Friday, 10 April 2015

Did CNP Forget to Apply for $1,930,108 MSI Grant?

UPDATE (June 10) : The 2014 Accepted Projects numbers are out. We have received less than the allocation for 2014, so it looks like we really did lose $1,930,108 in 2013. I guess the old Council was too busy with their grand schemes to bother about applying, and the new Council was too busy penny-pinching to notice. This should be a major scandal, but they have kept it hushed up long enough that it is now ancient history.


As mentioned in MSI Grant for Hospital Demolition, the the list of approved projects shows no capital grants for CNP in 2013 (we should be under "Specialized Municipality", page 4).

About 20% of CNP's budget comes from Alberta MSI Grants. Municipalities get a maximum allocation based on a formula. These can be used for "municipal roads, bridges, public transit vehicles/facilities, emergency services facilities/equipment, water and wastewater systems, solid waste management facilities/equipment, regional and community airport facilities/equipment, and other municipal buildings such as recreation and sports facilities, libraries, public works buildings, and cultural and community centres". We have $millions of eligible projects.
From the MSI Website :

Year Allocation Grant
2012 $1,967,048 $1,817,063
2013 $1,930,108 $0
2014 $2,758,586 $2,520,500
2015 $1,677,585

(Note: As explained on the MSI website, three weeks before the 2015 budget the Province retroactively added about 20% to the 2014 grants, but the budget reduced 2015 grants by the same amount.)

(Note: The Allocation numbers include a small ($131,924 for 2014) Operating component. The Grant numbers are the Capital part only.)

I don't know whether we can still get the 2013 allocation, or if we have lost $1,930,108 . I think the 2014 grants figures will come out in a couple of months, unless they are delayed because of the budget fiddling.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Recreation Action Plan

New on the CNP website:
Needs Analysis and Action Plan
State of Recreation

Here is an Executive Summary for those who don't want to wade through 300 pages of fluffy prose and pretty pictures (and not-so-pretty pictures of the pool and Stella):

» Once details surrounding the future of the Pass Community Pool and the Albert Stella are further identified, and assuming that one or both of those facilities does not warrant reinvestment and will be decommissioned, a feasibility study for a multipurpose facility should be facilitated.

» Utilizing the Facility Condition Index analysis, reinvest in the pool.
» Replace the Pass Community Pool in the long-term with an indoor pool development.

Reinvest in the existing facility (or alternative options) to sustain existing activity provision service levels.

Ongoing life cycle investment in the facility is suggested, as per the 2011 assessment report.

» Continue to provide the facility for community use and reinvest in it to sustain existing service levels as outlined in the 2011 assessment report.
» When determining the feasibility of reinvesting in or replacing the Albert Stella, consider relocated some/all of the activities to the MDM Centre (or other alternative locations) if possible.

» Attain capital and operational cost estimates for the development of Phase 2 as defined in the 2012 Master Plan.
» Once these estimates are defined, prioritize Phase 2 development in relation to other potential projects as per the prioritization model provided in latter sections of this report.

» Target provision of one rectangular field and one ball diamond in each Pass neighborhood.
» Focus on full build out of the Hillcrest Ball diamond complex.
» Look to develop a centralize site for rectangular field league and tournament play somewhere in the municipality.

» Continue to support volunteer trail groups in the operation of existing trails and in their upgrading and expansion ambitions. Included in this is coordinating the formation of a Trails Advisory Group, potentially as a sub-committee of the Sport and Recreation Committee.
» Extend the Community Trail west to ultimately connect to the Allison-Chinook Trails.
» Ensure the mountain bike trails near Powder Keg Ski Hill are connected into the community trail system.
» Develop and implement standards for trail development and maintenance (e.g. width, surface types, winter maintenance). Where necessary, improve the standard of existing trails to meet the proposed standard.
» Investigate options for developing additional loop trails within communities to complement the linear Community Trail. Local residents will enjoy the option of walking/biking around their community as well as connecting to adjacent communities.
» Maintain the current Non-motorized by-law within Municipality. Past experience with motorized use in Crowsnest Pass (and other Alberta towns) has shown neighbourhood conflicts where motorized use is permitted in urbanized areas.
» Consolidate the efforts of volunteer trail groups via interagency meetings or as a standing committee of the Parks and Recreation Authority
» Consider preparing a long term Trails Master Plan to provide direction on community trails, including linkages to regional trails.

» Actively participate in access management planning for regional trails, as recommended by the Government of Alberta in the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan.
» Continue to support development and operation of trailheads and staging areas located within the municipality. Formalize trailhead locations for popular hiking trails.
» Lead promotion of trails as a major tourism attraction in the Region.
» Investigate connection of local trails to other municipalities through the Crowsnest Valley (e.g. Lundbreck, Pincher Creek, Sparwood)
» Promote formation of a Regional Trails Advisory Committee to work closely with adjacent municipalities; provincial agencies and volunteer groups on future trail development and management.

» Maintain and invest in existing parks, open spaces and facilities where appropriate to sustain existing service levels.
» Consider relocating some of the activities in the Albert Stella should the facility be closed for any period of time.
» Promote all recreation amenities, including private sector fitness facilities, when presenting recreation opportunities to residents and visitors.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Councillors Disqualified for Conflict of Interest or Failing to Vote

The MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT ACT has transparency requirements, including open meetings and conflict of interest rules.

We have a right to attend meetings and see how our Councillors vote:
174(1) A councillor is disqualified from council if
(f)the councillor does not vote on a matter at a council meeting at which the councillor is present, unless the councillor is required or is permitted to abstain from voting under this or any other enactment;
Councillors must abstain if they have a pecuniary (monetary) interest as explained in this Municipal Affairs brochure.
It is not enough to just say "conflict of interest" or "perceived conflict of interest", Councillors must DISCLOSE the nature of their interest (eg., "I work for the company" or "My wife owns the adjacent land").
The MGA also specifies what is NOT a pecuniary interest:
170(3) A councillor does not have a pecuniary interest by reason only of any interest
(g) that the councillor ... may have by being a member or director of a non‑profit organization
(h) that the councillor ... may have
(i) by being appointed as the volunteer chief or other volunteer officer ...
Some Councillors have abstained without valid reason, so they are disqualified from office. The Mayor's "possible perceived conflict of interest" does not tell us whether or not he actually has a pecuniary interest.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Budget Meetings not advertised on website.

Dean Ward says on his blog:

"The numbers you are talking about are part of the budget process, they are being made public every Thursday between 2-5pm as we work through that process. These meeting are open to anybody that wishes to attend. I would expect that once the budget process is over there will be all kinds of information coming out."

I might be interested in attending budget meetings discussing recreational facilities or economic development, but not sewage treatment. But I have no way of knowing what is on the agenda for each meeting. Councillors have the agendas but they are not made public and the meetings are not advertised on the website.

The previous council also told us it was our fault we were ignorant because we did not attend the unadvertised "Policy Committee" meetings.

Update: The December 11 Budget Meeting went in camera for the first 80 minutes.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Smoke Eaters and Jamie Margetak Lawsuits

Someone has distributed documents relating to the Smoke Eaters and Jamie Margetak Lawsuits, including letters from law firms to the municipality and the Smoke Eaters lease (with 90 day notice clause) on the Blairmore Fire Hall. This person wants the lawsuits dropped and the municipality to conduct an investigation (which Council voted to stop on Feb. 4, 2014).

More info at "Truth Be Known CNP" (link no longer works).

In the November 25 Council minutes, after "in Camera" they moved to "advise volunteers that Council wished to proceed to plan a fireworks and summer event for 2015" (no mention of who the "volunteers" are). This would require some funding, but there was no "budget impact statement".

(The minutes are not yet on the website but are on p. 22 of the Jan 13 Council package )

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Council Minutes: Different rules for CNP vs. Calgary?

I have written the following to our MLA, Pat Stier:

I am wondering why Municipal Affairs recommends a lower standard of transparency in council minutes for Crowsnest Pass compared to Calgary. The 2013 Inspection Report recommended:

14. Administration refrains from posting unofficial minutes on the municipal website. All minutes must be adopted by Council before posting.

15. Administration discontinues the practice of recording votes on motions as unanimously carried or carried. All motions should be recorded as carried or defeated.

However, I notice that Calgary posts unconfirmed minutes (in a timely manner) and their minutes record opposed votes (regardless of whether there is a recorded vote).

I know these are "only recommendations" but, since Council has told the Minister that they are implementing all recommendations, it is effectively cast in stone. They tend to take these reports as gospel, over and above the law. (They also adhere to the outdated "Land, Legal, Labour" rule for confidentiality recommended in a 2009 report.)


2013 Municipality of Crowsnest Pass Municipal Inspection, page 41

Council decisions are preceded by a motion and the vote on the motion is recorded in the minutes. The expectation of a council is that there is debate on motions and that there will be motions that are not supported by all councillors. However, once the motion has been voted on the expectation is that all councillors will support the decision made by council. We identified an issue in the notes, specifically in recording the difference between motions that are “carried unanimously” versus a motion that is noted as “carried”.

When recording the difference between motions carried unanimously versus a motion that was not unanimous, it demonstrates the cases where Council was split on a motion. This provides a clear signal of when all Councillors are in agreement and potentially could create a perception of the Municipality that if a motion is not carried unanimously then it is not as important as one that is carried unanimously.


Calgary Procedure Bylaw

56. The City Clerk shall:

(1) ensure that all Minutes of Meetings are recorded in the English language, without note or comment;

(2) record the names of the Members voting on a challenge to a ruling of the Mayor, Sections 80 to 82;

(3) record the names of the Members opposed to a motion;

(4) record the names of those who vote for and against a motion in the Minutes when a roll call or a recorded vote is taken;

Monday, 12 January 2015

Secretive Land Sales at Bargain Prices

There have been several sales of public land recently, at prices (per square foot) less than half of the assessment of nearby properties. The MGA says both assessment and sale prices must be "market value". There may be legitimate reasons for these low valuations, but since everything is done in secret we have no way of knowing. According to the CNP "Disposal of Municipal Property" policy:
2.6 If Council elects to sell the lands or improvements, the Chief Administrative Officer, or designate, shall have an appraisal done on the subject property to assist in establishing the fair market value price.
2.8 A notice will be placed in the local newspaper(s) for two consecutive weeks advising of the intended sale of the property.
Have you seen any notices? I think the appraisals are public information according to FOIP. There should also be an appraisal on the land being given to Chinook to settle the lawsuit.