Monday, May 30, 2011

Public Transportation in the Crowsnest Pass

Last week council was given a presentation regarding public transportation.

Cam Mertz presented an analysis that showed, a public transportation system running Monday through Friday with 24 stops between West Coleman and the MDM operating 14 hours per day.
Based on the revenue numbers provided there would be $25,200 a year coming in divided by 250 days per year that's $100 per day at $2 per trip 50 passengers a day or 4 per hour or $8 per hour.

On the cost side of the equation the numbers showed that the service would cost $201,600 to set up and $311,950 to operate, divided by 250 days per year that's $1248 per day or $89 per hour.
Plus every year an additional $30,000 would have to be put aside to cover the replacement of the bus every three years, in reality the cost would increase to $1368 per day or $98 per hour.

Cost minus revenue leaves this service being subsidized by the taxpayer to the tune of $90 per hour.

The key questions have to be asked here, first of all is there a need and can we afford it.

Looking at the present town rounder its clientele  averages somewhere between 8 and 12 daily.
So is the 50 passengers a day realistic? lets look at our neighbours, the Regional District of East Kootenay offers a daily service that runs between Sparwood/Elkford/Fernie and the South Country (Once a week).
Their budget for 2011 based on having twice the population in the Elk Valley that we do plus having a service that runs between communties not just within their boundaries is 6000 passengers. So yes I feel the 12600 rides here is a little optimistic.
Even if the numbers turn out to be real we are looking at having every home in the Crowsnest Pass pay an additional $100 to fund a service that will be used by 4 people per hour.
How many tmes a day do you think you will see that bus travelling back and forth empty.
Unless of course there is $317,000 per year in inefficiencies  in the present budget that can be saved.

If there is that kind of fat in our municipal budget first of all I would like to know where, and second I would want to know why we would not just get a $100 tax reduction.


There was some suggestions about reducing those costs, charge $3 per trip selling advertising on the bus (lets assume $20,000 per year), then the cost would come down to only $81 per hour. Even with all that considered if you reduced the service to three days a week it would still cost the taxpayers $200,000 per year.

The municipality will be sending out a survey with an upcoming utility bill to ask for the public's input. I hope with in that survey it explains the costs of this venture, and the assumptions of how many people will use the service. Too often people will support an idea because it sounds good up front, its one of those things government should be doing. Then they are out raged later when they find out the cost.

I don't mind paying taxes for things we need, schools, hospitals, roads, recreation facilities etc etc. But for a transportation system that will be funded to the tune of $90 per hour for an average of four riders?

But then again maybe just maybe this is one of those old political games, maybe there is no intent to proceed with this idea at all. Maybe its just going through the motions.

Municipal government and transparency in the Crowsnest Pass

After much noise being made about the transparency of municipal politics in the Crowsnest Pass. I have been asked the following question by a number of people. Regarding weather business conducted at retreats is open to the public. My understanding of the MGA is if somebody makes a request under FOIP has long as it does not involve Land, Legal, or Labour the municipality is required to provide that information to any interested taxpayer.

Its not a unreasonable expectation

Below is Councilor Gallants.

"Retreats are common with all municipal governments. In order to reduce expense we have hosted our retreats in council chambers so they may look like a council meeting but they are not. No decisions can be made at a retreat and typically it is just a chance to vet ideas. The results of our retreats will be made public once the information is compiled and written out in a format that makes sense. I believe this is FOIP-able as well as long as it is not one of the three L’s I mentioned above. Anyone is welcome to pursue FOIP action if they feel it is necessary."

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Clarification of Council renumeration in the Crowsnest Pass

Got a call from a lady today who had told me that she was reading on a councilors blog that he was receiving around $2.50 per hour for attending council business and was very surprised. I quote the following:

"As for my wages I receive an honorarium that probably works out to about $2.50 an hour, as for benefits there is none from the Municipality.


I maintain a full time job during the day and when I take time off during the day for Municipal issues I take time and pay off my regular job which pays me more than $2.50 an hour. So as a simple fact I lose money every time I attend a meeting during the day."

Note: Not for one minute am I suggesting that Councilors are over paid in 6 years on council I made  less than $14,000 per year. In fact when Councilor Mitchell suggested  last fall that Council renumeration should be cut by 5% I spoke against it. (Little surprised that Councilor Mitchell did not suggest that with the present council) Maybe it wasn't a real issue, keep in mine that 5% reduction would have decreased a $4.5 million labour bill by $5,000.

Well unless this policy got changed since I left council the above statement is not really true. Councilors receive an honorarium of $500 per month which at $2.50 per hour would work out to 200 hours put month, I doubt any councilor is putting in 50 hours per week.
In addition Councilors also receive $70 per meeting with the average meeting running about 3 hours so $23.33 per hour, if the meeting turns into a full day (retreats etc) they receive $160 for an average of 8 hours or $20 per hour.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

G + P Meeting May 24, 2011

Adoption of Agenda:
Mayor Decoux made the following changes
Under Topics of Discussion deleted Item #6, and added under In Camera Personnel CAO Recruitment
Motion to accept agenda with additions passed unanimously

Delegations:

Neil Chalmers-Replaced Andrew Rusynyk-Regarding the Ed Gregor Memorial Stewardship Day-June 4, 2011. Spoke to all the hard work that is done by volunteers and invited Mayor and Council to attend.

Topics for Discussion:
1. Bylaw No. 821-Property Tax Penalties:. Administration pointed out this will not apply to local improvements. Motion to recommended this bylaw to council passed unanimously

2. Draft Budget Policy:
No discussion, Motion to recommend this policy to council passed unanimously.

3. Draft Reserve Policy: Councilor Saindon asked administration if actual numbers would be added to the policy at budget time. Yes. Motion to recommended this policy to council passed unanimously

4. Bylaw Revisions:
• Long Grass Bylaw
• Traffic Bylaw
• Noise Bylaw
• Community Standards Bylaw
Discussion spoke to definitions and penalties would now be clear, and that yard sale signs must be removed within seven days. Motion to recommended this bylaw to council passed unanimously

5. Land Use Bylaw Amendment-Section 11-Sign standards: Motion to recommended this bylaw to council passed unanimously

6. Deleted

7. Notice of Motion-Transportation:
This issue relates back to Councilor Saje request for administration to come up with an alternative transportation system for the Crowsnest Pass. Administration will be bringing back at a later date the information to provide transportation outside the municipality.

Cam Mertz presented a report that included the following points:

• Service based on 5 days per week 14 hours per day
• Starting at the Volker Sevin yard in Coleman and ending at the MDM with 22 additional stops in between, with a 30 second stop at each location
• Would require new bus and two operators.
• Revenue based on 15 riders per shift cost of $2 per trip $35,000 per year.
• Cost would be $312,000 to operate and an additional $30,000 for capital costs.
• Capital Outlay would be $201,000 up front due to the amount of mileage placed on the Bus it would require replacing every three years.
• Funding Mertz indicated that there would possibly be some Federal or provincial funding to buy the bus, but the only funding that could be used is the MSI operational funding that presently is used else where in the municipal budget.
• Alternatives (1) Look at combining with the present town rounder, very difficult due to the scheduling requirements of the present clients, (2) Contract out the service or, (3) Look at the same service on a reduced basis.

Following issues were raised by Council:
  • Any time built into the schedule for breakdowns? No
  • Is going Diesel instead of gas an Option? Yes
  • Could we approach business to support this service? Yes
  • BC provides a regional service have we looked at that? Yes but we are not in BC
  • Have we compared to the rates that taxi’s charge? No
  • Councilor Gallant pointed out that since the election only one person as raised this as being an issue with him, he is not convinced that a need as been established.
  • What would be the issue of combining with the present service? Hard to work around present clients schedules, the community as made it very clear that they do not want the present service disrupted in any way.
  • Prices elsewhere show an average of $3 per trip, why did we not use that number here? The present cost per trip is $2.
  • Have we considered running a half-day on Saturdays? Administration will consider anything that council requests.
  • Can we sell advertising on the bus to raise money? Yes
  • How would other service providers feel about the municipality competing with them? They would not be thrilled with a heavily subsidized municipal service competing with them.
  • Would there be an option to work with the school boards? Administration believes that could be a possibility.
Motion was made for administration to under take a needs assessment and report back to council by Sept 6. Motion passed unanimously.

8. Discussion of Bylaw #826,2011 (Green Mountain Company rezoning in West Coleman):
Randy Tucker spoke for the local residents emphasized the importance of the following issues:
Appearance of the buildings
Safety concern with Highway 3
Density of proposed buildings
Parking volumes

In Camera: Motion to go In Camera passed unanimously.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Change in the Crowsnest Pass, CAO is leaving Wow

Resignation

Note: Check out the following article pointed out to me by one of my readers.

www.crowsnestpasspromoter.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?archive=true&e=2860758

There is more available from this reader/commenter just go down to the right side of my blog and click on the Miners Journey.



The purpose of this email is to let you know I’ve submitted my resignation to Council, my last day of work in Crowsnest Pass will be June 15, 2011. Though my time here has been short I’ve really enjoyed working with all employees. It’s difficult working for local government as we are criticized often and praised seldom. Please know that I appreciate your efforts and acknowledge that Crowsnest Pass could not survive without the fine work of the employees of the Municipality. I’m glad that so many of you recognize that we’re working for our friends and neighbours and that you come to work each day to perform your duties to the best of your ability. Because of your efforts the Municipality offers a very wide range of services and programs to our residents and businesses. Though Council speaks of change you should be proud of your day-to-day work and all your accomplishments and not view change as a negative. Change is difficult and is often seen as a criticism. I challenge you instead to look at change as an opportunity to make a good organization even better. Through change it is hoped that additional opportunities for growth and advancement will be made available to employees and that Crowsnest Pass will continue to evolve as a fantastic place to live and visit. Thank you for working with me during my short time here.



Tully

Crowsnest Pass Municipal Office Does it need to grow?

Recently a number of people have asked me about the municipal office. There appears to be a controversy brewing about relocating some office staff to a different location. A little background to give the reader a better sense of what is causing the problem.


Right now you have twenty people in the office, the CAO, four department heads a contract assessor, safety officer, bylaw officer, and twelve ladies looking after the various functions covered by those departments.

Again that’s twenty people, this last budget council added a number of full time positions, a Foreman, one person in HR, one person in the recreational department a weed control person, and a half time position in finance.

Anybody that reads my blog understands how I feel about the additional positions, but that was the council’s decision. Validated by an argument that to find more inefficiency and determine where job duties could be changed or combined, it took those additional people to make that happen, briefly short-term growth that will eventually shrink the work force. Well I still do not buy that argument I have never seen at any level (municipal, provincial or federal) where government has shrunk.

Back to the issue at hand, for a while rumors having been floating around the community about the Recreation Department moving to the MDM, due to the shortage of space in the present office.

First is the lack of space has big an issue as it first appears to be? There is a vacant Foreman’s office downstairs so that position is looked after. The weed control person has worked out of the MDM for the last couple of years as a seasonal position, nothing as changed there. The part time position for finance as been accommodated in the finance department for the last three years. Realistically the additional space is required for two people HR and Recreation.

Can the office be reconfigured to cover off those positions? Council believes so at the last G+P they directed administration to come back with a plan that allows for that. From what I have heard administration is coming back to the next G+P meeting still looking at moving to the MDM. Obviously if this is the case communications are breaking down some where I was at that last meeting Council’s direction was very clear.

More arguments for maintaining all the staff in one building;

Costs I do not care what argument you make there will be a cost, to set up at the MDM is it $10,000, $20,000 I have no idea but there will be a cost, so where does that money come from? Is that dollars that could have gone into reserves.

One stop shopping, presently the taxpayer can go into the office pay a utility bill, check on a development permit, talk to the bylaw office and check out a recreation program, basically take care of all your municipal business in one stop.

Redundancy, present council’s position that they are going to reduce the workforce over time by attrition, due to improved efficiency at all levels. If this proves to be true, the office at the MDM would be redundant in a couple of years anyway due to additional space being created in the Coleman office.

Better utilization of MDM space, prior to leaving council we were told that all the space at the MDM was leased out. To maximize cost recovery at the MDM why would you not rent every foot of space you can, that space that is being saved for the administration at the MDM could be rented out to a group which would lessen the burden on the taxpayers to operate that building.

Efficient utilization of staff, during vacation periods there are times where there is very minimal staff  in the municipal office which occasionally requires staff to assist in other areas than there own. This would become a bigger issue if staff were spread out over various locations.

Supervision of staff, we all recognize that administration receives vacation during those timeframes being in one building if there is an issue and the department head is away there would be other administrators in the office that could deal with that particular issue.

Smaller issues, maintain two sets of office supplies, extra photocopier, and additional costs for people to run back and forth between the two locations. Co-ordination between departments you can have all the technology in the world but there are going to be times when a person needs to talk face to face with another person in a different department.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Council Meeting of May 17, 2011 Crowsnest Pass

Council Meeting of May 17, 2011


Public Hearing:

1. Bylaw 826,2011 Land Use Amendment-Green Mountain Company

Favour: Lowry Toombs, Royal LePage realtor spoke in favour of the rezoning from Non-Urban to Multi-Residential on behalf of Mark Kirwin, developer from the Green Mountain Company who is interested in developing lands in West Coleman for high-density housing such as multi-four-plexes

Against – Randy Tucker, on behalf of the West Coleman Community submitted documentation against the development for Council’s review.

Mayor Decoux requested that Mr. Tucker and other residents present for the public hearing meet with Mr. Toombs and Mr. Kirwin outside of Chambers to review the concept as presented and to return when the rezoning Bylaw was being reviewed by Council for 2nd and 3rd reading.

Adoption of Agenda:

Mayor Decoux added three items under other business, Realtors Request, Lions Club and Slave Lake, Councilor Gail added one item under In Camera, Land. Councilor Londsbury added one item under other business, Councilor absence for the next G+P meeting. Motion to accept the Agenda as amended was passed unanimously

Adoption of previous minutes:

Minutes of the Council Meeting of May 3, 2011, with one slight correction. Motion to accept was passed unanimously

Delegations: None

Administrative and Agency Reports: None

Business arising from the Minutes: None

Correspondence:

1. Hon Luke Ouellette, Minister of Transportation-Bridge Funding provided by the province for the Sentinel Bridge. Motion to file for information passed Unanimously.

2. Hon Hector Goudreau, Municipal Excellence, awards given out by the province each year to municipalities achieving certain degrees of excellence. Motion to file for information passed Unanimously (Mayor Decoux advised that in future years the Crowsnest Pass will be looking at this has they will be doing many Innovative initiatives)

3. Crowsnest Community Trails Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, Motion to table until take Council meeting passed Unanimously.

Committee Reports:

1. Minutes of April 11, 2011 Municipal Heritage Board, no discussion. Motion to accept passed unanimously.

Bylaws:

1. Bylaw 816,2011- Walking Trail Bylaw (1st reading) No discussion Motion passed unanimously

2. Bylaw 825,2011- Agricultural Services Board Bylaw (1st reading) Councilor Saindon asked if all provincial criteria had been met? Yes Motion passed unanimously

3. Bylaw 826,2011- Land Use Amendment (2th + 3rd reading) Concerns rose about height of units, coal in the area, Highway 3, wildlife, and green space. Motion for 2nd reading passed 4-3 (Saindon, Mitchell, Saje opposed) Motion to table third reading to give time to examine information received from residents in opposition, passed unanimously.

Notices of Motion: None

Other Business:

1. Blairmore Mobile Home Site

Councilor Gallant started the debate, concerns with displacing seniors, no plan in place for the land, did not want to see another Kananaskis trailer court situation, also the issue that the community lacks affordable housing.

Councilor Saindon raised concerns regarding where do these people go, what value would there homes have, how well this area is looked after a fact that other residents should pay attention to.

Councilor Mitchell made a motion to force the trailers out if they are sold, or if they need to be moved for repairs, Councilor Saindon made an amendment to say that new trailers could not be brought into the area, this was defeated by a vote of 4-3 (Gail, Saindon, Mitchell in support). Councilor Saje made a motion to table this issue until the Municipal Development Plan or further planning is in place this passed by a vote of 4-3 (Saindon, Gallant, Gail opposed)

2. Bylaw Enforcement Report, No discussion Motion to accept passed unanimously

3. Practices and Procedures review, Mayor Decoux spoke to the possibility that an external group could be used for this process. Motion to accept passed unanimously.

4. Three Year Budget Cycle, Motion made to review this concept prior to the next budget process beginning was passed unanimously, CAO informed council that this would be coming to the policy committee May 18, 2011

5. Approval for Commercial signage on Municipal property, portable sign at the Blairmore Liquor Store. Motion to accept passed unanimously.

6. Community Standards-Municipal Facilities, despite some concerns raised by the Public Works Director. Motion to move forward with this was passed unanimously.

7. Removal of municipal reserve designation-Coleman athletic park across from the old Coleman Collieries building. Motion to accept passed unanimously

8. Correspondence to SRD-Recreational roadways. To the minister and local MLA regarding allowing the municipal to be a part of any discussions regarding recreational roadways with the Atlas road being the highest priority. Motion to accept passed unanimously

9. Council agenda committee, Mayor Decoux felt that this would take up to much time, felt that it should be a part of the review of the G+P committee and the procedural bylaw. Motion to table to that time passed unanimously

10. Parade schedule, council members to notify Lynne Cox to their availability.

11. Appointment to the Municipal Heritage Board, Motion to appoint Gale Comin for another two year term passed unanimously

12. Realtor’s request to waive off site levies, administration still working on.

13. Lions club request, administration still working on

14. Slave Lake challenge from the town of Nanton to other communities to help Slave lake agree to defer to the G+P meeting.

15. Councilor Londsbury’s request for permission to miss the next G+P meeting passed unanimously.

Council Member reports: Usual report about various meeting attended by members of council. One exception Councilor Gail made the statement that “there are a lot of messes in this community that need to be cleaned up” I look forward to future meeting to see how he clarifies this statement, and to the initiatives he brings forth to achieve these goals.

Public Input: None

Motion to go In Camera: Passed Unanimously

Friday, May 13, 2011

Great Editorial In this week's Promoter "Public debate is cornerstone of democracy"

At a recent council meeting, one member, clearly irritated, wondered why issues were being "hashed out" in council chambers after the policy committee had already met and made a recommendation.


This musing should set off alarm bells for a number of reasons.

First, it is not enough that an issue be sent to a committee and then have that committee decide the matter without public transparency. Not only is the public excluded from policy committee meetings, and by extension the press, but also not every council member is in attendance. Yes, they have the ability to provide input prior to the meeting, but they are not included at the debate.

Taxpayers have the right to hear that debate, to know each council member's opinion and to be privy to any subsequent vote.

Another issue regarding development plans for the municipality apparently entailed "numerous meetings", again behind closed doors.

We recognize that while certain issues require confidentiality to protect the individual, those that impact the taxpayer financially or philosophically require transparency.

Council should let the public judge for themselves what's important, whether it involves significant tax dollars or not. All policies and bylaws affect residents, one way or another. Discussions on how they are arrived at need to be heard.

Transparency and accountability have become cliqued political fodder in recent times. Let's ensure these principles remain firmly planted in Crowsnest Pass.



http://www.crowsnestpasspromoter.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3119396

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Closing a Trailer Court. History really does repeat itself in the Crowsnest Pass.

Note: At the east end of Blairmore along the river there are a number of lots (15) owned by the Municipality, these are occupied by single wide trailers. Which in some cases have been there prior to the Municipality being formed (1979).

Tuesday night at the G+P meeting a motion was made by Councilor Londsbury to give notice to the residents that they have 6 years to remove their homes. In the event that they sell prior to that time they will be required to remove them immediately, if there is a problem with the water line under the trailers they will be required to move them immediately.

Mayor Decoux made a friendly amendment to the motion to change the notice period to four years. This was accepted by the mover, the motion was passed by a vote of 5-2 with Councilors Gail and Gallant opposed. The motion will now go to regular council next Tuesday (May 17th) to be debated again by the same seven people.

What’s the significance of this motion?

Where do they go?

Several things it was noted by the Municipal assessor that there is nowhere for these trailers to go, the Trailer Court is full and people in R1 areas do not want trailers in there neighborhoods, especially older ones.

How do they sell there homes?

By this action Council as rendered these homes as next to worthless, who is going to purchase one knowing they have to move it immediately and have nowhere to move it.

Does the municipality have a better use for the land?

It was stated at the meeting that there is “no” plans for that land at this time.

Maybe there is somebody waiting to seize what would be a great development opportunity?

It’s a prime piece of land next to the river, would be very attractive to somebody with a few dollars to slap six or seven high end homes in there.

Didn’t this happen previously with another trailer court?

Yes, roughly ten years ago the Kananaskis Trailer Court next to the arena in Coleman was closed it was touted as providing land for possible expansion of the recreational facility down the road. For those that don’t live here it is vacant and full of weeds today with no plans for it on the books.

Isn’t there a water line that runs underneath those homes?

Yes there is and I’m sure that will become a big part of the justification to move these homes, but keep in mind some of those homes have been there for 30+ years, the water line as never been a significant issue.

Is there anything we can do?

Politicians react to public pressure, call the municipality ask for a councilors phone number call them voice your opinion.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

G + P Meeting May 10, 2011

G + P Meeting May 10, 2011


Adoption of Agenda:

Items added under Topics of Discussion
9. Municipal Office, 10. Atlas Road, 11. Community Standards 12. 13 ways to kill a community.
Motion to accept agenda with additions passed unanimously

Delegations:

1. Dan Mckim-Member of Livingston Landowners Group
Presented a lot of information on the impact of the Micrex Burmis Magnetite Mine Proposal.

Topics for Discussion:

1. Crowsnest Community Trails Bylaw:
Proposed bylaw regarding the community trails,
After some questions about hours of operation, restrictions on the use of poles, and horses not allowed on the trails. Process for cleaning the trails. Motion to recommended this bylaw to council passed unanimously

2. Agricultural Services Board Bylaw:
No discussion, Motion to recommend this bylaw to council passed unanimously.

3. Blairmore Mobile Home Sites.
The Municipality owns a numbers of mobile trailer lots along the Crowsnest River at the east end of Blairmore. Which it in turn rents out 10-12 lots to mobile trailer. Which in some cases were there prior to the Municipality being formed in 1979? A motion was moved by Councilor Londsbury to give the residents six years notice to remove their trailers, with the understanding that if the residents sold the trailers prior to that timeframe they would be forced to move the trailers and/or if the municipality needed access to the waterline that runs under the trailers they would be forced to move them. Mayor Decoux made a friendly amendment to reduce the time frame to four years, which was accepted. The question was asked if there was any specific plans for the land (No), it was also made clear that there was no trailer courts for these people to move their trailers to, and that most residents were opposed to them being placed in R1 areas.
Motion to recommend this policy to council passed by a vote of 5-2 with Councilors Gail and Gallant opposed.

4. Bylaw Implementation Report:
Concerns about the efforts of the bylaw office being communicated to council and the public. Motion made that a report regarding this issue will be presented to council on a quarterly basis. Motion to recommended this policy to council passed unanimously

5. Practices and Procedures review.
Council desires to see a process put in place where every department would review all of its practices and procedures on a rotational basis every five years. After some debate between council and administration about the vagueness of the request and the lack of funds within the budget process to carry this out it was agreed that it would begin in the early part of 2012 beginning with the public works department. With discussion during the next budget, process to allow for any costs incurred. Motion to recommended this policy to council passed unanimously

6.  Sustainability Review.
Administration informed council that they are two thirds of the way through this process that they will be bringing it back to council in 2-3 weeks.

7. Budget Format.
Mayor Decoux spoke about the difficulty of a new council dealing with a budget shortly after being elected and the large amount of time involved with dealing with it. Suggested that the budget should be done on a three-year basis. The CAO stated that they are already working on this and will be bringing back to council at the next G+P meeting.

8. Council agenda:
Mayor Decoux felt that councils have become to dependent on Administration to set agenda’s for council meetings. He believes that the agenda is no longer reflective of the issues that concern the community. Feels that a new committee needs to put in to place that would meet once or twice a week as required comprised of a number of councilors and administrators to put together a Council agenda. At this point, the strangest thing happened Mayor Decoux turned to Councilor Mitchell and said go ahead and make the motion, Councilor Mitchell responded with isn’t Councilor Gail making this motion. (????? Maybe I missed something?????) Motion to recommended this policy to council passed unanimously

9. Municipal Office.
Mayor Decoux raised the issue of the present building not providing sufficient space for the present staff plus new additions, as heard that one department is considering moving out of the office. He made it clear that council would like to see Administration bring in outside assistance to help with a reconfiguration of the office that would allow all departments to be fitted into the existing office. A motion was made to bring this back to the next G+P meeting, which passed unanimously.

10. Atlas Road.
In a meeting with Spray Lakes the concern was raised about maintaining the Atlas Road, Spray Lakes logging operations in that area are coming to an end, they are looking for assistance as to who is going to maintain the road, or as to if SRD will force them to return what is a very popular road to its original condition. A motion was made to send a letter to SRD and the local MLA requesting that the municipality become a stakeholder in that process. Motion was passed unanimously.

11. Community Standards.
Discussion regarding the enhancement of the community and the continued enforcement by the municipality. Council felt that the community as been given a year to clean up. Council is going to work on this issue at the next policy committee meeting, which all of council will be invited to, but Councilor Mitchell stated it would not be open to the media or the public. Councilor Saindon made a Motion that the municipality must clean up all of its properties of any derelict or obsolete vehicles or equipment within the next thirty days. This motion was passed unanimously.

12. 13 ways to kill a community:
Councilor Gail spoke about a presentation he attended in Pincher Creek, put on by the Chamber of commerce regarding Doug Griffths and his book 13 ways to kill a community. Felt the presentation was very good and would be valuable to work with the Chamber in the Pass to do the same presentation. The rest of Council agree with this and asked administration to contact the Chamber to look at this.

In Camera: None

Motion to adjourn: Passed unanimously.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Teck/Fording River accept contract

Untied Steel workers @ Teck's Fording River operation accept deal by 87%

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Council Meeting of May 3, 2011 Crowsnest Pass

Council Meeting of May 3, 2011


Adoption of Agenda:

Mayor Decoux added two items under other business, rescheduling retreat and Prosperous Places, Councilor Saje added one item under other business the Bellevue Campground and one Land item under In Camera, Councilor Gail added one Land item under In camera, and Councilor Saindon added two personnel items under In camera.
Motion to accept the Agenda as amended was passed unanimously

Adoption of previous minutes:
Minutes of the Council Meeting of April 19, 2011, with some slight corrections. Motion to accept was passed unanimously

Delegations: None

Administrative and Agency Reports: None

Business arising from the Minutes:

1. Motion Review 2004-2010 17 motions that were passed during council of those times that are still in the process of being dealt with by administration, (six of which are Land and will we dealt with In Camera), Motion made to schedule a Special Meeting to deal with these, passed by a vote of 6-1 (Councilor Gallant opposed)

Correspondence: None

Committee Reports:

1. Minutes of April 12, 2011 G+P Committee, Motion to accept passed unanimously.

2. Minutes of March 27, 2011 Subdivision and Development Authority, Motion to accept passed unanimously.

Bylaws: None

Notices of Motion: None

Other Business:

1. Crowsnest Lions Club- Multi year lease Blairmore Seniors Building, After much debate about the condition of this building and the merits of keeping it, fixing it up or getting rid of it, in addition to placing the group in another venue. Administration was directed to bring this issue back to council with more information. Motion passed unanimously

2. FCSS Board Appointments, Leslie McCallum, Val Danielson, and Rose Farfus appointed for three-year terms unanimously.

3. Full Moon Adventure Company-Waiver of Bylaw #722, Councilor Gallant excused himself at this point, Motion to accept was passed unanimously.

4. Budget Update, BDO presented 2010 Financial Audits. Head of Finance Marion Vanoni made the following comments:

Municipality increased its assets by $910,000 in 2010.
The financial report shows that there is $2.8 million in cash but $2.1 million in liabilities and accounts payable.
There are property tax issues with some developers
This was the second year of clear audits (some previous audits were qualified due to reporting issues with the Crowsnest Centre, can read on the Municipal web site).
Property taxes showed for 2011 at $6.7 million when actual will only be $6.5 million some taxes are anticipated to be uncollectible.
Mayor Decoux wished to know does administration review licensing fees on a regular basis. ($$$)
After some debate regarding the timeliness of not receiving the report prior to the meeting Motion to accept was passed 5-2 (Mitchell and Saje opposed)

5. Crowsnest Pass/Elk Valley elected officials meeting June 22, 2011 in Elkford. Councilor Saje wanted to know if he could attempt to set up a round of golf with all the various groups prior to the meeting. Motion to accept passed unanimously.

6. Amendments to the Septage Bylaw 823, further research was done by administration after the bylaw was passed, it was found that the proposed rate was too high compared to other municipalities, administration recommended a lower rate. Motion to accept passed Unanimously

7. North Area Structure Plan- Regarding the development of an Area Structure Plan for the area north of the high school, after some debate about the cost ($15000) of using ORRSC to undertake this work. Motion of council to accept this process passed unanimously.

8. Equipment Purchase- Administration as determined that a new trailer is needed to transport the new track hoe to various locations ($25,000) Motion of council passed by a vote of 5-2 (Gallant and Saindon opposed)

9. Equipment Replacement Policy- This policy as come in front of council previously very detailed policy that requires $408,000 per year to be placed in reserves to meet the municipalities needs, the following comments were made:
What will be the impact on the residents tax bill, Administration stated that it could be significant but that will be determined during the budget process by council.
Concern about doing this policy in isolation when council knows that other reserves will also have to be addressed including overall reserves, Buildings, Infrastructure in addition to the Equipment policy.
Councilor Mitchell stated that the community must accepted that more dollars are going to have to be brought in from the taxpayers, the municipality cannot continue at zero tax increases.
Councilor Saindon stated that these types of costs must and will be covered off by reductions in operating costs, getting rid of inefficiencies, duplication of services, etc.
Motion to pass the policy carried unanimously

10. Reschedule Retreat to May 10. Motion passed unanimously.

11. Prosperous Places presentation to be put on in Fort Macleod, Motion to send Mayor Decoux, Councilors Saje and Gail passed unanimously.

12. Bellevue Campground Councilor Saje reported that somebody appears to be squatting in the Bellevue Campground, point was made that the property is owned by the Alberta transportation department, administration to check out and bring back to council.

Council Member reports: None

Public Input: None

Motion to go In Camera: Passed Unanimously

Alberta Venture Magazine Crowsnest Pass Development

Story from May's addition of the Alberta Venture Magazine very well written by Joni MacFarlane from the Crowsnest Pass.

Troubled Waters: The Rough Side of Real Estate Investing in Alberta


A pair of salesmen told an Alberta coal mining town that it could be a resort destination. Six years later, the scenic Crowsnest Pass is still learning a tough lesson about easy money and the business of real estate




http://albertaventure.com/2011/05/troubled-waters/

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Teck tentative agreement at Fording River

Good news for the local economy Teck and the Steelworkers at Fording River have reached a tentative agreement, the Memorandum of agreement is available at http://www.usw7884.com/Final%20Draft%20of%20MOA.pdf

Election night the Canadian people spoke.

Well finally some sanity as returned to Canadian Politics.
Minority governments do not work the largest party as to dance with the devil to get their agenda through.
I still can't believe that some people think its acceptable to jump into bed with a party that wants to break the country up.
What happened last night I think the largest group of Canadians accepted that the economy is the issue.
Yes Layton did well thanks to the folks in Quebec who have voted Liberal or BQ for the last twenty years and switched their vote to the NDP to punish those parties, they could not stomach going all the way over to the right.
The Liberals are in total disarray interesting listening to Bob Rae's comments last night certainly hinted to me that after only appealing to less than 19% of Canadians they were open to discussions (Code to merge with the NDP, remember where Rae started).
I turn on my TV this morning to see that in a huge surprise Ignatieff as resigned.
The NDP Jack Layton has it made for the next four years, big enough to be the opposition, in a position where he can stand up for every cause in the world, knowing full well that he will never have to deliver on anything. He will enjoy his four years as being Mr popular, but he needs to remember those 60% of his seats that came from the protest vote in Quebec will evaporate on him come next election when the Quebec voters see how ineffective he is.
The Bloc good riddance to a party that as spent twenty years saying to the rest of Canada give us what we want or we will leave.
The Green Party Elizabeth May, I was going to do a comment about whack jobs but thanks to her one seat the only thing she will achieve is being invited to the next debates.
The Conservatives, Stephen Harper I will admit not the most exciting or dynamic person in the world. But he was right the economy was and is the issue. You can be critical of his fiscal policies but I ask how much of that was driven by the fact he had to do that to keep the minority government in power.

Now the great debate begins about Harper ruling with 60% of Canadians opposed to him and his party. Well anybody that knows me knows I am a man of numbers. Since World War II Canada has gone through twenty two elections out of those the governing party as had 50% or more of the vote four times, twice with exactly 50% once with 50.1% and once with 53.7%. On the average the governing party as won with 42% of the vote and held 54% of the seats not much unlike this government who won with 39.6% of the vote and 54.2% of the seats.
Lets also not lose sight of the fact that of those 22 elections where the government was put in place 18 times with the minority support of the Canadian voters, eleven of those government were Liberal.
But the simple answer there was a time up until the end of World War I where governing parties on a regular basis had a majority of Canadian voters supporting them, up until that point Canada had similar to the USA a two party system. How is any party going to get a majority of votes with five parties running in the election the Bloc and the Greens took 10% of the vote between themselves then you have the three main parties to fight over 90% of the vote, maybe it will change if Mr Rae convinces the few Liberals that are left to merge with the NDP.
If the two left wing parties want to keep splitting their vote that's a decision they will have to make. Can you picture now the Liberal Democratic Party of Canada led by Jack Layton with Bob Rae as his loyal second in command.

Note: I assumed the largest majority of the people that read my blog live in Alberta. On my poll 67% of my readers voted for the Conservatives they received 67% of the vote in Alberta?. Surprisingly I did not realize I had a bit of a following in Quebec, 15% of the people that participated in my poll choose the BQ a little bit of the mark considering they only received 5% of the vote.