Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Crowsnest Pass Centre Demolition

Bids closed at 3pm yesterday, the following article from the Crowsnest Pass Promoter written by Joni MacFarlane provides all the details. This will be coming before council on August 6 with a recommendation from administration.

Demolition bids

Note: Cost of administration $4325 per day

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Cost of Bureaucracy (CAO comparisons)

We have spoke a lot on this blog about our expanded bureaucracy in the Crowsnest Pass. There are always two questions, is the size of our bureaucracy necessary and is it sustainable. Looking at the most accessible information (municipalities are required to post their CAO's compensation levels in their financial statements). Below I have posted the information from 13 communities including the Crowsnest Pass to keep it relevant I only  used communities from Southern Alberta. I looked at about 20 communities but some of them make finding the information on their web site very difficult. Any way this is how we compare to 12 other towns, counties in our area.

Location               Salary
Town of Pincher Creek 90150 22793 112943 3685
MD of Pincher Creek 127138 3118 130256 3158
Town of Cardston 99541 20386 119927 3580
Town of Milk River 80,000 5302 85,302 811
Town of Nanton 92706 22977 115683 2132
Town of Strathmore 163403 26185 189588 12352
Town of Coaldale 116567 22946 139513 7493
Crowsnest Pass 150675 26697 177372 5565
County of Lethbridge 168354 31657 200011 10061
MD of Bighorn #8 109803 19449 129252 1341
County of Wheatland 165000 26111 191111 8285
MD of Willow Creek 147000 28975 175975 5107
City of Brooks  162277 33554 195831 13676

Note: Cost of administration $4325 per day

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Mayor's predictions for the Crowsnest Centre/Hotel

Does anybody think that maybe we should have looked back over the last 18 months before we handed $50,000 over to Vachon group to bring in the big fancy hotel at the Crowsnest Centre site. Two years from now I hope this hotel is a little more visible than the "Naturally Rewarding" on our new banners.

Note: Cost of administration $4325 per day

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Ratepayers Meeting July 25

There will be a ratepayers meeting Thursday night (July 25) at the Bellevue Legion at 7pm.

All welcome update on the petition, mayor's corner and membership renewals.

Note: Cost of administration $4325 per day

Hotel deal, what a circus.

We find out to much fanfare last year that we have a deal to take down the old hospital and build a hotel.

Medican despite the fact that they just came out of CCAA court protection are the lucky winners of the hotel sweepstakes.

We are told that they are going to pay us $1.1 million for the property! Well not really we find out in dribs and drabs of information that they are getting an $800,000 credit for the demolition of the building, $100,000 from the municipality to build a park and $200,000 cash will hit the municipal coffers.

It was a con job to say the least there (As I have stated on this blog numerous times) was two bids under the $800,000 in fact yesterday Frank Bessinger Director of Public works confirmed that they had a low bid of $577,000.

So why didn’t they say to the public we sold the building for $777,000 ($577K for demo and $200K cash) did they really think Medican was going to use the high bidder?

Then the story gets dragged out for five months because they were waiting for Best Western to let them have their name. Lets get real the issue was Medican did not come up with the $8-10 million to build a hotel.

Then just a mere few weeks back the next saga of this tale pops up Group Vachon paid up front $50,000 to file the application with Best Western for the name and rights to the franchise. But there is a deadline July 26 Mr Vachon can with draw his application at that point and get his $50K back. Or the municipality can put up the $50,000 and maintain the application and the rights to the Best Western name and franchise for two years.

First impression sometimes you have to spend a little money and take a chance to make something work, so the municipality spends $50K to take ownership of the name and rights to the Best Western. Surprise the town owns NOTHING Group Vachon owns the rights to the Best Western name. If any other businessman is thinking about buying a franchise for the Pass just approach council tell them that you will build within two years and maybe they will pay $50K towards the cost of the franchise for you.

Then just minutes before they vote Councilor Gail asks the question “If this doesn’t work out in two years I understand we will get most of our money back except for a few thousand dollars for the administration costs?” Administration tells him we will take the $50K out of land reserves and put it back when we sell the land that the centre is sitting on.   

Well if the land was sold for $500,000 you will not really be getting that amount because the first $50k will pay for the rights to the franchise.

So lets be an optimist and say there is another hotel waiting in the back ground to snap up this golden opportunity to own a Best Western hotel in the Crowsnest Pass. Councilor Saindon made it clear in his line of questioning there is not.

But there is an answer our Economic Development Officer recommends we go on a marketing blitz of the site for the next three months (August, September, October somebody will be selling hope by say late October). She also informs us that there are three conferences coming up in Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto she suggests that council sends her to those conferences to meet with al those potential investors the one’s Medican couldn’t find.

These guys need to tell the truth there is a $50K expenditure of taxpayers money being made to maintain the rights to a Best Western for Group Vachon. The municipality owns NOTHING the taxpayers takes all the risk. Another Investor comes in and wants to go with Holiday Inn Express are we going to say NO?. Two years runs out the $50K got us what?

I think I have made myself very clear where I stand on this issue.

Kudos to Councilors Saindon and Saje who voted against this in a sincere way and stated why they didn't not some phony No vote. Because they knew it was going through any way and just wanted to be able to stand up at a forum in October and say I never voted for that.

 Note: Cost of administration $4325 per day

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Special Council Meeting-managing your money

Appointment of Returning Officer:

Administration recommended that Ms Lisa Sygutek be appointed as the returning Officer for the upcoming election.

Annexation Process with Ranchlands:

Council voted to begin the process of annexing the southern most 870 quarters sections of the MD of Ranchlands.

Few comments MD of Ranchlands has expressed zero interest in working with the CNP.
Riversdale has not completed the purchase of Grassy Mountain at this time.
Fees for annexation are payable at the end of the process (roughly $44,000)
Notice of Intent can be withdrawn or amended at any time.
Linear Assessment value of those properties is unknown at this time. Point was made that most of that land is in the forest reserve so likely hood of linear assessment is very low. Also costs of servicing that area are unknown.

Hotel Development:

Council voted to pay the $50,000 to maintain the rights to the Best Western name for two years with the funds coming out of the municipal land reserves.

Comments- Vachon group paid the $50,000 to get the rights to the Best Western name and franchise for the Crowsnest Pass for the next 24 months. Up until July 26 Vachon Group could with draw it’s application and get the $50,000 back. Municipal council agreed to pay Vachon group the $50,000 to keep the Best Western franchise and name available. Here’s the catch the municipality just used taxpayers dollars to pay for something it does not own. Vachon group owns those rights even though it’s our money that paid for them. New Investors will have to work with Vachon group if they wish to use the Best Western name. Our new EDO offered to go to conferences over the next three months in Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto to find Investors. Brian Gallant spoke about how important it is to support the $50,000 expenditure of taxpayers money to maintain the valuable Best Western name. (Councilors Saje and Saindon were opposed)

Crowsnest Centre Demolition:

Council today decided to re-tender the demolition of the old hospital and nursing home with the cost to be paid for by taking money out of the municipal land reserves and MSI grant funding.

Comments: There were three bids last year on this project Frank Bessinger told us today that the low bid was $577,000 (begs the question why was Medican given credit of $800,000 in there purchase agreement?). He does not know if bids will come in at the same level due to all the work in southern Alberta right now and timing may be an issue.

Note Thanks to my astute reader that sent me the following link to the Alberta Purchasing Connection site

Boy no messing around here it almost appears like this was all predetermined the meeting ended at 3pm the job was posted at 13 minutes past 3pm and closes at 3pm on July 30. Are we really going to find the best contractor and price in 7 days.

 Note: Cost of administration $4325 per day

Monday, July 22, 2013

Special Council meeting July 23 (Crowsnest Centre Demolition)

Special meeting at 1pm tomorrow at the municipal office in Council chambers:

Number of issues in line with Councilor Mitchell's motion of last week dealing with Returning Officer, Annexation of Ranchlands and the hotel deal. Also added to the list something that was not part of the motion "Crowsnest Centre Demolition", in previous posts both myself and some of my readers have predicted that these guys need to do something big. Especially after the announcement today that Blair Painter is running for the Mayor's post.
The voters will have to realize that without a hotel deal in place, council will either have to take approximately half our reserves or finance $800,000 to knock the building down.
Maybe between the Mayor and Group Vachon they will pull a rabbit out of the hat and announce that there is a new Investor lined up?

 Note: Cost of administration $4325 per day

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Wake up and follow the rules

Right now I have four comments that have been come very personal. Two attack a fellow blogger in a very personal way, one attacks a older member of council regarding health issues. Finally the last one attempts to accuse a member of administration of election fraud.

I have gone through this before I will not print his stuff, have a beef with a fellow blooger deal with him. If you have prove of election fraud present it to me, finally I am not going to allow anybody to be attacked simply because of their age

Please quit wasting your time typing these ridiculous comments

Dean Ward

 Note: Cost of administration $4325 per day

Friday, July 19, 2013

July 16 Council meeting Crowsnest Pass

CAO Report of Activities

Not a lot was reported the CAO just got back from vacation some highlights:

Insurance Underwriters report should be done by the end of the month
Box clever is working on the municipal web site
On July 25 the new Arts and Culture board will have its first meeting

Donna Stelmachovich was appointed to the Seniors Board

Appointment of Returning Officer-Nobody applied for the position under the MGA somebody must be appointed by August 2 administration recommended that Chief Financial Officer Marion Vanoni be appointed. By vote of council it was determined that this issue be put of until the special council meeting of July 23, to see if anybody else who as previously done the job would be interested.

Stephanie Hamilton was appointed to sit on the Municipal Heritage Board

Task Force on Disaster Prevention-Mayor Decoux proposed that a Task Force of local residents, politicians, provincial experts to come together to provide recommendations to prevent future flooding issues. CAO will bring a list of potential members for the August 6 council meeting.

Live streaming of council meetings-Information was provided to council by administration on the process and costs of this ($20,000) it was determined to defer this issue until the next council meeting August 6.

Number of correspondence were presented

Minutes from various meeting were accepted by council

Bylaws 872 to rezone five acres of land across from the high school in Coleman from Non-urban to Drive In Commercial. Lots of discussion above this possibly being another hotel, condo, storage etc.

Public Input: Aggie Mitchell took the opportunity to spend much of her allotted time talking about how she volunteered for the Sinister 7 race, what a great event it was for the community, how many people it brought into the community and how it supported our local businesses. Mrs Mitchell then went on to talk about how she is so disappointed with all the negativity in the community in her opinion it’s time we were all more grateful for all the positive things we have.    

At this point Councilor Gail moved to go In Camera to deal with (3) land and (2) personnel issues.

One minute later Councilor Saje departed the meeting
After coming out of In Camera Councilor Mitchell moved to schedule a Special meeting of Council on July 23 to deal with the issues of the Returning Officer, Annexation and the hotel    

 Note: Cost of administration $4325 per day

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Mayor's Newsletter spurs economic spin off

Good news now that we have an economic development officer in place, things are looking up already a new cottage industry has popped up a thriving T-shirt industry.

Apparently there are t-shirts now available based on the now famous "caver" expression. The t-shirts have Crowsnest Pass Caver on the front, on the back they have the following.

Cares for his or her community
Appreciates Nature
Volunteers where and when needed
Enjoys friends and family
Remembers and appreciates the past

They are selling for $20 with all proceeds going to the food bank.

Very creative and well done, thanks to the Mayor for creating the catalyst for this new industry

First order of T-shirts sold out, to place your order phone the Rose Peddler at 403-562-7373 and give them the size and quanity

 Note: Cost of administration $4325 per day

July 16 G+P Meeting Crowsnest Pass

Group Vachon Hotel status review

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)

At this point the Mayor asked Mr Vachon to stick around until later in the meeting.

Topics of Discussion

Municipal Credit card policy presented to council most of them seemed to be excited due to a policy being put in place. Some thought there was no policy previously they should do a little research and read the previous policy on council remuneration. Credit card limits were increased from $1000 to $2000.

Economic Development and Tourism Advisory Committee terms of reference were presented to council everything appeared to be to council’s satisfaction

Municipal Disaster Relief Plan Task Force- the Mayor explained that he would be bringing forth a position at the council meeting to put in place a “Task Force” of experts, provincial agencies, local people with the historical perspective and members of council to look at ways of preventing future disasters.

Ranchland Annexation- The Mayor stated he would be proposing at the council meeting that this process begin in a formal fashion.

Alberta Transport right of way along Highway 3, concerned raised about the weeds along the highway 3. Mr Headrick informed council that Volker Stevin were made aware of the Municipalities displeasure especially in light of the fact that thousands of people would be coming to our community this weekend.

Streaming of council meeting- The Mayor stated that they have been working on this issue for many months and its time for it to be put in place. At this point Councilor Saje made the point that council had not even made a decision on if they were going to do this. The Mayor stated that he basically did not care what needed to be done between now and then but by August 20 council meeting will be streamed.     

After this council went In Camera for Land and Personnel issues.


 Note: Cost of administration $4325 per day

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

July 16 Council Meeting

Due to shortage of time I am posting a couple of quick points from last night's minutes. I will add my own comments later.

Councillor Saje departed the meeting at 8:34 pm.

M#6938-13: Councillor Mitchell moved to call a Special Council Meeting on July 23, 2013 at 1:00 pm to discuss the Returning Officer matter, annexation and the hotel situation.

Note: Cost of administration $4325 per day

Broadcasting council meeting

At this afternoon g and p meeting this afternoon the Mayor put forth the issue of broadcasting Council meeting, it spoke about how  Council has been waiting for many months for administration to bring forth all the information. The Mayor stated that this issue can be fumbled around for what ever time administration wishes but they better be ready for the August 20 meeting. At this point Councillor Saje raised a small concern that being the fact that council had not even debated or decided this issue yet . To which King Bruce indicated again by August 20 it better be ready to go.
So tonight it's back on the agenda administration hands out a piece of paper with more information and somewhere in the discussion after waiting for months suddenly the cost of $20,000 was thrown out at this Point the Mayor decides it's time to take this long waited information away and study further.

Note: Cost of administration $4325 per day

Monday, July 15, 2013

Hotel deal what's next?

Over the weekend I have received a lot of comments on my blog and around town about the news release from the municipality regarding the loss of the Medican deal.  

A couple of common themes I heard over and over again a lot of people were not surprised. The Municipality made a deal with a company that was under court protection, to save itself from it’s creditors.
How long did the Quebec manufacturer story drag on, and what was the result of that endeavor. The CAO announced after a year that the company realized we were to far from Lethbridge and the ceiling on the old Artic Spa building was too low, I would be taking a look at my management team if it took them a year to figure those things out.
The Mayor as spun this tale for how many months about waiting for Best Western approval. I think lot of other peoples agree with my opinion, that was just a stalling tactic the real issue from day one was finding the $8-12 million to build a hotel.
Everybody know if that kind of money was available,  the demolition would have started by now. I am sure the hotel owners would have been more than able to hook up with a hotel chain somewhere during the next two years while the hotel was under construction.
My concern now is how will council proceed in a desperate attempt to salvage something from this deal just mere months prior to the election.  

I take the following quote from the most recent Mayor’s Corner:

At this point we are still working with the Vachon group (hotel finders) to attract a Best Western or other hotel chain to build. In order to retain our right to build a Best Western for two years, we need to consider putting up $50,000.00. A decision regarding clearing the property will also have to be made very shortly”.

Unless I am totally miss reading the above quote it sounds like the Mayor is going to attempt to persuade Council to put up $50,000 to retain the rights to build a Best Western.

This is crazy for so many reasons, the first being these are taxpayers dollars, is anyone aware of a government at any level that is in the business of buying franchises, rights etc?

Two if the hotel finders (Vachon group) are so certain that a hotel (with real investors) can be found let them put up the $50,000 they should easily be able to regain their investment with a hefty return from that future group.

Third what guarantee will we have that a new hotel group will have any interest in being a Best Western. Would the municipality limit potential Investors to only those that want to open under the “Best Western” name. Let the people that are prepared to put up $10-12 million pick the name for their hotel.

Then the Mayor talks about a decision regarding the clearing of the property must be made shortly. He is wrong a decision of that significance, should be made by the next council comprised of seven people with a clear mandate from the public.
The municipality in the Medican deal allowed $800,000 for the demolition of the building. That would be roughly half of what this municipality has in reserves, they could take out a loan for that amount. Are those decisions a council should be making in the last two months of it’s mandate? How long before a new hotel developer comes in, how long before the municipality recoups it’s money?

Who will have these answers I don’t know but I do know I will not be listening to the Mayor’s predictions I will finish with a quote from his Oct 2012 Mayor’s corner:

Oct 17, 2012 the Mayor states "I am pleased to announce that after months (and months) of work we have as promised, resolved the problem surrounding the Crowsnest Learning Centre and "old" hospital facility. The new hotel restaurant truck stop complex -is a go! The last few legal details are being ironed out and early next month we and the developers are looking forward to holding a public session to gather your input as to what you would like to see happen"

Note: Cost of administration $4325 per day

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Leadership and $44,000 a year

One of my readers posted the following comment:

"The CNP Employee Code of Conduct says don't:
Post, solicit, distribute, wear or otherwise display political material or Messages in or on Municipal Assets." 

An employee code of conduct is a very important document that lays out to the employees of an organization how they should be conducting themselves in the way they perform their jobs. It really is an issue of ensuring that everybody in that organization acts in an ethical manner, especially when the employer is in essence the taxpayers and so much of the employees duties are conducted in the public eye. Rules are good, should be enforced and should apply to everyone in an organization. 
This leads to the issue of leadership, in any organization if you are going to have a code of conduct then the weight of enforcing it usually falls on the leadership of the organization. In this day and age how can you expect the employees to adhere to the code of conduct when the "leadership" chooses not to? The Mayor states the following "As to our newsletter being political; well, I am the Mayor and I will make some political comments" please take a moment and reflect on his comment versus what the code of conduct says above.
The Mayor has taken the monthly newsletter that should be informing the residents about what is going on in the municipality and turned it into a tool that pushes his political agenda and becomes an opportunity to attack his opposition. In the USSR they used to call it "Pravda"  lets face it there is a reason the Mayor's comments come first.   

Lets get to the $44,000 issue the Mayor states "Please note that this newsletter is budgeted for and falls within our plan to improve communication and transparency. It costs you about $0.65 per month" 
By itself $0.65 does not sound like a lot of money but lets do the math 5600 people at 65 cents a month is $3640 on an annual basis that is $43,680. Is that really necessary? that's a lot of money, imagine for a second how many pot holes could be filled for $43,680.   

Note: Cost of administration $4325 per day

Friday, July 12, 2013

Municipal press release on the hotel development

Notice the date on the press release these guys have known about this for 17 days. After the Quebec manufacturer who would ever have guessed.

Crowsnest Pass Council weighs options as hotel development receives a setback

On Tuesday, June 25th, Crowsnest Pass Council was informed that Medican will no longer be partnering with the Vachon Group on the construction of the hotel portion of the hospitality complex intended for the current Crowsnest Centre site. These circumstances will put the hotel development on temporary hold.
The problem revolved around questions pertaining to the ability to retain investment dollars required to construct the hotel while waiting for official franchise approval.
While viewing this turn of events as unfortunate, Crowsnest Council sees this as a setback for the project, not the end of it. “Given the scenery of the site, its strategic location and the enthusiasm from the community for this project, I have no doubt that a development will be built on the Crowsnest Centre site in due course, “said Mayor Bruce Decoux. The Vachon Group, who is still the official applicant for the hotel development, intends to continue working with Crowsnest Pass on the complex. Mayor Decoux says he will press to ensure the site is prepared this fall.
Moving forward, the Council will weigh its options which includes continuing with plans to build the restaurant, and clearing the site to make it attractive for hotel development. “We still have a committed, reputable partner in the Vachon Group to develop the site into what this community has been envisioning,” said Mayor Decoux. “I appreciate their dedication to bringing this development, and its amenities, to our municipality.”
Council stressed that they are committed to continuing to listen closely to the community around how the site will be developed and will provide the community with regular updates on the progress of the project.

Note: Cost of administration $4325 per day

"Unvarnished facts and truth" edition number two "The Mayor's corner

Below is another fine example of providing the "unvarnished facts and truth" once again using the Mayor own words. Please don't forget to vote on my poll to the right to voice your opinion on the Mayor's newsletter.

Mayor's Corner  
Well the end of June and beginning of July will certainly be remembered as very wet and very hot. I have several issues I would like to comment on this month. First the flood, I won’t waste your time discussing the details as you have seen them on our website and heard them on the radio. Suffice it to say people are being well taken care of through the exemplary efforts of our Provincial and Municipal governments. During the past weeks I have visited the flood areas on foot, by car, and helicopter. I found myself asking why did we have this much damage and the resulting discomfort? We have had previous floods in 1995 and 2005. Our emergency preparedness plans were in place and executed properly. Granted we have had one of the greatest rainfalls in our history. I think the right answer came to me in a conversation with our Operations Director. We were discussing a large dam of logs on Lyons Creek (see our website for pictures) and I asked how long would it be before we could remove it. His answer was it may be difficult because they are not within our boundaries. Therein I felt was the answer to my question: Why do we suffer through this every decade or so? I think the answer lies in communication, planning and a working integration of government departments and our municipality. Government departments fulfill their individual mandates very well (even if we occasionally disagree with them) and they cooperate with municipalities whenever requested, however each department has a mandate to fulfill. Sometimes they don’t quite fit with Municipal objectives. From my perspective it is our job to create a situation where several government departments, our municipality and citizens with historic knowledge come to the table to seek solutions to our issues rather than avoiding the issue “till next time”. As such I will be discussing with Council the formation of a Task Force consisting of representatives from various government departments, from our municipality, and our citizenry, as well as others with expertise in municipal issues. At this point at least three major contentious situations have been identified as they have previously caused issues. They are: the Drum Creek/Byron Creek situation, the Lyons Creek situation, and the Blairmore Creek situation (above the hospital). Perhaps other areas will be identified. I don’t want to see a repeat of what we have just experienced given that our best planning “may” be able to prevent this from happening again keeping in mind that Mother Nature absolutely refuses to read our plans. Hopefully Council will agree.
The second item I would like to comment on is Ranchland. A number of people have asked me why? Well we are in an inequitable position relative to an area with around eighty residences and seven times our size. We have around 5,000 people in a much smaller area and very little linear assessment. As such we are forced to maintain our costs basically on our taxpayers' backs and to my mind this is inequitable. As a municipality we can only stretch a dollar so far and ultimately we have to go to the taxpayer. I had been looking at the Ranchland situation well before the Riversdale Mine appeared on the horizon. The mine simply reduced the amount of land we need to annex for our future sustainability. From my perspective the partial annexation of Ranchland will have a minimal effect on their current and future sustainability. However let me, from a layman’s perspective, demonstrate what such an annexation would mean for us as taxpayers. Annually, we would receive a tax levy of $3,800,000 from this new industrial base. Maintained in reserve and invested, at the end of a ten year period, the compound interest would provide approximately $1,850,000 of interest income to support the Mill Rate Stabilization Reserve and $38,000,000 for community building. The first year interest can easily be applied to the Mill Rate Stabilization Fund which will begin to stabilize and offset our taxes for many years to come. At year five we would have $19,000,000 being available for community building. In year ten, we would have $39,850,000 in our tax stabilization plan and community building enhancement. Early in the process we could perhaps begin work with the Crowsnest Cando group on a recreation centre.
Of course there will be costs related to the property annexed such as roads, trails and bridges, etc. however I see this area as a major future tourist draw particularly for quading, camping and snowmobiling. As I say these are a laypersons’ thoughts “for demonstration” only. In reality we would be seeking both internal and external financial advice. I think this is the way to overcome our tax issues. Arguing over trucks, equipment, numbers of employees, expenditures on consultants and other ways to stretch the dollar while our community deteriorates is a waste of breath. We must take steps to alleviate our basic problem. To this end we have discussed the matter with Ranchland to no avail. As such I will be calling for a motion to begin the annexation process with the M.D. of Ranchland at the July 16th Council meeting. I hope the Council agrees with me, as I hope you do. It will, if approved, be a long and grueling process (at least two years), but it needs to be done.
On another matter, we have had a rough and disappointing month with our hotel development. To put it in a nutshell, here is what has happened to us. A chain from Fernie, which belongs to the Best Western group, has complained to Best Western that our hotel would infringe on their business area. The “complaining” process took five months (if you remember I was very unhappy over these delays). The Fernie group successfully delayed our progress. In the meantime, the Medican investors took their money and went elsewhere with it. Medican then decided to let our contract run out, although the Best Western Board of Governors still approved us locating a Best Western here. At this point we are still working with the Vachon group (hotel finders) to attract a Best Western or other hotel chain to build. In order to retain our right to build a Best Western for two years, we need to consider putting up $50,000.00. A decision regarding clearing the property will also have to be made very shortly. So there you have it. These things happen in building a hotel, but business is business. There are ups and downs, but we will persist.
On the positive side, I attended a meeting with a developer who is considering building either a mini-storage condo or a smaller hotel next spring. (Thank heavens he already owns the land) Very shortly I also plan to meet with an individual to discuss the possibility of a convention centre separate from the hotel – more to come this fall on both of these potential developments. Please remember most of these projects take several years to complete, so have patience.
In closing, I can’t help but poke some fun at our local “Cavers”. It appears that this newsletter, committed to truth and fact, is somewhat unnerving to the “oracles of rumour and misinformation.” Perhaps they are losing their stature on coffee row or on the silly blogger circuit. This month the usual material has ranged from bad-mouthing our emergency procedures and our people, and of all things, to undermining our newsletter. The actions and success of our Administration and crews speak for themselves. As to our newsletter being political; well, I am the Mayor and I will make some political comments and I do trust that you will form your own opinion. So far no complaints, except from the Cavers. Please note that this newsletter is budgeted for and falls within our plan to improve communication and transparency. It costs you about $0.65 per month and I have many requests for twice a month. Further, the Council expects to have a report on streaming our Governance and Priorities Committee and Council meetings directly to you, hopefully by September. We would also like to arrange for our seniors to view us “in living color” at the York Creek Lodge, Long Term Care and our Senior Centres. Soon I hope you will all be able to see and hear us – and watch us commit our errors and omissions (which we are learning to make fewer of as we progress). Have a wonderful summer!
“The truth doesn’t hurt unless it ought to.” - B.C. Forbes

Note: Cost of administration $4325 per day

Monday, July 8, 2013

Hillcrest Miners Playground

Just took these comments of a friends site on Facebook, a very good cause to support.

So families with young children I am putting out a thought to you all...our Hillcrest Miners Playground sustained damages during the flood allowing it to be just locked up, we need all of you and that is ALL of you to begin the process of a written, emailed and/or complaints to the Municipality with concerns to this! The playground is for our youth to use and it definitely will not be able to be used if NOT FIXED!!! 
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE let them not how you feel we can work together to clean up our playground but we need your support. 
HILLCREST MINES COMMUNITY SOCIETY and the young families of the community can make a difference!!

Note: Cost of administration $4325 per day

The myth of the "Silent Majority"

Excellent article in this week's Pass Herald from S.C Rudegan regarding the myth of the "Silent Majority", I think his words really clear up another misconception.

Note: Cost of administration $4325 per day 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

"Unvarnished facts and truth" edition number one "The Hotel"

Back on June 15 the first Mayor's corner came out, this was the one where the Mayor began to reach out to the community and the people that  don't agree with everything he says. He felt the need to direct his comments at the "barber shop quartet" "coffee time guys and gals" "local papers" and for good luck he threw in "local blogs" and the "numerous letters to the editors".

He concluded his Mayor's corner by stating "if we miss anything please call myself, the Councillors, or our Administration for the unvarnished facts and truths"

The hotel issue has been awfully quite especially after the municipality went to the effort of placing the letter from "the Penrose group of companies" stating that Best Western would make a decision by June 17.

I have spent the last couple of days talking to some of my fellow citizens about the hotel and maybe our expectations were to high, what gave people these high expectations. Well I though long and hard and decided maybe I should look for the "unvarnished facts and truth" on this issue. What a better place to find the facts and truths than the Mayor's corner and the CAO reports in the municipal newsletter.

Aug 15, 2012 the Mayor states "During the next fifteen months my goals are specifically: to bring our hotel development to fruition"

Sept 14, 2012 the Mayor states "Administration is actively negotiating the new hotel development"

Oct 17, 2012 CAO's report states " Negotiations on the sale and development of the former Crowsnest Centre site and construction is proceeding. Administration and the developer have reached agreement on a number of conditions with a few remaining"

Oct 17, 2012 the Mayor states "I am pleased to announce that after months (and months) of work we have as promised, resolved the problem surrounding the Crowsnest Learning Centre and "old" hospital facility. The new hotel restaurant truck stop complex -is a go! The last few legal details are being ironed out and early next month we and the developers are looking forward to holding a public session to gather your input as to what you would like to see happen"

Oct 17,2012 Letter from the Mayor to Allison Redford "As such we now have a new hotel, restaurant and truck stop development which will begin in the spring of 2013"

Nov 19, 2012 CAO report states " Administration and the developer for the former Crowsnest Centre site development continue to solve and complete development issues and anticipate that all remaining issues will be resolved within the next 30 days"

Nov 19,2012 the Mayor states "We are in the process of determining an open house date for our hotel development team to gather input from yourselves regarding the development. I suspect it will be in February. Contrary to rumor no "flag" hotel has yet been determined.

Dec 18,2012 CAO report states " Administration and the developer for the former Crowsnest Centre site development have had several discussions over the last few weeks. The majority of sale and development conditions have been satisfied for both parties with the finalization of agreement to be expected by month end. A new Hotel developer is partnering with the main developer and we are expecting the development process to start moving forward very quickly"

Dec 18,2012 The Mayor states "The hotel/restaurant/truck stop legalities have made significant progress and are drawing to a close and we are planning a public session in February. Initially it was predicted that they would not begin demolition until next spring but apparently they are planning to start much earlier. I am told they are close to selecting a "flag" hotel chain"

Jan 23,2013 CAO report states "A formal announcement is anticipated this week concerning the development on the former Crowsnest Centre site"

Jan 23,2013 the Mayor states "In February our hotel developers will be here for a public open house and to provide us with an opportunity to have input and ask any questions we may have. I am pressing for an early start for the deconstruction and new construction to begin"

Feb 19,2013 CAO states "Medican group and Group/Vachon hosted an open house on Tuesday Feb 12,2013 at the Elks Hall. The open house provided an opportunity for the developers to present their plans for development of the 2.5 ha. former hospital site. Architectural and engineering firms involved with the project were also on hand to discuss specifics related to the project and had conceptual drawings on hand for public's review.

Feb 19,2013 CAO report also states "sale and construction agreement was made official on Feb 4" "A soon to be named 60 to 75 room international hotel with amenities including pool and hot tub, breakfast area, and meeting space will be the primary development with other development plans including a franchise restaurant and other complimenting developments" "The purchase price of the land is in the amount of $1.1 million dollars which is made up of cash and the value of the demolition. The agreement further requires the demolition to be completed by late summer, with the foundation work to be completed by late fall. The hotel construction is required to be completed within 2 years of the signing of the agreement which means hotel opening by early 2015". "This area will be developed into park space with funding from Medican"

March 15,2013 CAO report states "The development agreement process has begun for the former Crowsnest Centre site"

March 15,2013 Mayor states "As you saw, heard, and discussed at the presentations and open house the hotel development is on its way"

April 19,2013 we are met with silence regarding this issue.

May15,2013 CAO states "The municipality has provided an extension to Medican to May 31,2013 for completion of final site engineering and site design, obtaining a development permit, securing an agreement for the hotel chain, Council approval for waiver of off-site levies, and negotiation and execution of a development agreement. This extension is needed as the application submission to Best Western Board of Directors was deferred to the week of May 13,2013 for consideration"

May 15,2013 The Mayor states "Last week I kept my promise and announced on the radio, as soon as I knew, that our new hotel will be a Best western. Final approval should be given between the 13th to 18th of this month. If it is not approved by the Best Western Board of Governors we will move to the Holiday Inn group. Regardless things are on time and we should see demolition activity late this summer"

June 17,2013 we are met again with silence regarding this issue.

Finally again we have the letter from the Penrose Group of companies available on the Municipality web site under Press Releases and Announcements titled Crowsnest Centre Development.

Over the next few months leading up to the election I will publish several more of these "unvarnished facts and truths". To avoid any errors or miss truths I will attempt where ever possible to only use the facts available in the municipal newsletter.

Note: Cost of administration $4325 per day 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My position on a bloated administration

After my last post I have been asked by some of the comments on my blog and people on the street what my position would be if I was elected has a councilor in October regarding the structure of the municipal bureaucracy.

I will speak from my own experience sitting in that position for six years.  I would request the following information immediately:
1. Copies of all contracts between the municipality and it’s administrators.
2. Comparisons of each positions salary from 2010 to 2013, I certainly have a good idea on what was in place in 2010.
3. I would also ask for a break down of what area’s each administrator is responsible for today compared to 2010.
4. I would ask for a copy of each administrator’s qualifications, certifications and back grounds in the areas that they are currently administrating.
5. I do not believe a community of our size needs a three tier management structure (CAO, Directors, Managers) you can switch the titles around and name them what you wish but we do not need three tiers of management.
6. I also do not believe we need three people running the Protective Services area that is a luxury we can not afford.

Hopefully that provides some sense of the direction I will take regarding the issue of what I feel is a bloated administration. Keep in mind that to achieve any of the above will require a minimum of three other members of council that feel the same way I do about the municipal bureaucracy.   

Note: Cost of administration $4325 per day