Friday, December 30, 2016

Friends of Caroline Library Donation

"The Friends of the Caroline Library, represented by Leslie Detta, Judy Winter and Jackie Cooper, donated an amount of $3,800 to the Caroline Library represented by Amanda Archibald. Some $1,800 will go towards the maintenance of the photo copier over the coming year. The remainder will be spent as needed by library staff. The library provides a range of services to the Caroline community and is a busy place. The Friends of the Library are looking for like minded community members to help out."

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Clearwater County Council 2017 Budget Sessions Notes

by Helge Nome

I attended two full day 2017 Budget presentation sessions to Council held on December 14 and 16. The public was invited to attend but no printed or electronic information was made available, including a agenda. The only visual information observed were spreadsheets presented on projector screens. 
So, apart from listening to what was said by staff and councillors, rough notes could only be taken on the fly.

No motions of any kind were advanced or voted on during the two days, however, Councillor Maki in particular expressed concern over proposed increases in spending in most departments. Late on Friday afternoon, it was decided to call another meeting this Monday, December 19 in order to come to some kind of resolution. CAO Leaf suggested that Council might choose to run with an interim budget based on 2016 numbers, as important decisions over 2017 spending need to be made by Council in the first quarter of that year.

I will not quote any numbers in this article for the simple reason that no printed information was made available and any numbers in this article could easily be disputed without information to back them up.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Clearwater County Council Meeting Notes

by Helge Nome

Delegations make attendance at County Council meetings interesting for observers.
That was the case on December 13 when three people from the Cartier Creek subdivision along the Red Deer River south west of Sundre brought their concerns over encroachments by neighbours onto Municipal Reserve land adjacent to the subdivision to the attention of Council.
Jo and Glenn Allen and Stephen Kenny, using a photo and map presentation format showed how several river front lot owners have placed permanent structures between their properties and the river bank, effectively preventing the public from walking along the bank. The group appealed to Council to take decisive action on this issue.

Michelle Swanson and Bob Haagsma from the Clearwater Broadband Foundation, which is now a registered not for profit Society, presented a case for municipal support for their project which seeks to provide affordable broadband internet service to all residents in Clearwater County. Council was told that some 200 memberships at $20 each had been sold to local people in the last few days indicating a latent demand for this service.
Council decided to direct staff to work with the Clearwater Broadband Foundation to initiate a broadband project in 2017.

Clearwater County now has an interim Fire Chief who was presented to Council. He is Jesse Kurtz, a retired Deputy Fire Chief with many years of service from Southern Alberta, who has now taken on the duties of Cammie Laird who resigned from her post a short while ago.

Bob Winship, Pembina Timberlands Forest Resources Manager for Weyerhaeuser gave an update on company activities in the area. He noted that a new approach will be used in consulting with the general public, moving away from standing committees towards individuals.

Council accepted as information a closeout report on the planned new administration building and operations facility north of Rocky. Preliminary earth work has now been completed and further work will depend on Council approval for the next stage. Meanwhile, decisions in regards to the use, or otherwise, of services, like water and sewer, etc. from the Town of Rocky Mountain House, will have to be made.

A discussion on West Country Management took place where concerns were aired over the possibility of a Provincial Park being created, replacing the current PLUZ
(Public Land Use Zone) designations, potentially causing problems for people who make their living in the west country and so possibly limiting County revenues as well.

For a number of years, the Sundre Fire Dept. has been the first responder to calls from the James River area of Clearwater County. Based on a recommendation from Clearwater Fire and Rescue, this responsibility was transferred to the Caroline Fire Station

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Clearwater County Council Meeting Notes

by Helge Nome

Four delegations presented their cases at the regular meeting on November 22. County involvement in internet service to local residents was also discussed.

Members of an Agriculture Recreation Committee made a case for a recreational complex to be constructed on the newly acquired county lands near the Rocky airport. The total cost of the project is estimated at $22 million with approximately one half of the money potentially coming from municipal sources. Art Terpsma presented the case for a facility with a number of other people interested in the project in attendance. Reeve Alexander responded by advising the committee to broaden its base of community support for the complex before the County would become actively involved. Council did, however, carry a motion to make its airport  lands available as a potential site.

David Gummer, Wildlife Biologist with Parks Canada, made a presentation on the planned re-introduction of bison into the Banff National Park. 16 animals will be moved from Elk Island National Park into a controlled area on the eastern slopes of the Rockies in the Banff park for a trial period of 5 years.

Don Livingston and Ed Van Heeren made the case for County support for the Rocky Mountain House Search and Rescue group in its upcoming 2017 budget.
The group is a registered society and has entered into a cooperative relationship with the municipally controlled Clearwater Regional Emergency Management Agency. It has a broad volunteer base and is looking to replace capital equipment and upgrade skills and equipment to be able to participate in helicopter rescue operations.

The County is increasingly being asked to give financial support to local volunteer groups. This trend was affirmed by a delegation from the Prairie Creek Memorial Cemetery Association who asked for some $7,000 to $10,000 to replace a gate and fencing around the cemetery. Reeve Alexander said that the request would be considered during the 2017 budget deliberations. A related issue came up shortly afterwards in regards to the costs of demolishing the Taimi Hall which came in at $73,405; 33,405 over budget due to the need to dispose of asbestos in the debris.

The County’s electronic information system is in very poor health. This became evident during a presentation by Corporate Services Manager Rodney Boyko when he requested an amount of $50,000 over and above budgeted costs to deal with ongoing problems. The request was granted.

The broadband internet issue was back on the agenda with Community and Protective Services Manager Ted Hickey resubmitting a previously tabled item:
 “Broadband Request for Proposal - Focused Study Area”. After a good amount of discussion where previously held positions and beliefs were restated, it was resolved to release the full text of the TaylorWarwick Broadband Internet Study to the public. The agenda item under discussion was re-tabled until the next regular meeting.

Finally, on a positive note, Public Works Manager Marshall Morton reported that a tender for asphalt overlay of 22 km of the Prairie Creek Road  came in  $1 million below the estimated cost of $3.9 million. Good deal!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Caroline Elks donate to local library

Friends of the Caroline Library, Allison Hewitt and Barbara Lee received a cheque for $500 from the Caroline Elks represented by Richard Foesier, on Wednesday, November 16. The money will be used for non-budget items needed by the library. A silent auction of donated items to support the library is currently underway at ATB Financial in Caroline until November 25.

Caroline School Principal's Award for 2015/16

Award is presented to Mallory Westergaard by Caroline School Principal Dean Pilipchuk at the school's annual awards night on October 28, 2016. Mallory excelled in all areas of student achievement, including academics, sports, citizenship and leadership. This award is the highest recognition given by Caroline School.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Clearwater County Council Meeting Notes

By Helge Nome

Today, October 25, Council held its annual organizational meeting where Reeve and Deputy Reeve for the upcoming year are elected from within the group of seven councillors by the councillors. Some fifty community boards are also populated by a mixture of community members and councillors.
Following the organizational meeting, a regular meeting was conducted where crime statistics were presented by members of the Rocky RCMP Detachment.

With all seven councillors present, CAO Ron Leaf opened the organizational meeting, asking for nominations for the position of Reeve.
Councillor John Vandermeer took the floor and and expressed a lack of confidence in how Reeve Alexander had conducted himself over the past year. He nominated Councillor Graham who declined the nomination. He then nominated Councillor Maki for the position of Reeve. Maki declined the nomination. He went on to nominate Councillors Duncan and Laing in that order. Both declined the nomination.
The process ended up with Councillor Laing nominating Councillor Vandermeer and Councillor Greenwood nominating Councillor Alrxander for the position of Reeve. Both accepted the nomination and CAO Leaf collected the votes which were counted with the assistance of Staff person Christine Heggart. Alexander was elected for the upcoming year. The number of votes for each person was not disclosed.

There was a change in the Deputy Reeve chair: Councillor Maki replaces Councillor Graham.

For the upcoming year, the Municipal Planning Commission will have councillors Graham, Duncan and Maki serving, along with community members Cheryl Dezall and Kelly Spongberg.

Councillor Laing was not successful in getting on the Rocky Mountain Regional Waste Authority Board, where Councillors Alexander, Graham and Maki will continue to represent the County.

The newly formed Clearwater Broadband Foundation had requested a councillor appointment by letter. Councillor Vandermeer agreed to represent the county council on this board, with Councillor Duncan as the alternate.

Following the organizational meeting, Staff Sgt. Mark Groves and Sgt. Jason Penner from the Rocky RCMP Detachment made a presentation. Auto thefts were down in number compared to last time a presentation to council was made.
Property crimes in the area have increased in line with a province wide trend. Sgt. Groves noted that the detachment is now at full strength, and even a bit over, as he has been accepting junior RCMP members into his detachment with the idea of training them to perform at a high level in their work. He also noted that the newly appointed constable to Caroline School, Brian Bouchard, used to be a teacher and school principal before joining the RCMP.

A permanent Rocky RCMP satellite station at the Sunchild and O’Chiese reserves has considerably improved policing in that area. When asked by Reeve Alexander about an RCMP presence at Nordegg, Groves said that he could not justify keeping a member out there, based on population numbers. Sgt. Penner added: “It is a summertime deal” .