Tuesday, November 27, 2012

We are not the only community with Firework problems

The following was sent to me by one of my readers I see we are not the only community that had problems with Fireworks. Thank goodness at the end of the day common sense prevailed.

 A fireworks cheer for fire chief

Mike W. Bryant
Staff columnist
Friday, December 31, 2010 

Previous columns 
Hats off to Yellowknife fire chief Darcy Hernblad and reasonable regulation minders everywhere.
Hernblad has broken the shackles of free-thinking men and women living in the city of Yellowknife so they can once again proudly purchase fireworks for private New Year's parties like normal grown-ups should, without fear of exorbitant fines and government retribution.
Gone are the dark days of his predecessor who would have had us cower in fear should we dare skip his $150 mandatory fireworks class and light off a Roman candle or cherry bomb without his suffocating hand to guide us.
It seemed incredible to me last year when former fire chief Albert Headrick decreed that henceforth no one in the city could purchase or handle consumer fireworks - the regular garden variety not used in large professional shows - unless they could find the time and money to attend his rinky-dink course, limited to a maximum 20 people.
It was even more incredible that not a single city councillor or MLA found it bothersome that an unelected, unaccountable bureaucrat could make a decision limiting the activities of taxpaying voters without their approval or consent.
How ironic then that Headrick was here barely long enough to witness the fruits of his directive. Two months after all but banning fireworks usage by adult Yellowknifers he returned to Saskatchewan after living in Yellowknife and serving as fire chief for 22 months.
"There's so much damage caused by fireworks displays and injuries that are sustained with them," said Headrick without providing a shred of evidence.
I say that because after poring through this newspapers' archives I couldn't find a single story related to injuries from fireworks in the Northwest Territories in 15 years. There are plenty enough involving, say, snowmobiles.
In fact, there have been two snowmobile-related deaths in and around Yellowknife just this year alone. Yet, as long as one has a valid driver's licence, there is no requirement from the city to take a separate course to learn how to drive a snowmobile.
I might be inclined to argue that driving a car and driving a snowmobile are two entirely different things. Nonetheless, take your snowmobile outside city limits and you're not even required to wear a helmet, let alone have a special licence to drive one of these potentially very dangerous machines.
Yes, in the wrong hands or in the wrong location, fireworks can spell disaster. It seems just as unwise to hand your 12-year-old a box full of Saturn Missiles as it would to fire them at your neighbour's house.
People, especially young people, do get hurt. Thankfully the rules require users to be 18, to have a permit and to set fireworks on ice a safe distance from people's homes.
Happy fireworks days are here again, and just in time for New Year's. It would have been nice to have some forewarning but still we have Hernblad, a Yellowknifer of 30 years, to thank for having the foresight and reasonableness of mind to let common sense rule.
It's a refreshing position coming from a public servant. Too often the impulse seems toward nanny statism and rules for rules' sake. 

Crowsnest Pass Ratepayers Meeting

To be held on
·     Progress report on the petition
·     Discussion of G&P meeting
·     Open discussion
There is power and strength in numbers

Friday, November 23, 2012

Linear Taxation In equalities between Municipalities.

In Alberta you have in excess of 400 small municipalities, many are doing well with thriving economies and others are similar to the Crowsnest Pass in that they are struggling financially.

The provincial government allows Municipalities many ways to raise revenues such has property taxation, linear taxation, franchise fees, user fees, fine revenues etc. Most people understand property taxes, unfortunately in the Crowsnest Pass we have a very limited commercial tax base, so fast approaching 90% of property tax is collected from residents. Franchise Fees I am sure after the last six months most people know what they are. User fees are such things as the utility bill we pay every second month, ice time at the arena, rental of a municipal hall, etc. Fine Revenue we now have our own Community Peace Officers who some predict will bring us in large sums of money.

Lastly, there is Linear Taxation, from my conversations with people very few understand what Linear Taxation is. Real simple explanation it is the Tax dollars that CPR, power companies, gas or oil companies, windmills etc pay to be allowed to run their lines through your municipality.  

The Crowsnest Pass in 2011 brought in $587,000 in revenue from Linear Taxation which sounds like a lot, but it’s not when we compare to our neighbours  To the north we have MD of Ranchlands that brings in $4,000,000 a year in Linear taxation its area is large and a lot of oil and gas lines run through its municipality. To the east we have MD of Pincher Creek which brings in $3,000,000 a year just from windmills. Also keep in mind that these municipalities are very rural have little infrastructure and very few facilities to maintain. In simple terms costs are low and revenues high quite the opposite to the Crowsnest Pass.

You might think this situation is unique to the Pass its not, look at Cold Lake right in the middle of oil and gas country, one would assume that they are rolling in money. Over the last ten years that community’s population has more than doubled, putting tremendous pressure on its local government to build roads, put in water and sewer lines, build new facilities etc. You would imagine that they have all kinds of tax base, not to the degree they need most of that oil and gas development is taking place outside of their municipal boundaries, but all the people that are coming there are living in Cold Lake. They attempted to share revenues with the surrounding municipalities and had some minor success, not enough, they even went as far as to dissolve their municipality to force the province to assist them. George Cuff and his company went in did a report for the province the last I heard was that the province refused their request to be dissolved, they made some minor agreements with surrounding municipalities and the province told them to basically live within their means.
Back to the Crowsnest Pass, I sat on council for six years it became apparent after a few budget cycles that money is not something the Pass has an abundance of. We looked for other sources of revenue the administration pointed out the opportunity that sat to the North of us with Ranchlands. We met with Ranchlands administration and council a number of times and spoke to various ministers about moving some of those linear tax dollars towards the Crowsnest Pass. You can see how much success we had, maybe this council will have better luck with the powers to be in Edmonton and convincing our neighbours to the north to share with us. I hope so.   

Council is right, previous council was right and I am sure councils prior to the one I sat on looked at this issue. There is an inequality between municipalities on this linear taxation issue and there are municipalities that have much higher costs than others. But  I suspect if a municipality like the Crowsnest Pass was in the financial position of a MD of Ranchlands we would be telling them to get their financial house in order prior to coming to us cap in hand.   

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Talk about perfect timing getting the answers in the Crowsnest Pass.

Almost ironically, I receive an email this morning from the municipality, it’s the monthly newsletter. I will take a few quotes from the Mayors Corner and contribute my own thought’s.

Quote #1.  “I think it’s safe to say we are all very interested in local politics and hopefully will continue to be. I have to admit I am a bit disappointed in that we have held two budget meetings – with no one in attendance.”

Response #1 Looks like the people are speaking by their absence.

Quote #2  “I understand the current Councils’ “petition” has been delivered to Edmonton. The Minister of Municipal Affairs will ultimately make a decision based on wisdom, expertise, legislation and as a Council we will, as I have indicated on several occasions, abide by his decision.”

Response #2 Did not realize it was the current councils “petition” I had assumed that it was gathered by the ratepayers. Maybe this was an attempt at a little bit of sarcasm.

Quote #3 “On a positive note administration will be rolling out the new Fire Plan probably before Christmas. The plan promises to provide improved service and long term savings. The Director of Protective and Community Services, Mr. Albert Headrick has indicated the plan will provide a cost savings of over one half million dollars over the next two years and ongoing savings thereafter.

Response #3 Are we talking here about the operational budget, capital budget combination of both? The budget for Fire and Rescue (Operational) in 2010 was less than $400,000 if they are going to reduce that by $500,000 in the next two years, it will be very interesting to see what they will do. If it is reducing the capital budget by not going with a $1.3 million Quint and instead buying something for $800,000 that’s just playing with numbers.

Quote #4 “  We are in the process of determining an open house date for our hotel development team to gather input from yourselves regarding the development. I suspect it will be in February. Contrary to rumor no “flag” hotel has yet been determined”

Response #4 Maybe not an “Holiday Inn” looks like we are buying time. I predict that come next September we are going to have all of these “Hot” projects ready to go subject to the developers, manufacturers, corporations maintaining a level of comfort with the direction of the “next” municipal council.

Quote #5 “ The manufacturing company will be flying its executives out from Quebec to view the site again. The hot water situation and environmental regulation is still a problem”  

Response #5 These problems will not get fixed in the short term, probably require another three years see response #4 above.

Quote #6 Your Chief Administrative Officer and I have met with four representatives of a heavy industry once more to discuss further possibilities. They indicated they would make a decision towards the end of the first quarter of 2013 or the beginning of the second quarter. I am amazed at the research and care these companies take to ensure that all environmental and social requirements can be met before they commit. This is a welcome and complete reversal from my experience as a young man. We have come a long way.

Response #6 Love the way all this timing is coming together, see response #4 and #5 above. Does anybody really believe that none of these guys are running in the next election.

Quote #7 “On November 13th Councillors Gail, Gallant, the Chief Administrative Officer and I met with Minister Griffiths to discuss Highway 3 and the MD of Ranchlands. As you are aware the Provincial government has recently indicated it is not adverse to borrowing funds for much needed infrastructure projects – I would like to see our highway at the top of the list. We were able to provide the Minister with a review of the need for a new highway relative to the bright future of the Pass. Our second issue was the need to seriously address the problem of the MD of Ranchlands vis à vis the Crowsnest Pass. There are many complexities involved however we confirmed the obvious inequities and the positive impact on our taxes if an amalgamation could be realized. The Minister indicated he would visit us hopefully early in the New Year for a tour of the Pass and to continue these discussions.”

Response #7 It seems a long time ago since the provincial election remember all that talk from the PC’s about balance budgets, surpluses in fairly short order. Remember the opposition parties stating that the PC’s were basing their numbers on overly optimistic oil and gas prices. Now we find out that they were only talking about operational budgets, HWY 3 may be a priority for this community but it is not for Edmonton.
The MD of Ranchlands good luck I went to meetings with ministers to, met with the Council and CAO of Ranchlands, seen many letters go back and forth. I have not met many neighbors that are willing to share there good fortunes with the poor guy down the street. Which way do you think the MD of Pincher Creek and every other wealthy municipality are lobbying on this issue.

Quote #8    “In conclusion, Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “You will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you.” Please make no mistake. Your elected Council knows its duty well and is committed to fulfilling that duty to the citizens of Crowsnest Pass.

Response #8 No matter what we the taxpayers think or care about the path they have chosen. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A community divided, the real fix is eleven months away.

My fellow blogger Mr Prince is calling for a town hall meeting, the people that signed the petition are waiting for municipal affairs.

I think this municipality at this point in its short history is deeply divided, unfortunately it is not going to be repaired in the next eleven months. Any one of us can wish for a different out come but realistically it is not coming in the short term. The petition and municipal affairs will run its cause and hopefully something will come of that, if not then people need to be preparing for October 21st 2013 that will be the communities next real opportunity for “change”.

Why do I feel it’s too late for real change with this council, the issues that have been put in front of the taxpayers over the last two years have been too numerous and two divisive.

Can a town hall meeting fix these issues? I don’t think so, most of the people I speak to could care less about a town hall meeting they have seen them become a platform for our leader to pump his chest, berate anybody that disagrees with him. I was so shocked when I watched a highly educated seventy year old man walk across a room to the sound of a few boos, waving his arms and telling the people to bring it on. (Leadership?)

I sat down last Friday and listened to a veteran administrator tell a reporter the way it is. (Yes it was as bad has it sounds). Communications has not been this council’s downfall in all honesty they have probably done a better job of communicating than any previous council, the problem is not so much communications it is what they have said and done. 

This Council believes in building a Bureaucracy by the time they have restructured they will have gone through more administrators in eighteen months than any other council in our history and have more upper management in place then we have ever seen before. Mean while we have a demoralized workforce that is scared and bullied to the point where a large percentage of them are in fear of their jobs.

This community has no commercial tax base, if we only did what we could pay for three quarters of what happens in this community would not happen. The key for this community is volunteers I came to learn this lesson over the last ten years, are there any volunteers left? Sure there are but not many, with what happened with Thunder in the Valley/Rum Runner Days and the Firemen situation who’s going to step forward. Want more proof of that look at municipal boards despite three months of advertising nine boards are short of members. Why do you think council backpedaled on getting rid of the Swimming Pool Authority two weeks ago? They desperately need to reverse the perception in the public forum as to how volunteers are being treated. What we did not  need is a member of council slamming the public because they didn’t support their way of doing things on the Rum Runner days weekend maybe just maybe the silent majority did not want it to change.  

The public has spoken about how they feel, despite the fact that 2500 people signed a petition in less than three weeks (more than double what is legally required). This council and its members can only focus on the “silent majority still supports us”, “or people were bullied and intimidated into signing”. Tell those people to contact municipal affairs I am sure the powers to be would love an excuse not to deal with this petition. Does it not say that the public has a problem with where you are going?

Look at our tax situation we hear great fanfare about a three year budget that only had annual increases of 2.5%, I didn’t hear anybody from council or administration tell us that Franchise Fees were going to increase more than 300% in three years.

Will the books balance at the end of the year? Of course they will I could spend hours writing about how numbers are shuffled. For example  take a look at Manager of Corporate Services, that position was only filled for three months this year. The other nine months of monies set aside for that position will be used to make the numbers work. My concern is the million dollars a year of administration moving forward how do we pay for that in future years when all the positions are filled year round?

Financial credibility is there any out there, after waiting for three and a half months look at the numbers that were presented for Rum Runner Days, remember the talk about $150-$200,000 not even close.   

Community Peace Officers all those that think these positions are going to pay for themselves raise your hand now. That’s a fallacy that will be proven over time, I can remember the consultant telling council at a G+P meeting that there were 290+ locations in violation of the unsightly premises bylaw how many of them have been cleaned up? Is there a date that they will be cleaned up by? So what happens with the bylaw officers once they are cleaned up?

Promises even though they were followed with a “you can take this with a grain of salt”
CLC gone before first snowfall, sharing Ranchlands tax base, Quebec manufacturer, deal with the hotel developer done in two weeks, two more, thirty days, heavy industry with up to 700 jobs. Politically you can sell hope all you want but sooner than later it has to be realized or you lose creditability.    

I think we have reached the point where the majority (be they loud or silent) do not pay a whole lot of attention anymore to what this council has to say or do. Most people are counting down the time until Oct 21,2013. Will a town hall meeting change that?   

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Numbers, Figure this mess out and win a big prize.

After numerous requests to compare the various numbers that have been presented on the Rum Runner Days I will attempt to provide that information. It’s very hard to do because to have a true comparison you need to use the same categories in each case but that was not done so it becomes difficult. All the numbers in black were the ones presented to the Rum Runner Days committee on Feb 22, the numbers in green were the one’s provided by Councillor Saindon on March 13, finally the numbers in red are the one’s provided to the public at the Nov 6 council meeting.

Total revenue of $93,750 made up of the following:
Cash on Hand $0    $16,000
Municipal contribution $50,000  $50,000 $40,000
Carnival rides $2,500 $2,500
Business Licenses $2,250 $3,000
Vendor Permits $4,500 $6,000
Camping $16,500 $10,000
Thunder in the Valley $3,000 $2,000
Lions Club $2,000 $2,000
Parking Shuttle $13,000 $9,500
Municipal Soft Costs $25,000
Friday Night Wine and Arts $1,500
Saturday Night Concert $15,000
Saturday Night Food and Beverage $2,500
Merchandise Sales $15,000
Show and Shine Revenue $2,500
Sponsorships $19,247
Revenues from Venues and Merchandise Sales $16,944
Cost Recoveries $9,260

With costs of the following which added up to $168,880:
Municipal staff costs $32,280 $19,200 $9,010
Municipal equipment $10,000 $0
Municipal office $11,200 $6,600
Advertising $3,000 $3,000
Website design/modifications $3,500 $3,500
Promotion $2,000 $2,000
Washroom rentals $16,500 $12,500
Waste pickup and disposal $4,000 $4,000
Security Fencing $500 $1,500
Tent and Accessories rental $1,500 $2,500
Lethbridge Search and Rescue $7,500 $0
RCMP Policing $35,000 $20,000
Regional Peace Officers/Sheriffs $25,000 $15,000
Bus Rentals $9,600 $1,920
Donation to Boys and Girls Club $2,000 $1,500
Donation to Coleman Society $1,800 $1,500
Donation to Kanaskis Rodeo $2,000 $1,500
Donation to Quad Squad $1,500 $1,500
Wine and Art night $1,500
Saturday Night concert $8,500
Gazebo Park Entertainment $3,000
Kids Show $3,500
Stage Rental $13,500
Show and Shine Merchandise $4,000
Merchandise Purchase Costs $20,000
Advertising and promotions (Including T-shirts) $25,642
Bank Charges $76
Entertainment, Parade and Show and Shine $33,316
Licenses, permits and Insurance $390
Printing, Copying, Paper, Postage $3,420
Transportation $640
Port a potties, Handwash Stations and Dumpsters $5,561
Security (Includes RCMP) $18,017
Signage $2,394

Confused? I am typing this and pride myself on being good with numbers but this boggles my mind.
Let’s try to decipher things a little bit maybe the confusion and hysteria that came with these numbers were created for a reason.

Revenue Feb 22, $93,750  March 13, $160,500  November 6, $85,452
Costs Feb 22, $168,880 March 13, $151,720 November 6, $89,456
Loss Feb 22, $75,130 March 13, $8,780 (profit) November 6, $4,004 (loss)

Now let us compare a few of the categories that make up the numbers above:

Municipal staff costs went from $32,280 to $19,200 to $9,010
Municipal equipment from $10,000 to zero to zero
Washroom rentals, waste pickup and dumpsters $20,500 to $16,500 to $5,561
Policing/Peace Officers $60,000 to $35,000 to $18,017

 Just in the four area’s above you have numbers going from $122,780 to $70,700 to $32,588.

Anybody get the feeling that the numbers were inflated for a reason? Imagine if they were going to buy a piece of equipment and the first quote they received was for $1,227,800 then the second quote was for $707,000 then the actual price was $325,880. You would look at the salesmen like they were idiots.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Prince of alternative Media as struck again with another story about the cutting edge changes we are seeing in the Pass

Dealing with the Media Policy

Well when the media prints something you don't like or fell is wrong: do the following


and if you think this is a one time deal check out the following :


Pretty soon should we have all the reporters present their stories to administration to check for accuracy before printing them.

Had to feel bad for those two young ladies the other night first lose their mothers home and then be berated and the way I heard it lied to.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Swimming Pool Authorities and Hot Political Potatoes

Under administrative and agency reports last night was the item Dissolution of Board and Authority. The following was taken from the Municipal web site.

“Dissolution of Board and Authority
Myron Thompson, Chief Administrative Officer, provided and reviewed a written report in reference to formally dissolving the Culture and Recreation Board and the Swimming Pool Facility Authority.

M#-6683-12: Councillor Mitchell moved that Administration’s recommendation be split into two separate motions:

􀂃 A motion to formally dissolve the Recreation and Culture Board acknowledging the
establishment of the Sport and Recreation Committee and the Culture and Heritage
Committee as its replacement and;

􀂃 A motion on the Swimming Pool Facility Authority.

M#-6684-12: Councillor Saje moved that Council formally dissolves the Recreation and Culture Board acknowledging the establishment of the Sport and Recreation Committee and the Culture and Heritage Committee as its replacement effective January 1, 2013.

M#-6685-12: Councillor Saje moved not to dissolve the Swimming Pool Facility Authority and discuss with the Sport and Recreation Committee how to proceed with their portion of overseeing the pool.

Discussion took place on the wording of the motion
Motion not Withdrawn

M#-6686-12: Councillor Saindon moved to table the motion in reference to the Swimming Pool Facility Authority.


During the CAO comments at the start of this process, he informed council that administration had met with the ladies from the swimming pool authority prior to the season commencing in May, and again during the season to inform them that the operation of the swimming pool would change and be ran by the municipality instead of the authority.

Once the first motion was dealt with on the rec and culture board then the Mayor asked for a motion on the dissolution of the Swimming Pool authority, the room went silent everybody began to stare at the roof nobody was touching this “hot political potato” the silence was deafening.

So then the Mayor pushed for something from his council on this issue, that’s when Councilor Sage came up with M#6685-12. This is when confusion set in, I and I think 90% of the people in the room were not clear on if Mr Sage was trying to roll the authority into the new board or leave them in place. Then Councilor Gallant made a friendly amendment to the motion to involve the authority in discussions with the new board about what their role at the pool would be.

Then there was more discussions about if the authority had been probably informed of the change in the operation of the facility, again more from administration confirming there previous comments and what appeared to be more confusion amongst council.

Then Councilor Saindon made the motion to table this issue which of course was passed unanimously. After all this I was thinking back to a comment that somebody had made to me about this issue, that maybe the councilors did not know what was really going on here between administration and the pool authority. With all the confusion my little brain was saying this may well be true.

Until the Mayor spoke up after Mr Saindon’s motion, when he informed administration that they better provide council clear precise information, and that councilors better take that information and come back to the next meeting prepared to deal with this issue. “Especially now that they were flying in the face of a decision that they had previously made”.   

Holiday Inn in the Crowsnest Pass

Just a matter of 10 days ago my fellow blogger Mr Prince put out the news that the word on the street was we were getting a Holiday Inn. At last council meeting CAO Thompson announced that negotiations were going very well with the developer and should be wrapped up in a couple of weeks. Well last night the CAO gave another update negotiations are still going well and should be wrapped up in the next 30 days.
I hope we are not being led down the garden path, anybody hear anything about the Quebec manufacturer lately? I suspect bargaining with the developer is down to that key area now? money and municipal concessions. 

Note: Does not look like the Centre will be gone prior to first snow fall. Or was that just one of the items "that can be taken with a grain of salt"   

Rum Runner Days (The real numbers)

Well it seems only like yesterday that the Thunder in the Valley event was deferred.
The issues being the safety of the public all those unruly characters coming to our town filling the jails and costs, numbers were thrown around like confetti at a wedding, $100,000, $150,000 with every new number being larger than the last.
I wish I had a copy of the editorial from the Pass Herald written by Lisa Sygutek it was very well written and spoke about how inflated the numbers were to justify the cancellation of Thunder in the Valley, she was right.  
Never the less the decision was made to proceed with the Rum Runner weekend and bring in new events, family orientated (Wine and cheese festival) vendors, bands for the evening remember the Rum Runner Days flyer that we received with our utility bills (expecting 20,000 plus people).  So the security was all in place for the influx of people finally after years of not knowing what this weekend cost the taxpayers we would have certainty of financial information.
So in March I asked Councillor Saindon for his committee's budget which he was kind enough to share with me it appeared the weekend was projected to actually make money. Revenue's of $160,500 with expenditure's of only $151,720 well finally last night three and a half months after the event Council was provided a financial breakdown of the weekend.  

Revenues projected at $160,500 actually turned out to be $45,452.
Expenses projected at $151,720 actually turned out to be $89,456.

Remember all the big numbers for RCMP/Security/Peace Officers at one point the number of $60-70,000 was being thrown around then with the committee budget it was dropped to $35,000 actually ended up being $18,017.
On the issue of unlawful behaviour we had 5 less people in jail this year than last.

Note: When Councillor Saindon presented his report last night he spoke with great emotion about the difficult time his wife went through with personal medical problems, and the stress of what she was required to do to put on the Rum Runner Days weekend. That I have a lot of understanding for I know what it's like to be in the centre of the Crowsnest Pass political world when you are having to deal with a family crisis.

What I did not like was when he criticized all the people that choose not to participate in the weekend either as a volunteer or participant, and the criticism of people and groups not willing to change, to make Rum Runner Days into what council's vision of it should be. Just maybe on this weekend the silent majority disagreed with council.  

After months of crunching numbers the results are in.

Before I discuss the numbers that were presented last night people need to go back and read the article below, regarding the cancellation of Thunder In the Valley.
Two justifications from the politicians/administration safety and costs.


Some quotes from that article:

According to Thompson, the total cost to put on the entire Rum Runner Days weekend, including Thunder in the Valley, would come in at around $197,000 this year, due in large part to the need for increased policing costs (an additional $35,000) and $25,000 to bring in regional peace officers to help with enforcement during the fireworks, as well as additional costs such as $23,000 for CP Rail police and fencing along the railroad tracks in Blairmore, the cost of running a shuttle service for those attending the fireworks show, and roughly $40,000 in “soft costs” such as employee time and services. 

“If this event is now going to cost us over $150,000, I’m going to have a really hard time supporting additional costs,” said Councillor Brian Gallant.

Then below is the budget I received from Councilor Saindon on March 13th.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Councillor Gallant's response to the Ratepayers Petition

On Councillors Gallant's Blog is his opinion regarding the Ratepayers Petition

Take the time to read it if you can, looking forward to my reader's comments. Remember I will not censor any comments has long as they are not personnel or slanderous.


Dean's Comments

 A couple of points that come to mind after a quick review of Councilor Gallant's comments.

First of all his comments regarding people/businesses being intimidated or mislead. If that is true a simple call to municipal affairs from enough people will get that departments attention, there is a toll free number in the phone book and your call is confidential.

Mislead, there are 2500 people on that petition in less than three weeks. The group that went around in late 2008 had 1201 names. Does he really believe that an additional 1300 people can be "misled" maybe he is thinking we have a lot of dumb people here (I don't think so).

Mr. Gallant made the following comment:   "Has anyone else out there realized that there was a petition against council, which ended in a consultant hired by council to conduct an inquiry, almost exactly three years ago?"

This was not true, when the budget process began in October of 2008 a number of councilors requested that a corporate review take place. The majority recognized we had problems in the municipality, and that we needed an unbiased source to help us identify those problems.

September of 2008 the plebiscite on the Crowsnest Centre took place. Obviously, there were some people that disagreed with that decision and the group "Citizens to save the Crowsnest Pass" formed which held some meeting and put out press releases and started a petition. The one mentioned previously that gained 1201 signatures. Now when council received the letter from Municipal affairs at the May 5, 2009 council meeting stating that the petition was invalid.

The minister stated the following:  "However, I suggest that the municipality consider engaging a third party to conduct a review of the administrative and governance processes in place. The review presents an opportunity to evaluate the municipality's strengths and identify potentials for improvement."

At that point, the motion was made to approach George Cuff to conduct a corporate review.
The whole issue of a corporate review was a political battle within the council of the day, the minister's comments only reconfirmed the position the majority of council had taken seven months prior to the petition failing and three months prior to it even beginning. Prior to the petition even being conceived the majority of council had publicly taken a position that a corporate review was necessary and would have happened even without a petition. Therefore, to try to tie the two together is "misleading"

Then he states the following: "I will also say that I have received dozens and dozens of phone calls, emails, and face-to-face endorsements from residents that council should stick to its path because we are doing the right thing"

That sounds like the "silent majority thing again".
Picture this Calgary has roughly 900,000 eligible voters, what do you think the council in Calgary would say if a citizens group went out and signed up 475,000 names on a petition in less than three weeks. "The silent majority support us"?

He also states the following:
"Other residents told me that the petitioners said, “We need to get rid of all these newcomers” because it’s obviously the “newcomers” that are to blame for everything, not 30+ years of poor management".

First, you want to talk about a divisive comment, I have sat at ratepayers meeting and have seen people that have been here all their lives and other that have only been here for a few years. Same with the people going around with petitions.

This 30+ years of poor management crap is getting on my nerves, no question there has been some councils and administrations that have been stronger and done a better job than others do. Do I think there has been 30+ years of poor management? No

Friday, November 2, 2012

Petition Presented - CTV Lethbridge - Nov.02/12


Will the municipal affairs give any consideration to 2500 signatures or 53% of the voting public.

The silent majority are no longer silent.

This from Global TV in Lethbridge

It appears a group of southwest Albertans aren't getting the answer they wanted from the provincial government.

The Crowsnest Pass Ratepayers Association delivered a petition to the Alberta Legislature this week, calling for an intervention into the municipality's council and administration.

"Our petition is 2,500 strong," said Bill Kovach, president of the association, in Edmonton on Thursday. "It's a pretty healthy petition, people have said enough is enough."

Enough of poor expenditures, says the group.

The petition dates back to July, but organizers say it has gained strength since the Blairmore fire chief was dismissed in early October.

Minister Doug Griffiths has already responded to at least one individual. In a letter provided to Global News, Griffiths writes, "I respect the work that the Crowsnest Pass council and administration has done," adding he will, "continue to support their efforts to carry out their legislated responsibilities."

"That sounds very encouraging," said Bruce Decoux, the Crowsnest Pass mayor. "We trust the Minister to make the appropriate decision, and whatever decision he does make, we'll certainly abide by it."

Decoux says the petition concerns him, noting council has to re-clarify its vision. But he adds there is a large "silent majority" of residents in the Pass who support the municipality's work.

"We are, on a daily basis, encouraged by people that have written us private letters," said Decoux. "As far as we're concerned, we have received an immense amount of support."

The Crowsnest Pass Ratepayers Association worries that spending by the municipality can't be sustained in a community where the population is shrinking.

"It makes it very difficult for those of us left to pick up the costs," said Kovach.

Under the Municipal Government Act, Griffiths has 30 days to respond, at which point he can choose whether or not to intervene.

Read it on Global News: Global Lethbridge | Letter from Minister supports Crowsnest Pass council 

Rum Runner Days Getting the numbers

Barring another deferral Tuesday night (Nov 6) the public is finally going to have the numbers made available on what Rum Runner Days weekend cost us.
Just for a reminder and comparison purposes below are the numbers Councillor Saindon sent me back in the spring.

It will be very interesting to see how the final numbers come out and where council goes from here for next year.

With revenues of $160,500 and costs of $151,720.

Where does the revenue come from?
$16,000 cash on hand
$25,000 municipal soft costs
$50,000 Municipal contribution
$2,500 Carnival rides
$3,000 Business Licenses
$6,000 Vendor permits
$10,000 Camping
$1,500 Friday Night wine and arts
$2,000 Lions Club
$15,000 Saturday night concert
$2,500 Saturday night food and beverage
$15,000 Merchandise Sales
$2,500 Show and Shine revenue
$9,500 Parking and Shuttle Revenue

Total revenue $160,500

Where is the money spent?

$19,200 Municipal Staff costs
$6,600 Municipal Office
$3,000 Advertising
$3,500 Website design/modifications
$2,000 Promotion
$1,500 Wine and art night
$8,500 Saturday night concert
$3,000 Gazebo Park Entertainment
$3,500 Kids Show
$13,500 Stage Rental
$4,000 Show and Shine merchandise
$20,000 Merchandise Purchase Costs
$12,500 Washroom rentals
$4,000 Waste pickup and disposal
$1,500 Security Fencing
$2,500 Tent and Accessories
$20,000 Rcmp Policing
$15,000 Regional Peace Officers/Sheriff
$1,920 Bus Rentals
$1,500 Donation to Boys and Girls club
$1,500 Donation to Coleman Society
$1,500 Donation to Kanaskis Rodeo Assoc
$1,500 Donation to Quad Squad

Total Expenses $151,720

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Ratepayers Petition Give the process a chance.

I am sure by now most people have read the response from municipal affairs to a friend of John’s after that individual had wrote a letter to Municipal affairs regarding the present situation in the Crowsnest Pass.

How will Municipal affairs respond to the concerns raised by residents of the Crowsnest Pass?

On an individual basis I expected nothing less than what you see in the letter on Mr Prince’s Blog. From my reading of the MGA there is no legal requirement for the minister to do anything unless the threshold of 20% is reached.

There is a difference between an individual complaint to Municipal Affairs and the petition that will be delivered to the minister’s office. First of all if Municipal affairs looked at what was going on in a community every time somebody complained they would need a staff of hundreds. That is why there is a process in place that requires a substantial number of voters to speak up before they do take a look at a municipality. Let’s face it even if one hundred individual complaints came from the Crowsnest Pass to the government that sounds like a lot but it’s less than two percent of the population.  

We all recognize that municipal politicians have to face the test of the public every three years, for the most part that process should be respected and it is. There are very rare occasions where governments do not represent the wishes or direction of the people that put them in office, at provincial and federal levels you have official oppositions to keep government accountable and to point out when they are misleading the voters.
In Alberta Municipal politics you do not have official oppositions to make government accountable, councils are made up of seven individuals that are suppose to have their own minds, be willing to speak up and represent all the members of their communities. Again for the most part this takes place but for when the system fails or a substantial part of public has a clear disagreement with the direction their community is being led, then under the MGA you have the right to start a petition. It is not an easy feat you must collect 20% of the populations signatures on a piece of paper in 30 days maximum.

Only then will you get municipal affairs to look at what’s going on in our community, first of all they will validate that you have 20% of the population, we all remember a petition failed previously because it could not reach that number. There will not be a problem there, with over  40% of the population signed in just 20 days. It would be hard to believe that just this fact alone would not catch the attention of Municipal Affairs. Then I believe they will take a closer look at what is going on here, I think they will talk to the Council, administration and the Ratepayers executive.

Will anything happen from there? That’s the million dollar question that only municipal affairs can answer. Is there any guarantee’s that Municipal affairs will do anything? None at all. I do know for sure that they will not look at our issues based on one or even a hundred taxpayers letters, complaints or phone calls.

If the petition fails, we could have done nothing but the people of the Crowsnest Pass choose to use part of the democratic process provided to them by the Alberta government under the MGA. "53% of the eligible voters choice to exercise that right" 

At a minimum to have 2500 people sign a petition in less than three weeks should send a message to somebody.