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