Tuesday, February 2, 2010  
   Volume 80 - Issue 5 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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Quote of the Week
“The gallery is for the community, so this is a show essentially for people in the community who want to put something in.”
- Belinda Belseck  
- on the open community   
exhibit at the Art Gallery   

 

Community-based recommendations to be considered
in municipal planning
 
The Crowsnest Revitalization Initiative, formed in the first half of 2009, is a locally formed committee with members representing numerous areas of the community, come together with one purpose in mind -- to look into potential options to help revitalize the economy in the Crowsnest Pass.
Chaired by Shane Stewart of Clanswest Development and Shar Lazzarotto of Communinty Futures, the committee members together contributed more than 300 volunteer hours to the project. The committee presented its goals to council in April of 2009, and now they have submitted their final report and recommendations for council's consideration.
"We're looking for some positive things to happen in the community," says Lazzarotto. "We're hoping that some of the changes can be made."
She says that the initiative goes along with other planning efforts in the Pass, such as the Crowsnest Advisory Committee, and Community Future's local business survey.
Lazzarotto says that the committee featured a good cross-section of people from the community. It included representatives from the local business community, the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre, the Quad Squad, the Conservation Society, the Affordable Housing Committee, the Historical Society, the Chamber of Commerce, the Municipality, and the hospital.
The committee developed a simple vision statement to sum up its goals and where it wants the community to be: "The Crowsnest Pass is a vibrant mountain community with a growing diverse economy supporting a healthy quality of life for residents while respecting our natural and historic resources."
Their report notes that only 15 percent of the local tax base is generated from commercial sources, compared to 28 percent in Claresholm, 34 percent in Pincher Creek, and 36 percent in Fernie. The remaining 85 percent is generated from residential properties.
Combined with the fact that the local population officially declined by 8.2 percent between 2001 and 2006, in a period when Alberta's population grew by 10.6 percent, the report contends that this is not sustainable for the municipality's funding of current services.
In addition, notes the report, the average age in the community is 48, making us on average the oldest community in Alberta. "We are aging more quickly in the Crowsnest Pass because our youth is leaving town due to lack of opportunity," the report says.
Finally, it says, 34.6 percent of residents earn less than $25,000 a year, making it impossible for all residents to keep up with municipal tax increases that are greater than the rate of inflation.
"Any one of these statistics could prove debilitating to any community," says the report, "but when all of these trends combine in concert during the greatest recession we have experienced in decades the result could prove disastrous in the Crowsnest Pass.
"To all residents, this reality needs to be reinforced, the quality of life that has been enjoyed for generations is in real danger if we do not make major changes very quickly.
"While these threats are real, we must not allow ourselves to become buried in doom (and) gloom. Our little community that truly is the jewel of the Rockies has experienced adversity before. In fact, this is what has shaped our proud and independent heritage over the last hundred or so years. What we need to do is to shape a vision, (a) strategic blueprint for our future direction and be proactive in a speedy implementation and action plan to chip away at our challenges one at a time."
The committee looked at four areas that are part of the Municipal Sustainability Planning guidelines -- human elements, economic development, environmental stewardship, and local resources.
 
They were unanimous in the idea that tourism is the only "shovel ready" industry that the Pass has available in the short term in order to grow the economy and create more jobs.
"It was determined that we need (to) improve our image, clean up our look, create a brand for the community and address perception issues that have developed over the years ... we need to focus on community enhancement projects that improve the quality of life of residents and visitors alike."
The report contains specific recommendations in numerous areas, including but not limited to the following.
- Create a task force to work on a succession plan and recruitment of medical staff, including surgeons, anaesthetists, and dentists.
- Look into the growing need to replace aging volunteers in the community.
- Explore the cost savings of potentially consolidating the fire departments under one Crowsnest Pass fire chief.
- Examine the feasibility of centralizing Public Works in the Frank Industrial Park, with a smaller shop in Coleman.
- Look into creating a Performing Arts Centre and an arts steering and promotion committee.
- Hire an overall event coordinator for the Pass to coordinate events in a professional manner, secure sponsorships and volunteers, perform marketing, and attract new events.
- Advocate senior housing and assisted living facilities. Explore the possibility of a pilot project focusing on perpetual affordable housing created by the community.
- Establish a committee to pursue post secondary education opportunities, such as the Centre of Excellence proposal.
- Council should help maintain and expand the Education Consortium in the community to provide upgrading and post secondary opportunities to residents.
- Develop a land map of potential industrial land, and provide servicing of industrial lands and tax incentives for the relocation of industry to the Pass.
- Improve high speed internet access.
- Target light manufacturing, such as solar panel manufacturing, windmill component manufacturing, and tire recycling.
- Create architectural controls and guidelines to maintain quality external appearances of all buildings.
- Develop destination events, expanding on existing events to build on their central theme.
- Work toward attracting a large hotel with convention facilities, either through River Run or somewhere else.
- Actively support a destination attraction concept, something unique that will attract visitors. Find a way to bring a chair lift to the ski hill.
- Lobby the provincial government to provide a set plan and timetable for the future of Highway 3, to give economic certainty for businesses and land along the route.
- Enforce existing bylaws and ensure effective follow-through. Remove council involvement with bylaw enforcement and allow administration to carry out policy.
- A greater focus on sidewalk repair.
- Create a ten-year plan for all parks and public spaces, and develop a local bylaw or plan for developers to include parks and walking trails in their area structure plan.
- Define and designate critical wildlife crossings on Highway 3, and encourage the province to support over- or under-passes for wildlife.
- Provide more public education on weed control.
- Encourage the municipality to begin planning and budgeting long-term for a new public multi-use recreation centre.
- Minimize the impact of development and logging as it affects viewscapes.
Council is expected to review this report and its many recommendations as part of this year's municipal sustainability planning process, which will take place this spring.
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   Volume 80 - Issue 5 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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