Sunday, March 1, 2015

Notes from February 2015 MD of Pincher Creek council and board meetings

  • MD close to $2.5 million overdrawn
  • Gravel crushing contract approved
  • Grader purchase approved
  • Seed cleaning plant funding denied
  • Emergency Management Agreement mediation to begin
  • AHS contact person change
  • Public meeting to be held regarding Beaver Mines pathway
  • ASB urges council to bring OHV concerns to Province
  • Letter of support for Livingstone Playground Committee fundraising
  • Unauthorized West Castle campers and squatters a concern
  • Flooding concerns in Twin Butte

MD close to $2.5 million overdrawn

At the February 24 meeting of Council,Director of Finance and Administration Mat Bonertz told council that as of the end of January 2015 the MD was overdrawn by $2,488,371.19. That situation was questioned by Councillor Terry Yagos. "At the end of December we were overdrawn 1.3 million. And didn't we collect all the taxes at the edn of December and I know we didn't have a deficit for that side, how come we're overdrawn? Are we waiting for government money or something to come in?"

"That's just the state of our cash flow right now," replied Bonertz.
"Didn't we have a balanced budget last year," asked Councillor Fred Schoening. Bonertz said there was a surplus, and the negative cash flow was "because of using our reserves to fund numerous projects the last few years and not cashing in any or our bonds and investments to offset those costs".
Reeve Brian Hammond asked if the situation might continue for the next several months. "Maybe more," replied Bonertz.

Bonertz said the Cottonwood Bridge project was a significant draw on the MD's current cash position.  He said he would be doing up a report for the next council meeting "regarding our cashflow between now and the end of May as tax revenues come in".

"We're going to have to change our line of attack."

A big issue is outstanding projects, such as the Cottonwood Bridge ("about $3.5 million"), that are retroactively funded in part or in whole by the provincial government.  Bonertz said that a number of those projects were nearing completion, and paperwork was being prepared to submit to the provincial government to receive that funding.

Gravel crushing contract approved

Based on the recommendation of Director of Operations Leo Reedyk, Council approved the awarding of a gravel crushing contract to Willow Creek Sand and Gravel, who submitted the lowest tender of six received. Accroding to Reedyk's report, "The MD crushes gravel for its road maintenance program on an annual basis. The gravel is produced at a variety of pits to have crushed gravel at locations all over the MD to minimize transportation costs".

"The tendered amount was for $4.60/cubic yard of gravel crushed with an estimated total of 100,000 yards of gravel to be produced at five pits. The total tender amount of $460,000.00 is $10,000.00 more than the budgeted amount for gravel crushing in 2015."  Reedyk told Council the tender amounted to a $25 thousand increase over last year, the other bids were considerably higher.

Grader purchase approved

At the recommendation of  Director of Operations Leo Reedyk, Council agreed to the purchase of a Caterpillar 160M grader from Finning for a total cost of $505,980.00 which was over the planned budget of $500,000 by $5,980 due to exchange rates between the Canadian and American currencies.

RV park proposed

Director of Development and Community Services Roland Milligan brought to council a request to rezone land west of the airport to Rural Recreation 1 so that the land could be used as a seasonal RV park.  The rezoning passed first reading and will next be the subject of an upcoming public meeting in April.

Seed cleaning plant funding denied

At their February 10 meeting Council declined to authorize further funding for the Pincher Creek Seed Cleaning Plant "at this time" and also decided to not appoint a representative to the Seed Cleaning Plant Board. The decisions followed Agricultural Service Board recommendations the Council "clarify the agreement and relationship between the MD (and specifically the Agricultural Service Board) and Seed Cleaning Plant".

Emergency Management Agreement mediation to begin

On February 10 Council agreed that a letter would be forwarded to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, advising that the MD of Pincher Creek agrees to participate in mediation regarding the 2008 Emergency Management Agreement between the MD of Pincher Creek, Town of Pincher Creek and Village of Cowley, and that the MD would pay one third of the associated costs of that mediation.  A fax from Alberta Health Services, dated January 30, 2015, regarding the EMS Ground Ambulance Service Agreement, was discussed in-camera and then received as information.

AHS contact person change

Council removed Fire Chief David Cox as the official AHS contact person, to be replaced by the Town and the MD of Pincher Creek.

Public meeting to be held regarding Beaver Mines pathway

A public meeting regarding the proposed pathway within the Hamlet of Beaver Mines has been scheduled for Tuesday, March 10 at 7:00 pm in the council chambers at the MD Administration Building (1037 Herron Avenue, Pincher Creek).

ASB urges council to bring OHV concerns to Province

At their November 6 meeting the Agricultural Services Board (ASB) agreed to recommend to Council that it present a resolution to the AAMDC and directly to the Provincial Government expressing concerns about "increasing and uncontrolled OHV and other motorized use on public lands in the area" which is "causing serious damage to native grass, water ways and riparian areas, degradation of soil erosion, week infestations, and unsustainable linear disturbance levels".  The ASB said such usage and disturbances were adversely affecting "municipal  responsibilities,   grazing lease and allotment  holders,  adjoining  landowners  and other uses and values  of public  land" and urges that the province should increase enforcement presence and 
"support  Municipalities  and other stakeholders  to address  these issues in a more coordinated  and comprehensive  manner".

Letter of support for  Livingstone Playground Committee fundraising

Council approved a letter of support for the Livingstone Playground Committee's (LPC) fundraising initiatives to replace the playground at Livingstone School. LPC did not ask council for funding at this time.

In a letter to council, and as a delegation to the previous council in 2013, LPC explained that the existing playground structures are over 20 year old and are not "upholding a high standard of safety for the children and need to be replaced".

LPC's letter said the total project cost was anticipated to be approximately $220,000.00.

Excerpted rom LPC's letter to council:

"The Livingstone Playground Committee is seeking financial help in the forms of grants and donations from a number of sources. There are currently 190 students enrolled at the school but the playground serves many more children in the community of Lundbreck and the surrounding areas. As Livingstone School is the only public school in the M.D of Pincher Creek we are seeking an $80,000.00 grant towards our project.

"Any funds donated would he leveraged to attain Community Facilities Enhancement Program (CFEP) dollars, which is a matching grant through Alberta Lottery money. There are also many other matching grants which we could apply for once we have significant seed money. Tax Receipts will be issued for any significant donation. If a tax receipt is required, cheques should be made out to Livingstone Range School Division, with the comment of Donation to the Livingstone School Playground. If a tax receipt is not required cheques should be made payable to Livingstone Parents Association. The Livingstone Playground Committee would be happy to recognize a significant donation with some type of recognition to be displayed at the playground."

"To date we have raised approximately $35,000.00. We have applied for the following grants.
ATB Financial
Alberta Blue Cross -Healthy Communities Grant
Community Foundation of Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta

We have also received a commitment from Three Rivers Rentals to donate heavy equipment time to remove the existing playground, which has a value of $6,750.00."

"Our goal is to raise all of our funds and have playground  construction  complete sometime during  the 2015/2016  school year."

Related story:
MD of Pincher Creek Council notes, February 26 - April 9, 2013

MLA Pat Stier letter to Province regarding unauthorized campers and squatters on West Castle

Livingstone-Macleod MLA Pat Stier forwarded to council a February 6 letter he wrote to Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Jonathan Denis regarding unauthorized campers and squatters on West Castle River Valley public land.

Pat Stier's letter appears below in full:

I am writing in regards to an issue brought to my attention by a local constituent and Castle Mountain Resort owner, Kevin Finn. He has informed me that multiple, permanent, illegal camping sites have been established on public land in the West Castle River Valley area, approximately 1.5 kms south of the ski resort. The aforementioned sites have been in the area since the summer of 2014.

Serious problems are now beginning to emerge with garbage, environmental damage, and potential conflict with local residents and campers who wish to use the sites legally. Many of these permanently occupied sites contain abandoned vehicles, tarps, and makeshift outhouses, which can be seen in the enclosed photos. I have also received reports that barriers are now being erected around these illegal residences.

To address the issue, ESRD has been contacted; however, I have been told they lack the authority and jurisdiction to enforce the removal of these illegal settlements and can only issue notices of the 14 day limit on camp sites. To date, the RCMP apparently has also had difficulty in permanently addressing the problem. Removed sites often reappear a short distance from their original location.

I have also spoken to representatives from the Municipal District of Pincher Creek who have expressed their concerns about the lack of a clear and lasting resolution to this ongoing problem. With the illegal campers now becoming more forceful in asserting their claim to the land, all stakeholders in the area are rightfully concerned about the precedent this sets for future use of public lands.

I respectfully request that, as Minister of Justice, you look into this issue and determine the appropriate course of action to ensure a timely and effective solution. Should you require any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact my office.

Thank you for your thoughtful consideration to this matter.

Yours Sincerely, Pat Stier

Flooding concerns in Twin Butte

In a letter recieved by council on February 8, 2015 Twin Butte residents Riesah Prock and Herky Cutler outlined their concerns about flooding issues on their property, which is situated next to Highway 6 just south of the Twin Butte General Store. Director of Development and Community Services Roland Milligan suggested council write a letter to the Department of Transportation on behalf of Prock and Cutler seeking a solution to the problem.

Prock and Cutler's letter to council is reprinted in its entirety below:

Dear Sirs:

Roland Milligan advised me to write to you with the concerns I have about what is occurring in the hamlet of Twin Butte and specifically, on our property there. Currently our property has two very large and deepening bodies of water; one in the southwest corner and the other, joined by a growing water-filled rut, that sits on the south east side of our land. Both ofthese have persisted from last june's torrential rains, through the winter, for the first time.

Our place is situated at the high point that is surrounded by lower dips in the land on the east side of Highway 6, across from a large water source that sits on the Storey property. This water drains east, under the highway through two drainage ditches and is driven by the westerly winds and follows the dip in the land to the south of our property.

Now, to why I am addressing this letter to you: Over the nine years I've been resident here in Twin Butte, my husband and I have had to contend with water rtsing through the floor of our foundation several times, 2014 being the most recent and worst of these. As you may recall, toward the end of June we received 200 mm of rain in two days, the greatest amount on record so far for rainfall in this area at that time of year, our rainy season.

There is choreography to what occurs here. As the water across the road increases in volume, it builds up, breaches the berm, and, water that is already constantly being released to the east side of the highway, increases drastically, with only one place to go. Already the berm is higher than usual in mid-winter, 2015.

For us this movement of increasing water is catastrophic. In each flooding incident, our land and all the land around us becomes supersaturated and has nowhere to go, but to rise. Even with the higher situation of our house, this seems to make no difference. Our foundation cannot prevent the water from seeping up through it We two are forced to move everything aside and to vacuum up the water with a shop vac for three days and nights, non-stop, carrying it up the stairs and out the other door, in order to prevent a complete inundation of our house. We set up fans for many days and dry up the basement So far, in doing this, we've prevented mold growing.

About three years ago we put in a sump pump hoping this would mitigate the worst of it, but when our whole property becomes so saturated, the water still rises up and we're forced into hard labour. We are concerned that such flooding could weaken our foundation. We have run out of things we can do to move the water and now that there is standing water already three to four times greater in volume and in place on our land, what will happen when June arrives with more rain?

Surely there must be some ways to redirect the flow of the Storey land water southward along the west side of the highway. We aren't engineers, but we do know that water will flow where it's guided. We don't have answers, but we hope with your greater knowledge and resources some will be found.

We would appreciate your giving these concerns your attention as soon as possible. We invite you to come look around Twin Butte and to see what is occurring here. If this condition persists, we, and our neighbours could be facing increasingly serious difficulty.
We thank you for your attention to our situation, Sincerely, Riesah Prock and Herky Cutler

DU Ranchlands Log Cabin viewscape concerns aired

Dan McKim appeared before Council on February 24, 2015 as a delegation to discuss concerns about the DU Ranchlands Log Cabin viewscape as it might be affected by a proposed AltaLink transmission line. 

DU Cabin
 DU Ranchlands Log Cabin has been designated by bylaw 1155-08 (passed February 18, 2015) as a Municipal Heritage Resource. That bylaw states in part that "All interventions to designated Municipal Historic Resources in the MD of Pincher Creek will be carried out in accordance with the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada" and "The DU RanchlandsCorporation Log Cabin shall not be destroyed, disturbed, altered, restored or repaired other than with the written approval of Councilor a person appointed by Council". McKim's presentation to council was received as information.

  • Reeve Brian Hammond was appointed as the MD's voting delegate to the Oldman Watershed Council Annual General Meeting.
  • Agricultural Service Board positions confirmed: Susan Vogelaar to the position of Chairperson and Dallis McGlynn as Vice-Chairperson.
  • Council waived the 60-day notice required for the Registration of the Waldron Grazing Co-Operative/King Ranch Conservation Easement.
  • Council approved the signing of the Enhanced Policing Agreement for the term of April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2018.
  • Council agreed to renew the MD's membership in the Oldman Watershed Council (OWC), and will contribute $0.35 per resident to the OWC for a total of $1,105.30.
  • Council directed Administration to draft a letter to the Minister voicing the MD's concerns about ongoing Capital Road Projects delays.

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