Thursday, January 11, 2018

HIGHLIGHTS, CLEARWATER COUNTY COUNCIL MEETING, January 9, 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.

Monday, January 8, 2018

IN THE NEWS


1. Fire Destroys Leslieville Elks’ Hall 
 A devastating fire on December 29 destroyed the Leslieville Elks’ Hall. Arson is suspected and one person was taken into custody the same evening. Formal charges have not yet been laid, pending completion of the investigation.
This is a serious loss to the community. Aside from being the home for the very community minded, charity supporting Elks’ Lodge, it was the meeting place for various groups, among them our Clearwater County Taxpayers’ Association.
Prior to being the Elks’ Hall, it was a rural school and holds many memories for those who attended it. Along with the loss of the physical structure there was a significant amount of memorabilia as well as elegant elk mounts, all of which are irreplaceable.
As a result of the fire the CCTA will now be holding their regular monthly meetings at the Arbutus Community Hall. It is located 1 mile south of Hwy. 11 on the Arbutus Road (RR 6-3). You will see the hall on your right but you will need to just turn right and go west briefly to get to the approach into the hall.


2. Significant Changes in County Administration 
 As mentioned in our December Beacon, Ron Leaf, past Chief Administrative Officer, resigned and the CAO position has been taken over for the interim by Rick Emmons. Other changes are as follows:
Former Director of Corporate Services, Rodney Boyko, has been replaced by Murray Hagan who held that position in 2010. Mr. Boyko has been hired on as the Chief Financial Officer of the Rocky REA.
Marshal Morton, former Director of Public Works has been replaced by current county employees. Erik Hansen will now supervise the infrastructure matters and Kurt Magnus will oversee the operations area of public works.
The position of Director of Community Protective Services (held by Ted Hickey) has been eliminated. With the restructuring, Clearwater Regional Fire Rescue Services will be supervised by the CAO, Rick Emmons, while Community Police Officers will be supervised by the Infrastructure Department of Public Works.
In all, the equivalent of five full time positions have been eliminated, evidence of council’s new vision of providing more efficiently managed services.


3. Broadband Services
The provision of improved broadband services will be a very significant issue in the coming year. A year ago the federal government declared this an essential service, but how it is to
be implemented and at what cost remains to be seen. Clearwater County Council is dedicated to working on this matter and is looking for public input. We encourage everyone to do as much research as possible, attend meetings on this subject, and pass your views on to your councillor.


4. Road Paving 
This was an area of major concern expressed by residents during the fall election. According to Reeve John Vandermeer in a December 27, 2017 county news release, “residents also indicated additional asphalt projects should be a priority for this Counci, and as such, we’ve allocated funding to progress with paving a few more road segments in 2018 and 2019.”


ROSES
A very huge bouquet of roses goes out to all our emergency responders. Recent incidents in Leslieville(the Elks’ Hall fire) and Rocky (the take down by the RCMP of suspects involved in armed robberies) are clear examples how these dedicated individuals continually exert unfailing efforts and put their lives at risk for our benefit/protection. Their dedication continues in all manner of circumstances (including -30 degree temperatures) when we are basking in the comforts of warmth and safety of our own homes. Huge kudos to these very special service providers.


RANT 
 With the impending decisions on broadband service provisions, it is absolutely crucial for each one of us to do what we can to gather information and make our voices heard. In so doing, it is vital to consider that this is not a matter affecting just the immediate future but one that has a long term impact on the well-being of our economy and the residents of Clearwater County. There are many unanswered questions about what is necessary, what is the most efficient method of implementation, and who should ultimately be financially responsible. It behoves each one of us to do our due diligence in assisting council with our input on this “pillar for the future”.


Coming Events
1. Thursday, January 11, 2018, 7:30PM, ARBUTUS COMMUNITY HALL, Regular monthly meeting. Reeve John Vandermeer, guest speaker.
2. Thursday, February 8, 7:30PM, Regular monthly meeting, Arbutus Community Hall