Economic Development Officer bringing many small businesses to town, to be able to drive by River Run and see it developed has fast as Iron Stone. To receive  my tax notice in April with a decrease due to gaining a decent chunk of tax base from the MD of Ranchlands. And finally to drive by the former Centre Site to look at the new hotel going up. That would be a great year for the Crowsnest Pass.  

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Town Hall Meeting……..We Might, We Might N….

Thursday night June 23, 2012 at the Elks Hall, Free Beef on a Bun big crowd.

Throngs of people wait in anticipation of the big announcements!!!! The Mayor garnishes a few boos has the meeting is set to begin, with a quick motion of waving his arms and a bit of a chuckle he say’s “bring it on”.

He gives a little speech laying out the agenda for the night. CAO Myron Thompson begins refreshing everybody’s memory with an update on the four pillars.

Then like a carefully choreographed dance recital each of the councilors gets up to address rumors, issues etc.
Councilor Gallant talks about municipal hiring states they have only increased the workforce by four people.
Councilor Saindon explains why we have spent so much on consultants. Apparently, we have had vacant administration positions for a total of 31 months combined since this council took over, why? Administrators getting married, moving back to California, Fernie who knows.

Then we hear from the public on such issues as the following, excuse me if I miss anything:

Security for Rum Runner Days Weekend
Resident paying for sewer that did not have it
Money spent on consultants
Accessibility for the handicapped
Bullying in the schools
Mayor’s letter condemning the public that disagrees with him
Collecting of back taxes
Requests for information not be acknowledged
Spring/Fall Cleanups
Blairmore/Coleman shops consolidation
Rebranding of the community
Non-Residential taxation
Bellcrest Seniors Hall
Communications on Bylaws etc

In the first half of the meeting there was three things that stood out to me, first of all watching the Mayor with his pompous attitude, this is the way it is if you don’t like it too bad attitude, too many wise cracks at the wrong times. Second in some cases people got really angry (leading to RCMP escort them out of the building) I wonder how much of that was related to the first point that stood out to me. Thirdly Councilor Londsbury’s comments I have a completely different appreciation for the man, he came across has very sincere, obviously with very much passion for this community. I may disagree with him on every issue but it became very clear to me that his heart is very much in the right place.

Then Part II, after a short break and about 25% of the crowd leaving (It did get to be too long of a meeting)

The Mayor came back with the good news section, well I really hope this council can achieve these things but it makes me nervous when I hear our leader say repeatedly “take what I’m saying with a grain of salt”

These were the announcements, the Mayor is going to strike up a committee of around eight (8) people to look at the issue of Economic Development this committee will make recommendations to Council; there will also be an economic development officer in place by Christmas.

Next, the Mayor has stated that some of the River Run properties have been purchased from mortgage companies and he states that the River is “beginning to thaw” that there might be something happening there. Then he says  “take what I’m saying with a grain of salt”

Next, he talks about the MD of Ranchland a municipality just to the north of us that has only eighty residents but lots of money and lots of tax base. The municipality is going to approach them and the province about moving some of that tax base into the Crowsnest Pass, which would help with our financial woes. Again, he states, “take what I’m saying with a grain of salt”

Then we reached the climax of the evening the Crowsnest Centre Site, with much glee the municipality has entered into discussions with a prospective developer that is looking at bringing a seventy five-room hotel (Best Western) to that site. However, it does not end there a smaller convention type area, a truck stop, a fast food restaurant, a big name sit down type restaurant, a dog run park area, and a secure area for RV’s etc. Then came the all familiar   “take what I’m saying with a grain of salt”.

Then came a question about the demolition of the building the Mayor stated that this company is so keen they are prepared to negotiate the cost of taking care of that into the purchase price. Then he when on to say by the time the first snow flies I expect to see that building gone, with the building process beginning next spring. Then he stated  “take what I’m saying with a grain of salt”.

With the interest of the crowd now at it’s peak he asked Myron to present some rendering of what the area could look like, then a picture of a beautiful three floor hotel was put up on the screen, with the comment made that we hope to see something like this but we may not. Again the Mayor made the statement several times “take what I’m saying with a grain of salt”

Lastly came the final goodie of the Night the Mayor is attempting to build dialogue with Teck.

My comments on Part II;
Economic Development Officer- obviously we need help in this area I hope several things, that they have a clear plan to pay for this without placing more burden on the taxpayers. That they hire somebody on a contractual basis that either performs or is gone (not a life time position) and lastly they have a method of showing clear results.

River Run-I hope something happens here, the issues only begin with back taxes, infrastructure, piles of dirt, big holes in the ground and many Investors who properly don’t have a whole lot to show for their investments.

MD of Ranchland-Every thing they said about Ranchland is true lots of money, lots of tax base, and very few people. I would assume that administration has provided council with all of the information from 2007-2010 when the previous council attempted to go down this same path, and councilors from previous councils told me that they also approached this issue. I hope that they look at what the City of Cold Lake when through in their “many” years of attempting to tap into the revenue of wealthy surrounding municipalities.

The Crowsnest Centre, the enlightened people that have spent the better part of shouting out for the last twenty years that if you are going to attract any kind of commercial development to this community that is the spot. Must be very thrilled and I am, imagine how much common sense it makes to take 6+ acres of flat property, that is fully serviced and right next to a major highway that has 12,000 vehicles a day traveling past and using it has the centre of commercial activity in the Crowsnest Pass. What a brain wave.
I am assuming that there was no tender for less than $600,000 to get rid of the building, but never the less I cannot wait for those first snowflakes to fall.     

In conclusion, I hope all of the “Announcements” happen, but it is not going to be easy or fast. 

Note: The Mayor and the CAO stated a number of times during the meeting that if anybody wants information to contact administration and it will get answered. I will be doing this and everybody else that has concerns should take advantage of this offer.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Rate Payers Meeting June 28 Crowsnest Pass

Just notified of a change in the scheduling of the next Ratepayers meeting. It is now changed to the Blairmore Legion Thursday June 28th at 7pm. All residents are welcome.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

"Mayor's corner" lessons in control, silencing the critic's

Further to the Mayor's corner newsletter, which I understand now is going to be delivered in our mail box on a regular basis. I would like my readers to take a look at the comments I made back on March 22 in reference to a lambasting the Mayor gave the media at the meeting of March 20,2012.

"Just prior to going into camera the Mayor announces that he is going to do something different. He is going to allow the media the opportunity to ask a question each to clarify anything that may have happened that night. Didn’t seem like a bad idea until suddenly the Mayor seized the opportunity to chastise the media for some “blatant errors in both papers reporting over the last few weeks”, then the lecture turned to how critical it is that they report the council proceeding “accurately”. When a member of the media attempted to respond to his comments she was shut down very quickly and told this is not a “debate”.  
You can read the full post at    it's titled "Control the name of the game" 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Good news coming Thursday

Listening to CJPR this morning the Mayor stated there will be a couple of big annoucements at the end of the town hall meeting.

Looking forward to good news, my hope is that its the Centre coming down and a hotel chain moving in.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Mayor's Corner "Shinning a light on the truth"


Hello everybody! Welcome to the first edition of our attempt to bring you the facts and truths about “things” we are doing to improve our community. Why are we doing this? Well the fact of the matter is we are getting a lot of questions; questions about what people have “heard” and “read”, heard from the local “barbershop quartet” and from the “coffee-time guys and gals” and read in the local papers. When people phone or ask the Council and myself or the administration about “what they heard” they are given the truth – without the extra little “twist” that makes gossip so spicy. As for the newspapers we have very little to do with what they write. We have received numerous complaints regarding local blogs and the numerous letters to the editors which are frequently the uninformed ramblings of unhappy people. Many of our taxpayers are concerned over the blogs, the newspapers and the letter writers. However, your Council is concerned that the information you are receiving is simply not the truth. Further to this, we now live in the age of the internet. Think of it this way: when a blogger writes a tasty bit of “twisted” gossip (or twists the truth) or when a newspaper uses a negative spin to describe your Council’s efforts, or  when the papers print a letter to the editor it goes on the internet, Alberta-wide-Canada-wide-Worldwide – forever. Now, if a person drove through the Pass and thought of moving here or starting a business the first thing they would do is go to the internet to find out about this place called Crowsnest Pass. Guess what they will see? Please remember: we are all painted with the same brush by those who are painting our picture. Only the silent majority can change this unfortunate situation. 
These are the reasons we have decided to embark on a journey of providing you with facts and truth. We are expanding our website with more and more information, we have started a Facebook page and this is our first attempt at a regular newsletter. Your Council and Administration can place only so much information on these three sources so if we miss anything please call myself, the Councillors or our Administration for the unvarnished facts and truth. I am busy but never too busy to talk with you.

Comment: Well I am sad to say that the end is near for all forms of media in the Crowsnest Pass the freedom to express one's self is coming to an end.  We will no longer need newspapers that use the "negative spin" those people writing the letters to the editor based on "the uniformed ramblings of unhappy people" or the "twisted" gossip on  blogs.  
The silent majority needs to change this "unfortunate situation, we no longer need radio, newspapers, blogs, just call the municipal administration or a member of council they will tell you "the unvarnished facts and truth".
Where will we get our hair cut or go for a coffee? maybe the "barbershop quartet" or the "coffee time guys and gals"  will want to talk about politics, will they have the "unvarnished facts and truth" to have a proper discussion? Will they need to just contact administration or your council prior to discussing politics with their friends or customers.
The only question I have is who will determine  the correct positive spin in the paper, that letters to the editor are probably informed and only written by happy people, or that only untwisted comments are placed on blogs.  Maybe the next administrator that's hired could be in charge of the Department of "Unvarnished facts and truth" and make sure that all newspapers, letter writers, and blog owners conform.     
Please take a moment and answer the poll on the right hand side.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Ratepayers Association Meeting

Meeting took place last night at the Hillcrest Miners club. I would estimate that there was close to 100 people there.
People were concerned about the following issues:
Taxes/Utility Bills/Franchise Fees
The large amount of dollars being spent on consultants.
Growth in administration and the associated costs.
Thunder in the Valley
Community policing.
Financing of equipment

It was deter minded that the majority of people there were interested in moving the organization forward. The next meeting will be held at the Blairmore Legion Tuesday June 26th at 7pm, there will be elections held at that time for anybody interested in sitting on the executive.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Debating the numbers in the Crowsnest Pass Part II

Was told by a resident this morning that he heard around town that the municipality as only increased it's workforce by two (2) people since the last election.

So for those that are having trouble with this check out my post from March 28 titled "Debating the numbers in the Crowsnest Pass"

Once again I will offer the same opportunity that I did back in March,  if any where on this list I am wrong email me and I will make immediate changes

Friday, June 8, 2012

Ratepayers Association

There is a meeting scheduled for next Wednesday June 13 at the Hillcrest Miners Club (7pm) for anybody that's interested in being involved in a Ratepayers Association.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Blog addition for those that like doing their research

Now we have a Councilor making comments regarding the increase in inflation to justify utility rate increases.
I felt it would be relevant to give my readers the opportunity to see what the rate of inflation is. So on the right hand side of my blog under Interesting blogs and Websites I have provided the link to Stats Canada CPI tracker.

For Canada has a whole the rate of Inflation was 2.0% in April up a touch from 1.9% in March.
Looking at Alberta it was 0.8% in April down from 1.7% in March.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Rest of the Tax Increase is on the way.

Well it is coming last night first reading was done on increasing our Water/Sewer rates by 4.5% and our garbage by an additional 3%.
Plus another first reading was also done on increasing our electrical rates by 6%.

Councilor Gallant gave a little speech about having keep pace with the rate of inflation, does anybody know of an area in Canada that saw that kind of inflation rate increase last year? If you do please let me know.