Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

Comments and legacies

Recent comment from a previous post: 

"Judging from snow removal,(or lack there of) I don't think this council will be making all the changes they led people to believe. This is understandable though, because it is one thing to talk at a ratepayer's meeting and another to follow through when given the chance as a councillor. I understand this council voted on wheather or not to go ahead with the entrance signs and the outcome was for. I don't want to start rumours, so Dean, please let us know if that was the case."

Now my thoughts:

Comment-Snow removal as been a problem and I agree it does need to be improved. 

Legacy-We as a council had no input into the budget we are presently operating with, or the hiring process over the last three years, while we have an ample force on the administrative side we are obviously lacking on the public works side. 

Comment-Making all the changes we led people to believe, we have barely got our feet wet, give us chance we have gone through orientations, we have found a new CAO and as I stated already we have not even began the budget process. 

Legacy-There are many we have horrible labor relations, a lot of bylaws and procedures that need to be reviewed the work as only just begun, changes will happen.

Comment-Council voted on weather or not to go ahead with the entrance signs, no this was not true this council voted only on the location of the signs. Previous council made those decisions a long time ago to proceed with the signs, personally I really dislike the logo and think it was an absolute waste of money and if commitments had not been made by the previous council/administration I would have cancelled them in an heart beat. 

Legacy-We were put in a position where tenders had been let out (prior to the election) big dollars had been paid out, the signs were in the process of being built. For the last twelve months all I heard was the previous Mayor talk about the legacy issues his council was left to deal with, I guess we could do the same. Cancelling these signs at this point would have put us in the position of wasting the taxpayers dollars that had already been paid out. Plus leaving a contractor in a position that had accepted a tender to do the work with a couple of signs that I don't think anybody else would have took of their hands. 

How do you cancel a tender (legal agreement with somebody to do work) that has been given out, a substantial part paid for and the work almost completed.
Stuff like that makes lawyers very wealthy.

Hopefully I answered the comment and look forward to further questions.  


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

SSRP and it's impact on the Crowsnest Pass

South Saskatchewan Regional Plan

If you wish to comment on this plan go to the following address www.landuse.alberta.ca  we had Mr Gene Wusaty CEO of Altitude Resources inc provide a presentation about is companies assets north of Grassy Mountain and their intention to begin exploration in the second quarter of 2014 last night at the council meeting. They are very concerned that the SSRP and it's plan of increasing park land adjacent to their leases will inhibit the ability to develop and operate coal mines north of us.
Again if you wish to have any input on the SSRP you need to go to the address above and voice your concerns prior to Jan 15,2014.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

It's been a while!

I know it as been a while since I last posted anything. The only excuse I have? we have been busy. Between reviewing information, going through orientations, looking for a new CAO it as been very busy. Now I will address issues that people have contacted me about.

New CAO:

Last week we hired Mr Sheldon Steinke as our new CAO, several things impressed me he possesses a tremendous amount of experience (Former CAO of Coaldale and the County of Lethbridge, plus a wealth of experience in the Canadian Military). I felt that it was especially important with the challenges we will be facing to have a seasoned veteran in place.

Policies and Bylaws:

In the new year council will be reviewing all of the bylaws and policies that the municipality as in place. What amazed me when I received the complete package of bylaws and policies was contrary to what we have been told over the last three years there were many policies and bylaws in place prior to 2011.

CPO program:

Remember not that long ago we were told that this program would pay for itself? well after reviewing budget numbers for 2013 for this area, it showed  the following; Income of  $110,080 and Expenditures of $357,923 which provides a cost recovery of less than 31%. It remains a long way from being self sufficient.

Ski Hill:

I was asked the question if I "support putting a little money into the ski hill". First of all I sat on the ski hill board for six years. I feel that recreation is important and having a ski hill that is affordable for families, easily accessible and sits right in the middle of one of our communities is one of the many things that makes our community special. So yes I support putting a little money in to the ski hill, actually we have for a long time since I first sat on council in 2004 and for many years prior to that. I believe the community as put in access of $200,000 every year to subsidize the ski hill ($228,703 for 2013). Last week I went up to the ski lodge and checked out the open house for the Chair lift. One of the board members told me they will be bringing there plan to council in the next few months I look forward to seeing that.
On the down side unfortunately our ski hill manager Dave Morrison who as ran the hill for the last 10 years is leaving us this Friday. Best of luck to Dave he did a hell of a job with the resources he had available and I wish him the best of luck in his future.  


Received the following today, sounds like good news for the Pass.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Christmas in the Mountains, Crowsnest pass style

Friday night I attended the Christmas in the Mountains, thanks to the decent weather there was a very good turn out.
Stopped by the Riversdale open house lots of interest,  seems like a decent group of individuals met some old friends there hopefully a good news story for the Pass.
Leaving Riversdale met up with the CJPR folks my wife encouraged me to sink Jingle Bells with her and we got one of the many turkeys being handed out.
Then we watched Marlene deal with her fear of heights and light up the Christmas tree, good for her I sweat walking up the stairs.
Checked out the Elks Hall lots of good stuff it looked like the vendors were doing well.
Kudo's to all the businesses that participated, it was nice to see Main Street so busy on a Friday night.
Did anybody hear how the dance went last night, we were going until we got whacked by that beautiful weather.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

What's happening with your new council.

Again I would like to thank all those people that supported me through the election. Can't believe it as been three weeks since the election already.

Just an update on what as happened so far some issues we have talked about previously and some new one's. On Oct 29th we were sworn in to office and we divided up the committee's, not everybody got everything they wanted but I think council did a fairly good job of splitting up the work load and we all agreed that if somewhere down the road members of council wish to move around we would look at that.
At the meeting of the 29th I also made a motion for administration to bring back information for council on the following questions:

1. Provide Council with the complete MCNP budget. Including all GL accounts, and including Municipal Reserves.
2.         2. Provide Council with all Administration employment contracts along with their job descriptions for each and evaluations for the last two years.
3. Provide Council with all CUPE job descriptions.
4. Provide Council with an update on all outstanding CUPE grievances.
5. Provide Council with a list of all ongoing litigation and legal issues currently facing the Municipality and all legal advice, if any, which was provided to the municipality on these subjects.
6.         6. Provide Council with an update on the Wolfstone development and RV Park project, including any legal opinions and possible solutions.
7.         7. Provide Council with an update on the Provincial Flood Recovery Program and what monies have been received and how they have been dispersed.     

At that point administration asked to have until the Nov 19 meeting to bring forth this information which council was fine with, recognizing this is a substantial amount of information. So I look forward to seeing the answers next week.  
            Now to the meeting of November 5, some highlights for me: (you can access council packages and minutes at the following address)

            Financial Update: 
            I was very surprised to see that almost $1.3 million is owed in back taxes, we were told that the high penalties on arrears would solve this problem.
            We have a lot of money in the bank most of which is grant money that as not been spent because most of our capital budget have not been completed (Out of a projected $6.2 million, just under $1 million was completed as of Oct 30,2013.
            Was surprised to see that our latest study (Recreation Feasibility) is costing us $90,000.
            Also $96,000 as already been spent on the Entrance signs. I am looking forward to receiving a lot more financial information over the next few months. 

           Next big item on the agenda was the hiring of an HR Administrator: It is no secret that the labor relations at the municipality are the worse they have ever been, and I believe this council fully understands the importance of fixing this situation. For years the municipality had good relations with CUPE. So on Nov 5 we are asked to fix the legacy issue of poor labor relations by the CAO by approving the filling of this position. Council had a number of concerns first of all the size of our administration was an issue both prior and during the election. (Just as the meeting started we were introduced to our new Director of Protective and Community Services). We must keep in mind that the organization chart for the municipality was the previous council's chart based on their priorities and desires not this council's. Second council was concerned as to how we were going to pay for this position, administration told us there was money in the budget to cover the position until the end of the year. What happens in 2014? the response was we will find the money in the budget, who hires somebody in November and then figures out how you pay for them later? Last issue administrations position was that a big part of the reason this position was justified was due to the recent Workplace Assessment that was jointly conducted by management and CUPE, council was not supplied with the original copy of this report.
            Update on the Disaster Recovery program we have received $1.8 million so far from the province our Public Works Dept and Engineering firm have determined that the cost of fixing all the eligible damage is around $4.3 million. They explained the process of bureaucratic red tape that the municipality as to go through, the Mayor explained that he as met other communities leaders where work as already begun and we are sitting in a position of not seeing anything done until the spring. We anticipate that administration will be updating us on a regular basis on this very important issue.
           Council meeting schedules, it was agreed that council meeting will be held the first and third Tuesday of each month, with the G+P being held on the second Tuesday of each month all meeting starting at 7pm.

           Very important issue of note the SSRP (South Saskatchewan Regional Plan) if you are interested there is an open house in Pincher Creek on Nov 26 from 4:30 to 7:30 at the community hall, plus you can access the plan and provide input right up to Jan 15 at the following address. https://landuse.alberta.ca/RegionalPlans/SouthSaskatchewanRegion/Pages/default.aspx

            Finally we as council were informed by Mr Myron Thompson during the In Camera portion of our meeting that he would be retiring from his position as CAO with his last day of work being Dec 20th, with his vacation and time off owed he will paid by the municipality until Feb 5th. 

           This announcement though surprising will allow both parties to pursue other options moving forward. 

          Finally I appreciate the encouragement and the positive attitude being shown to me by the public almost every where I go. There are a lot of questions being asked by both the public and council, there is a lot of information gathering on the part of your new council. Let's keep in mind that six members of this new council have never sat on a council previously. Personally I am very hopeful I think the public made some very good choices, I think we have a group of people that are very intelligent, respectful of the community and will work very well together. Will we all be on the same page all the time? not a chance, on Nov 5 we did not finish the public part of the meeting until 10pm. It's been a long time since I have seen that, lot's of good healthy debate. 


Monday, November 11, 2013

Remembrance day in the Crowsnest Pass

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
      Between the crosses, row on row,
   That mark our place; and in the sky
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
   Loved and were loved, and now we lie
         In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
         In Flanders fields.

Today I attended the Crowsnest Pass Community Remembrance Service at the high school.
It was a great tribute to the people that sacrificed so much to ensure that people like ourselves could participate in the democratic process we just went through in October and all the other things we enjoy living in the great country we do. 
Couple of things that really stood out to me, was the great turn out including a lot of young people. 
And Warrant Officer Charles Gresling telling the story of the Dunlops from Frank, and the Menin Gate Memorial in Belgium.
Everybody else that was a part of this Day of Remembrance did a great job and deserve a lot of credit for what they do.   

Monday, November 4, 2013

Duties of a municipal Councillor

I have received some feedback over the last week about what is and isn't councillor's duties, the simplest response to that is the Municipal Government Act.

Under Part 5, Division 3 of the act it clearly lays out those duties I draw your attention to section (d):

Duties, Titles and Oaths of Councillors

General duties of councillors

153 Councillors have the following duties:

 (a) to consider the welfare and interests of the municipality as
a whole and to bring to council’s attention anything that
would promote the welfare or interests of the

 (b) to participate generally in developing and evaluating the
policies and programs of the municipality;

 (c) to participate in council meetings and council committee
meetings and meetings of other bodies to which they are
appointed by the council;

 (d) to obtain information about the operation or
administration of the municipality from the chief
administrative officer or a person designated by the chief
administrative officer;

 (e) to keep in confidence matters discussed in private at a
council or council committee meeting until discussed at a
meeting held in public;

 (f) to perform any other duty or function imposed on
councillors by this or any other enactment or by the

Under Part 7, Public Participation it states the following:

216 Repealed 1994 cM-26.1 s738.

What information must a municipality provide

217(1), (2) Repealed 1994 cM-26.1 s738.

(3) Despite Division 2 of Part 1 of the Freedom of Information and
Protection of Privacy Act, the chief administrative officer must
provide information on the salaries of councillors, the chief
administrative officer and designated officers of the municipality.

(4), (5) Repealed 1994 cM-26.1 s738.

1994 cM-26.1 ss217,738

218 Repealed 1994 cM-26.1 s738.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Special meeting of Council Oct 29 2013

Short meeting of council took place after the organizational meeting:

Added to the agenda was South Saskatchewan Regional Plan under correspondence.
Request for Information and Freeze on Capital Expenditures under other business.

Highlights of the meeting:

Council Orientation on Dec 9 and 10 all council members will attend an orientation sessions with an expert on municipal affairs in Pincher Creek, this is a good educational session for new councilors and is done in conjunction with the two Pincher Creeks and Cowley to reduce costs.

Conventions-Mayor and two councilors will be attending conventions in November.

At dates to be determined on Nov 5 council will be given a tour of all municipal facilities, this as always been done for incoming council's it makes it easier to relate to the issues and decisions you will have to make on these various facilities over the next four years.

Council meeting schedule for December will be brought up on Nov 5, councilors given time to looks at dates.

Alberta Southwest Dinner-On Nov 6 there will be a dinner and meeting for all Councils and CAO's in Pincher Creek who belong to the Alberta Southwest Region to explain the functions and services provided by the group

Invitation from South Saskatchewan Regional Plan, on up coming meeting to review the draft plan that is available at www.landuse.alberta.ca  there will be meetings for the public to provide input from 4:30 to 7:30pm on Nov 5 at the Elks Hall, if you can not make it on that date it is also available in Pincher Creek same times on Nov 26 at the Community hall.

Request for Information:

Councilor Ward requested the following questions with the information to come back to council by Nov 5.

Provi    1. Provide Council with the complete MCNP budget. Including all GL accounts, and including Municipal Reserves.
2.         2. Provide Council with all Administration employment contracts along with their job descriptions for each and evaluations for the last two years.
3. Provide Council with all CUPE job descriptions.
4. Provide Council with an update on all outstanding CUPE grievances.
5. Provide Council with a list of all ongoing litigation and legal issues currently facing the                Municipality and all legal advice, if any, which was provided to the municipality on these subjects.
6.         6. Provide Council with an update on the Wolfstone development and RV Park project, including any legal opinions and possible solutions.
7.         7. Provide Council with an update on the Provincial Flood Recovery Program and what monies have been received and how they have been dispersed.     
A          Administration requested additional time to provide this information council agreed to have it brought back at the Nov 19 meeting. 

            Councilor Kovach attempted to make a motion to have all hiring and capital expenditures put on hold until council is provided the financial information it is looking for. CAO stated that the nine month financial update was being brought to council next week he requested that motion be with drawn until then Council agreed with that position. 

            It was a short meeting but very productive as far as beginning the flow of information between council and administration.     

Oct 29 Organizational Meeting of Council

Highlights from the first official meeting of council:

We had a brief session from 5-6pm for council to meet most of the administration team.

At 6pm we were all sworn in to our positions by Doug Young followed up by our official council picture which will be posted on the Municipal Web site shortly.

At 7pm in front of a packed house we started of with the organizational meeting, Mayor Painter in line with past practice had spoken to all members of council regarding their preferences for which committee's very would like to sit on and handed out the appointments, these are reviewed every year at the first meeting in October:

AAMDC----Mayor Painter
Ag Services Board----Councilor Kovach
Alberta Southwest Regional Alliance----Mayor Painter
AUMA-----Mayor Painter
CN/PC Waste Management-----Councilors Filipuzzi, Ward and Lazzarotto
CNP Senior Housing----Councilors Filipuzzi and Anctil
Culture and Heritage Cmt-----Councilor Filipuzzi
Economic Development Cmt-----Councilor Filipuzzi
FCSS------Councilor Lazzarotto
G + P Cmt-----All members of council
Library----Councilor Glavin
Management Negotiating Cmt------Mayor Painter, Councilor Ward
Mayors and Reeves----Mayor Painter
Municipal Heritage Board----Councilor Lazzarotto
Planning Commission------Councilors Kovach and Ward
Oldman River Regional Service Commission------Councilors Kovach and Filipuzzi
Policy Cmt-----Councilors Ward and Kovach
Community Policing Cmt-----Councilor Anctil
Ski Hill Society----Councilors Kovach and Glavin
Southwest Alberta Trails Advisory Cmt----Councilor Glavin
Sports and Recreation Cmt------Councilor Anctil
Spray Lakes Public Advisory Cmt----Councilor Kovach
Subdivision and Development Appeal-----Councilor Anctil

This list was approved by vote of Council, with one exception a Motion was brought forth by Councilor Ward to address the Policy Cmt that is currently in place. Presently made up of the Mayor, two councilors and the CAO, there will be a meeting of this committee in the next two weeks with all members of council invited to consider the option of disbanding this committee and directing its work load to the G+P committee with a recommendation coming back to council on Nov 19th.

Last issue for the Organizational meeting was the deputy Mayor rotation, policy states that all councilor's will sit in the Deputy Mayor position for two months of the year. To keep it simply it was agreed by council that the rotation would be filled alphabetically for the next twelve months beginning with Councilor Antil.

I will report on the special council meeting later.

Monday, October 28, 2013

A new beginning in the Crowsnest Pass.

This time last week the silent majority in the Crowsnest Pass were no longer silent. They spoke very clearly and obviously they were not happy with the path the leadership of the community was on. So your new council looks very different to the previous one, never the less it is time to move forward.

So now the work begins, your elected officials were given a list of all of the committee's of council with their terms of reference and have submitted their preferences to the Mayor.

There will be an organizational meeting of council tomorrow night at 7pm where the committee appointments will be debated by council, there will also be a rotation put in place for the Deputy Mayor position which each councilor is required to sit in for a period of two months.

There will be a short special council meeting after that to deal with upcoming conventions, council orientation, and facility tours, these are done by every new council.

As far as the new council where it goes from here? regular council meeting will start Nov 5, 7pm in council chambers. All of the candidates ran for office based on their own particular platform, will everyone of us get our own way on every issue? I doubt it. Will everything at the municipality and the way we do things change over night? I doubt that to.

What I am sure of; is there will be many questions asked, and there will be a lot of work ahead for all of us.

If you have any concerns my contact information is on this page below, if you would rather talk to a different member of council contact the municipal office at 562 8838 and they will provide you the contact information for the member of council of your choice.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Thank you

To all of those people, family, friends and supporters who stood by me over the last few years. I appreciate so much everything you have done for me.
I will write more tomorrow have a full day picking up signs but for now I am looking forward to the next four years.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Good luck to all the candidates.

Today is a time to be thankful, thankful that we get to participate in the democratic process. Thankful that a variety of people put forth their names and their platforms to provide us choices.  No matter what the results are, later tonight we will have a new council. Tomorrow will be the time to start moving forward. The campaigns are over now the people will choose.
Good luck to everyone.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Now, It really is about voting

I just received a comment from some one that is going to vote for me which I sincerely appreciate.
More than anything it gave me several reminders the first being that the poll on my right was for fun and was provided due to a lot of requests from people that read my blog. Let's not forget the Wildrose was winning the election right up until days before the vote. So polls are great but the only one that really counts is tomorrow. Second there is no question that the Incumbents and their supporters are working hard, it would be foolish to write them off at this point. So I think it is important to remind your family and friends that if they have not been happy with the last three years they need to get out and vote. When you look at an Incumbent you are not just voting for them as individuals your are voting on what they have stood for. Did they represent you and the direction you wished the community to move towards?
 I encourage the voters to do two things; first of all think really hard about who and what you want for the next four years, let's be clear you will have to live with who you elect tomorrow for the full four years. Neither a petition, or municipal affairs are going to change the decision we all make, and lastly and most importantly get out and vote.

Dean Ward

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Election 2013 My Platform

Below are some of the issues and positions I will take over the next four years. If there is something I have not addressed that concerns you please contact me. 

Election 2013   Vote for Dean Ward  X

Heading into the final week of the election every candidate should provide the taxpayers the opportunity to see where they stand on the issues important to the community
Below is my platform for 2013-2017 if you have a concern that I have not addressed please contact me at 563-4128 or deanward4@msn.com.

Seniors: I fully understand that seniors are the backbone of this community, the people that worked hard for many years, paid their taxes, raised their families and made this community what it is today.
Recognizing this, a number of years back council passed a motion to put $100,000 a year aside for future upgrades of the York Creek Lodge, this year council choose not to do that, they took that money to balance their books. For the next four years, I will support this important commitment to our seniors. Suddenly the Mayor talks about doing “more” for our seniors at the Mayor’s forum.

Town Rounder: This is a very important service for our seniors, I will commit to supporting, maintaining and if the dollars can be found expanding this service.

Recreation: I understand the importance of recreation, for six years I strongly supported the ski hill, and the creation and implementation of the walking trail program that many of us now enjoy. We must look at enhancing the present recreation programs we have and where possible find and develop new initiatives.   

Taxes: We have been told that our taxes have increased very little over the last few years that sounds good until we find out that an additional $400,000 a year is being taken out of our pockets in the form of Franchise Fees. I will not vote for a tax, franchise fee, or any other municipal tax grab that exceeds the Canadian cost of living.
Franchise Fees

Volunteers:  We all know what as happened over the last three year’s, we must stop throwing volunteers out on the street. We must recognize the efforts of all volunteers who build so much of what we have in this community not just the present volunteers  but also the past and the future.   

Respect: We all need to respect each other more, that starts at the top, Mayor, Council and administration must lead by example. The days of calling taxpayer’s names in the municipal newsletter must come to an end.

Labor Relations: A recent study conducted jointly by the Municipality and our CUPE local indicates that morale is at an all time low we are now seeing the worse relationship ever between management and our employees. The new Council should direct the CAO to deal with this issue quickly and effectively, these are the people that provide us with essential services that we all enjoy and need.

Administration: The Crowsnest Pass now as the largest administration it as ever had, this is not sustainable without increasing taxes or cutting programs. The CAO is bringing to the next council an immediate request for an HR administrator this position as not been budgeted for in the 2014 budget. Next council must determine its priorities as far as administration to reduce the costs involved. Yes that means finding the dollars in the present administration budget for the much needed HR person, administration cost will not increase.

Development:  We must determine why developers are not building in the Crowsnest Pass; Council should sit down with developers and builders and get their input as to what the municipality can do to make the Crowsnest Pass a more attractive choice for new development.  

Change: The number one issue that as been raised with me during my election campaign is “Change” the Crowsnest Pass will change, there is no doubt. As long as the vast majority of people feel that they have had “change” rammed down their throat they will not embrace it and become a part of it. Moving forward the public needs to be informed of change, the consequences of change and most importantly are provided the opportunity to be a part of change.   

Choices: We all get to make a choice on Oct 21; I know people will think long and hard about the various candidates. Please remember one thing the provincial government made very clear during the Municipal Inspection that this community will have to live with the choices it makes for the next four years.

Annexation: As been handled terribly, all we have done is upset our neighbors; the Mayor stated at the forum that what upset Ranchlands was that one of the previous two councils from the Pass. Made a threat to dissolve the Pass and force Ranchlands to take us over. Well first of all I sat in several meeting with Ranchlands and I never heard that threat made, second of all that would be such a dumb threat nobody can dissolve the Crowsnest Pass except the Minister of Municipal Affairs, and like wise nobody but that same Minister can force a municipality to absorb another community. The reality is the Mayor and his actions upset our neighbors in typical desperate fashion he is looking for somebody to blame.    

My name is Dean Ward, I am committed to working hard to make the Crowsnest Pass successful and maintain a community that we can all afford to live in.

On Oct 21 Vote for Dean Ward 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Viability Study-Dissolution-Fear Factor

First of all the recommendation of council looking at a viability study was just that a recommendation, next council does not have to go down that path unless Municipal Affairs forces it which as never been implied. From 2006 to 2011 there were 18 municipal dissolution studies conducted which resulted in five villages being dissolved and thirteen were not.
The villages that were dissolved were population wise very small and absorbed by counties surrounding them with much larger populations in most cases ten to thirty times larger.
They were:
Village of Sangudo pop 398 absorbed by Lac Ste Anne County pop 10260
Village of Thorhild pop 478 absorbed by County of Thorhild pop 3417
Village of Kinuso pop 231 absorbed by M.D of Big Lakes pop 5912
Village of New Sarepta pop 401 absorbed by Leduc County pop 13541
Village of Derwent pop 111 absorbed by County of Two Hills pop 3160

Of the thirteen municipalities that did not dissolve they ranged in size from the village of Gadsby with 25 people up to the Town of Falher with 1075 people.

I am not suggesting for a moment that we as residents, or future council's should not take seriously the issue of strengthening this community. But let's not lose sight of the facts all the communities that participated in the studies between 2006 and 2011 were significantly smaller than the Crowsnest Pass, of those two thirds did not dissolve, and finally of all five that did dissolve they were taken in by neighbors with much larger populations than themselves. Certainly an option we do not have.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Some items to think about before you vote.

  • The new Image, we are in the process of spending in excess of $300,000 to put in place the new brand, logo, banners etc.

  • The hidden “tax” Franchise Fees have increased from $295,000 in 2010 to almost $700,000 in 2013

  • Crowsnest Centre the Mayor announces in his Mayor’s Corner Oct 17,2012 “The new Hotel, Restaurant truck stop complex is a go!”

  • June 25,2013 Council is informed that Medican has backed out of the hotel deal

  • July 23,2013 Council votes to pay $50,000 to purchase Best Western name for Group Vachon.

  • Sept 2013, Workplace Assessment Report  “"While many express that this relationship has, historically, not been "perfect", the theme is that, currently, the relationship is the "worst it has ever been". “The majority of employees indicated they are experiencing significantly high levels of stress in this workplace. Longer term employees stated "morale is lower than they can remember".

  • We now have the largest and most expensive administration in our history the Russell Farmer report recommends “The municipality continues to rationalize its operations looking for opportunities to create greater efficiencies and effectiveness not only in operations but in administration as well”

  • Russell Farmer identifies crucial areas of concern “High rate of turn over in management particularly the CAO, and the impact of the high rate of turn over on the municipality’s ability to provide effective and efficient service” In the last three years we have had three CAO’s plus seven other changes in various administrative positions the most in any term of council since 1979.

  • Russell Farmer crucial area of concern “Communication within the organization and with residents which has resulted in a lack of trust in the community and in the organization”.

  • Russell Farmer High Tax Rate; “Crowsnest Pass’s mill rate has increased by 8.3 percent in the past two years which is a significant increase in the mill rate”

  • March 6,2012 Thunder in the Valley is deferred for one year

  • October 2012, Fire Chief terminated, large numbers of volunteers leave the Fire Department   

  • Budget 2013 Council after a significant miscalculation on the assessment base eliminates the $100,000 commitment to the York Creek Lodge to balance the municipal budget. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Crowsnest Pass Council Meeting Oct 15,2013

Council Meeting Oct 15,2013

CAO Report of activities:

RC Strategies are in town conducting interviews with various user groups and will be sending surveys out to residents shortly regarding the Recreation Study

Interviews were conducted last week for the Director of Protective and Community Services new person will be starting in the position Nov 4.

Old hospital should be complete this week, with the contractor commencing on the old nursing home next week.

The new entrance signs are being constructed, with the tender for the bases to be awarded this week.

Fire Chief Munshaw informed us that Alberta as no set minimum standards for training levels for fire fighters, municipalities are allowed to set their own standards.

Councilor Gallant raised the issue with Chief Munshaw that businesses should be seeing reductions in their Fire Insurance, Mr Munshaw advised that businesses need to contact their Insurance companies and if they do not see a reduction then they need to contact:
Fire Chief Munshaw at  562-8833 and he will assist those businesses.

Alberta Municipal Affairs Inspection

Motion was made and passed by council to accept the Municipal Inspectors Report

CAO provided to council his recommendations for follow up actions on the Municipal Inspectors Report, motion was made and passed by council to accept recommendations.

Bylaw 870,2013 Council Procedural Bylaw

Was given second and third reading by council passed by a vote of 5-1 (Gail opposed)

Then council spent the last fifteen minutes congratulating each other and administration on the fine job they had done over the last three years.

That’s it for council meeting during this term of council, new council’s first meeting will commence @ 5pm on October 29 with a meet and greet followed by Official Oath of Office @ 6pm, Official Council Photographs @ 6:30pm, and lastly the Organizational Meeting of Council @ 7pm (That is where council divides up which committee’s they would like to sit on)

Nasty, Nasty time to stop

I have received in the last three hours really nasty comments about myself, Prince, Painter, Decoux, Lazarotto, Kovach and Peter Rosner if you really want to waste your energy typing this crap that's fine. But the minute I see something really nasty I hit delete which takes less than a second.
So disagree with political platforms, argue the facts, but the personal is done.

Dean Ward

G + P Meeting Oct 15, 2013

James Russomanno:

Appeared as a delegation to present a pile of information on “Water Fluoridation” which I am sure will give next council some food for thought. Was really good to see somebody young taking enough of an interest in an issue to appear before council.


Peter Murray from Riversdale (project manager for Grassy Mountain) appeared to give an up date on what they are doing in the Crowsnest Pass. Obviously very early in the process, certainly appear to be lining things up to move forward. They have begun the consultation process with First Nations group, mapping for exploration, once that is done they will apply for provincial permits they are hoping to begin exploration late November early December. He announced that he and his family have been in the Pass for a few months, two more employee’s will be here this week. In addition Riversdale have rented office across from the Greenhill Hotel plus they have rented accommodation in the Puchen building. Over all a good news story for the Crowsnest Pass moving forward.

Municipal Website:

Good presentation on our new revamped municipal website first impression it looks very good, administration stated that it, would be launched today. @ Crowsnestpass.com

Council Remuneration and Travel Reimbursement:

Council members receive a Stipend each month as a member of council plus payment for all official meetings required as a council member. They do not get paid for attending as a volunteer, parades etc. The stipend as not changed since 2001 and the meeting rate as not changed since 2008, of course the Mayor decided once again to slam previous council’s for neglecting their duties by not dealing with this issue previously. I was a little disappointed with administration because they all failed to mention, (yes it is in the old council minutes) that the practice as always been that council addresses this issue at their last meeting before an election. So that a new council would not be in a position of setting it’s own pay rate for the next four years. The Mayor was so caught up in his speech about the “travesty and neglect of previous council’s” I guess nobody from the administration team wished to rain on his parade. 

Democracy and another perspective on the current Election

Democracy is alive and well and very active in the Crowsnest Pass, I was told last night after the council meeting that 481 people voted in the advance poll double the number that voted last election.

Right now there are so many conversations happening all over the Pass regarding who should be voted in and why:

Here is a link to Peter Rosner's Blog giving his perspective on the election http://theminersjourney.blogspot.ca/ 

Peter also refers to an article that appeared in the Pass Herald on Oct 26, 2010 after the last election where the previous CAO Gord Lundy reflects on his time in the Pass, great things about our small town, and the community moving forward. http://passherald.ca/archives/101026/index2.htm

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The real S.C Rudegan

I received the following email yesterday I have now confirmed that this is the real S.C so I am posting for all those people that were misled. By a group that is willing to stop at nothing to hang on to power we have heard so much about the "old.boys club" is this now "new boys club".

Where did they get everybody's email's?

Hello Dean,
I just wanted to let you know that the blog that is out there, supposedly by S.C. Rudegan, has nothing to do with me.  I've posted a response on John Prince's blog, but I don't know if he will allow it.  I think it is idiotic, when there are real issues to discuss, that people are getting distracted for even one moment by b.s. like this.  I'll address this more in my next column, unfortunately it will be after the election.  I just wanted you to know that the sentiments expressed on the "blog" have nothing to do with me or my opinions.
S.C. Rudegan

Politics and Privacy the bigger issue

When I look east at our neighbors in Pincher Creek it really is such a sharp contrast to what is going on in the Crowsnest Pass, they are not even having an election for councilors just for the Mayor six people were acclaimed while just 45km to the west we are in the midst of a battle to the bitter end for our six spots.
Now politics in the Crowsnest Pass, yes candidates have a right to put out their platform, signs, advertising, flyers what ever they like. We all know that every side in an election will interpret the "facts" as they see fit. All of the above I am fine with even the Claims versus Facts blog that suddenly came about this weekend, obviously the work of somebody(s) who is supporting the Incumbents unless I am to assume that not one comment from an Incumbent was listed because they have not made a claim yet that could be challenged?

But that is all OK, what is not right is invading my privacy somebody gave my email address to S.C. Rudegon, not just mine but apparently hundreds of other people. This is no different than the famous "robo-calls" is it? This is a total invasion of our privacy and is wrong, in Alberta we have the FOIP act that is suppose to protect us from our personal information being shared with somebody unless we give our permission. Where did the fraud S.C Rudegon get "our" personal emails? there is a lot of speculation right now I received a call from a lady that said herself and three of her friends the only place they have in common where they provided all their emails was on a school mailing list. It was posted by a local business lady on the Crowsnest Network on Facebook last night that she received the email on both her personal and business address she stated the only place she provided both those addresses to was the Crowsnest Cultural and Recreation Society (Cando). Then I have had calls from people asking me doesn't the municipality have access to a lot of email addresses?. Whoever did this is wrong, the blog with the claims versus facts all fair game, the invasion of hundreds of people's privacy wrong, wrong, wrong. Who do they share your email address with next?
If anybody as any information on this please provide it to me I will be contacting the FOIP people in Edmonton. In addition I had a call from somebody that told me one of those high tech geeks could trace the email back to it's source that is way over my head but if anybody knows anything about that, email me please  deanward4@msn.com.        

CNP Claims vs Facts

Sept 16/2013 - Dean Ward in press release to Pass Herald:
"Smaller government, we now employ more administrators than the Crowsnest Pass has ever 

had previously...with a staff of less than fifty employees, do we really need nine administrators, 
when you add up all the salaries, benefits, vehicles, cell phones, computers etc… we will be 
spending in excess of $1.2 million a year."
The Municipal Inspection Report indicates clearly that Crowsnest Pass has a completely normal 

number of administrators. One administrative position is the Deputy Fire Chief, which is a term 
contract that is paid by the Province in order to assist with training of Fire Department members. 
The $1,200,000 is a fabricated number based on several assumptions and guesses.
Currently Administration consists of CAO, CFO, Director of Operations, Director of Protective 
and Community Services (Vacant), Operations Manager, EDO, Fire Chief, Deputy Fire Chief 
(term contract paid by Province) - that is 7 permanent and 1 temporary.
While Dean Ward was on council they had CAO, CFO, Director of Operations, Director of 
Community Services, Director of Legislative and HR Services, Public Works Superintendent, 
Assistant Public Works Superintendent - that's 7.

Advance Poll

For those that are not here on October 21, and wish to vote. The advance poll is today at the Elks Hall in Blairmore from 10am to 8pm.

Everybody no matter who you are voting for, get out and vote.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Today is a time to take a break, no need for bickering back or forth. No need for wasting our time with "facts and figures" that can be interpreted in any which way the reader wishes to. People that tell us the "truths" while trying to give themselves credibility by pretending to be a person with a reputation in town as a reliable source give it a break, today is Thanksgiving.
Yesterday somebody very important to me said "grandpa it's Thanksgiving what are you Thank full for" great question and brought me back to what is really important. 
I am thankful for so much my a wife that stands besides me through  good or bad, my kids who have been a part of my life for many years, my precious grandchildren who have brought so much into my life., I am also thankful for the rest of my family, I am sure on a day like this we all take a moment to reflect on the ones we have lost but I am also thankful they were a part of our life's. I am thankful for everything I have. I am thankful for living in one of the greatest places in the world I am thankful for all the support Debbie and I  have received over the last month especially the last week. We live among some great family and wonderful friends all of those things I am thankful for.
So please everybody today enjoy your Thanksgiving with your family and friends.

Dean, Debbie and family.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Who owns the Best Western rights?

Lot's of information from various sources draw your own conclusions on who actually owns the Best Western rights.  The fact that the $50,000 will be paid back when the land is sold, still means the taxpayer will be receiving $50,000 less value for the property.

The following comes from the municipalities own press release announcing that the deal with Medican collasped.

"The Vachon Group, who is still the official applicant for the hotel development, intends to continue working with Crowsnest Pass on the complex". 

Comments from July 16 G+P meeting 

Chris Vachon spoke to council regarding this issue made some very interesting comments and responses to Councilors questions:

-Investors that were previously lined up went to what they know best the condo market
-The Best Western brand and franchise was approved for the Pass under the Vachon group
-The cost to maintain the Best Western for two years will be $50,000, the way it came across to myself is Vachon put the money up six months ago. The municipality as a deadline of July 26 to make a decision on if they will pay the $50,000 to maintain the rights to Best Western. If they don’t I suspect Mr Vachon will get his $50k back from Best Western and the option to own those rights will disappear.

At this point Councilor Gail asked if there would be a problem finding Investors down the road especially with the MCNP already having the feasibility study done?
Mr Vachon told him that Best Western came in and did their own study and would probably have to update the study when new Investors show up. He also stated that new Investors showing up would be tied to what happens in the Coal/lumber markets locally.

Councilor Londsbury asked if Best Western sees this town has a viable option?
Mr Vachon gave a qualified yes based on once again what happens in the coal industry.

Councilor Saindon asked how can Medican pull out, didn’t we have an agreement, didn’t we honor our side of the agreement, thing’s get difficult they pull out?
Myron Thompson stated terms of the agreement were not met by Medican the contract became null and void.

Councilor Saindon asked what was the out clauses that Medican used?
Myron Thompson responded with “various clauses”.

Councilor Gallant said Best Western did not play games, independent studies said this location was viable, he asked how long Sparwood has been on Best Western books and is there a time limit on how long they will be on the books?
Mr Vachon stated that he did not know Sparwood was trying to get a Best Western until they filed the application for Blairmore. He also stated that Best Western watchs a location for signs of moving forward (foundations being put in place etc)

Councilor Mitchell asked if he had heard correctly that there is a deadline of July 26?
Mr Vachon said yes for the $50,000

Councilor Saje asked for an explanation of what the status of the present contract is?
Mr Vachon stated we will talk further later in the meeting (In Camera)

Pass Herald July 16

“What brings me out here is to see if there is any interest in pursuing a new investment group, under myself,” said Vachon.

Crowsnest Pass Peomoter 

The curious case of the hotel Part 3 from Joni MacFarlane

You'd be forgiven for having difficulty keeping track of the unfolding events surrounding a proposed development for the former Crowsnest Centre site.
Ever since it was announced that the first deal had gone south, the story’s taken more twists and turns than Senator Pamela Wallin’s travel expenses.
First we’re told that after much legal wrangling, a large construction company had been awarded the sale and contract of the site.
An open house presenting an architect’s conceptual designs was held when a new name emerges – that of Chris Vachon, a hotel management consultant.
The Medican deal falls through and now Vachon holds all the rights and none of the risk to secure a Best Western franchise. With hands held to the fire, we’re told it’s now or never - pay this fellow or kiss Best Western goodbye forever.
Now another name comes crawling out of the woodwork – that of Clay Cup Development. Apparently, they were originally involved in the deal before Vachon came along. We’re told they too are an approved Best Western developer and have built one in the past. They call the “now or never” scenario bunk and say that’s not how it works.
They also claim municipalities don’t pay these fees and that it sends up “red flags” to be asked to. Clearly the majority of council members are colour blind.
But wait, there’s more. Clay Cup says they chose to walk away from the deal when they read the “amateurish” feasibility study. Some members of council said they were fired.
Who is telling the truth here and who is not?
Is council adequately investigating these conflicts of information before playing with taxpayers’ money?
More worrying is the obvious conflict between what some members of council knew and what some did not. When and how was this information imparted and why are some members in the dark?
Now with close to a million dollars committed to demolish the site, find investors, a builder, and who knows what else to make a Best Western hotel a reality, this business of “he said - he said” is farcical.