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Sunday, October 4, 2015

September 2015 MD of Pincher Creek No. 9 Council briefs


Headlines:
Stevick sworn in
Request to develop road allowance approved
Telus cables on fences a concern
Lundbreck septic lagoon sludge removal
Councillor Garry Marchuk on new Beaver Mines Fire Hall
Maufort road closure
Letter from AltaLink to council
Letter received regarding proposed landfill incinerator
FCSS Funding Agreement Amendment
CMCA requests firefighting equipment
Regional Emergency Management Organization agreement
Patton Park projections by Livingstone students
Chris Davis

Stevick sworn in
Councillor Quentin Stevick 
Quentin Stevick was sworn in as councillor for Division 1 by CAO Wendy Kay at the September 22 meeting of council for the Municipal District of Pincher Creek No. 9.

CAO Wendy Kay and Councillor Quentin Stevick
Request to develop road allowance approved

Steve Maunsell appeared before council as a delegation on September 8 to discuss his request to develop a road allowance east of SE 25-5-1 W5M, providing him access to Lot 1, Block 1, Plan 121 1571 for the purpose of accessing a proposed new residence, the specific location of which was yet to be determined.   This reversed a July 14 council decision to deny Maunsell's original request.  Maunsell's renewed application included a "higher engineered standard that will hopefully meet the MD's road requirements", according to a report from Director of Development and Community Services Roland Milligan.

Milligan told council he received letters from adjacent landowners that stated that "they would like all construction to be contained within the boundaries of the road allowance without having to go onto private lands, and that all ditches and culverts be placed to maintain as much natural runoff as possible. It is also requested that the road be constructed to a standard that will provide effective emergency service vehicle access."

"The amount of road being developed would be approximately 520 metres, commencing from a new approach off Ranch Road and then north on the road allowance to a point where access would be gained to the applicant's parcel."

Milligan presented council with two recommendations, the second of which was to deny the application.  Council unanimously agreed to Milligan's first recommendation, granting the applicant's request to develop a Road within a portion of the Undeveloped Statutory Road Allowance adjacent to the east of the SE 25-5-1 W5M to provide access to Lot 1, Block 1, Plan 121 1571.  The applicant "must supply an engineered design that meets the MD of Pincher  Creek Development and Engineering Standards", and "the approved final engineered design presented, either fits entirely within the existing road right-of-way, or the applicant supply copies of back sloping agreements and/or purchase agreements with the adjacent landowners to allow the road work to extend past the extent of the existing municipal right-of-way, or to be contained within any new right-of-way as required".  "Thirdly, that the applicant enter into a development agreement with the municipality to provide for the construction of the road within the municipal right-of-way".

The MD is also to help pay for the project, "up to 30% of the cost or $20,000.00, whichever is the least, per each one half mile of road constructed" under this agreement "as this is considered an improvement to the municipal road network and a benefit to the public at large, with the cost to be determined at the completion of the project".

Telus cables on fences a concern

Council unanimously agreed to present concerns to the Foothills Little Bow Association's September 18 meeting about Telus cables lying along fences in the MD.  A resolution was drafted and agreed upon, which reads in part:

"WHEREAS Telus has acquired significant investment from the province when Alberta Government Telephones was privatized and that investment included thousands of kilometers of underground phone cables that were buried to enable their removal from power lines and protection from the elements;

AND WHEREAS that infrastructure is critical, and in some cases the only means of communication in remote rural locations because of topography or lack of other communication infrastructure including cell phone service;

AND WHEREAS Telus has chosen to allow hundreds of kilometers of temporary phone lines to remain hanging from fence poles and or laying on the ground in fields and ditches following road construction for periods in some cases in excess of five years;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Foothills Little Bow Association present to the Fall 2015 AAMDC Conference, the following resolution: That the AAMDC actively engage the Government of Alberta in discussions that would result in Telus upgrading its rural infrastructure to include fibre optic cabling being placed in the ground at every opportunity to ensure rural communications infrastructure keeps pace with urban centers."

The resolution draft provided background to the issue:

"During construction projects that require the relocation or temporary removal of buried phone lines, Telus typically installs a temporary phone line adjacent to the road right of way. The temporary service is strung on fence poles and lays in ditches through swamps and across approaches. Remote rural customers cannot rely on their phones working in case of emergencies, and in many cases, they have no cell service either.

It seems that Telus is reluctant to reinstall that infrastructure as the cost may outweigh the payback from sparse rural customers while urban customers are provided bundled services at the highest level of service possible. In the interim those same rural customers are typically without high speed internet that would allow communication through that media at speeds required for today's programs and services.

The province and federal governments continue to commit to ensuring that rural customers receive high speed internet service while the basic phone infrastructure in many locations is temporary at best."

The MD's Public Works call log includes a comment from a citizen that phone lines have still not been permanently installed on North Burmis Road.  What appear to be Telus lines are visible from MD roadways in a number of locations, including west of the Oldman River Gun Club.

During council's discussions of the situation Director of Operations Leo Reedyk said "The temporary cables have to be upgraded to permanent cables as soon as possible."

"I suppose my problem then was that given that Telus is expanding their cell phone coverage to 4G and LTD service...  It might be prudent to request Telus while they are at it, maybe to upgrade that."

"There are probably 50 initiatives across the region, let alone the province, that are trying to engage service providers, including Telus, in upgrading and providing broadband service or fibre optics in rural areas."

As for the exposed Telus lines, Reedyk said "We are not allowed to bury them ourselves."

"Telus isn't going to do it, unless someone tells them to," said councillor Fred Schoening.

CAO Wendy Kay suggested council "focus on having telephone lines buried sooner, rather than later," a suggestion which was adopted in the draft resolution that council ultimately approved.

Lundbreck septic lagoon sludge removal

As recommended by Director of Operations Leo Reedyk, Council approved the expenditure of $26,000 for the treatment of sludge in the Lundbreck septic lagoon.

From Reedyk's report to council:

"The Lundbreck Septic Lagoon system is comprised of three cells. The first cell provides primary treatment for the solid waste by providing conditions for the waste to degrade, while the second and third cell allow for storage of the water while bacterial processes clarify the remaining material."

"The sludge in the first cell was removed in 2005 by dredging at a cost of$47,000, and once the material had dried it was applied to farm land nearby. In 2012 a mound of material over the inlet to the first cell was leveled to allow the cell to operate normally. A recent inspection noted the mound of material growing again. It is suspected that the use of anti-bacterial soap is increasing, to the point that it may be effecting the efficient treatment of solids in the lagoon system."

"Public Works, Water/Waste Water system operators, feel that adding bacteria to the lagoon system will allow them to liquefy the sludge to allow it to pass through the system, rather than to dredge the first cell again and risk damaging it. The cost to treat the system is $26,000 for an initial one month treatment process. Following the initial treatment, a small monthly treatment should maintain bacteria levels in the lagoon system at adequate levels."

Council authorized the expenditure of $26,000 for the treatment of sludge in the septic lagoon with $10,000 expensed from Next Year Completion Reserve (6-12-0-727-6710) and $16,000 expensed to Lundbreck Water/Sewer Capital Reserve (6-12-0-763-6760).

Councillor Garry Marchuk on new Beaver Mines Fire Hall

During his August 25 report to council, Councillor Garry Marchuk indicated he felt he had been inaccurately represented in the press, and made the following statement:

“I am in support of a new fire hall provided that the following conditions are met:
  1. That there is an operational need for the new fire hall that is not currently being met.
  2. That the residents of Beaver Mines be allowed to provide input to the location of the new fire hall.
  3. That the new fire hall is in the best interest for the MD of Pincher Creek as a whole”.
Related, on August 31, Director of Operations Leo Reedyk attended a Beaver Mines Fire Hall Siting Contractor Start up meeting.  A portable washroom has been installed at Beaver Mines Fire Hall.

Finance

Council passed new financial governance policies on August 25, covering a broad range of accounting policies and practices.

Maufort road closure

A road closure request for SE 25-8-1 W5M - Maufort, was received by council. On August 25 Council passed a resolution, "for the purpose of closing to public travel and cancelling a public highway in accordance with Section 24 of the Municipal Government Act, Revised Statutes of Alberta 2000, Chapter M-26 as amended". The lands covered by the closure "are no longer required for public travel", affecting approximately just less than an acre of land.

Letter from AltaLink to council

A September 1, 2015 email from AltaLink Community Relations Advisor Paul Deleske was addressed to Reeve Brian Hammond regarding the Proposed Castle Rock Ridge to Chapel Rock Transmission Line. It reads as follows:

"Thank you for your letter received July 27, 2015. We appreciate your taking the time to request a review of the Castle Rock Ridge to Chapel Rock Transmission Line on behalf of Council.

"The need for transmission development in southern Alberta has been approved to facilitate connection of future generation and strengthen Alberta's transmission system; the Castle Rock Ridge to Chapel Rock Transmission Project is one component of approved Southern Alberta Transmission Reinforcement (SATR).

"As part of the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) approval regarding the need for these developments, the AUC approved milestones for the construction of certain components, including the Castle Rock Ridge to Chapel Rock line. The approved construction milestone for this line is a forecast of 600 MW of generation in the Pincher Creek area. That milestone has been met. As of August 2015 the Pincher Creek area has 427 MW of existing wind generation and there is 644 MW of forecasted generation that have applied to connect to the transmission system.

"Having said this, transmission planning is an ongoing process and changes in economics, industrial projects, government policies and customer connection requests are continuously monitored to assess their impact. We are diligently monitoring this area and if something significant changes, we will review our plans accordingly.      
                                                              ·
Letter received regarding proposed landfill incinerator

The following letter by resident Curtis Sinnott was received by council at their September 8 meeting.

"I am writing you to voice my concern about the proposed incinerator at the landfill. I am very opposed to this development for the reasons of my health I air quality and also the risk of causing a wild fire in the windiest place on earth when the facility ages. A repeat of the Charlie Barr wildfire comes to mind.

"I hope you have the same concerns and shut this development down. These types of developments have been chased out of other municipalities in the United States.

FCSS Funding Agreement Amendment

Council received a letter from  Alberta Family and Community Support Services Executive Director Ken Dropko.  "I want to provide an update on a number of things that has occurred in our Ministry that are of significance to FCSS," said Dropko:
  1. In June of 2015, a further extension of the FCSS Regulation was approved to June 30, 2017.
  2. The work of the Community Partnership Branch was transformed into two new Branches: Prevention and Early Intervention Branch which includes the Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI ) Framework, Children and Youth Mental Health, Great Kids Award and the Alberta Mentoring Partnership, this Branch will be led by Silvia Vajushi; and Family and Community Support Services Branch which includes FCSS and ECD Community Coalitions, for which I will be the Executive Director.
  3. In June, the government approved Bill 3, the Appropriation Act (Interim Supply) which will provide an additional $10,083,000 in funding for the FCSS program.
  4. On August 6, 2015, Minister Sabir,(when he met with the FCSSAA), confirmed the $10 million in additional funding for FCSS to help address population increases and local preventive social service needs and priorities. The Minister has approved the distribution of the $10 million.
  5. All programs will receive an increase of 10% which will account for $7.5 million dollars. The current funding model includes a 2o/o across the board provision to provide for cost of doing business. Therefore, since there has been no funding increase for five years, the Minister has approved a 10% increase (2% per year of no funding increases) across the board.
  6. Programs who experienced population increases will receive greater than 10% which will account for $2.5 million dollars.
  7. The allocations will go out with the October payments to municipalities and Metis settlements. Yesterday, you should have receive an email letting you know that an amendment to your funding agreement is now availabe through the FCSS on-line system. The amendment reflects the increase for your program. Approval/Submission of the amending agreement is required to provide the funding increase. Although the amendment reflects what would be required in terms of the 20%, this requirement will be waived for this year. (December 31, 2015 for municipalities and March 31, 2016 for Metis Settlements). My office will make the necessary adjustments.
  8. Programs will be able to carry forward any surplus from this increased funding into next year. (December 31, 2015 for municipalities and March 31, 2016 for Metis Settlements). Programs ending the year with a surplus over and above the new funding allocations will have to request approval by emailing me at Ken.Dropko@gov.ab.ca. We review each request on a case by case basis.
  9. The 2016 letters of agreements will reflect the new provincial funding as a total and will require participating programs to provide the 20% of municipal funding. "
The January 1 to December 31, 2015 Family and Community Support Services Funding Agreement includes a $95,685 provincial contribution to the municipality.


Castle Mountain Community Association requests firefighting equipment

Fraser Stewart, Castle Mountain Community Association President Fraser Stewart appeared before council to request additional firefighting equipment. 

In his letter requesting an audience, Stewart explained "The Castle Mountain Community Association is a group of community members that predominately live and recreate in Southern Alberta. Many of our members have young children and grandchildren that enjoy the wonderment of castle Mountain Resort. Extended families enjoy castle Mountain Resort throughout the year but especially  to experience this summer wonderland during the off season."

"The Castle Mountain Community Association is requesting Rre Equipment as a tool to keep our families safe in the Southern Alberta area. This summer we have experienced a very dry spring and summer, with fires starting as close as Waterton by lightening. We the castle Mountain Community would like to have access to fire suppression on site."

Stewart explained the association has worked closely with Pincher Creek Emergency Services (PCES) Chief David Cox, and would be quite willing to do so in the future, including accepting donations of serviceable equipment that is no longer suited for daily use by PCES.  He said the association wants to replace their own aged fire equipment and build up an inventory towards possible future needs.  According to Stewart the association has a small building approximately the size of a double garage but are "certainly capable of building a bigger building".  A hydrant system serves approximately 140 homes.  Stewart said the association's volunteer firefighters numbered about 120, with a crew of 10 or 12 available at any time, some of whom are also PCES members.

Councillor Terry Yagos said having a wish list from the association would be helpful as "as we move towards a commission".

Regional Emergency Management Organization

Reeve Brian Hammond sent a letter to Minister Deron Bilous on behalf of the MD, received September 9, excerpted in full below:

Dear Minister Bilous,

The Town of Pincher Creek and the Municipal District of Pincher Creek# 9 recently participated in mediation which was sponsored by Alberta Municipal Affairs. The mediation came about as a result of a difference of opinion regarding the A.R.230/2014 and O.C. 502/2014 establishing the Pincher Creek Emergency Services Commission Regulation. Our dispute was over the Emergency Management Component having been removed from the Commission Regulation as was originally proposed.

However, I wish to inform you that the Town and the M.D. negotiations with the assistance of two excellent mediators was successful. We have reached agreement to proceed with the Commission as enacted and to form a Regional Emergency Management Organization which will serve the residents of the Town, the M.D. and the Village of Cowley. This organization will remain separate from the Emergency Services Commission for the present time, but consideration may be given in the future for it's inclusion.

Again we wish to thank the department for your financial support to solve the dilemma which resulted in the formation of the Pincher Creek Emergency. ServicesCommission. We believe that this mediation process helped establish a clearer understanding of each communities needs and will benefit our ongoing relationship.

Lundbreck Patton Park projections by Livingstone students, as shown on the wall outside council chambers:















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