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Monday, April 3, 2017

Letter to the Editor: Town Hall raised more questions than answers


J. Schiff

Dear Editor:

The recent town hall meeting in Pincher Creek produced more questions than clear answers. For those present, this was frustrating, for those not present, it is important that the town’s citizens be aware of the lack of clarity in the town’s affairs. In brief, I am concerned with some major issues: the budget, the town’s lack of action on pressing issues such as housing and Main Street re-vitalization, and the conflict of interest that is purported to exist between some town employees and those who would benefit financially from their close relationships.

Before the meeting, two different versions of the current budget had been made available. At the meeting, a third version was produced. The three do not match up, and make for a puzzle that even an accountant would not be able to figure out. This is troubling when our leaders cannot come up with clear financials.

Instead the discussion turned to snow removal and potholes before a healthy but short discussion of the housing crisis in town. The major agreed that the latest update on affordable housing as incomplete and used old information. The net effect was a flawed report that the town is now promoting as the required documentation for future funding. This process of reports with no action is a long-standing stall by the town to deny lower income residents a decent and affordable place to live.

The Main Street of Pincher Creek is becoming a hollow shell and the town appears to have no action plan to deal with this. When asked, the Mayor had no clear answer and was not aware of provincial efforts to help revitalize the main streets of rural Albert towns. He offered little by way of constructive plans to engage more members of the community and to expand the town’s economic activities.

The issue of conflict of interest, clear written in Alberta Law, is one that should be on the top of administration’s list of unforgivable sins. How unfortunate that the Mayor was unable to comment on the lack of clear fiduciary boundaries that exist perhaps with FCSS/SASCI complexities and the economic development and Chamber of Commerce activities and their beneficiaries. Evidence to this can be found on the respective websites of these organizations. At the meeting these issues were referred by the mayor, to the CAO, who has yet to respond.

It appears, that there are thus a considerable number of serious issues that town officials and staff need to take a serious look at, and then provide a community report on how these have been handled. I hope that other concerned citizens will also take the opportunity to write the editor about this and other concerning town matters.

Sincerely,
J. Schiff,
Concerned citizen

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