Friday, June 30, 2017

COUNTY COUNCIL HIGHLIGHTS

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

By Marianne Cole

1.  Possibly the most notable highlight was Earl Graham’s news at the beginning of the meeting that he would not be seeking re-election this fall.  He noted that he had spoken to a couple of others that might be interested in running in his division.

2.  The council voted to uphold their previous practise of not providing maintenance on undeveloped road allowances.

3.  Three readings were given, and passed, to the Crimson lake Cottage Association’s request for a dust control agreement whereby dust control would be provided in 2017 and that a special tax to cover this cost would be applied to their taxes beginning in 2018 for the following three years.

4.  A delegation from the Rocky Ag. Society gave a brief report on the recent public meetings they had held to provide information and gather input on their proposed new Rocky Ag. Rec Facility. They had met with various potential user groups (4-H, equine groups, general public, and contractors/potential sponsors). In his report Art Terpsma stated that the attendance averaged 20-35 at these meetings.  I attended three out of the 4 meetings and at only one of them was there an attendance over 20 (23) and that was that the equine meeting but the count also included the Ag. Society members/presenters.  At the last one for the contractors/sponsors there was a total of 12 people, 5 of whom were Ag. Society members.

Art did mention that they had visited the new facility in Claresholm and that it is only 150 feet wide and geared for a competitor arena.  The previous feasibility study done for the proposed one here had suggested a width of 250 feet.

He also mentioned that a representative from Rimbey had attended one of the meetings to describe the hoops they had had to go through in building their facility.

In conclusion, Art mentioned that there is still lots of work to do and items to be ironed out.  This includes ownership of the land (who will hold title) and the operation procedure.  He was hoping that it could be a community building run by a community board.

Comments from the council included ones from Councillor Laing who asked about grant possibilities; Councillor Duncan who expressed concern about dropping the width as we don’t want to be hindering future possibilities; and Councillor Alexander who suggested that the Ag. Society meet with administration to address some of the concerns, admitting that there is lots of work to be done yet but we need to keep it going.


5.  A delegation from the Cartier Creek Subdivision (in the southwest area of the county, along the Red Deer River) attended to give an opposing point of view to the “encroachment” issues on municipal reserve in that development.  Previously a delegation had attended in December 2016 regarding violations on municipal reserve.  While a different perspective was presented on Tuesday, council decided to uphold their decision to follow guidelines set out in Municipal Government Act and enforce those regulations with their Land Use Bylaw Amendment for Enforcement Provisions. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Tri-Council Meeting Notes



By Helge Nome

A meeting involving the councils of Clearwater County, the Town of Rocky Mountain House and the Village of Caroline was held in the Clearwater County Chambers on Wednesday, June 28. Regional issues were discussed and dealt with. 

On top of the agenda was a presentation on the geothermal potential of formations located several kilometers below county communities, including Caroline and Rocky Mountain House. 

A report prepared by Jonathan Banks, Research Scientist at the University of Alberta, was presented by its author who noted that the extraction of heat from brine that resides in local underground formations could be made commercially viable, especially if existing depleted deep oil/gas wells were used.

The three councils approved some administrative changes to the way regional fire rescue services are delivered in the area: Clearwater County will become the “managing partner” with direct managerial control of the service. The Regional Advisory Committee will not be involved in operational matters. To that end, the three councils individually gave 1st. 2nd. and 3rd. reading to a bylaw that sets out the committee parameters.

In a follow-up to this item. the three councils approved a new Intermunicipal  Regional Fire Rescue Services Agreement.

In line with the changes noted above, this time concerning the Rocky Mountain Regional Solid Waste Authority, the newly appointed manager is now reporting directly to Clearwater County’s Public Works Manager, Marshall Morton, rather than to a committee. This after major problems were uncovered with the operation and governance of the authority in the past.

Alberta’s proposed new electoral boundaries were discussed with a general concern being expressed over the inclusion of the Drayton Valley area in the local electorate. This would add some 14,000 people to the electorate and make it the most populous and unmanagable in Alberta, with Calgary and Edmonton benefiting from the changes.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Clearwater County Council Meeting Notes


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

By Helge Nome

Chickens won the day at the regular meeting of County Council when any household within a county hamlet or country residential acreage was given the green light to keep a maximum of six chickens (but no rooster!).
The decision was unanimous.

Greg Neale and Tom Daniels from Sundre Forest Products/ West Fraser told council about their problems in regards to new American duties of 24.12% slapped on their exports to the US and the pine beetle infestation in BC and Western Alberta, which is not expected to show more than a temporary setback due to a relatively cold winter.

Council was given an update on an invigorated Rocky/Kamikawa Japanese student exchange program by coordinator Kim Hastings.

Bill Shaw from Bill Shaw Consulting presented council with a revised draft of the North Rocky Major Area Structure Plan which covers the area between Highway 22 and the Rocky Airport. This is a work in its early stages with much consultation ahead involving the public and the Rocky Town Council. Many issues remain to be resolved.

New provincial electoral boundaries were discussed with concern being expressed over large urban municipalities benefiting at the expense of rural ones.


Council decided against changing its 2/3 majority requirement in regards to a request from the Hamlet of Withrow to connect it to a municipal wastewater system.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Caroline Royal Purple and Elks Host Alberta Elks/Royal Purple Walk For Children


Walkers, supporters and family members posing before the walkathon



The annual Alberta Walk for Children was hosted by the Royal Purple and Elks Lodges of Caroline on Saturday May 27, starting and finishing at the Caroline Elks Youth Centre. 24 walkers registered for the walk which took participants through some of the parks and playgrounds in Caroline. Reportedly, some of the younger participants would have preferred to stay at the playground rather than keep walking. The event, which was blessed by sunny weather, culminated in a beef-on-a-bun dinner at the Youth Centre. Next year's walkathon will take place in Red Deer.



Local family who has received help from the Elks and Royal Purple Fund For Children: Breana and Barry Langendoen's daughter Noela received extensive coaching with her speech, greatly improving her ability to communicate with other people. Barry expressed his gratitude at the windup of the walkathon event in the Elks Youth Centre in Caroline and presented a card from his family to the Elks and Royal Purple. Richard Foesier from the Caroline Elks accepted the card and expression of gratitude



Donation to Walk for Children: Dan Leroux from the Sundre Elks Lodge #338 presented a cheque for $1000 to Walk for Children Coordinator Diane Wilson (left) and Caroline Royal Purple/Elks representative Val Staben

Monday, May 15, 2017

HIGHLIGHTS OF COUNTY COUNCIL MEETING, MAY 9, 2017

By Marianne Cole

1. Development on County land in Caroline.
 > Phase 1 (planned for the northern part of the property) included the creation of 11 industrial lots and the county’s lot for its salt/sand storage facility.
> Phase 2 includes the southern portion, along Highway 54, with 10 proposed highway commercial lots.
> Phase 1 development has been approved by council but Phase 2 development was contingent upon the county and village receiving the Small Communities Fund (SCF) grant. This was unsuccessful.
> About 75% of Phase 1 infrastructure construction was completed last fall but weather prevented completion. Northside Construction Partnership is scheduled to return shortly to complete the earthwork. Then the construction of the salt/sand storage facility will proceed.
> Discussion took place on servicing the lots in both Phase 1 and 2, focussing on the impact on Caroline’s water/sewer system as well as receiving approval from Alberta Environment re the impact on nearby wetlands.
> A motion was made directing administration to discuss Phase 2 development with the village, investigate the water/sewer implications, and bring back a more detailed report for approval.

2. Land Use Bylaw Amendment passes first reading.
 > This draft bylaw would establish penalties and definite courses of action for those whose developments contravene development bylaws (encroachment on neighboring properties, not abiding by building permits, etc.)
> Action here is usually complaint driven and begins with a letter informing the offender of contraventions. This is followed up, if necessary, by further action and penalties.

3. Condor Community Centre Request.
 > Council approved the granting of $18,000.00 to assist Condor Community with renovations to their hall. (Approximate cost $53,000. The community has the remaining funds.)
4. Compassionate Care Hospice Society Letter of Support.
> The Society was formed in 2016 and is now actively working to establish a hospice center in Rocky that would provide compassionate, quality comfort care for people with a life-limiting illness and their families.
> Steve Taylor, Vice Chair of the Society attended council to ask that a letter of support from the County be sent to Alberta Health Services on behalf of the Society. This request was granted.

5. Town on Rocky Recreation Master Plan
> Roger Smolnicky, Director of Recreation for the town, and a representative from McElhanney Consulting were present to discuss the process the town is engaged in to provide a framework for future recreation programs used by the town and county.
> Recently a survey re. the available facilities and usage was completed with an approximate 60-40 % split of town-county respondents.
> The results of this survey will be presented to the town on May 16 and to the county following that (likely May 23).

6. Clearwater Broadband Foundation.
> Michelle Swanson, Chairman, made a brief presentation regarding the CBF’s previous request for funding and the county’s subsequent request for a review of the CBF’s proposals.
> Part of the county’s review included getting legal opinion regarding the CBF’s non-profit status and the county’s legal ability to provide a loan to a “for profit” organization.
> Significant discussion took place on the possibility that the legal firm may not have investigated the “non-profit” status as fully as it could have. (It did not investigate the O’Net/Olds Institute system which has non-profit status.)
> Discussion also took place on Michelle’s suggestion that a “Tech Review Committee” be established with the town, county, and the CBF each arranging for a tech consultant to be part of the committee that would evaluate the pro’s and con’s of fibre optics and tower systems. Currently there seems to be a distinct difference of opinion on council on the benefits of each system.
> In the end Council passed a motion to not approve the loan to the CBF. They also passed a motion requesting an administrative report on the available options to improve broadband services in Clearwater County.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

CLEARWATER COUNTY COUNCIL MEETING HIGHLIGHTS

By Marianne Cole

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

1. Summer Tour--- This was first held last year and was organized by our Ag Services Department in cooperation with the North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance. It involved a canoe trip on the North Saskatchewan River with provincial rural caucus members and other dignitaries. This year an ATV trip is being planned for August, potentially in the Rig Street or Big Horn areas. The purpose of this would be to promote the benefit of designated Public Land Use Zones (PLUZ), along with advocating for the work the county has been doing on maintaining west country trails.

2. Clearwater Regional Fire Services--- Pivotal Project has been retained as project manager for the construction of the new Condor/Leslieville Fire Hall. They in turn advertised for a request for proposal (RFP) for a Primary Consultant who would be in charge of engineering and design. The successful applicant for this, BR2Architecture, was chosen after to scoring the highest on a summary evaluation. Their fee for service will be $291, 165.
(Note: It is stated in the agenda package that “Section 1.8 of the RFP states that the County is not bound by the lowest bid in evaluation and award of the RFP.” This is most interesting as other instances of RFP’s have noted that the county must accept the lowest bid, which raises the question, why the difference? )

3. Nordegg Historic CIBC Bank Building--- Due to its deteriorated physical state and hazard to public safety, the building had been slated for demolition. A very generous offer from TdB Construction (Ted deBoer)has been put forward to reinvest the demolition cost into stabilizing the structure and maintaining its original fa├žade. This would allow for future development/use of this historic structure.

4. Pine Beetle Resilience Project--- Mr. Rob Friberg, a PhD student from the University of British Columbia outlined his proposal to work with communities on the western side of Alberta to study strategies that might make our forests more resilient to pine beetle attacks. His proposal would involve interviews with local residents, elected officials, and industry personnel as part of a focus group. County council voted to support his endeavors.

5. Financial Matters

 > Federal budget--- Highlights noted were the $28.5 million deficit, funding for “green” water    (mostly for First Nations), affordable housing, and the gas tax fund. Councillor Maki suggested that  our council reps who attend the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference should make  every effort to pass on to the appropriate federal politicians that the “green” infrastructure must  include funding for the internet in rural Canada.

 > Reserve Transfers--- Because some projects budgeted for in 2016 didn’t materialize there is an  unallocated amount of $629, 128 in unrestricted reserves. Discussion took place on what to do with  this…leave as is or put into a restricted fund. Leaving it as unrestricted gives council flexibility as to  its use, and it was also suggested that council can review the current reserve balances at its A & P  (Agenda and Priority) meeting next week. It was also suggested that it may be prudent to review the  tax rate bylaw before making a decision on reserve transfers.

 > 2016 Audited Financial Statements--- Phil Dirks, representative from Hawkings Epp Dumont,  along with Rhonda Serhan from the county, reviewed the 2016 audited financial statements. He  noted that the county is in a healthy position financially, that the county staff was very helpful, and  that accounting procedures are very satisfactory. Two concerns that had been raised by taxpayers  were addressed: a.) The Regional Waste Authority financials will now be under the control of the  county as we are a managing partner, and b.) The debenture servicing costs relate to the renovations  done on the Westview Lodge, and that the penalty for paying off the loan would be greater that the  interest costs. A key note of interest for taxpayers is that revenue last year was $3.3 million higher  than expected, and that the accumulated surplus per capita is $5,500, just over the average of $5, 300  for the jurisdictions Hawkings Epp Dumont compared.


 > Tax Rate Bylaw--- Discussion took place on setting the 2017 tax rates. It was noted that a budget  deficit of $213, 757 could occur due to a decrease in revenue resulting from lower assessments.  However, it was also mentioned that well drilling dollars are already up for 2017 so that could  alleviate a deficit. In the end it was decided that there be no increase in municipal taxes, though there  will be a 1% increase in Education Tax (government controlled).


6. CCTA Letter of Invitation--- Following a motion made at its March meeting, the CCTA had sent a letter to each councillor inviting them, as taxpayers, to attend any of the CCTA’s monthly meetings. Subsequently this letter was discussed today.
It was noted that perhaps a policy is needed before a decision on this is made and that the new MGA is proposing a matrix for such a policy. Councillor Laing suggested it should be left up to each councillor to decide on what community meetings they might attend if invited. It was noted that administration is in the process of preparing a draft policy for the next A & P meeting of council on this matter.
IN THE NEWS

By Marianne Cole

1. Joint Town/County Council Meeting, March 14

Following the County’s February 16th public meeting on the proposed Area Structure Plan for the land north of Rocky, the town requested a joint meeting of town and county councils. Highlights were:

 * Concern was expressed by town councillors that they hadn’t been consulted on the content of        the ASP before it went public.
 * It was noted that all meetings of the Intermunicipal Development Plan committee had been “in  camera” and information was not shared with either council prior to the February meeting.
 * Elected members of the committee are Pat Alexander, Curt Maki, and Jim Duncan from the County  and Fred Nash, Jason Alderson, and Don Verhesen from the Town. The respective CAO’s and    planning department personnel also attended.
 * County councillor Earl Graham suggested that committee level “in camera” sessions could be  brought back to a whole council in camera session. Ron Leaf suggested councils get legal advice on  the matter.
 * County councillors were generally in favor of proceeding with the Area Structure Plan although  one councillor suggested more info was needed on financing and the Rocky’s lagoon system.
 * Town councillors were more reserved, with concerns over financial benefit along with lagoon  issues and transparency of information.
 * In the end Ron Leaf said that there is lots of work, negotiations, and public consultation needed  before final plans are approved.


2. Results of the Town’s Economic Feasibility Study

The results of the town’s economic feasibility study on the Joint Development Agreement with the county on lands to the north of Rocky was recently presented to the town with the following highlights:

 * The JDA could have a positive fiscal impact on the town but there are risks.
 * The timing and magnitude of growth from the JDA is uncertain and subject to current economic  conditions.
 * With current population trends, the town does have plenty of land for residential growth, but has a  limited supply of commercial and industrial land.
 * In further questioning by town councillors it was noted that if the town doesn’t grow, there is no  need for more land.

3. Clearwater County Crime Watch

The Clearwater County Crime Watch held their annual general meeting at the Leslieville Community Centre on Wednesday, March 29. Special highlights of the meeting were:

 * Presentation by a representative of the Action Coalition on Trafficking. She explained that human    trafficking is not limited to young females for the sex trade, but can involve both
 genders in any situation where they are held against their will, under duress, with little or no pay, and  in potentially deplorable living conditions.
 * Presentation by Sgt. Jay Penner of the Rocky RCMP. He indicated that the incidence of domestic  violence has gone up 130% in Clearwater County in the last year. Much of it attributed to drugs and  the economic conditions. The RCMP is working diligently to curb drug use and crime with their  strategy of tracking/watching repeat offenders and those on parole.

The County’s Crime Watch group is desperately needing board members and we encourage anyone interested in helping support this very beneficial group to contact Marianne Cole or Trish Bingham.

ROSES: This month’s bouquet of roses goes out to the Clearwater Broadband Foundation’s board of directors. They have worked diligently to gather information on the benefits and feasibility of improved broadband services to county residents. This has been an issue that area residents have indicated was of significant importance to them. We certainly commend the CBF for their diligence and efforts to work together for the provision of a very beneficial service for county residents.

RANT: As I reflect on the various development discussions/meetings that have taken place this past year I am reminded of the continual opinions of county taxpayers:

 * The CCTA’s survey in February 2016 indicated overwhelming opposition to the county’s building  plans.
 * At the Dovercourt meeting in May the requested show of hands showed huge opposition to the  building developments.
 * The county’s own satisfaction survey this past fall indicated significant opposition to the building  plans but strong support for improved broadband service.
 * At the ASP open house in February the need for additional development and concern for the  economic benefit was again brought forward.

With the county taxpayer sentiments being so clearly expressed in opposition, I continue to wonder why the county presses on with their development plans. Isn’t there a cost to the continual consultant work? Why continue if there is so much opposition? OR… Do the opinions of county taxpayers, those footing the bill, have absolutely no relevance? Is there any validity to the promise that we would be consulted before any decisions are made? Even after consultation, will the decisions made follow the wishes of the majority??? Perhaps the fall election will be the only real way to ensure our voice is heard and definitive answers to this whole quandary are provided. One could only hope.

Coming Events:

April 13, 2017, Regular monthly meeting, 7:00PM

May 11, 2017, Regular monthly meeting, 7:30PM

Note: Meeting time change in May from 7:00PM to 7:30pm

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Clearwater County Council Meeting Notes

by Helge Nome

All councillors were present at the regular meeting on February 28 to hear a delegation from the Town of Rocky Mountain House report on public concerns over a discharge from the Town sewage lagoon into the North Saskatchewan River.
The Town’s Director of Engineering and Operations, Rod Fraser, reported that levels of solids and ammonia products, exceeding new federal regulations, had indeed been discharged into the river and that the Town is working to identify the causes. Several county councillors expressed concern over a lack of communications between the Town and County in light of the fact that the two municipalities are sharing the cost and use of the Rocky Mountain House wastewater treatment facility.

Maintenance of another shared facility, the Credit Union Co-op Aquatic Centre in Rocky Mountain House, was discussed as well with a request for an additional $61,400 to shore up the deck around the pool in 2017. Doing all the work needed in 2017, rather than spreading it out over two years as originally planned, will result in an overall cost saving. Council approved the additional funding. 

A delegation from the Clearwater Broadband Foundation, a local recently formed not-for-profit society, made a video presentation arguing for the case of optical fibre as the solution for local residents’ access to the internet. John Reid, Secretary/Treasurer of the foundation, stated the intention of the group of digging in fibre clusters to serve six different areas of the county, including one in Nordegg. These clusters would initially be served by signals from/to adjacent microwave towers to be erected by the group. Funding, in the form of $3.48 million of loans guaranteed by the County, would be needed for these projects. Council accepted the presentation as information.


Based on a recommendation from Public Works, Council decided to post “No winter maintenance” signs on roads in the west country that are not being graded in the winter. It was noted that snowmobilers can and do use these snowy roads.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Clearwater County Council Meeting Notes

by Helge Nome


All councillors except Kurt Maki were present at the February 14 County Council meeting where a major decision regarding Nordegg development was made:  Based on a presentation and recommendation from West Country Manager Rick Emmons, Council gave the green light to the development of a 29 lot mobile home park in the vicinity of the municipal building in Nordegg at a cost of $2.55 million. 

Council also approved 5.2 km grading and other work to the Northfork Road. A bid from Netook Construction Ltd. for a total of $1.354 million was accepted.

Councillor Theresa Laing brought a concern over Town of Rocky Mountain House lagoon use to the attention of Council. It has been suggested that county based sewage trucks may have exceeded the capacity of the sewage treatment plant when dumping their loads resulting in raw sewage being discharged into the North Saskatchewan River. CAO Leaf was asked to look into the matter by Council.

A decision by the Clearwater County Council on December 13, 2016 to amend an agreement with the Sundre Fire Department to provide fire suppression and rescue services to the southern part of Clearwater County has generated a negative response from the Sundre area: Based on a rationale of cost savings, it was decided that the Caroline Fire Station should be the first responder in this area, rather than Sundre.
Clearwater Regional Fire Rescue Services Chief Jesse Kurtz made a presentation to Council in response to this unexpected development. CAO Leaf is scheduled to meet with the Town of Sundre CAO to deal with the matter. For the time being, the Sundre Fire Department will continue to be the fire service provider for the area south of Highway 587 and west of Sundre.

An "In Camera" session at the end of the meeting was labelled "Third Party Interest" in the agenda. Judging by the group present in the council chamber at that time it is assumed that the "third party" is the Clearwater Broadband Foundation as represented by its board.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Clearwater County Council Meeting Notes



by Helge Nome

There was discussion right from the outset at the first regular meeting in 2017 on Tuesday, January 10: Councillor Vandermeer pointed to a discrepancy in the minutes from the December 13 regular meeting pertaining to a motion from Vandermeer for the county to go ahead with a broadband demonstration program in 2017. The minutes, as presented to council for ratification, did not reflect this intent and the minutes, as amended by Vandermeer, were adopted by council.

Detailed information on the 2017 winter gravel program was presented by Public Works, where it was noted that the amount of gravelling done would depend on weather conditions.

Alberta Municipal Affairs’ recommendation for Council to hire a consultant to carry out a review of county operations was turned down unanimously on a motion from Councillor Duncan. The sentiment was that Council already had a good idea of where there are shortcomings, notably in its communications with the public strategy, as identified in the municipal inspection of the Town of Rocky Mountain House where improvements were recommended. Also, Councillor Vandermeer believed that $75,000 could be better spent elsewhere.

Based on a recommendation from Regional Fire/Rescue, Council decided to go ahead with the purchase of a replacement fire engine for the one that was written off following a rollover in October. The cost to the County will be $163,851, the remainder of the total purchase price of $588,851 being covered by insurance.

A delegation from the “Clearwater Regional Tourism Working Group” presented the newly designed logo to be used to promote the region. The logo depicts voyageurs in a canoe and asks the visitor to David Thompson Country to ”challenge your inner explorer”.