|NEWSLETTER # 67 December 18th, 2012|
At the time of this writing we are enjoying a warm December with little snow, however this is not deterring my neighbour who is in his backyard preparing his snowmobile. Those who ski are readying their equipment and I see our people are on the hill making snow.
November has been an exciting month for several reasons. The “petition” has been delivered and was deemed sufficient. The Minister has forwarded a letter indicating a consultant or person from the Ministry will conduct an inspection “to support the role of the Council and Administration in providing local government services in the community” and this is fine- your Council welcomes it, and will seriously consider any recommendations made and stringently follow any directives given. Democracy can be messy, which is a good thing. We want our community engaged in the decisions we make. Sometimes good leadership means making tough decisions that may make people unhappy and I appreciate that. Clearly, we must work harder in the community to communicate the rationale behind the decisions we make. We all want the same thing: a vibrant and prosperous Crowsnest Pass. Council and Administration are determined to deliver on that work. Some communication Initiatives that have been undertaken thus far are:
• After the election, I extended an invitation to the media to interview me after every Council Meeting.
• Recently we have given the media an opportunity, before the conclusion of the Council Meetings, to ask questions.
• Two of our Councillors provide personal blogs.
• We have ensured that Council minutes are placed on the Municipal Website at noon the following day.
• Council has instituted ongoing Town Hall Meetings.
• Our website is consistently being improved with a major upgrade coming in the New Year.
• A Facebook page has been implemented.
• We have instituted a short five minute radio spot every Monday morning after the 8:30am news where I keep listeners updated on our current affairs.
• We have worked very hard to provide this newsletter in which I have the privilege of conveying on an informal basis “what’s going on” in local government and your community.
• I am always available for ongoing interviews with individual citizens and the media, as are our Councillors.
Further, we have noted the growing popularity of ‘Shootin’ the Breeze’ and recently, the ‘Fernie Free Press,’ both of which are available in many local outlets free of charge. The Voice, a web- based newspaper is also available, and in the future we will be considering these media in order to improve our communication. On that note, I will be bringing up the notion that we need to televise our meetings locally so people can see “first hand” what actually occurs at a Council Meetings. This could be done at very little cost and be of great benefit to our seniors and anyone who can’t make it to the meetings. This broadcast could be streamed or replayed by those who wished to view the meeting later, I brought this up twice in the past two years; I am beginning to believe perhaps, our Councillors are just too bashful.
Moving on from Communication, the manufacturing people flew out again, visited the site, took notes and left. They did mention that it was their first experience where the CAO of a community asked them what “we” could do to help them, and they did thank him for his assistance. We will wait (impatiently) until they decide, and if it falls apart, we will at least know we did everything possible.
The hotel/restaurant/truck stop legalities have made significant progress and are drawing to a close and we are planning a public session in February. Initially it was predicted that they would not begin demolition until next spring but apparently they are planning to start much earlier. I am told they are close to selecting a “flag” hotel chain.
Last month I commented that a heavy industry has met with the CAO and I over the past several months and they planned to make an official announcement towards the end of the 1st quarter or the beginning of the second quarter in the New Year. It has now been moved up to January.
The people from Quebec, the hotel developers and the representatives of the heavy industry have all noted the ratepayers petition and the resulting inspection. I hope the inspection occurs as soon as possible to prevent any reactive concerns from developing on the part of these businesses.
When one door closes, another one opens or so the saying goes. Last spring when Devon announced it was leaving I began to think about the best possible use of that land and the surrounding area for our benefit. At our last GPC Meeting I presented an idea for that land. Our local media accurately reported on this presentation in more detail than I can cover here so if you’re interested please do pick up a copy. In a nutshell, I indicated we need to acquire that entire land area from Devon regardless. A portion of it could be utilized for recreation programs on an ongoing basis, perhaps year round. I spoke of a summer music jamboree, rodeo, enduro race, shrine circus, mud bog, monster truck, a staging area for quads, a place for staging poker runs for snowmobiles and snowmobile drag races on the old airport in conjunction with a winter carnival and many other activities. I see the area as a natural stadium where we could stage activities that Banff, Jasper and Waterton cannot. This would of course be a Crowsnest Pass project that might take as long as a decade to accomplish adding a little more each year. Such attractions could be coordinated to occur at the same time as local festivals thus bringing people to all communities. I have done some research on this and professionals in the entertainment field that I spoke with indicated that this concept/project has the potential of becoming a “major Southern Alberta Attraction.” We had invited them to speak to us at the GPC Meeting regarding a jamboree next summer on some land in Bellevue as Devon would not be available for at least two years. However that group, this past week determined that due to the ratepayers petition and the resulting inspection that they would decline meeting with us until the situation is clarified. Depending on the date of the inspection, possibly three to four months away, and a final report, I suspect we will be putting this major activity “on the shelf”.
In closing, I will note that as your Council we have had to undertake some serious planning. In following these plans we have had to make some difficult and unpleasant decisions for the long term benefit of our community and its citizens. The “heavy lifting” is almost done and beginning next year we will begin to see the positive results of that planning and those decisions.
Merry Christmas from myself and your Council.