Sunday, November 17, 2013

Christmas in the Mountains, Crowsnest pass style

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

Thursday, November 14, 2013

What's happening with your new council.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Monday, November 11, 2013

Remembrance day in the Crowsnest Pass

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 4, 2013

Duties of a municipal Councillor

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

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

Duties, Titles and Oaths of Councillors

General duties of councillors

153 Councillors have the following duties:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Under Part 7, Public Participation it states the following:

216 Repealed 1994 cM-26.1 s738.

What information must a municipality provide

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

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

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

1994 cM-26.1 ss217,738

218 Repealed 1994 cM-26.1 s738.