Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Clearwater Coiunty 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!

Friday, November 11, 2016


By Marianne Cole

The Annual General Meeting of the Clearwater County Taxpayers Association was held on Thursday, November 10 in Leslieville with 34 people in attendance.  Highlights of the meeting were as follows:
 Year in Review  Great response has been received from county residents with our efforts to gather their opinion and keep them informed of happenings in the county.  Highlights include:

Our taxpayer survey in February
The Wrap (four page cover) on the Western Star advertising the county building plans and the open house held at Dovercourt in May

Our latest information page in the Western Star where we presented information on the county survey taking place along with financial charts from the 2015 audited financial statement on taxes, expenses, and the CAO salary.

We certainly thank everyone who has attended our meetings, gave us verbal or written commendations, and above all, provided super financial support to allow us to publicize the information we have in our efforts to keep taxpayers informed.

 Elections  First we certainly thank our past executive and board members for their dedicated efforts as they now step down:  Helge Nome as Vice President, Sharon Rubeling as Treasurer, and Jack Leslie as Director.

We welcome, and thank, the following their interest by allowing their name to stand for office:
(new members are highlighted)
President--- Marianne Cole
Vice President--- Dan Warkentin
Secretary--- Susan Durand
Treasurer---Pat Butler
Board Members--- Ken Qually, Jim Foesier, Trish Bingham, Al Gaetz, and Larry Titford.
We look forward to continuing our efforts to keep county residents informed on county issues and work on their behalf.

Presentation by MLA Jason Nixon Our MLA, Jason Nixon, gave an excellent presentation on various provincial and local issues of importance to us.  These included: the Carbon Tax, Bill 6, the NDP proposal to Cap the Oil Sands, linear taxation pooling, the helipad-water tower fiasco in Rocky, and the need for a new hospital in Rocky.  He did a great job of providing information and addressing concerns.  With regards to the Carbon Tax he mentioned that he will have copies of the petition against the Carbon Tax in his office LIKELY NEXT WEEK. PLEASE COME IN TO SIGN IT.  His Rocky office is located on the east side of Main Street south of Henrys Western Wear or across from Sims Insurance.  We thank Mr. Nixon for attending our meeting and all his efforts to represent us in the Legislature.

We invite all county residents to attend our meetings held the second Thursday of the month at 7:00PM at the Leslieville Elks Hall.
County Survey  The County is currently conducting a survey to gather resident opinions on future financial considerations.  There are three questions on the survey:
  • What enhancements would you like to see in services over the next 3 years?
  • What reductions would you like to see in services over the next 3 years?
  • What additional capital priorities would you like addressed over the next 3 years?
We strongly encourage everyone to check our CCTA information page in the November 2 edition of the Western Star and then PLEASE COMPLETE THE SURVEY.  COPIES OF THE SURVEY ARE AVAILABLE AT THE COUNTY OFFICE OR ON THE COUNTY WEBSITE AT CLEARWATERCOUNTY.CA.

County Municipal Inspection  A preliminary review was held on October 18.  At that time a team of three interviewers from Municipal Affairs spoke with each of the councillors and the CAO, Ron Leaf, in an effort to gather information on county procedures and operation.  The interview team will then submit a report of their findings to the Minister of Municipal Affairs.  From there the Minister will determine if a full scale review is necessary.  That decision is expected in December.

Waste Authority Review   Results of the town of Rocky’s Municipal Inspection Report released on Tuesday, November 1 stated, “Documents were provided to the inspectors that give a strong indication of inefficiencies and operational concerns in this organization.”(referring to the Regional Waste Authority.)  The report went on to recommend “that a detailed independent review of the management and operations be conducted…”. That did take place and the results were printed in The Mountaineer on October 18.  This report stated that there had been a 365% increase in requisitions (request for money) in the last 5 years and that “the authority has been operated as an independent business with insufficient oversight from the elected board.” The Rocky Mountain Regional Solid Waste Authority is an independently operated service governed by a board made up of three county councillors, two town councillors, and one village of Caroline councillor.This is a very serious matter as county, town, and village taxpayer dollars are funding this inefficient operation and it must be addressed “head on” by the Board of Directors. 

Strike Three  This is the third (and final) chart in a series featuring information on county finances.  This month we focus on the CAO (Chief Administrative Officer) remuneration.

% Increase
$166, 431
$27, 709
$194, 140

$191, 310
$30, 847
$222, 157
$28, 017
$200, 431
$50, 302
$250, 733
$28, 576
$208, 257
$55, 261
$263, 519
$12, 786
$233, 190
$49, 708
$282, 898
$19, 379

Note:  Total compensation increase from 2011 to 2015 = $88, 758  
            Total compensation % increase, 2011 to 2015 = 45.7%


Total Payment
Yellowhead County
$258, 486
$40, 270
$298, 756
 Leduc County
$286, 056
$11, 884
$297, 940
Lacombe County
$249, 782
$44, 441
$294, 223
Sturgeon County
$237, 566
$49, 072
$286, 639
Red Deer County
$250, 504
$32, 932
$283, 436
Clearwater County 
$233, 190
$49, 708
$282, 898
Rocky View County
$235, 041
$43, 985
$279, 026
County of Gr. Prairie
$234, 705
$44, 050
$278, 755
Brazeau County
$199, 777
$49, 069
$248, 846
Wetaskiwin County 
$226, 806
$15, 825
$242, 631
Parkland County
$200, 395
$41, 842
$242, 237
MD of Bonneyville
$190, 833
$46, 274
$237, 107
Lethbridge County
$190, 350
$45, 250
$235, 600
Mountain View County
$175, 744
$37, 936
$213, 681
MD of Foothills
$201, 478
$7, 458
$208, 936
Ponoka County
$180, 250
$28, 164
$208, 414
County of Lac St. Anne
$165, 216
$32, 663
$197, 879

$218, 599
$36, 519
$255, 118

  1. The jurisdictions used all have populations over 10,000 according to Wikipedia figures except for Brazeau and Ponoka Counties.  They were included because they neighbor Clearwater County.  Clearwater County’s population is 12, 278.
  2. All salary and benefit figures were taken from the 2015 Audited Financial Statements of each jurisdiction.
  3. Clearwater County’s CAO has the highest benefit package of all jursidictions. 

ROSES   This month we send out a huge bouquet of roses to Dale Shippelt for his dedicated effort in spear-heading the petition that resulted in the Municipal Inspection of the town of Rocky.  Thanks to Dale’s efforts the significant operational concerns of the Waste Authority have come to light, an issue that has distinct implications on our tax dollars.  We recognize and appreciate your efforts, Dale, as they may, hopefully, lead to managerial improvements and from there to a potential cost saving for all taxpayers funding the Waste Authority.

RANT   This month’s Rant focusses on the rather damming inspection reports of the Rocky Mountain Regional Solid Waste Authority. Both the independent review and the Municipal Inspection indicated very serious concerns with the operation of this jointly governed service.  This brings to mind several questions:  Who is at fault?? Is it a managerial problem or a board problem??  Who is not doing the job properly?? Who is not accepting responsibility for the noted inadequacies??  Moving on, we trust that there will be a complete turn around in the operations of this organization with a goal of providing taxpayers with the cost effective, PRACTICAL service we deserve.

  • ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING--- Thursday, November 10, 2016, 7:00PM, Leslieville Elks’ Hall.  Guest speaker, our MLA Jason Nixon, speaking on the proposed Carbon Tax and other current Legislature issues.
  • Regular monthly meeting, January 12, 2017, 7:00PM, Leslieville Elks’ Hall

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Tuesday, November 8, 2016
By Marianne Cole
The following items were highlights discussed at the council meeting:
1.  Council representation on committees--- Councillor Greenwood brought forward a procedural concern regarding council representation on certain organizations.  This concern stemmed from the appointment of a council member to the newly formed Clearwater Broadband Society.  Following discussion on this, a motion was made to look at developing a procedural by-law in this regard.
2.  Request for Proposal on telecommunications matters--- A proposal was brought forward “that Administration proceed with the development of a Request for Proposal for the development of a conceptual design, budget and business viability model relating to the construction or installation of communication towers and fibre optic cable to enhance high speed internet access” (quote from the agenda package) within the county. This would involve a 4 step phased in procedure:
  • Phase 1—Business viability study on a focussed area (from the Ferrier area east to the county border, between Highways 11 and 12)
  • Phase 2---Business viability study on the remaining populated area of the county
  • Phase 3--- Define service area(s) and scope of project
  • Phase 4--- Final Engineering, Budget, Tender document, Contract Award
There was excellent discussion on this matter with Councillors Duncan and Vandermeer suggesting that council look at other studies and reports that have already been done and could really provide information for Phase 1.  Councillor Laing also suggested that administration could check out what information has also been gathered by the Clearwater Broadband Society.  It was also noted that the Society might make a presentation on this matter at the next council meeting.
The result of the discussion was a motion to table further action.
3.  Text with 911--- This matter was brought forward initially as an information item, noting that there is now a service through 911 which would allow for texting for hearing or speech impaired people to access emergency services.  This is not an “open” service and people who qualify must register their cellphone in order to be able to access the service when necessary.
Again, excellent discussion took place.  Councillor Graham began the discussion with concerns with cell phone service and dead areas. From there the discussion proceeded to action with motions being made to write letters expressing concerns with the very serious need for both improved cell phone and broadband service in the rural areas. 
Brief information was given about our Supernet.  When it was being put in, the province was going over budget.  Bell stepped in and bought it, and Axia is now managing this “service”.   (An “aside”:  The talk is  that service from Axia is highly priced and as a result is financially unfeasible to access.)  From this discussion a motion was made to send letters of concern to both Municipal Affairs and Service Alberta.
4.  Budget Preparation and Community Engagement Update---  Director of Corporate Services, Rodney Boyko presented council with an update on the budget preparation process, most notably the community engagement.  This focussed primarily on the survey that is underway and is available on the county’s website as well as in hard copy at the county office.
This subsequently brought forward the CCTA’s information page that was put in the November 2 issue of the Western Star.  As noted in the agenda package, “Staff believe the ad’s information is incomplete and may affect survey feedback/responses.”  To counteract that it further states that, “Staff will develop communications materials and utilize various communications tools in an effort to address areas such as the following: Financial information…Rocky Mountain Regional Solid Waste Authority…Facilities…County Peace Officer Program…”
Limited discussion took place but Councillor Duncan brought up a concern with people not wanting to put their names on the surveys and Mr. Boyko responded that the names would be used for subsequent contact in order to get more information.  Councillor Laing stated that she felt the Western Star information was good as it promoted an awareness of the survey and stimulated debate and dialogue.
5.  Presentation by a Delegation from the Caroline and District Athletic and Agriculture Society--- This group was represented by Dwight Oliver, Deb Northcott, and Mr. Schellenberg.  Deb gave an excellent presentation on the wide range of services provided at The Hub:  skating rink, curling rink, health center, playschool program, fitness center, and campground.  It was amazing to listen to the enthusiasm and the vision for expansion that this group has.  They are to be highly commended for the super, wide-ranging provision of services, not only to residents of the immediate area but to rental groups from as far away as Calgary.  
6.  AAMDC Resolutions--- The 30 resolutions being brought forward to the AAMDC convention were discussed and suggestions made for either supporting or not supporting the resolution.
7.  Councillor’s Verbal Report--- Councillor Vandermeer gave a report on two activities he had attended related to broadband service.  The first was from the Clearwater Broadband Society.  They have now received society status and would like to make a presentation to council.  They would also like to access the report from the Taylor-Warwick study done last year.  The second activity was a workshop he attended in Mountain View County. The main suggestion from this meeting was that individual jurisdictions need to act as the issues have been studied to death.  Forming a committee to bring the problems with broadband to the province was also mentioned.

Monday, November 7, 2016



Speaking on CARBON TAX and other current Legislature issues.

Come and hear:
  • How provincial issues might affect you.
  • How the Clearwater County Taxpayers’ Association has been working for you this past year.

For more info, kindly call Marianne Cole at (403)729-2493 or e-mail at mcmajic@telus.net

Clearwater County Taxpayers’ Association--- Working for the common good.