Saturday, February 18, 2017


By Marianne Cole

Clearwater County held an open house/meeting at the Christensen Wellness Centre on Thursday, February 16, 2017. The purpose of this meeting was to introduce and gather resident input into the proposed Area Structure Plan that would guide development to the north of Rocky Mtn. House. There were about 80 people present with standing room only in the Subway Room. Noticeably absent were the Reeve, Deputy Reeve and two other councillors. The only councillors present were Theresa Laing, John Vandermeer, and Kyle Greenwood.

Prior to the start of the meeting attendees could look at the various maps and stands of information that had been set up by Bill Shaw of BPS Consulting, the consultant doing the work on drafting the plan. He, along with Rick Emmons and Keith McCrae from the county’s planning department, were available to answer questions/discuss concerns.

Rick Emmons opened the meeting and welcomed everyone before turning the meeting over to Bill Shaw. Bill presented information on planning discussions that had taken place with the county and the need for future development along with giving detailed descriptions of the various types of commercial/industrial development that could take place on the lands to be governed by the Area Structure Plan.

Then the floor was opened for questions. The questions/concerns focussed on:
* Whether there is a need
* What would be the infrastructure cost
* Should taxpayers be on the hook for development
* Concerns with Rocky’s waste water system
* When could there be financial return on investment
* That maybe a plebiscite should take place to gather info on actual public support

When the issues with Rocky’s sewage lagoon were brought up Ron Leaf stepped forward and indicated that he had contacted the town’s administration Thursday morning and there aren’t any issues. In speaking to a town councillor, however, the town has initiated a $30,000 study to evaluate the functioning of the sewage lagoon and this study hasn’t been finalized yet.

In conclusion, there were a few people that expressed support for future development but it seemed that the majority were opposed due to questionable need and financial return in this economic environment. There will be another open house as well as a public hearing before the document is finally approved.

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.

Monday, February 6, 2017


1. Leslieville-Condor Fire Hall It has been eight months since the May 4, 2016 public meeting was held to discuss the future of the Leslieville-Condor Fire Halls. Recently it came to light that the County has approved the process to purchase land for a new facility. This is rather interesting as potentially suitable land had been generously offered for free when this issue was discussed last spring.

2. Municipal Inspection A letter from the Minister of Municipal Affairs was discussed at the January 10, 2017 council meeting. While the letter acknowledged some concerns that had been brought forward during the preliminary review in October, it stated that they were “not of sufficient concern to warrant a municipal inspection.” The letter did, however, go on to state, “I encourage you to consider initiating a legal review of recent land decisions as well as governance or organizational review. I also encourage you to make the results of each review available to the public.”

In discussing the letter council decided not to proceed with further legal review.

3. Joint Development Agreement/Joint Service Agreement These are joint Town of Rocky/Clearwater County development agreements. The Joint Development Area Agreement identifies areas north and south of Rocky that would be potential long term annexation areas that would “help in furthering its growth in urban residential and highway commercial development.” It further states that “The County or the Town, either jointly or separately, may consider undertaking the development of lands in the Joint Development Area themselves…”

To support the JDA, a Joint Service Agreement is currently being worked on and was discussed at a joint meeting of town and county councils on January 24, 2017. This document deals with the provision of water and waste water services to the areas mentioned in the JDA. Following “in camera” discussion at the meeting, motions were passed publicly that more information was needed before a decision on the JSA could be made.

Interesting information presented in these documents states:

* “The Town currently has a supply of 32 hectares” (@79 acres) “for industrial land within its boundaries, none of which is serviced.”

* “Industrial and commercial land ready for development has been identified as a priority of both the town and county…”

* “The proposed JDA meets this goal with the addition of over 600 hectares” (@1480 acres) “of serviced commercial and industrial land…”

(Note: All quotes are from the Draft Joint Development Area Agreement and Intermunicipal Development Plan update found on the County’s website under the ”Council” tab.)

The town is currently doing an economic feasibility study related to the JSA but no economic plan has been/or is being done by the county.

ROSES: With Valentine’s Day coming up shortly, we’d like to send huge bouquets of roses out to all the home care workers as well as facility nurses and care attendants that lovingly care for our residents either in their own homes or in care facilities. We certainly admire your compassionate attitudes. As well, we appreciate and commend you on your efforts to make these peoples’ lives as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.

RANT: First of all, it is a beneficial goal to have available commercial/industrial land for development in order to stimulate business, provide jobs, and assist with tax revenues. How much is necessary and at what cost remain questionable. The JDA and JSA currently being worked on by the town and county raise huge red flags as far as need, cost recovery, and financial sustainability are concerned. Let’s look at some related figures:

* Industrial/commercial lots available in town: Falcon Ridge (east side of town on south side of SH 598): 23 light industrial and 8 general industrial, along with large highway commercial area; East side of town, north side of SH 598: 3 highway commercial lots, serviced, building ready. Total lots currently available: 34

(Note: Other lands in town are zoned for commercial/industrial development but no calculation of lots was given. The information here was taken from the town’s economic brochure found on their web-site.)

* Industrial/commercial lots available in county: Metaldog Industrial Park (north of Rocky on Airport Road) 12 lots available (info from the town’s economic brochure); Caroline: 10 industrial lots of 3 acres each; 12 smaller highway commercial lots. (Info from The Mountaineer, April 26, 2016.) Total lots available in the county: 34

* Even though most of these lots are unserviced the majority are close to services and would be much cheaper to service than those in the JDA.

* At a rate of 2 or 3 commercial/industrial lot sales per year it would take 20-30 years to sell all 68 lots currently available in the town and county.

* Are additional lots necessary?

* If servicing of the JDA proceeds, what will it cost and how many lots will need to be sold to recoup those costs and in what timeline???

* Will this be just another “White Elephant” that the taxpayer will be “on the hook” for???
In conclusion, I leave you with these final questions: Should taxpayer dollars be cast into the wind of highly risky development ventures??? AND/OR Are these development proposals simply a ruse/scheme to get services to the county’s new land and proposed Taj Mahal???

Coming Events: February 9, 2017 and March 9, 2017 Regular monthly meetings. 7:00PM Leslieville Elks Hall.