June 27th, 2018 ~ Vol. 89 No. 26
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Municipality hosts open house
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
ANNA KROUPINA
Pass Herald Reporter
In many ways, Crowsnest Pass is at a crossroads of change and opportunity as new and ongoing projects, both big and small, have the ability to improve the community.

The municipality held an open house at the MDM on June 20 to inform residents on some of the changes and projects coming up. Councillors and members of Administration had an opportunity to connect with the public face-to-face, answer questions directly and gather feedback.

“It's a very influential time in the community right now that will really set the direction that it will be heading in the next decade. We encourage people to give their input and their feedback because these are the processes that are going to decide what services or changes there are and what things are going to be done differently,” says Chief Administrative Officer Patrick Thomas, who highlighted several upcoming and in progress projects like the start of the drafting of the Municipal Development Plan (MDP), Council’s upcoming strategic vision sessions that will set their direction for the community for the next five to 10 years, the Highway 3 Functional Planning study and Travel Alberta’s marketing of Castle Parks and the surrounding region.

Below is a summary of some prominent topics displayed at the open house.

The previous municipal open house was held on May 31, 2016.
Finance

Utilities billing

Starting July 1, 2018, the municipality will be moving from bi-monthly utility billing to monthly statements.

The first payment will be due July 31, 2018. Residents may expect to see two invoice amounts on their first monthly bill. This is a carry-forward of half the bi-monthly bill because both the old bi-monthly and the new monthly statements fall on the same due date. The municipality has waived the late penalty until September 15, 2018.

The municipality is also encouraging residents to sign up to e-send, a way to receive monthly utility bills electronically through email as opposed to a paper copy in the mail. With e-send, residents can check their statements at any time and make a payment online.

As an incentive to encourage residents to sign up, the municipality is also offering a $2 monthly rebate for six months for the first 750 residents who sign up as of July 2018. The promotion would offer a total of $12 reduction over a six-month period.

In addition to pre-authorized debit transactions for utility bills, residents can complete all transactions online without having to leave their home and reduce the risk of late payment.
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According to Ola Oladele, Director of Finance, if 1,500 accounts were on e-send – approximately half of all active utility accounts - the monthly savings for the municipality would be approximately $850, or $10,000 per year.

“The benefit to us is that it’s more efficient,” says Oladele. “It saves staff time and allows us to save money on staff hours, envelopes and postage. If you think about that five or 10 years from now, the more people sign up over the long run, that number does add up.”
Seniors rebate

Seniors who own their home and are receiving Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) from the federal government are eligible for a Utility Rate Reduction Program where they pay utility rates two years behind the current year’s rates.

This means that seniors on the Utility Rate Reduction program are currently paying utility rates for 2016.

"This was Council's way of making things more affordable for our seniors," says Oladele.

Municipal planning

Representatives from the Oldman River Regional Services Commission (ORRSC) displayed information on population and demographics of the municipality, explanation of the purpose and components of the Municipal Development Plan (MDP), and subdivision and development statistics. ORRSC is currently at the start of the process of gathering information in preparation of drafting an MDP for Crowsnest Pass.
“At this time we are gathering information, providing information and doing data collection exercises,” says Ryan Dyck, a planner with ORRSC. “Once all that’s together we will prepare a background report, review that with council to present our findings, then work with them towards establishing a vision and recommendations for policies, future land use and growth. At this time, we’re in the early phase of collecting information.”

The MDP is a document that provides guidance and direction with respect to land use and zoning. Thomas called it “one of the most important planning documents” for the future direction of the municipality.

According to Thomas, the MDP is typically revisited every five years. The latest MDP for the municipality is from 2001, which he says makes it challenging to provide a consistent direction.

ORRSC expects to host open houses in spring 2019 for public input on an MDP draft.
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Water meters

Although Council has not passed any motion going ahead with the installation of water meters in the community, the concept is on their agenda.

“We are one of the only communities in Alberta to not have water meters,” says Thomas. “When talking to the province about different grant funding, they mention that we don’t hold any accountability for water consumption. Being in a closed basin and being part of the headwaters, we are getting a strong push that we should be more of a leader in conservation. Our per capita consumption is three to five times average consumption rates per person in Alberta.”

According to consultations the municipality engaged several years ago, the cost of purchasing and installing water meters is approximately $2.3 million. For homeowners, the purchase and installation cost is approximately $600.

Council has not decided which, if any, costs to pass on to homeowner, but Thomas says that the intent is not to raise the average person’s bill.
“It’s not looking to make more money, it's looking at being more accountable. Our aim would be to try to set a rate that would generate the same revenue as we’re doing now so that we don’t get a huge influx or deficit. For the average household, their bill would be roughly the same as it is today,” he says.

Thomas points out that as a benefit to the homeowner, water meters have the ability to identify leaks by detecting when there is continuous flow and send a notification on the next bill prompting investigation. The municipality can also check flow coming out of reservoirs and identify losses or leaks in the distribution system.

Protective Services

Grant Love, the Community Peace Officer for the municipality, has received his appointment from Solicitor General’s office, which means he is able to patrol moving violations. This also means that you can catch him around town patrolling in the new CPO vehicle, which he was prohibited from doing prior to receiving his appointment.

While awaiting his full designation, Grant says he has been focusing on bylaw violations and resident complaints, reducing the file number from 110 when he first started the position to 90.
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At a meeting on June 19, Council requested that Administration look into providing a monthly report how many tickets the CPO has issued and how many requests he has dealt with.

Downtown Coleman Streetscape Revitalization

The Downtown Coleman Revitalization project is expected to break ground in mid-July and take approximately eight weeks to complete from that point.

The municipality expects to post for tender with the project this week.
Albert Stella Memorial Arena

The public was invited to provide input and ideas on what they would like to see happen with the ASMA facility. ASMA is in need of extensive upgrades and repairs and needs to either be renovated or demolished. A 2011 study quoted a preliminary renovations estimation at $4.5 million.

"Council is looking for feedback on what sorts of things the community wants so that we can gauge what we should consider. Should it be a new facility? Should it be revitalization? Or is it too much for us and we should wait to replace at a later date? Nothing is for sure,” says Thomas.
At a Governance and Priorities meeting on April 17, the Crowsnest Cultural and Recreation Society (Cando) proposed that Council lease the building to the local group that would operate the facility. They further presented a concept vision of turning ASMA into an adventure park.

“It’s not that these ideas are on or off the table," says Thomas. “It gave council a different look at what could be done and created some interesting discussion on the topic.”

Community Services

The Pass Community Pool has introduced a new “Flex Pass” that allows five consecutive-day access to the pool at a reduced fee than paying the daily rate for five days.

According to Joey O’Brien, Manager of Community Services, this is an option that may appeal to people visiting the community for several days.

The pool will also be hosting themed parties on Saturdays during public swim and on Wednesdays, there will be special events and games for kids.

According to Thomas, pool renovations should be complete by the end of this week. Installation of the roof shingles was completed last week and remaining tasks include door installation and general cleanup.

The Pass Powderkeg Ski Area has launched their summer programming and are hosting a Friday-night Hike & Dine for $99 guided by Uplift Adventures and weekly steak nights, with both events catered by chef Alejandro Verdi. The municipality has also purchased five e-bikes which will be available to rent.
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June 27th, 2018 ~ Vol. 89 No. 26
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