Saturday, August 31, 2013

The $50,000 issue that just will not go away, is it even legal?

I received the following comments from one of my readers who is questioning if the $50,000 taken out of land reserves to pay the Vachon group so that "they" own the rights to the Best Western name is even legal under the MGA.
If it is legal does this open up the possibility that anybody trying to start a business in the Pass could approach council for initial funding? If council was in agreement could that funding then be provided from municipal reserves?

Unapproved  Council Minutes state Best Western/ Vachon  funds came from a Municipal Land Reserve Account - see their website or image at bottom of this note.

Section 671 (2) of the MGA 671 states municipal  reserves can only be used for specific items, not hotels or economic development  - see excerpt.

MGA Section 671 (4) states municipal reserve monies must be separately accounted for -- see excerpt.

With the following information from the MGA

Division 9
Use and Disposal of Reserve Land
Use of reserve land, money
671(1)  Subject to section 676(1), environmental reserve must be left in its natural state or be used as a public park.
(2)  Municipal reserve, school reserve or municipal and school reserve may be used by a municipality or school board or by them jointly only for any or all of the following purposes:
                                 (a)    a public park;
                                 (b)    a public recreation area;
                                 (c)    school board purposes;
                                 (d)    to separate areas of land that are used for different purposes.
(2.1)  Community services reserve may be used by a municipality for any or all of the following purposes:
                                 (a)    a public library;
                                 (b)    a police station, a fire station or an ambulance services facility, or a combination of them;
                                 (c)    a non‑profit day care facility;
                                 (d)    a non‑profit senior citizens facility;
                                 (e)    a non‑profit special needs facility;
                                 (f)    a municipal facility providing service directly to the public;
                                 (g)    affordable housing.
(3)  Despite that land is designated as municipal reserve, school reserve or municipal and school reserve, the municipality and one or more school boards may enter into any agreement they consider necessary with respect to a use referred to in subsection (2) or for any matter related to the use.
(4)  Money provided in place of municipal reserve, school reserve or municipal and school reserve and the interest earned on that money
                                 (a)    must be accounted for separately, and
                                 (b)    may be used only for any or all of the purposes referred to in subsection (2).

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

"Before the first snow falls"

No I am not going to talk about a new Best Western hotel, opening another coal mine or annexing Ranchlands.
We are going to talk about phase 1 of the Decoux/Gallant re-election campaign. For those that have not noticed the security fences are up at the old hospital/nursing home site. A very good source tells me that the hazard material guys will start work next week, with the demolition guys a week or two behind. My source also tells me that the job will take some where around two months give or take a week. I am sure it is sheer coincidence that it could finish as early as the week of October 23.

Please take a moment and vote on the new poll on the right hand side.

Money well spent. You be the judge

Every year we the taxpayers of the Crowsnest Pass spend a minimum of $20,000 to send our elected officials to conventions put on by various organizations that lobby on behalf of the municipalities.
Some people (usually politicians that want to justify going to these conventions) contend that they are an excellent opportunity to network with other municipalities, to attend various courses offered by the province and the host organizations and to have an opportunity to meet with ministers and other various government officials.
Having attended a couple of conventions during my two terms on council, I determined and that is why I stopped going to them that they are a waste of taxpayers money. We should call a spade a spade, they are a perk for politicians.
You have approximately 450 municipalities in this province who will send somewhere between 2-3000 politicians to these events at an average cost of $600 plus per day.
Our municipality similar to many others meets and networks with their neighbor municipalities on a regular basis, they do not need to go to Edmonton or Calgary to do that.
The various courses and information that are offered at these functions could easily in this day and age of the internet be provided to interested elected officials in seconds.
The last justification made is the opportunity to meet with ministers, well let me tell you what that is like. If your lucky you will get a half a hour with a minister, you will be ushered into a room where the minister and a couple of his assistants will shake your hands, smile at you and listen very intently to your concerns. Then they will shake your hands again kick you out of the room and march in the next group then repeat that process 15-20 times.
In six years of being on council I can not remember one thing that this municipality gained by attending the various conventions.  

What as it cost us to send our elected officials to these conventions over the last three years?

Mayor Decoux $14,312
Gallant $11,593
Sage $14,672
Gail $12,671
Londsbury $3654
Mitchell $6652
Saindon $2328

Total $65,882

Now I know some people will argue that is an insignificant amount in the grand scheme of running a municipality. This is a prime example of what is wrong with big government today that attitude. Every politician and I know they all will at least until October 21st must understand that they are spending the taxpayers dollars. This may only be a $66,000 issue, but where is the line on how much taxpayers dollars is it all right to waste?  

Looking forward to my readers comments.   

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Crowsnest Pass Promoter

The crowsnest pass promoter will be done this coming week. Never good news to see a community lose a business. Feel bad for Joni who has done an excellent job over the years.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Entrance signs to the Crowsnest Pass

Your new entrance signs, what do you think? If you do not wish to comment please vote on the right hand side.

New signs will be installed along Highway 3 at each end of the municipality to showcase the new brand of Crowsnest Pass.

Who’s in charge?

I hate to use somebody else’s tag line, the great guest contributor to the Pass Herald S.C Rutigan writes articles under that tag I hope he/she does not mind me stealing it for one week but it’s very relevant to something that happened in the Municipal Office over the last few days.
On Monday afternoon there suddenly appears on the Municipal web site under the employment section a new listing for a Human Resources Administrator, not a mention of this position was made at any council meeting recently or back in the spring during the budget process. Maybe it was all decided In Camera? Even if it was, there should have been a motion in the books supporting the position.
Hopefully somebody would bring it up at one of the meeting yesterday, nothing during the G+P meeting, then last night at the council meeting Councilor Gallant asked the CAO if it was true that we were looking for a Human Resources Administrator he said “yes”. Then councilor Gallant asked if the position was on their Organizational chart to which he replied “No”, then he asked how and why the decision was made to hire for this position. The CAO replied that in light of an on going review that both administration and CUPE felt it was necessary to fill this position, and there were funds available within the budget to pay for it.
Now this raises a number of concerns, council’s must fully understand that administration should be running the day-to-day operations of the municipality, that council cannot be micro managing.
Council goes through a budget process where manpower increases are brought forth by administration and exactly how they are going to be paid for. Council agrees or not, then its administrations job to go out and fill the approved positions.
Right out of left field we have a Human Resources Administrator (Permanent part time) obviously council was not informed unless Councilor Gallant was left out of the information loop similar to Councilor Saje was months prior regarding the issue of Clay Cup being terminated by Medican.
Some will argue that there is money in the budget, let administration proceed and that would be all right if you were filling an operational position at the lower end of the pay scale for the next three months.
Your not this is a “Permanent part time” position this position will go on beyond the end of the year, is anybody fooled by the terminology of part time. The pretense that this position will be part time is being used as the wedge to get this position in the door. Look at the qualifications they are looking for on this position does anybody believe that a highly experienced professional is going to take on this position for “20” hours a week? I do not think so.
Come budget time the need for this bureaucratic position (just like any other) is going to be strongly justified by administration. This is going to be another $100,000 a year job that will be funded by either increasing revenue’s, or taking money from another area in the budget. Somebody made the comment to me a while back that we have more administrators than public works operators. This might be a slight exaggeration, if we keep going at this pace by the end of the next council’s term we may have more administrators than CUPE members.

The morale of this story? It’s very obvious to me now, “Who’s In Charge”         

Note: Check out the article on the new entrance signs on the Pass Promoter site at the following address: 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Municipality of Crowsnest Pass Spending our money again!

First of all this morning the Mayor on his weekly "chat with Randy show" talks about a third new hotel coming to the Pass. On the 6 acre property across from the high school that was only listed For Sale three weeks ago, that has not even sold yet. You would think that he would wrap up the hotel on the piece of land that's been available for three years before he moves on to another venture.
Maybe the fact that the land is being rezoned by council has got him prematurely excited. It's a huge leap forward from zoning to a new hotel I thought we would have learnt that lesson by now. 

Next from the Municipal web site I see we are now advertising for another addition to our bureaucratic team. Yes another one, a  Human Resources Administrator Permanent Part time. 
Their is no question I think anybody outside of the glass bubble called council chambers recognizes that we have a tremendous issue with morale among the work force. Probably more outstanding grievances than there as ever been in the history of the municipality. Don't believe me talk to the employees.
But the big question on my mind is our are we going to pay for all of these people to run this bureaucratic monster? It's not sustainable in the long term. 
Unless of course we are already funding them with the additional revenues from all these new hotels and coal mines.    

Note: Check out Joni McFarlane's latest update on the Crowsnest Centre site:

Costs released for proposed hotel

Unbelievably the taxpayers paid for the snacks at the open house.  

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Mayor's Interview with the Calgary CBC, Eye Opener show

The following link is to a radio interview done by the Calgary Eye opener August 16 with our Mayor Bruce Decoux..

The only things I would disagree with are timing, he talks about four years to the mine operating that is certainly not consistent with any where else in Alberta the regulatory process is lengthy. This week the press release from Elan mining stated the regulatory process in Alberta takes about seven years.

The employment numbers the Mayor states that for every job at the mine there will be seven jobs else where in the community. That would mean in the Elk Valley, where Teck employees roughly 3000 people there should be 21,000 other jobs in the community?

Let's not forget that both these proposed mines are located in the MD of Ranchlands. So even if they move forward we will see the benefits of jobs, new people moving to the community and spending their pay cheques here. What we will not see for a considerable amount of time (if ever) is the tax revenues from these two proposed operations.

Irregardless still very good news for the Crowsnest Pass.

Friday, August 16, 2013

People are angry! What are they doing with our money?

Who are these people that are angry? Lots of them in the last month I have had many, many people talk to me about the issues below.

Thunder In the Valley was deferred for a year (now two) Why? for safety reasons and costs, fair enough you may agree or not but those were the reasons given.

Then we go through the event that tore this community in half the restructuring of the Fire Departments. Why? We were told in the name of efficiency and cost savings ($37,000) a year by shutting down the Hillcrest Fire hall.

Then we get to the mess called the 2013 budget on the eve of finalizing the budget, six months after the process had began (that’s right SIX months) administration realizes that our assessment base as dropped by 5.7% instead of the 2% projected when the budget process started. To make the numbers work after the last moment revelation Council decides that the $100,000 that was supposed to go into reserves for the Seniors lodge should be dropped.

Fair enough sometimes tough choices have to be made to balance the books we all know we are not knee deep in cash here.

So why are people so out raged in our little community right now? not the never ending debate about TITV or the fire departments or even the fact that we did not honor a ten year commitment made by the council of the day four years ago to our seniors.

What as gotten people really angry is the many questionable decisions being made regarding the CLC site. (I would use the term hotel development but why talk about something that is just a figment of somebody’s imagination at this point).

Our team of Council/administration who to the best of my knowledge have zero experience in the area of hotel development (I stand to be corrected) decided to enter into an agreement with a company that had gone through years of financial difficulties.

The municipality spends $10,000 on a feasibility study that is redundant a year later. Untold amounts of money on legal fees putting together a “ironclad” contract with Medican ensuring that within two years we will have a hotel.

We then find out that we have third parties working for us (Clay Cup, Group Vachon) to secure a Best Western franchise. One of which (Clay Cup) informs us that there are many groups that could get a Best Western franchise.  They also tell us that our feasibility study was amateurish and that they really did not want to work with this council.  

Then our latest (hotel finder-Group vachon) comes to us, and say’s “I have ownership of the rights to a Best Western but I paid $50,000 to buy those rights”. Now this (hotel finder) determines that he wants to own those rights but does not want to “risk” his own $50,000. So in one of those hard to believe moments Council says not to worry we will take the risk you can have the ownership of the rights we will take all the risk.

This is why people are anger the “we” taking the risk is “us” the taxpayers. They are also angry because we had to “defer” TITV partially due to costs, we had to go through that community dividing exercise of saving $37,000 by closing the Hillcrest hall. Then in the biggest disgrace of all we could not find the $100,000 to put into reserves for seniors.

But we could find $10,000 for a feasibility study, $1,000’s for lawyers to draw up a contract and $50,000 to buy a Best Western franchise for Group Vachon.
(Believe it or not folks we paid for it but we don’t own it.)

For the icing on the cake the Mayor’s corner comes out and attempts to provide a positive spin that says we are actually moving forward.

Despite the fact that we have No Investors, No developers, and do not even know if we should fill in the hole where the old hospital sits. Due to the fact that we do not know if the hotel will be built at the East or the West end of the property.  

I had a feeling that some people would be gullible enough to buy in to this nonsense, but that is certainly not the reaction that I am hearing around town.

People are pissed off.  

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Hotel moving forward without a developer? and the on going myth that Insurance premiums will drop

Well the good news keeps on coming, the Mayor's latest Corner is out (available on the municipal web site link on the side of my blog). The optimistic  side of me says that he's basking in the long sunny days of summer has put him in a better mood. There are no attacks on the "Caver's", "wannabe's" "old boys club" or any other group that disagrees with him. The pessimistic side of me thinks that it's only two months before the election and that he is attempting to set the table for that event.
Any way I have to give this man credit in the sense that he is now putting the positive spin on every thing he can on the hotel deal and other issues. You wouldn't have thought it but soon we will actually be in a better position to move ahead on this project. As one of my readers keeps reminding me "which years snow fall was he talking about. 
"Our hotel project is moving forward again. The Council approved the moneys necessary to maintain our ability to build a Best Western hotel and to proceed with the demolition of the old hospital and centre. We should see the demolition begin in September. These moves will place us in a better position to attract new investors/developers, recoup our investment, and hopefully see our hotel under construction next year at this time."
On to the issue of Insurance and all the excitement over potential decreasing rates this is what the Mayor has to say in his corner.
"We are beginning to see results from some of our long term planning. The Director of Protective and Community Services, Mr. Albert Headrick, informed the Council that as a result of the restructuring of our fire services and providing more efficient fire services our community rating (provided by the Canadian Insurance Underwriters) has, and is improving, and within a years’ time our commercial/residential fire insurance costs should stabilize or perhaps be lowered. A full report will be upcoming on our website."
Councilor Gallant goes on to say the following on his blog about the same issue:
"While every insurer will be different, I would suggest that public/commercial property owners ask to review their building insurance policies as they should be able to realize some savings."
"While there is no guarantee at this moment that policies will change, insurers will be hard pressed to justify the current rates based on this new rating".
"Assuming that the Fire and Rescue Department is able to keep up with their current operational protocols, Underwriters will improve our rating to 2 out of 5 for urban areas. This should, in turn, be realized in savings to residential property owners." 
I would encourage every home/business owner to contact your Insurance brokers and question how these new ratings will affect your own policy. While your on the phone with your Insurance company ask them which bracket your property fell into prior to our new rating (protected, semi protected or un-protected) and ask them which category you will fall into after the new rating.  

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Should we be on the 2014 list?

$46,000 question, excellent letter to the editor in this week's Pass Promoter the writer provides the following address

Can you find the template for our new logo?

My attention was also drawn to the Macleans article "99 stupid things the government did with your money"
check it out at  please read #34.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

One more chapter on the hotel saga

Now I know it's only $10,000 and some people are getting tired of this story but it's our money so we have a right to know.
Council/administration in their wisdom decided eighteen months ago to hire a consultant to put together a feasibility study for a hotel on the former CLC site.
Rich Eichler Consulting dined at the trough known has the municipality of Crowsnest Pass to the tune of a cool $10,000 and delivered a feasibility study in January 2012 that would give us a "leg up" when we went out to seek hotel investors.
Well after posting a Request For Proposals for months we get "one" company that takes advantage of this golden opportunity, just escaping from court protection "Medican" well we all know how that story worked out (or do we)
So fast forward to July 23 Chris Vachon informs us that just a year later, after Mr Eichler delivered his study that Best Western spent $25,000 on a new feasibility study, did the first one miss something ? Did we waste our $10,000?
Let's fast forward to this week's Pass Herald to the comments from Mr Jeff Carlson CAO of clay cup developers, the company that initially looked at working with Medican and the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass. What did he have to say about the feasibility study "I check out feasibility reports all the time I am not a amateur and the report was amateurish, a waste of money".
How much more money was spent on legal fees putting together the contract with Medican that at one point the CAO told us required 80 some revisions? I hope it wasn't a lot.
The big concern now in line with both Councilor's Saindon and Saje's arguments against accepting the tender for the demolition of the Centre last week is we don't know what the total cost for the remediation of that building is going to be?
Let's hope this story is almost over.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Coal mining coming back to the Pass?

Well not really in the Crowsnest Pass, at least until we annex the area, but never the less good news.

Altitude Resources inks exploration and option agreement with Elan Coal

Second company sets its sights on Crowsnest Pass coal

Notice where the spokesman from the company states it takes seven years to work through the regulatory process.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Best Western saga continues

Two things when you read the story below keep in mind that to balance the books this year council had to increase franchise fees by $200,000+ and cancel a $100,000 contribution to the seniors reserves.

Courtesy of the Pass Herald:

 Lisa Sygutek
Pass Herald staff
At the July 16th council meeting, a presentation was provided by Mr. Chris Vachon of the Vachon Group stating Medican’s failure to complete the Sale and Construction Agreement for a hotel. At the Special Meeting of Council held on July 22nd further information was provided relative to the application submitted and approved to the Vachon Group by Best Western International. A resolution from council at this meeting included the municipality reimbursing the Vachon group the value of the application fee and to work with the Vachon Group in moving forward with the hotel development. Having the application remain in place would mean that the franchise approval for the development of the Best Western Plus would be formalized with a two-year window to construct the hotel. There was a resolution at the meeting to re-tender the former Crowsnest Centre site demolition so as to put the municipality in a more favourable position to initiate development on the site.
Although council approved the reimbursement to Vachon it was not identified from where the funding would be sourced.
Councillor Lonsbury then made the following motion: “That the $50,000 application fee to be paid to the Vachon Group as reimbursement for the Best Western Plus application fee be taken from the Municipal Land Reserve account. 
Councillor Gallant wanted it clarified that, “we are just voting on the funding source. Is there interest in someone who wants to buy some of the land?”. CAO Myron Thompson responded, “yes, there is a buyer for a portion who wants to move ahead”.
Concillor Saindon asked, “ is there a copy of the memorandum of understanding and has it been signed by the Vachon Group and will council see the memorandum of understanding”. An answer was not provided.
Councillor Saje questioned, “I’m not going to be voting in favour of this”. He noted that he was able to get additional information from Jeff Carlson CAO of Clay Cup Developers who were working with Medican prior to Group Vachon coming on board. He stated that Mr. Carlson told him that in the development industry, the Municipality does not typically put up the funding to secure a hotel franchise. He noted, “according to Mr. Carlson, these funds are put up by the developer”. Saje also noted that in securing the Best Western franchise name could have also been done by Clay Cup Developments or other Best Western approved developers. Saje said this was contrary to what Thompson had informed council at the special meeting on July 22nd. “I was under the impression at our special council meeting that if we did not decide that day to go with Best Western that the Best Western trade name will not be on the table for Crowsnest Pass”. Saje explained, “two parts stood out to me during my conversation with Carlson. In the Development Industry communities usually do not put up the development fee. It should flash a red flag”.
Gallant agreed that it was not normal for municipalities to put up the funding, but, "It was made clear that, when the applicant submitted his proposal that, it would not continue with every developer, ahh, yes any developer could have applied for that, however Clay Cup was fired from the project, let's remember that as well. They were fired from the project, because they did nothing. They did absolutely nothing. It was my understanding. They came on board, they led them along for several months, that was one of the long delays we had on this project. So I appreciate the comments from Mr Carlson but I don't hold them in very high regard."
Saje informed council that he did not know Clay Cup was fired in November, but rather pulled out of the agreement and that Vachon Group did not come on board until spring.
Mayor Decoux stated that the rest of council was aware that Clay Cup was released by Medican.
Gallant noted, “we are not determining whether we should do it, but rather the funding requirement”. We made that decision. “I don’t hold Mr. Carlson with very high regard. He was fired.” 
Saje felt that there is a huge conflict of information when talking to Carlson and the information he has received from administration and for that reason he would vote against the motion.
In an interview with Jeff Carlson he noted that, “Medican wanted me to partner with them, but after looking in to the feasibility study I decided not to join. I looked at the feasibility study and did not think it was done well at all. “I check out feasibility reports all the time, I’m not an amateur and the report was amateurish, a waste of money”. He further stated, Council is part of the reason I decided to not work with this community. I wasn’t too impressed with council. The fact that they are spending $50,000 to get a Best Western flag is ridiculous”.
Saindon asked for a recorded vote with the motion passed 6-4 with Saidon and Saje opposed, Councillor Gail was not present at the meeting. 

Note: Cost of administration $4325 per day

Council meeting Aug 6 Fire Insurance rates going down......

Here is the last issue of great importance from the council meeting of August 6, in one of his final acts before he leaves the municipality Albert Headricks Director of Protective and Community services presented the Underwriters review explaining how the Municipality did in the Insurance grading system.

"Fire Underwriters Survey is a national organization that represents more than 85 percent of the private sector and casualty insurers in Canada. Fire Underwriters Survey provides data to program subscribers regarding public fire protection for fire insurance statistical and underwriting evaluation. The last review conducted was in 1993 where at that time each Fire Station was assessed individually on their capacity to provide an adequate level of fire protection.
Since the restructuring of Crowsnest Pass Fire/Rescue in 2012/2013, the community departments were reduced from five (Blairmore, Coleman, Hillcrest, Bellevue and Rescue) to three stations and amalgamated as one operational collective. The 2013 review by Underwriters Survey focused on our ability to provide an adequate level of fire protection as a single identity and or operation.
The following Fire Insurance Grades will be published to the Canadian Fire Insurance Grading Index as a result of this assessment. Overall the results show that an improved level of fire protection is being provided within the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass with Public Fire Protection Classification (PFPC) 4 being published. This shows a marked improvement from PFPG 7 and 8 previously published back in 1993. Class 1 represents the highest grading possible and Class 10 indicates that little or no fire protection is in place.
The PFPC grading system evaluates the ability of a community’s fire protection programs to prevent and control major fires. Multi-family residential, (apt buildings, hotel, motels, B&B’s, Lodges) commercial, industrial, institutional, mercantile, buildings, and of course construction developments should experience a reduction to insurance premiums. This would pertain to renewals and new policies. Existing policies may not experience any reduction due to the fact they were determined in relation to the previous grading analysis of 1993. What also needs to be understood is that each insurance policy will vary in relation to the category pertaining to the fire insurance portion identified in the overall policy.
Fire Underwriters Survey also assigns a second grade for community fire protection. The second grading system, entitled Dwelling Protection Grade (DPG), assesses the protection available for small buildings such as single-family dwellings. The DPG is a numerical grading system scaled from 1 to 5. One (1) is the highest grading possible and 5 indicate little or no fire protection being present. The Fire Insurance Grades for the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass have improved
since the previous assessment due to improvements in the levels of public fire protection provided by the Restructured Fire/Rescue Service.
The Municipality in the urban areas is presently assigned as 3A Dwelling Protection Grading but due to the change of status from a Volunteer to Composite Fire/Rescue Service, Fire Underwriters Survey will be reviewing the coverage currently being proposed is indicative of an equivalency of a composite fire hall typically assigned Dwelling Protection Grade (DPG) 2.
They will be requesting that 24/7 staff tracking be provided to their office over a period of 12 months at which time an assignment for DPG 2 will be considered. Council and Senior Administration of Crowsnest Pass have the upmost respect, confidence in the Fire/Rescue leadership under the Direction of Fire Chief Steve Munshaw, Deputy Fire Chief Jamie Wilkinson and members. They have been a strong advocate, participant in the changes necessary to achieve the successful outcomes required. In turn home owner policy holders of single family dwellings should experience some reprieve in the very near future. To review the interim report, please visit the Municipal Web Site."

Also check out the story on the Pass Promoters site

It sounds great like we can all can expect a decrease in our Insurance rates, well you know the old saying if its to good to be true......... especially just two months prior to the election.

Very impressively our commercial  "Public Fire Protection Classification" rating when from a 7 to a 4. Well done 
Our residential " Dwelling Protection Grade" is projected to go from a 3A to a 2 over the next 12 months, also well done. 

Where will we spend all our savings? 

After doing a little research I came up with the following information, which tells us how much impact  these grading changes will have on our rates. Apparently  Insurance companies break down their customers into three categories the first being "Protected" the second "semi-protected" and the third "unprotected".

Under the "Dwelling Protection Grade" a grade of 1,2 or 3A falls into the protected, a 3B or 4 falls into the "semi-protected" and a 5 falls into the "unprotected" category.   

So I assume at this point going from a 3A to a 2 means we go from the "protected" grouping to the "protected" grouping. Does it sound like no change to you? 

Not be satisfied maybe I was misunderstanding the information I found.  I phone my Insurance broker and ask if they could check with their underwriters and see what effect this grade change will have on my personal Insurance, I also asked if she could check and see what impact it would have on commercial properties. 

Well this afternoon I get a call back and the lady tells me Dean I have to explain for Fire Protection purposes customers are placed into three categories "Protected", "Semi-protected" and "unprotected" unfortunately neither residential or commercial will see any change.

Now in all fairness Mr Headricks did say everybody should check with their Insurance companies and I would recommend you do that.      

On page 36 of the following report done for the city of Kelowna you can see how the grades are grouped

Note: Cost of administration $4325 per day

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Tuesday night time to spend our money.

In the midst of these dark dreary days of August nothing better than to bring a ray of sunlight into our life’s by attending the regular meeting of council Tuesday night August 6, obviously Council and administration are doing everything possible to get their ducks in a row prior to the commencement of the election campaign.
For your information this is a recap of the meeting the issues dealt with, I look forward to the comments flowing in on the issues, council and administrations performance.

CAO Report

Its official Albert Headrick Director of Protective and Community Services is leaving the Pass on August 16.
Community Peace Officers Report great joy in announcing that almost $200,000 in fines have been written after one year in place.
Fire Rescues had 12, 911 calls in the month of July
New banners were installed around town administration received lots of positive response.
Ice is now ready in the Coleman complex
Trans Rockies race took place last week
Devon has donated an air compressor to the community, which will save us having to purchase one in 2015 (savings of up to $50,000)
Uroc is looking for contractors to build mountain bike trails of the ski hill.
Temporary surface repairs will be made at the Coleman drug store area.
Asphalt Paving projects delayed until the end August
Recreation Feasibility study is under way.
Culture and Heritage Board had its first meeting July 26
Tenders for SCADA project came in $200,000 to high will be looking to the province for additional funding.

Municipal Elections
Advance Poll approved for Oct 15
Institutional vote will be done the same as the last election
Voting subdivisions and voting stations will also be the same as last election

Crowsnest Centre Demolition

Four bids received range of $585 to $800K
Dakota Reclamators out of Calgary was the low bidder
CAO informed council that municipal lawyers had reviewed the tender and it was ironclad.
Project to be funded by taking $250k out of MSI capital funding and $350K out of the Mill rate stabilization reserve.
Councilor Saindon was concerned that the municipality was not getting a full priced bid, administration had asked for quotes on back filling the centre foundation once the building was removed this was not brought back to council. He felt the potential cost of this job was more in the range of $700,000.
He was also concerned due to Gene Conklin (Regional Director of Development at Best Western had advised the municipality that to make the land the most attractive to potential buyers it should be fully remediated.
Councilor Gallant stated every hotel has a basement, maybe it will not need back filling.
Councilor Saindon asked if the hotel does not come for three years are we just going to leave an 8-16 foot hole there. He also stated that the hotel was projected to go on the east end of the property the old hospital was on the west end. He also stated clay would have to be brought in and trucked at least 30-40km very expensive.
Councilor Londsbury asked if there was a basement under the entire building, the CAO did not know.
CAO Thompson felt that we should demolish the building then figure out our options of what to do with the hole at that point.
Councilor Gallant felt we did not know where the hotel would eventually go.

Motion to proceed with the demolition at a cost of $585,000 was passed by a vote of 4-2 (Saindon, Sage opposed Gail was not present for the vote)

Hotel Application Fee ($50,000 for Vachon group)

Administration recommended funds be taken out of municipal land reserve.

Councilor Saje referred to a conversation he had with Jeff Carlson CAO of Clay cup developers who apparently working with Medican prior to Group Vachon coming on board.
He stated that Mr Carlson told him municipalities do not put up the funding for the rights to a hotel. He also stated that the Best Western could have been done by Clay cup and that if Vachon group with draws somebody else could pick up the rights contrary to what the CAO had informed council at the special meeting. CAO stated that he had received that information from the head of marketing at Best Western.
Councilor Gallant agreed that it was not normal for municipalities to put up the funding, but Mr Carlsons words did not carry a lot of weight with council due to the fact that they were fired by Medican in November.
Councilor Saje informed council that he did not know Clay Cup was fired in November and that Vachon Group did not come on board until spring.
Mayor Decoux stated that the rest of council was aware that Clay Cup was released by Medican.

Motion to take $50,000 out of Municipal land reserves was passed by a vote of 4-2 (Saindon, Saje opposed Gail not present)



Friday, August 2, 2013

My role as a Ratepayer

Over the last few days I have been accused of being a Ratepayer, and yes a Ratepayer adviser.
Well folks no mystery and intrigue here, yes about 15-16 months ago I paid my $5 and I joined that group of what some people refer to has the elitists old boys club know locally has the Ratepayers Association, along with about 700+ other concerned citizens that did not like the direction this community was going.
Early last summer I was asked by a number of people if I would be interested in running for a position on the ratepayers executive. I informed them up front that I would not do that because I had made up my mind a long time ago that I would be running for council this fall. But that I would be more than willing to assist where I could, after all I did sit on council for six years so I and a number of other people felt I had something to offer.
Some where around twenty people did put there name forth for the executive positions, from that group nine people were elected. That group decided to meet has an executive to work on the issues that were important to their membership and present back information to those members at their monthly meeting. I was asked at that point along with three or four other people if I would be prepared to help share with them the knowledge that I post on my blog and put that information on paper for the members.
No big secret I do a lot of research and pride myself on my ability with numbers and have spent a lot of time keeping up on local politics over the last ten years just read my blog back to 2008. So yes I guess I could be labeled  a Ratepayer advisor, I was also told up front that having chosen not to run for a executive position that I would have no voting rights and that I was there when and if they asked me to attend.
There are times I disagree with decisions the ratepayers make, does every member of every organization agree with every decision their leadership makes? I sure hope not.
I sat on council for six years and gained a lot of valuable experience are people going to ask me questions or for my assistance, once in a while? I hope so and I have no problem helping any group that asks for my assistance if I have something to offer.

Moving forward in this community I think there is a role for the ratepayers and any group that brings citizens together. What I have heard talking to people around town is they are tired of a council that talks at them not to them. So I think the next council should have members that are prepared to get out there and meet and talk with groups not just the ones that agree with them.

For any of my readers that have further questions or seek my position on any issue. Send me a email at or phone 403 563 4128 leave a message. Thank you

Note: Cost of administration $4325 per day

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Revolving Door--Employment Opportunity in the Crowsnest Pass

On the municipal web site I see under the employment heading the Director of Protective Services position is listed.

The timing is very interesting in the sense that the job does not close until Friday Sept 13, by the time you add on 2-3 weeks to sort through, short list and interview the applicants you are in to October.

My self being a person who is running for council and believes in a smaller bureaucracy this could be a very quick opportunity for the new council to reduce the cost of that bureaucracy by not refilling this position.

June 2011 CAO Tully Clifford leaves.
July 2011 Director of HR and legislative services Lynne Cox leaves.
September 2011 Director of Community Services Cam Mertz leaves.
April 2012 Fire Chief Ken Brands leaves.
June 2012 Manager of Operations Bob Schulz leaves.
July 2012  Manager of Corporate Services Mariann Martens leaves. 
August 2013 Director of Protective and Community Services Albert Headricks leaves. 

Please keep in mind the list above does not include people from Transitional Solutions that were in positions in a temporary role. 

Note: Cost of administration $4325 per day