Wednesday, March 28, 2018


By Marianne Cole

1. Delegations
· Rocky Flipz Gymnastics and Preschool Gennifer Mehlhaff and Nicholas Frank came to present information on a vision they have for a joint not-for-profit organization effort to build a community multipurpose facility. This building could “include a splash park and low-grade entry pool, field houses, gymnastics studio, indoor walking track and fitness center, meeting space, central hub, and events center. Potentially it could be built south of Rocky along the “Cut Across” Road.

· Caroline Community Historical Society Laura Kirbyson, President, and Jim Pearson, Vice President, came to present info on their efforts/plans to move the Cheddarville All Hallows Church from its current location along Hwy. 22/Dovercourt area to the Caroline Museum. Plans are to do the move this summer. They explained the costs along with their fund raising activities.

· Compassionate Care Hospice Society Jillian Lawton outlined the Society’s efforts, progress, funding, and current plans for the Hospice suite that will be set up in the Clearwater Center. Discussion took place on their fund raising efforts including potential money from Clearwater Regional FCSS (Family and Community Support Services).

2. Leslieville Elks’ Hall Tax Exemption
Council gave 3 readings to a Bylaw which would give the Leslieville Elks a tax exemption and reimbursement for property taxes paid in 2017. Consideration may be given for the 2018 taxes after those notices are sent out.

3. Public Hearing re Bylaw1040/18 on Cannabis Production Facilities
About 30 people attended the public hearing for this bylaw that would restrict medical marijuana/cannabis production facilities in Clearwater County to an Industrial Park. There were 5 people who spoke in favor of the bylaw, suggesting that this is not an agricultural venture but rather a business requiring greater security. It was also noted that other municipalities also restrict these operations to business parks. 7 people spoke in opposition to the bylaw citing their desire to grow for personal medical reasons and their own freedom of rights. One letter in favor of the bylaw and three in opposition were also read. Several of these people compared cannabis to hemp, a confused inaccurate comparison. Also this bylaw does not mention personal, medical use. Instead this bylaw states, “CANNABIS PRODUCTION FACILITY means the use of land, or buildings for the cultivation, processing, testing, destruction, packaging and shipping of cannabis as permitted and licensed by the Federal Government of Canada.” It goes on to state, “Cannabis does not include industrial hemp as defined under the Industrial Hemp Regulations (Canada) as amended from time to time.”

Following the hearing Council passed second and third reading of the bylaw.

4. Public Engagement Strategy
Council reviewed the information presented by Administration on the various ways council could proceed with gathering/incorporating public opinion on improving broadband services in Clearwater County. In their discussion the suggestion was made that they meet with three different groups: general public, ISP’s (Internet Service Providers), and business people. Information on each group’s wishes, needs, and concerns would be gathered and from that a definite plan of action, along with appropriate timeline, would be drafted. Administration was tasked with drafting more specific guidelines and report back to council.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Medicinal Marijuana Production---“The Rest of the Story”

By Marianne Cole

This article is being written in response to the one you may or may not have seen on the front page of last week’s Mountaineer.For those of you who have not seen it, the article dealt with a Clearwater County landowner’s opposition to the county’s proposed Land Use Bylaw pertaining to the production of medicinal marijuana.

The landowner, Craig McMorran, is protesting the fact that the potential by-law would restrict the production of medical marijuana to an industrial park. Earlier, Mr. McMorran had been quite vocal in his opposition, posting quite negative comments on Facebook and his site,
In his opposition, Mr. McMorran made the comment that Clearwater County does not put restrictions on the growing of other agricultural crops so why medicinal marijuana? In the Mountaineer article he is quoted as saying, “You plant the seed in the dirt. It’s the traditional agricultural model.” With those comments it became quite evident that Mr. McMorran is either grasping at straws or does not understand true agriculture.

Here are some points for “the rest/other side of the story”:

1. Medicinal marijuana is not your normal agricultural crop. Other ag. crops do not require special security clearance as does medicinal marijuana. According to Health Canada, all applicants, officers, directors, and persons in charge of a medicinal marijuana production operation must hold a valid security clearance involving a screening process through the RCMP. They must also notify the local fire department of their intentions re their proposed facility. Other requirements are to provide a detailed description of the methods used to record transactions involving the sale of their product and be subject to compliance and enforcement measures from Health Canada.
Clearly these restrictions (not required for “normal” ag. crops) indicate a distinct set of concerns by Health and Safety Canada.

2. Of eight other Alberta municipal jurisdictions researched, 5 restrict medicinal marijuana production to Industrial districts, 2 restrict it to Direct Control districts (meaning the allowing/permitting is controlled by council rather than the planning department) and 1 allows it as a discretionary use on agricultural land.
Again, others not only recognize the difference between marijuana and other crops, but also see the need for stricter control.

3. Some jurisdictions have further stipulated the need for secure fencing (6 foot chain link) and adequate security equipment (alarms and cameras).

4. Further evidence that medicinal marijuana is not a “normal” agricultural crop is the fact that in production facilities workers are seen wearing white “haz-mat” suits, gloves, and caps.
Certainly to liken medicinal marijuana to other agricultural cops is like comparing a Holstein to a Hereford. Yes, they are both bovines but distinctly different in use, care, production, and marketing. Such is the case with medicinal marijuana and barley, oats, wheat, etc.

In conclusion may I suggest and ask you to consider:

1. You are free to develop your own opinions on this matter.

2. Consider the pros and cons of having a medicinal marijuana facility next to you or out in the rural area of Clearwater County (considering safety, odor, and need for increased policing/monitoring,etc.).

3. Consider the benefits/detriments of losing more valuable farm land whose productive capabilities can likely benefit a significantly greater number of people either through crop production or grazing.

4. If you have time, research the new bylaw on the county’s website:, then click on “Council Minutes and Agendas” in bottom left hand corner, then go to “Agendas, 27 Mar. 2018” and scroll down to page 62.

5. Consider attending the public hearing on this bylaw at 11:30AM, tomorrow, March 27 in County Council Chambers.

6. Consider calling your councillor or e-mailing them with your opinion/concerns. (Their contacts are on the website or you can call me (Marianne) at (403)729-2493 for their contact.

This council is striving to be proactive on this matter and the Planning Department has done extensive work in researching and preparing this bylaw. They are not outlawing the production of medicinal marijuana; they are merely establishing reasonable guidelines in the best interests for the residents of Clearwater County. Any support would be appreciated.

I apologize for the late sending of this info but things have been rather busy here and I wanted to have some research to go with the info. Better late than never. Have great day.

Friday, March 2, 2018


By Marianne Cole

1. Eckville Arena Request
A letter had been received from the Eckville Arena Operating Association requesting financial assistance with repairing the roof on the major mechanical room of their arena. Included with the letter was a list of figures showing substantial usage of that arena by Clearwater County residents, both youth and adult. Much discussion took place, focussing largely on the implications of funding requests from neighbouring municipalities. In the end the request was denied.

2. Council Compensation Committee Appointments
Members-at-large and past councillor representatives to sit on a remuneration committee were selected. They will have a four month term with a mandate to review councillor and board member compensation for the next three years. Members-at-large include Darryl Park, Lynn Webster, and Dickson Wood while past council reps are Ken Qually and Dick Wymenga.

3. Leslieville/Condor Fire Halls
Council has set April 3rd and 4th, with an alternate of the 5th, for town hall meetings in each community to discuss the future of their fire halls. Each evening will start at 6:30PM with a tour of the facility followed by a meeting at 7:00PM. The dates will be confirmed following confirmation of hall availability and then this will be publicized in the local paper and on the county’s website.

4. Clearwater County Broadband Policy 
Council approved a Broadband Policy which outlines the county’s goals and action in providing better broadband/internet service to our area. Key points of the policy state that the county “will develop an Open Access Network of broadband infrastructure to provide internet accessibility to the majority of county residents and businesses”. The policy further states that “Clearwater County will pursue grants to complete the OAN and leverage partnership opportunities” and the county “will not provide end-user internet services, rather invest in the OAN in an effort to encourage competition from ISP’s” (Internet Service Providers).

5. Village of Caroline Sr. Independent Living Initiative
Mayor John Rimmer of Caroline attended the meeting to outline the need for, and possible action on, developing increased senior housing for the southern portion of the county. After excellent discussion Council directed Administration to draft a letter of support for this initiative.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018


1. Broadband Policy Framework
Council continues to discuss the most efficient, fiscally responsible way to help improve broadband service in the county. At its meeting on January 23 council directed Administration to prepare a “Terms of Reference” policy giving council more specific direction for the development of enhanced broadband coverage. This project will involve public engagement through education articles in local newspapers and on the county’s website as well as community hall meetings. Watch for further info and be ready to assist the councillors with your opinion.

2. CPO Program
 Currently we are down to 4 Community Police Officers (from 5) and there was discussion at the last council meeting on whether to go back to 5 or keep as 4. CPO’s are limited to bylaw enforcement with no power on criminal matters, but it was noted that, potentially, with a night shift, it might be beneficial to have them “out there” as extra eyes. Currently the summer shifts end at 10:00PM and the winter shifts end at 8:00PM. In the end a motion to hire a 5th CPO was defeated but a motion to continue discussion on ways to improve the program for the benefit of residents was passed.

3. Leslieville/Condor Fire Halls
 The discussion continues on this topic. At Tuesday’s council meeting the county’s fire chief noted that the volunteer fire fighting members wanted to maintain the two stations. Discussion took place on the benefits of having two facilities with potentially similar designs but different “footprints”, noting that they did not have to be identical. Council made it clear that they will engage the public with community meetings before decisions are made and there is no time line for proceeding.

4. Council/Board/Committee Remuneration Policy
 Council is currently working on establishing a policy that would see the organization of a committee to work on setting future remuneration for councillors and members of county boards or committees. It has been suggested that a Council Compensation Committee be established to review this matter. It would be made up of no more than 5 public members who would meet a maximum of 3 times while working with administration to research the necessary information. Ads would be posted on the county’s website asking for interested parties to apply. A final draft of this policy will be prepared by administration and brought back to council for approval.

“Friends are as companions on a journey aiding each other on the road to a happier life.” Pythagoras
“Side by side or miles apart, truest friends are always close at heart.” Anonymous

Coming Events:
Thursday, February 8, 2018, 7:30 PM, Arbutus Community Hall, Regular Meeting with Guest Speaker
Thursday, March 8, 2018, 7:30 PM, Arbutus Community Hall, Regular Meeting

Friday, January 26, 2018

Regular Monthly Meeting, Thursday, February 8, 2018
7:30PM, Arbutus Community Hall

Guest speaker: Karl Zajes, Surface Rights Consultant
And President of the Warburg/Pembina Surface Rights Group
Speaking on: Oil/Gas Industry Leases, Rental reviews, and Orphan wells 

Everyone welcome. Refreshments served


By Marianne Cole

It continues to be a “breath of fresh air” to attend county council meetings. There is very respectful, open discussion on all agenda topics with a visible effort to make fiscally responsible decisions along with a desire to promote public engagement. Highlights from the January 23rd meeting are:

1. Recommendations from the January 15th Agenda & Priorities Meeting
Broadband Policy Framework: Council directed Administration to prepare a Terms of Reference for council with a direction for the development of enhanced broadband coverage for the county. The project will involve public engagement through education articles in local newspapers and on the county’s website as well as community hall meetings.

CPO Program: Significant discussion took place on the Community Police Officer program and its focus/limitations. Suggestions were made that while the CPO’s are limited to bylaw enforcement rather than criminal matters, it might be beneficial to have them “out there” as extra eyes. Discussion took place on possibly arranging for more night shifts. In the end a motion to hire a 5th CPO was defeated but a motion to continue discussion on ways to improve the program was passed.

Leslieville/Condor Fire Halls: The county’s fire chief reported that the members want to maintain two stations. Discussion took place on the benefits of having two stations with potentially similar designs but different footprints as the facilities do not need to be identical. Council made it clear that they will engage the public before decisions are made and there is no time line of action.

2. Presentation by Sgt. Jason Penner, Acting Detachment Commander, RCMP
Sgt. Penner noted some staff changes with Staff Sgt. Groves working on a Central Alberta Crime Protection committee/initiative, one corporal assisting in Rimbey, and one corporal retiring.

The local detachment continues to work on their goals to meet with/interact with the communities they serve while focussing on property protection and identifying/monitoring criminals.
To that end they are looking at crime hotspots and a crime analyst/investigator will hopefully be on staff by May.

Another public engagement effort is the recently started “Coffee with a Cop” opportunity that will be held at McDonald’s from 10-11AM once a month. Information will be coming out shortly on the dates.

3. Presentation by Cole Thomson, Community Area Lead, TransCanada NOVA Transmission Ltd.
Mr. Thomson outlined their operation, focussing on the proposed new Natural Gas Transmision Line for the west side of the province. This will involve two large scale projects in Clearwater County---one near Nordegg and the other near Caroline. This was very positive news as it will not only increase the tax revenue for the county but will provide extensive work opportunities along with a large economic benefit for hotels, restaurants, and other businesses in our area. Mr. Thomson will also be making a presentation to the West Central Stakeholders Association meeting at Leslieville Community Hall at 3:30PM on February 1, 2018.

4. Presentation by Jessica Reilly, Senior Fisheries Biologist, Alberta Environment and Parks
Ms. Reilly outlined here research on the various trout numbers in Clearwater County waterways and the causes for the decline in some populations. They will be working with the county’s Public Works Department to help fix some of the problems where culverts/road crossings are interfering with the trout movements.

5. Council Board &Committee Remuneration Policy
Earlier in the fall the 2018 remuneration had been established so the discussion focussed mainly on the establishment of a committee to review compensation in subsequent years. In the end it was decided that a Council Compensation Committee be established. It would be made up of no more than 5 public members who would meet a maximum of 3 times while working with administration to research the necessary information. Ads would be posted on the county’s website asking for interested parties to apply. A final draft of this policy will be prepared by administration and brought back to council for approval.

Thursday, January 11, 2018


By Marianne Cole

1. Presentation by Kelly and Andrea Spongberg
 The Spongbergs made a presentation outlining the paving improvements they had made on the Airport Road (RR7-0) to make it ban free. They reviewed the various communiques between them and the county dating as far back as 2013. The County’s Endeavor to Assist Policy was thought to initially provide a shared cost plan, but that policy was revised in 2015, excluding the county from shared cost requirements stated in the policy.
In the end council passes two motions: 1. That the Endeavor to Assist Policy be reviewed; and 2. That the Spngberg’s request for cost sharing on the road improvements be tabled until after the review is completed.

2. Presentation re. Hosting the 2019 Alberta Masters Games
 Roger Smolnicky, Recreation Director with the town of Rocky made a presentation regarding the joint town/county bid to host the 2019 Alberta Masters Games. He outlined the various sports/competitions that would be held for ages 30/35 and up, as well as ages 50 and up. He explained how the area’s facilities would be used to host these activities along with outlining the necessary funding. In that regard he mentioned the potential Community Facilities Improvement Program (CFIP) grants that could be applied for and that these would leave long-lasting improvements to the area’s community.
In the end council passes a motion to provide $75,000 of funding that will hopefully be matched by the town.

3. Presentation by Stephen Bull, Assistant Deputy Minister, Service Alberta
 Mr. Bull made an excellent presentation on issues related to improved broadband service in Alberta. Highlights were:
SuperNet up-date--- The province’s current contract with Axia (current operator of the SuperNet) expires in June 2018. Requests for Proposals (RFP’s) for a new contract were put out in the fall.
The province is looking for a partner that would to a quality job of providing service province wide, with the #1 priority of continuing service for current users (government offices, hospitals, schools).
Two proposals were received---from Bell and Axia.
The government is currently scoring/evaluating the proposals to ensure the proposed plans are feasible, with a goal to have a contract ready by February/March. Mr. Bull also discussed the concern for providing necessary connectivity for First Responders, noting problems with coverage around Caroline. Councillor Laird noted problems west and north of Rocky as well.
Mr. Bull brought forward the work being done on a Provincial Broadband Strategy, with the need to gather input from industry groups as well as municipalities. He posed a number of questions that will be addressed, focussing mainly on funding and operations options. Council suggested that they be given a month to 6 weeks to respond when the survey is sent to them.

4. The County’s own Broadband Policy Framework
 A draft of the possible policy framework was presented but will be discussed at greater length at Council’s Agenda and Priorities meeting on Monday.