Thursday, March 28, 2013

Great News for the Pass we are getting a new hotel


Best Canadian Motor Inns (BCMInns) has announced plans to reopen its location in Blairmore.
BLAIRMORE, ALBERTA. Re-construction of the brand new Best Canadian Motor Inns hotel is now underway. The facility will include 49 completely renovated modern rooms, fitness room, laundry facilities, meeting rooms, deluxe breakfast area, business center, and coffee house.
“Our boldly re-designed interior and exterior will be an attractive and welcome addition to the Crowsnest Pass community,” said Scott Germain, Vice President of BCMI.
“We added square footage but maintained the number of rooms so we could increase the amount of individual guest space. We feel a focus on quality is what will help make this property an attraction in the CNP.”
“As part of our commitment to quality and the guest experience, we’ve made significant changes to our accommodations, including a variety of room styles; from kitchens and two room family suites, to an over the top luxury Jacuzzi suite. Our room selection will be unparalleled in the Crowsnest,” Germain said.
After experiencing a fire in November 2011, the remains of the building on 21st Avenue in Blairmore have sat vacant pending the completion of detailed renovation plans. The extensive upgrade plans are now complete and the reconstruction is underway.
“We are a proud member of the Crowsnest Pass and it was very important to us that this project be undertaken with primarily local contractors. BCMI has been part of the Crowsnest Pass community for over 20 years and Blairmore is an important part of the BCMI family. We felt we had the opportunity to do something special here and wanted to make sure we did it right. We are very excited to be back.” said Mr. Germain.
The project will be managed by the local branch of Belfor Property Restoration. The facility is expected to be completed and open to the public in late 2013.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Crowsnest Pass Ratepayers Letter to the Editor

Here is the letter from this weeks letter to the editor also check out the ratepayers Facebook page for other information on the organization.

Other side of the story

The Ratepayers do not have access to the taxpayer funded municipal communications system. It becomes very expensive to advertise on radio, in the papers, mail inserts.

It leaves the ratepayers association seeking other alternatives to getting out our concerns, comments and questions.

In response to the Mayor’s latest newsletter. It is good to see that our restructured administrative staff is working well as a team with our staff.

Maybe the talk of morale at the municipality being at an all time low is not accurate.

The Mayor addresses the issue of differences of opinion in a healthy organization is he referring to Councillor Saje recent statements? Were those the only times that process was not followed? Is Councillor Saje the only one that has concerns?

The hotel development, the selling price of the property was $1.1 million.

The municipality actually only receives $300,000 in cash with $100,000 of that used to put in a playground at the site. The developer was given an allowance of $800,000 to remove the building by August 30. There was a request for proposals, last year were there bids for less than $800,000?

Medican is a company that has had serious financial problems, they are now
in the process of coming out of CCAA court protection.

More news in the Mayor’s newsletter at the open house with Riversdale Mining, there spokesman clearly stated that every thing going perfect the mine would be starting up in 2017, the Mayor now suspects the mine will be in place sooner than anticipated.

The Mayor is also excited about the branding project, that cost the taxpayers $47,000 don’t we all feel “naturally rewarded”. The Mayor’s task force report in May of 2011 clearly recommended the use of the “Mountain
Freedom” brand, that would have cost us nothing. That same report also stated a top priority would be the hiring of an Economic Development Officer
by Sept 2011, the job is finally now being advertised, will it be in place prior to the election?

Ranchlands is going to meet with our council, it would be great news for the taxpayers of the Crowsnest Pass to know when we will be reducing our high tax rates, franchise fees and other various charges with the additional income that Ranchlands will provide. The Mayor should provide us with examples of other municipalities where this process has taken place, we can only find examples where communities anticipating tremendous population growth were allowed to annex their neighbors.

Finally, the Mayor basks in the glory of the Emergency Services Open House, it was great that it brought back memories of a cardboard helmet from his early childhood. What about the memories of the individuals that put 20-40 years of there lives into those organizations.

This will be the first letter to the editor from the Ratepayers Association, we have many more issues to raise, we ask all residents to take the time to think about these prior to October 21. (This letter was written without the assistance of any Public Relations firm)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Russell Farmer Inspection team coming to the Pass

I have just been informed that Russell Farmer will be in the Pass conducting interviews in 2-3 weeks everybody that wishes to speak up this will be your chance.
To contact them and set up an appointment here is the information:

Chris Hutchison, Russell Farmer Associates – 780-966-7259

 E-mail –

The Mayor's catching up on the good news

In the Mayor's last newsletter he stated that the mine may be actually starting sooner than he previously anticipated. My first impression of that was good news especially when you see next door in the Elk Valley that the Bingay mine is now in it's eighth year (That's right 8 years) and they have still not started. So I have spent the last week searching the internet and trying to determine where the Mayor's optimistic out look is coming from.
Lo and behold the Mayor stated on his 15 minutes with Randy show this morning that Riversdale is doing a share offering in the next couple of months. Which means they will have money to begin construction. 
My heart skipped a beat that's nothing new back on Jan 29th Riversdale announced this share offering that will be taking place in June.  You can read it at the following address: 

Now looking at the article you can clearly see that they are raising $63.4 million, the companies doing the share offering will take 5% which drops that number down to $60 million then they are paying $47 million for the land in the Pass which will leave a whooping $13 million which in today's mining world does not mean a whole lot they will need that money just to keep doing what they are doing as far as preparing for the regulatory process, and don't forget they are also working on their property in Alaska. So I would expect that the $13 million left over will get gobbled up very fast.

Sounds like a politician trying to put a new spin on old news. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Blame game and moving forward Oct 21st

Just spent a couple of days thinking about what my fellow blogger John Prince posted regarding the Ratepayers meeting the other night and who is to blame for our situation. Before I ramble on about my opinion of where we go from here I would like to make a couple of statements.

1. A lot of what John said is true.
2. Who's to blame? most of us I will be the first to admit, I voted for some of these guys. Let's be honest how many people got caught up in the "he's so educated, he's young, he's got some great idea's, he's going to cut our taxes once he gets everything in order....." the list could go on and on but never the less people got caught up in it.

What happens now? The municipal Inspection will come in listen to a lot of people, various organizations and then throw this issue back into the hands of the taxpayers on October 21st.
Even though this council has done a lot of things that a lot of people disagree with. When you read the Municipal government act, there is no clause  that says you can't raise taxes, franchise fees, hire administrators, bring in peace officers, get rid of fire departments, or for that matter spend tons of money putting a bunch of triangles together.
I am not saying for one second that the petition should not have been done I understand fully why people did it, but council instead of taking the attitude of listening to the statement 2500+ people made signing that petition, took an attitude of "bring it on you won't find anything wrong". Maybe if they had Calder Bateman working for them at that time they would have took a different approach.

What the Municipal Government act states is that we the people of this municipality get to make a choice on where we go from here. Even in the remote chance that  the province threw this council out we would still be faced with the same issue October 21st.

Now we can keep blaming, pointing fingers or we can start preparing for October 21 which ever route we pick  will ultimately come back to Oct 21st. So now we need to talk about moving forward, come Sept 23 (Nomination Day) I expect that most of the incumbents will put their names forth for the next term. So for those people that support this council the issue is very simple they will mark their x and look forward to four more years of what they have just had.

If you are not part of that group, you need to start thinking about either running for office yourself or looking at people around the community that could and will represent what you are looking for over the next four years.
The qualities required to sit on a municipal council? Some say that it requires common sense  that's true, it also requires that you can understand numbers, If you can't that first budget Administration will bury you with paper, past experience with budgets is a great asset.  Then you better have a back bone, very quickly you will be labelled one of the Mayor's puppets if you do not speak up. You also better understand it is impossible to please everybody, some peoples expectations are very high and at times unrealistic. There will be a need to make some very difficult decisions over the next four years if you do not have the stomach for that, please don't step forward. You also better be a person that is a good listener, people need to feel like you are really listening to them.
Most importantly if your going to help this community to move forward start of by being honest, do not tell the public you are going to fix everything over night. Do not tell people that once you get a handle on things you will cut taxes. Do not tell the people your are one of them and then spend the next four years looking down on them.
We, by that I mean the residents of the Crowsnest Pass that are not satisfied with the direction of this community over the last three years need to be preparing for some hard work and to start making some good choices or else we will get the same as we have had and maybe even worse for the next four years.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Looking for a job? We are hiring

Lots of jobs available in the Crowsnest Pass the Municipality is hiring. You name it we need it just go to the address below.

NOTE: Informed last night that the Development officer is leaving shortly, another job will be available.

Riparian Restoration Technician

Crowsnest Pass-Ranchlands, A different perspective on Annexation

There is no question grabbing a significant piece of Ranchlands would be a financial dream come true for the residents of the Crowsnest Pass. On the other side of the equation what would a resident or a business currently or potentially looking at locating in Ranchlands have to look forward to? 

In the Nanton News the other day the CAO for Ranchlands provided a comparison of Ranchlands Mill rates versus the surrounding Municipalities.  Keep in mind the numbers may seem low but he is just providing the Municipal portion of the mill rate, not included are the ASFF or the seniors lodge portion.

So now a resident of Ranchlands hearing about Crowsnest Pass annexing them gets to look at the following.  Let’s assume they have a property assessed at a value of  $500,000 today they are paying roughly $1650 in tax, become part of the Crowsnest Pass that number becomes $3050. Now a proponent of annexation will argue that other areas of the province that were annexed, negotiated a moratorium on tax increases or a phased in increase over any where from 5-20 year time frames that’s true. Sooner or later the new residents will get hit with the tax increase.

The area where this has a much larger impact is on the commercial side, let’s assume for a second you are going to locate a fair size business in Ranchlands, for the hell of it let’s pick a coal mine, lets say with an assessed value of $500 million. At today’s Ranchlands rate they would pay $2,528,000 a year. That same property taxed at the Cowsnest Pass rate would pay $5,385,250 a year.
A difference of $2,857,250 a year put that over a life span of 20 years it comes out to a whooping $57,145,000 those are substantial dollars. The point of all this, which tax rate do you think the owner of the coal mine will be pushing for? Plus keep in mind the people that will make the ultimate decision, the  province will get it’s share of royalties which ever municipality the mine sits in.

Willow Creek   Foothillls      CNP         Kananaskis      Ranchland    MD  Pincher Creek

Residential and Farmland                                             
3.7860              2.7979       6.1024        5.0560            3.3000           4.2738

Commercial/Linear/Machinery & Equipment               
7.4340             6.8704       10.7705      5.0560              5.3000          7.2003

Teck Coal Mines facing environmental issues

Lots of reports coming from various  media outlets on the Selenium issue in the Elk River.

No new Elk Valley coal mines until selenium impact resolved, environment minister says

Teck commits $600 million over five years to address water-quality issues

Teck Coal facing serious water pollution in Elk Valley

The following is available on Teck's web site, talking about there plans to deal with issue.

I do not think anybody would argue that a company has the right to destroy the environment that it operates in. I believe that without the coal mines this corner of Alberta and BC would be ghost towns. I also believe that this problem will be dealt with, maybe not as fast as some people would like it to be. Let's also not lose sight of the fact that some groups would like nothing more than to see all development of our resources stopped.
I remember back to the early 80's when the Line Creek and Greenhills mine were being proposed some groups gave us the impression that the Elk Valley, and it's wildlife would face a bitter demise. Here we are thirty years later.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Sentinel Bridge, Crowsnest Pass

I just read this week that the Municipality is anticipating the replacement of the Sentinel bridge with the funding of $1.2 million from the province.

If that funding was coming from STIP  Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program, they are going to be very disappointed with the following quote from today's Edmonton Journal 

"Since April 2011, the program has funded construction and repair of local bridges, community airports, resource roads and local municipal initiatives like the City Special Transport Grants.
In 2011-12, the province spent $88 million on the program, in 2012-13, the government spent roughly $119 million. In the 2013-14 fiscal year, funding drops to zero."

The full article is below

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Deciphering the code-Letter to the Editor

Yesterday somebody asked me about our new "Brand" wanting to explain it to them I found the following statement, the problem is I do not fully understand this statement! maybe it's just me but when I read the statement to the person I was discussing it with he did not understand it neither.

"What is a Brand Identity"

"Most importantly, a brand is NOT a "logo" or "Identity"

"Part of leveraging a brand is, however, the creation of an identity or logo which captures the essence of a brand. A logo or identity is a graphic representation of a brand. Logos are the entry point and a "short cut" to the brand for your mind"

It's from the February Municipal Newsletter promoting our new "Brand" unfortunately I think this was written in some sort of strange code which requires higher intellect to decipher. I guess being part of the 98% of the population that does not have a Master's degree put's us at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to understanding this kind of "forward" thinking.
Anybody that can take a few moments to explain this to me I would greatly appreciate your assistance.

Note: Further to the issue of "Branding" the following letter from David McIntyre appeared in both the Crowsnest Pass Herald and Promoter this week.

 Rebranding Crowsnest Pass, George Dawson-style

I did a double take when first exposed to Crowsnest Pass's new brand, but decided to keep quiet. I thought the community, already suffering from advanced self-destruction, might crumble if so much as touched by another form of criticism. And so, with great resolve, I promised not to touch the new brand with a 10-foot pole.
As days passed, however, the pole grew shorter. And then it vanished.
It disappeared when I noticed that the brand's subtitle, when used in newspaper ads, was not legible. 
If the community ever decides to rebrand itself, it might, for a single, defining vision, give some passing consideration to the drop-dead gorgeous, heralded power peak that, for millennia, has turned heads and punctuated the skyline - the peak that, surrounded by mountain ranges, stands alone to command supremacy amid the stunningly beautiful headwaters of the Crowsnest River.
This iconic, one-of-a-kind, quintessential landmark—the focus of vision quest sites throughout southern Canada—is so grand, sublime and strikingly unusual in form as to be instantly recognizable to anyone who's seen it, and profoundly compelling to those who have not.
Eminent geologist, George Dawson, a towering figure in Canadian history and science, travelled widely across North America during a lifetime of exposure to nature's most dramatic landscapes. Generations of international scholars have lauded his work, and countless Canadians have referred to him as a national hero. On the day of his death (1901), Dawson penned his last words. He described, from among the countless places he'd been, an 1880s trip into the Crowsnest Pass.
Dawson, valiantly searching for a "good morrow" while on his deathbed, recalled the day he camped near today's Alberta/B.C. border, witnessed a grand auroral display, then woke and headed east. There on the trail shortly after sunrise, Dawson, riding his horse Samson, ascended a ridge to a high point and witnessed "a view like no other."
Dawson's remembered "good morrow" likely placed him on the cliffs above the north shore of Crowsnest Lake. His poignantly described "view like no other" was almost certainly the sublime form of Crowsnest and the Seven Sisters, framed between the Flathead and High Rock ranges, the Livingstone Range in the distance. 
This is the brand George Dawson took to heaven.

David McIntyre

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Communications, another person's opinion on what's happening in the CNP.

This article was posted on John Prince's Blog today It appears in this week's Pass Herald.  I agree with John it is very well written and very timely for what's going on in the Crowsnest Pass now days.

Who’s in charge


Feature Columnist

I was fascinated to hear that the Municipality of the Crowsnest Pass has hired a communications consultant to help strengthen relationships with residents. As someone with more than 25 years experience in the field, I'm curious about what motivates an organization to out-source communication, something I consider leadership's primary responsibility. I've found that there are usually two reasons why an organization seeks external communications advice. Either the Municipality, for example, doesn't have the resources to hire an internal staff person. Or, it has the resources, but not the expertise.
Based on the hiring frenzy that has occurred in the Crowsnest Pass in the last year, it doesn't seem that resources are the issue. Council continues to write cheques for everything from new office flooring to fancy trucks to hiring external consultants. Therefore, it must be an issue of expertise. And that is where things start to get tricky.
Communication is the life-blood of every organization. It is what makes all the working parts hum. It's the oil that keeps things from over-heating, the fulcrum that keeps things in balance. For our elected officials to admit, by their decision to hire external communications advice, that they do not have the expertise to keep the municipal system working properly, is a serious problem. Particularly, with a Mayor
and Council that repeatedly boast about their education and professionalism. It's one thing to seek advice on website design. It's quite another to have someone from outside the community take control of building
relationships with taxpayers and the media. It's one thing to hire someone to plan a special event, it's quite another to hire an external consultant to establish long-term strategy goals.
When an organization decides to outsource its communications, particularly an organization that is elected, it is admitting that it has lost control. Communications is not separate from leadership, it is leadership. When those in charge are not fulfilling their responsibilities, perhaps because they are feeling threatened, the tendency is to relegate people into camps - those who are with the Mayor and Council, for
example, and those who are against. Relationships are seen as absolutes, and actions simulate a kind of guerrilla warfare. Outside communication consultants are like mercenaries, hired to give one side a strategic advantage. Strategy is about scoring points. The business of the Municipality becomes getting, then maintaining, control.
If it is the intention of those in charge of this community to bring people together, to dedicate themselves to clarity, transparency, and moving forward. If those in charge are prepared to listen, to talk with people not at them, to repair relationships, and to search for common ground, they do not need an external communications consultant. Because their actions, based on their intentions, will communicate volumes
to the people who live here, visit here, and want to do business here

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Everything is wonderful, we just have not realized it yet

Well the Mayor's newsletter was just released and it sounds like somebody is "telling a story" is it just me or has the tone of the newsletters changed since December.

 I had heard rumblings from some of the municipal staff that there was some morale and labour relations issues plus only somebody that been trapped in the jungle for the last year would have missed Councilor Saje's letter. Obviously in the last few week's those issues must have been addressed, according to the latest newsletter the appearance is given that all the team are pulling together. Check out the newsletter @

Just a short quote "Our restructured administrative staff is working has a team with our inside (office) and outside (public works). Differences of opinion abound but this is normal in a healthy organization and when something needs to be accomplished all come together".

The Mayor goes on to talk about a future economic opportunity  in the same newsletter. At the end of May, he is of to Vancouver to meet some individuals (experts, consultants) who have a great deal of expertise in creating destination resorts.
Lets hope these experts, consultants what ever you care to call them don't cost us anywhere near what it cost us to put in place our peace officer program.

Remember when everybody was shocked that we the residents of the Crowsnest Pass were paying $1,000 a day plus $2,400 a month for accommodation and mileage to an expert.  Check out the following address at the web site that just keeps on giving and giving I admire the job this person has done gathering information.

Next we have the annexation issue hopefully with a little bit of "common sense and good will by all those involved" (Ranchlands) the linear taxation will be flowing in by Budget year 2014 just in time to pay for all these positions that we have created because soon or later we are going to have a workforce with all positions filled for a full year. Making the numbers work by dragging your feet for two months to fill every position is only a short term answer to balancing the books. It's like buying furniture at the Brick on the "Do not pay for three year plan"

One of these days running four operators short in public works will catch up to us, when your snow removal plan becomes having a mild winter every year with much "less than anticipated precipitation" it will catch up to us.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Municipal Inspection begins in the Crowsnest Pass

You can read the full article on the Crowsnest Pass Promoter site at the following address:

There is an address available for anybody that wishes to either be interviewed by, or willing to provide documentation or information you can do so by contacting Russell Farmer & Associates Consulting Ltd at

Crowsnest Pass Ratepayers Next Public Meeting




@ 7:00 P.M



v   Medican
v   Logo Issue
v   P/R people
v   Fire Plan
v   Inspection update
v   Open  Discussion




Mayor's Task Force on the Economy of the Crowsnest Pass

Going back to the Mayor's Task Force on the Economy released on May 24,2011.

I find it very curious that on Page 3 of the report it states the following: "Of the 29 actions presented in the action plan, the task force believes the three most important actions are"

1. One unified community pulling together in mind and spirit to attract new economic opportunities.

2. Hiring an Economic Development Officer to lead the implementation of the Plan.

3. Gaining clarity regarding the timing and route for the Highway 3 realignment.

How do you think they are doing on those three priorities so far?

1. What kind of job have they done unifying the community?

2. How many months does anybody think the EDO will have to implement this plan prior to the election.

Out of the blue there is an EDO job posted on the Municipal site just six months prior to the election and Council requests a supper date with Community Futures to discuss the local economy.

3. Are we all clear on the timing and route of the Highway 3 realignment?

Hotel contract now available between Medican and the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass

One of my readers as provided me with the address below where you can see the contract between Medican and The Municipality of Crowsnest Pass.

No signatures or date on the contract provided

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Long term Crowsnest Pass Employer Bargain Shop in financial difficulty.

Had some bad news pointed out to me today the following corporate entities
TBS Acquireco Inc., The Bargain! Shop Holdings Inc., and TBS Stores Inc. (collectively “The Bargain! Shop”) filed for CCAA protection on Feb 26,2013.
That’s bad enough news in itself, what’s even worse is within that legal process they have decided to liquidate 63 of their 231 stores comprising 55 “The Bargain Shop” store locations, 4 “mynark” store locations and 3 “Red Apple” store locations. At this point in time they have not named the specific stores but according to the information below 6 of those stores are in Alberta.

Note: I have received a couple of comments now informing me that the Blairmore store is staying open, certainly good news for everybody in the Pass.

Update on our Hotel Developer in the Crowsnest Pass

I was under the impression that Medican was already out of court ordered creditor protection:

Several interesting stories from the Medicine Hat News, Lethbridge Herald, Western Wheel:

Medican attempts to get back into the swing
Feb 16,2013

COLLIN GALLANT Twitter: CollinGallant
A former pillar of the Medicine Hat construction community is poised to come out from under court-ordered creditor protection, according to Ty Schneider, the chief restructuring officer at Medican.
Court proceedings this week and next should be the final phase, said Schneider, before a new entity emerges from the tangled story of the collapse of the construction and development company in May 2010.
"Things have come along way from where it was, and 2013 and 2014 should be good years of building," said Schneider, who is confident that a Court of Queen's Bench judge will approve the final settlement. 
A settlement arrangement that was voted on and approved in January 2012 that would see unsecured creditors paid up to a guaranteed amount of $2,750 and then part of a $10-million fund built up by the company was approved by a majority of nearly 500 unsecured creditors who voted.
Creditors who spoke with the News this week say they have had no contact with the court-appointed monitor about possible payments. 
In August, officials with Ernst and Young said they were beginning the process of verifying claims. Interview requests with the monitor made this week were not returned.
According to court documents, the new company has three years from the time it emerges from court protection to disperse the funds after it initially builds up $1 million, then quarterly as funds become available.
"It's very clear in the court order, we've agreed as a company to pay $10 million. " said Schneider. "The jobs that we've got are good jobs, and providing that we can get financing, provided the market remains stable, we can do OK."
Frustrated creditors reacted poorly to the news this week that Medican is planning to build a new hotel and commercial development in the Crowsnest Pass but officials with the company emerging from court protection say new money coming in means debts will be settled sooner.
"How do you spend money that you don't even have to pay back money that you can't pay back? It's business backwards to me," said Dawn Cameron, whose company Budget Blinds was owed about $7,500 when the company filed for creditor protection.
Spider Electric of Medicine Hat was owed $1.3 million by Medican, and now the owner is resigned to the idea that no funds are forthcoming.
"Education costs money and we got schooled pretty hard," said company president Mark Simmons. "We prepared ourselves but we're not expecting a nickel."
The original unsecured creditors list shows that at least 66 local companies are owed more than $1,000, and 10 area firms are owed in excess of $100,000. 
During the first year of the court proceedings, unprofitable operations were closed and assets like unsold condo units and land were ordered sold to pay almost $110 million owed to secured creditors.
Schneider said that at least $1 million of unpaid secured debt remains.
Along with work in the profitable concrete pouring wing of the company, the courts have allowed Medican to move ahead with or complete projects deemed profitable in the interest of maximizing the value of assets for settlement.
Along with the Crowsnest development, the company has a new project to build a hotel in Okotoks and is completing work on condo projects in Red Deer begun in 2011. 
Most of the new investment has been made by individuals, said Schneider, though one chartered bank, ATB Financial, has extended terms to the company.

Medican looking to build hotel in the Crowsnest Pass

Feb 14,2013

Dave Mabell
Lethbridge Herald
Medicine Hat construction company Medican is planning to build an "internationally branded" hotel in Crowsnest Pass and could start work on the 50- to 75-room facility this year, an official with the company says.
It's a new direction for Medican, developer of hundreds of condominium units in Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Red Deer, Grande Prairie and other cities over recent years.
The company filed for court protection from its creditors in 2010 and is currently working towards meeting the terms of a settlement agreement reached in January 2012. 
Medican has been concentrating on its profitable concrete pouring business during court proceedings, according to legal documents, but a hotel is a departure from that plan. 
Bill Cooper, vice-president of sales and marketing for Medican, says the Crowsnest Pass is long overdue for greater choice in accommodation and dining.
"With its central location between Lethbridge and Fernie, the Crowsnest Centre site is perfectly located to become the destination stopping area for travellers through the southern Rocky Mountains," he said.
Medican has signed an agreement with the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass covering property at the western edge of Blairmore, Cooper reports. 
The hotel – with an indoor pool, restaurant, sports bar and meeting rooms – will be near Highway 3. Adjacent retail spaces are also planned.
"There are exciting things happening in the Crowsnest Pass and we are excited to be bringing forward this hotel and commercial development," Cooper says.
Lethbridge architect Alvin Reinhold Fritz is developing a design for the hotel, he adds. Alberta investors are backing the project.
Cooper said the company has no other projects currently in southern Alberta.
In Red Deer, however, it's developing an adults-only condominium complex adjacent to the 280-unit assisted living complex it built recently for Extendicare. 
Cooper says Medican is selling units in the final phase of a 148-unit condo unit aimed at spouses of seniors who've moved into the health-care facility.
A similar Medican project in Lethbridge was hit by a recession but Cooper says it could possibly be resurrected in improved market conditions.

Hotel construction to start this month

Business: 82-room Best Western project has been years in the making

March 6,2013

It’s been many years in the making, but work on an Okotoks Best Western hotel will finally get underway later this month.
The hotel’s owners have revealed they are planning to break ground on the project on March 20.
Hotel co-owner Roanne Bodnarchuk said there’s a great need for another hotel in town, particularly to support the growing “sports tourism” market in the area. As a regular billet for the Okotoks Dawgs, she has often heard about the need for another hotel.
“The feedback from the billets has been, ‘There’s nowhere for our parents and our families to stay,’” she said. “We started looking into it four years ago after we had our first billet.”
Located next to Costco on Okotoks’ east side, the full-service hotel will boast 82 rooms, a banquet facility, indoor pool, waterslide and meeting rooms. There will also be a restaurant in a separate building on the site and Bodnarchuk said they are working to attract an “upscale” restaurant name.
The Okotoks resident and her husband Greg own BWO Hospitality Inc., which is developing the project.
It has been a lengthy planning process that began several years ago.
The Okotoks Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) approved the proposed Best Western in November 2011.
The developers had one year to meet a number of conditions set out by the MPC and they received an extension in November 2012 giving them until the end of June 2013 to meet the conditions of the approval.
The developers still have a number of steps left to complete before they can break ground.
Okotoks planning officer Wendy Cardiff said a development permit will be issued once the development agreement for the hotel is submitted to the Town and executed.
Bodnarchuck said the final designs for the building have been completed and they are awaiting final approval from the Town on the development agreement.
Medican, the contractor hired to build the hotel, said they are ready to go when they get the signal.
“All of our ducks are lined up and waiting to go and we’re just waiting for that green light, which we know is coming,” said Bill Cooper, Medican vice-president of sales and marketing.
Shane Olson, Okotoks’ economic development team leader, said he believes there’s a strong need for another hotel in Okotoks and has been working to get a new hotel built in town for some time. There are only three hotels in Okotoks. The 64-room Lakeview Inn and Suites is the largest hotel while the smaller Okotoks Country Inn and the Royal Duke Hotel are the other options in town.
He said Okotoks has lost out on several opportunities to host events, major sports competitions and tournaments in particular because of a lack of hotel space in town.
“We believe the regional field house is a huge hook and huge anchor and a reason to build a full service hotel in that area,” said Olson.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

So many questions, the numbers are just not adding up.

Some recent events that have transpired raise some serious questions. The just passed budget and Fire Master Plan for a start, then we have Councilor Saje's letter which raises some serious concerns about when and when not proper procedures are being followed. Councilor Saje's examples are they the only ones where the process was not followed, are their more?

The numbers while we are all basking in the glory of  the Hotel development at the last budget meeting we had a Councilor talking about $240,000 going in to the land reserve fund and making it clear that does not include the money from the CLC site.
Which creates several questions what land is the municipality selling to bring in $240,000 (maybe the Hillcrest Fire Hall? they should tell us) The $300,000 from the CLC site why would that money not be shown going into the land reserves? after all we were told that it is a done deal. Is the money not coming in this year? is the sale conditional and won't come in until next year or even further down the road? Is the money scheduled to go some where else?

Then the Fire Master Plan lets go to page 82 it speaks to a capital and operational savings of $170,000 per year for the next ten years.

On page 50 it shows the operational, capital and debenture cost for Fire and Rescue from 2007-2011. The average operational costs were $391,652 a year, average capital costs of $79,276 and an average debenture cost of $68,156 for a total average cost of $539,084 per year.

On page 52 it shows the operational, capital and debenture costs for 2007-2011.

On page 53 it shows the budget for 2012 of $472,668 for operating budget and $83,756 for debenture for a total of $556,424 not out of line with the previous five years. What it does not show is anything for capital costs, did Fire and Rescue not buy anything in 2012? maybe. Now I know somebody will come back and argue that the actual numbers for 2012 were way lower than budget but that was based on grants the municipality received from the province for crisis management those will not be coming every year.

So now lets take a look at 2013 the new revamped Fire and Rescue Department that's going to save us all kinds of money. Operating budget $437,237, debenture payments of $83,756 for a total of $520,993 not out of line with the average costs from 2007-2011 except during those years there was an average capital costs of $79,276 nothing in 2013 for capital? strange maybe the municipality is not buying anything this year but then I glance at page 81 and it shows capital expenditures for 2012 to 2022 of $808,000 or $80,800 a year which is virtually identical to the $79,276 a year spent on capital from 2007-2011.

So with a total cost of $521,000 for 2013 compared to an average cost of $539,000 for 2007-2011. With an average capital cost of $80,000 from 2007-2011 but nothing showing for 2013.If you take that $80,000 average out of the 2007-2011 that would take the cost down for those years to $459,000. Where are we coming up with a $170,000 a year savings? I love working with numbers but I can't figure this out.

My next post will deal with the $521,000 for this year which I am already scratching my head about.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Fire Master Plan and Arrogance

During the debate on the Fire Master Plan there were two things that jumped out at me that nobody has spoken about yet.

The first being Councilor Londsbury referred in quite some detail to the Fire Master Plan of 2001, the fact that a large number of residents were interviewed about the quality of the fire service we received. What Councilor Londsbury neglected to mention during his comments on that issue were the results of the survey.

In summary this is what the survey said, the rest is available on the municipal web site under Fire Master Plan 2001:

234 residents were contacted 223 residents participated
49 from Bellevue, 59 from Blairmore, 65 from Coleman and 50 from Hillcrest.
90% of the respondents said they had no complaints about the fire departments
73% felt that response times were adequate
88% of the respondents strongly or moderately agreed with the statement "I am satisfied with the level of fire protection I currently receive" 
78% felt the same way about rescue services and 76% about ambulance services.

Another point, most members of council attempted to make it sound like nothing was done after the 2001 Fire Master Plan. A big step that was taken in 2002, was the purchase of $1.5 million worth of fire trucks, most people would agree that was a significant step taken by the council of the day.

The other issue that bothers me, our illustrious Mayor made the following comment during the debate which I copied from the Pass Promoter article written by Joni MacFarlane:

“You’ve been challenged in your efforts by situations and circumstances created by a 

lack of foresight or oversight by our predecessors,” he said. “The difficulties you’ve 

experienced should never have occurred much less the situation you found yourself 

having to correct… It’s time to move on to the next task.”

During the last thirty months I have heard this Mayor in all his arrogance go on and on about how previous council's failed this community, attempting to create the impression that there was no bylaws, no procedure, no policies and no processes in place. 

If he was not so arrogant he would realize that despite everything he believes, this council and his leadership are not perfect, even one of his own members stated publicly in the local papers last week that some of the things this council has done have been less than perfect.  

Over the years there have been some dam good people who sat on various councils. There have been literally hundreds if not thousands of bylaws, procedures, policies and processes put in place over the last thirty years.

Did some need changing and updating? absolutely, does he think that everything they have put into place will be left untouched by future councils? I don't think so. 

People keep saying over and over again that this council has done a better job of communicating than previous councils. That is a statement I actually agree with, what these guys have not grasped, is one the people are not agreeing with what they are communicating and two if you did not act with such a high level of arrogance people would have an easier time of hearing what you have to say. 

Anybody remember "bring it on" 

Job Opening in the Crowsnest Pass- Economic Development Officer

Well the positive side of me says this is a good thing, Wasn't this was one of the first priorities in the much heralded Strategic Plan, after all the money we have spent on consultants and all the turn over and growth we have had in the administration ranks its good to see the first position that should have been filled finally being advertised .

The cynical side of me says lets look at the time lines:
Position advertised in March
Interviews by end of April
EDO in place sometime in June
Election in October

Friday, March 8, 2013

Taxes in the Crowsnest Pass

One small piece of good news coming out of the Alberta Budget. For the first time in many years the amount the Municipality will be collecting on the Tax Bills this year that is designated for the ASFF drops from $2,756,890 to $2,700,547 a drop of $56,343 or 2%.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Andrew Saje raising the issues-Public Relations

Further issues raised by Councilor Saje’s letter, after having already spoken about the Agenda Committee and who (Bruce/Myron) controls council’s agenda.  
Let’s talk about the G+P meeting of December 18, on the advertised agenda for that meeting was one issue posted In Camera, Personnel in the released minutes for that meeting was added a further In Camera issue Legal.
During that In Camera session according to Councilor Saje’s letter the issue of Public Relations came up and the hiring of Victor Tanti from Calder Bateman the argument was made later that council did not need to vote on this issue because it would be covered by the “advertising budget”.
If you accept the advertising budget argument is justified why would this “advertising” even be brought to council? Following that line of reasoning will other advertising that falls under the budget be brought forth In Camera as either a Personnel or Legal issue for council “opinion”.   
Next can anybody tell us which category advertising would fall into Personnel, or Legal?
I agree with Councilor Saje if this was such a routine issue why not bring it up in a regular meeting?
I agree again with Councilor Saje especially after the number of consultants that have cashed a Municipality of Crowsnest Pass cheque over the last thirty months “hiring another consulting firm should not be routine”
Many more questions are created by the release of Councilor Saje’s letter.
Should the public be concerned about Council doing business in this fashion? Was this the only issue dealt with in this fashion? Why did Council feel the need to hire a Public Relations Consulting Firm? Is Councilor Saje’s letter a full accounting of all of his concerns? Are there more concerns?
Want to see your new Public Relations Consultant Victor Tanti check him out at the following address:

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Trying to deflect attention away from the real issues.

I know some people are looking for me to get into a debate about how many administrators this council let go versus the last council. Or how many union jobs disappeared in the last three years versus the previous three plus the current status of labour relations between CUPE and the municipality all of those will be answered in due time. 

Now is the time to deal with the issues at hand, the Fire Master Plan and the release of a statement from a standing member of council that due process is not being followed,  that the Mayor and CAO are in complete control of the agenda, and that at least one councilor is very frustrated. 

Politics is all about timing and providing an article that says don't judge us on what we have done judge us on what we have done compared to other councils creates many questions. Yes your right previous councils were not perfect, but when I left council any councilor could add any issue they wished to the agenda. As long as it was supplied to administration the Wednesday prior to the meeting it was added to the agenda debated and voted on.   

The Fire Master Plan is up for vote tonight if you want to call your councilors it's not to late the numbers are listed below, which ever side of the issue you stand on here is your chance to speak your piece.

Bruce Decoux 562 7743
Larry Mitchell 562 8537
Jerry Londsbury 562 2405
Seigbert Gail 564 4465
Brian Gallant 562 7963
Emile Saindon 753 2403
Andrew Saje 563 8584

Comment posted by one of my readers that really says it all:

The real question raised by Mr. Andrew Saje is whether our councillors get proper presentations of differing opinions when they are faced with serious and important decisions. One of the most important and expensive decisions, which will have far reaching consequences, is the recent restructuring of the fire department. Initially, our council hired a consultant to work with our separate fire departments to bring about an amalgamation that was effective and cost efficient. Was a plan prepared and was this plan presented to our council as a whole and then voted down. Or, as it now appears, was this plan stopped at the two person “agenda committee.”? For all we know this plan was discussed at council and voted down by our duly elected councillors - or it was not. In politics, if things do not APPEAR right, questions are always raised. Taxpayers have a right to know if there was an alternative plan, or the initial spending on the first fire consultant did not fit with some other plans?

Brands and entry signs. The Mayor's Task Force

Remember when we had everybody so excited about the Economic Task Force and all it's recommendations that were going to bring the Crowsnest Pass into the 21st century. Well now maybe it's time to focus on that document that was sold has a road map for the future of our great community. Over the next few months we are going to review this document and determine how successful or not council has been  at achieving those lofty goals and how the public feels about it.
I was going to review the document in the order it's laid out, but I think the more sensible approach would be focusing on area's that have been the centre of much discussion amongst the public. So first of let's take a look at what the report had to say about "Brands, Entry signs and related issues" please compare what has happened to what we were told would happen.

4. Implement the endorsed “Crowsnest: Mountain Freedom” logo as the official logo for the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass and begin using it on all materials:
 Order new gateway signs for the east and west entrances to the community combining the new “Crowsnest: Mountain Freedom” logo and “Crowsnest Pass” on these signs.
 Develop a communication plan to support the launch of the logo.
 Seek partners to share the cost of new signs at the east and west gateways.

A strong brand with consistent messaging is essential to economic development. The Task Force believes that the” Crowsnest: Mountain Freedom” brand is consistent with the vision for economic development and should be implemented and used on all Municipal printed materials as reorders are made and immediately on electronic media such as emails and websites. Other organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce and tourism operators in the Municipality should also be encouraged to integrate it in their communications.

Council, Director of Operations
Sept 2011 and ongoing
$60,000 for gateway signs
Full transition within 1 year