The Ratepayers Association held their monthly meeting at the Blairmore Legion on Wednesday, October 24th and an audience of nearly 200 people attended to voice their concerns regarding the municipality.
Pass Herald Reporter
The Ratepayer’s Association held their regular meeting last Wednesday to a packed house of close to 200 people. Moderator and President Bill Kovach gave updates on the petition aimed to review Crowsnest Pass’ current Municipal Council.
Kovach announced that as of Wednesday, October 24, the Ratepayer’s petition had 2,024 signatures and 30 people still had petition papers. The petition was first opened for signatures on October 11, 13 days before the meeting.
“We need to have these kinds of numbers,” said Kovach. “It will force the minister to take notice.”
The cutoff for signing the petition will be on Monday, October 29th. A delegation will then drive to Edmonton to deliver the petition to Doug Griffith, Municipal Affairs Minister.
Kovach explained that the Ratepayer’s Association is hoping to surpass the number of voters in the last election, held in October 2010, which had a number of around 2,700.
Kovach reminded his audience that the petition is not presented to Council; it goes straight to the Minister of Municipal Affairs.
Another topic highlighted at the meeting was the advertisement the Municipality printed in both the Pass Promoter and the Pass Herald.
The five-page advertisement over-viewed finances and spending accounts of the municipality.
“The money being spent and the increases from the Municipality are absolutely ridiculous,” said Kovach.
When opening the floor to questions, several audience members inquired about the fireworks that were discovered in the Blairmore Fire Hall.
People wanted to know who originally opened the vault and discovered the fiworks, which were stored legally by the Blairmore Fire Department. The large cache of fireworks was safely removed by the RCMP Explosive Disposal Unit, (EDU), in the morning of Tuesday, October 16th.
Many audience members were concerned with the decrease in fire personnel currently in the Crowsnest Pass. Over 90 per cent of the volunteer fire fighters turned in their pagers to the municipality in early October.
Another concern that was brought to attention was the lack of volunteerism in the Pass. “Council is hitting our volunteerism and we cannot live without our volunteers,” said an audience member. The decrease in volunteerism has left various boards short of members, one being the Economic Development Committee, which is unable to start up due to the lack of people willing to fill the positions needed for the group.
It was made clear from the audience that the taxpayers of the Crowsnest Pass are concerned about the increased spending of the municipality, especially when it comes to equipment, finance fees and the flawed communication between Council and the community.
When asked how many people have sent emails regarding their concerns to Council, about a dozen people raised their hands. When asked how many people received replies, only one person raised his hand.
Future meetings of the Ratepayer Association will be open to the public, as Kovach said that it is important to gather as much awareness of the concerns of locals as possible.
“We’re here because of our strength in numbers,” said Kovach.
Ratepayer’s meetings are held on the third Wednesday of every month.