Thursday, December 20, 2007

Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate this way and Happy Holidays to those who do not. This is a special time of year regardless of religious belief or affiliation, a time when we tend to gather families and friends together and to celebrate all that is good in our lives.

I'd like to extend my hopes to all for a safe and joyous holiday season and wishes for a happy and prosperous 2008.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Thanks, Bill

I'm still learning about blogs and what makes them interesting. The person whose blog inspired me to start my own is Bill Given, Alderman for the City of Grande Prairie, so imagine how delighted I was when he added a link on his blog to mine. Thanks very much, Bill. Of course, this set me to figuring out how to add links of interest to MY blog (see the new section under my photo) and Bill's is the first entry. Learning just never stops.

I like to keep an eye on what is going on in other places, especially the cities, for emerging issues, programming ideas, or creative policy solutions that may be applicable to Peace River. Bill's blog gives me lots of food for thought as well as a window into what is happening in our largest Northern Alberta urban neighbour. (Full disclosure: GP is my home town, although I've lived in Peace River longer than GP and the place is unrecognizable from when I left in 1973, when there was a population of 10,000!)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Council Open House: December 14

I should have written this post days ago to give readers some notice--my apologies. This afternoon (Friday) from 3:00 to 6:00 is Council's seasonal open house in the Council Chambers. We're hoping to see many community members drop in to say hello and have some refreshments.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Town Council agendas and background materials

If you're interested in seeing what's on the agenda for Monday's meeting, you can download or just view the agenda, draft minutes (from November 26), and all the reports, background materials and informational items for the week at:{8D18BE5D-3654-43DE-B91A-208C0978DD34}

Click on Agenda Packages (2007). Note that the background information is not maintained beyond the week or so after a meeting because it is replaced with the items for subsequent meetings. If there is anything you want to keep, print or save.

Canada Post's Santa Writing Program and launch of Peace stamp

On Friday I had the pleasure of representing the Town of Peace River at Springfield School, where Canada Post chose to launch one of its new stamps (Peace) and to accept letters to Santa from the students.

Christmas is so much more fun when little ones are involved! We sang some seasonal songs, then I was presented with a lovely frame that includes the three seasonal stamps (Peace, Hope and Joy), all cancelled with the special Peace River cancellation stamp. We'll find a suitable place to hang this at the Town Office. You can view the stamps at:

Once the presentation was over, the children brought up their letters to Santa and got a hug from the Canada Post mascot (whose name unfortunately escapes me) and also a candy cane and pencil. The school and Canada Post did a great job of putting on the launch and opportunity for the kids to mail their Santa letters.

Over 11,000 current and retired Canada Post employees act as Santa's helpers and answer all the letters received at Santa Claus, North Pole, H0H 0H0, Canada, in over 20 languages, including Braille. Last year Santa received over 1 million letters from around the world, and also more than 30,000 emails from children who used the Canada Post website. This has led to a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most Santa letters received and answered. Congratulations and thank you to Canada Post for helping children enjoy this bit of Christmas magic.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Tour of Town of Peace River Facilities

On Monday, Mayor and Town Councillors took a tour of the Town of Peace River facilities. CAO, Kelly Bunn, led the tour, introducing us to staff at the Town Office first, then up to our old water treatment plant, down to the museum, the pool and arena, the wastewater plant past Good Shepherd School, the town shop, the water treatment plant, and then a couple of reservoirs. It was a long day and we even had to skip a few places because of a lack of time, like the NAR building where the Chamber of Commerce operates , and the library, which is closed on Mondays.

We all really appreciated the time everyone took to explain their jobs and facilities, and what a complex variety there is. How different could facilities like a museum be from a wastewater plant? From taxation and utilities billing to water treatment or public works? Or from keeping a a library functioning and interesting to the challenges of the arena and pool? Keeping a town humming requires a huge number of skills and a wide array of professional and trades education backgrounds and we are fortunate to have such a dynamic and committed group of people working for the Town.

There seems to be high morale and a great deal of pride among staff, which is so great to see! Everyone is working hard, probably too hard as most of us in Alberta seem to be, but handling the myriad responsibilities that workers in small towns, regardless of what field they are in, are confronted with in a typical day. There's little room for specialists in small town and rural areas and Town of Peace River staff seem to accept and even thrive in this environment.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

AUMA Conference

The Town of Peace River and every other city, town, village and summer village in Alberta are members of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) ( This association was founded in 1905, the same year that Alberta became a province, to represent the interests of urban municipalities.

This year's conference, held in Calgary, was quite an experience for the rookie Town of Peace River councillors. I don't have official numbers, but heard a rough estimate of around 1300+ in attendance. The huge number of people from smaller places compared with the small numbers from the cities helps me understand why the mayors of Edmonton and Calgary feel outnumbered when resolutions come before the assembly.

Three of the four new councillors (Heinen, Laurin and I) attended a pre-conference session geared towards newcomers. The packed room heard high-level speakers on a variety of topics that will assist us in becoming effective councillors:
  • Municipal law with an overview of the legislation that affects municipalities (primarily the Municipal Government Act, but there are a number of others).
  • Robert's Rules and meeting decorum in general.
  • Two sessions dealing with governance and achieving excellence in municipal governance. Some of what leads to excellence includes having vision and direction, making decisions consistent with Council's aims and goals, letting management achieve these aims, and overseeing to ensure that mandate is achieved. One speaker recommended that we all download the 20 Questions for Directors series of booklets from the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA). These are on topics like privacy, risk, management discussion and analysis, and strategy. They were primarily written for the directors of corporations, but can be applicable to municipal officials as well. The booklets are available in PDF format at:
  • Teamwork. It's an important topic, particularly in today's time of needing to consider partnerships and collaboration, but this session was too cursory for my needs.
  • Infrastructure. This is an important topic these days when we speak about sustainable communities as Canada's infrastructure reaches critical stages of decay. A recent report from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) estimated that there is a $123 billion deficit in infrastructure without even accounting for new infrastructure that needs to be built in response to growth (that report can be found at Councillors were encouraged to ask administration six questions about infrastructure: What do we own? What is it worth? What is its condition? What is the deferred maintenance? What is the remaining service life? What do you need to fix first? I also attended another session later in the conference entitled Paved With Good Intentions: Planning for Sustainable Community Infrastructure.
One other session that I attended was on affordable housing, but since it was primarily about the way in which Canmore has tackled the problem using what is called perpetual affordable housing (PAH), it was interesting and there may be applications locally, but I 'd have liked to hear about other kinds of approaches as well.

During the meeting portions of the conference I learned how resolutions come forward and are voted on. I spent hours at the trade fair looking at products and services.

Premier Stelmach attended the conference to receive an award and he gave a short speech. There were a host of provincial Ministers in attendance for a Q&A session and at a luncheon.

The three days left me with pages and pages of notes, handouts and business cards to catalogue and plenty to think about. The learning ahead is tremendous and the conference was a good introduction.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Upcoming Activities

On Tuesday night (November 27th), mayor, council and CAO are heading to Calgary on a Northern Air charter to attend the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) conference and trade show (Wednesday to Friday) at the Telus Conference Centre, returning Saturday morning. Previous councils found that chartering a flight is the most cost-effective way (saving time and money) to get a group from Peace River to Calgary and back again.

I'll be attending a variety of sessions at the conference, including a day-long one for new councillors called "So I've Been Elected, Now What Do I Do?" It will be a good opportunity to meet other newcomers and also become acquainted with the AUMA's Elected Officials Training modules that are in development and scheduled for release in 2008. I've signed up for other sessions on Thursday and Friday but am not sure which ones I'll actually get to attend, so will save the descriptions until I'm back.

On December 10, I'll attend the Medical Student Training Symposium in Grande Prairie on behalf of Peace River Council. The symposium is "designed to bring community stakeholders and regional organizations together with the important purpose of helping to establish goals and direction to aid the Health Care Workforce Education Partnership Committee with its efforts to create capacity for medical student training in Northern Alberta."

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Council Portfolio

I missed the council meeting on Tuesday (Nov. 13) due to a commitment in Edmonton for that week. At the meeting, the committees and boards on which we'll serve were decided and here is what I'll be doing, based on the draft minutes (to be confirmed on the 26th):
  • Aboriginal Interagency Committee (I have no details on the frequency of meetings, likely monthly)

  • Assessment Review Board (all councillors serve on this; it meets annually and makes decisions on complaints relating to all assessments other than linear assessments. Since I don't what what a linear assessment IS, I'll need to learn more about this)

  • Peace Country Health Community Health Council (the council provides advice to the Peace Country Health Board; facilitates two-way communication with the community; acts as a forum for public input on health needs; and promotes awareness of health resources, programs and services)

  • East Peace Landfill Authority (alternate for Jim Hancock, Don Good and Neil Martin)

  • Health & Safety/Risk Management Committee (meets monthly to discuss health and safety issues of the Town)

  • Intermunicipal Mutual Aid Committee (meets as necessary to discuss proposed projects, etc.)

  • Land of the Mighty Peace Tourist Association (alternate for Wanda Laurin)

  • Peace River Centennial Museum Board (alternate for Neil Martin)

  • Peace River Municipal Library Board (meets monthly)

  • Subdivision & Development Appeal Committee (meets as necessary to hear appeals relating to subdivision and/or development application decisions)

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Workshop: Relationships, Roles & Responsibilities for Council, Councillors & Administrators

On Friday, November 2, our mayor, Iris Callioux, and the four new councillors (Jim Hancock, Wanda Laurin, Berry Heinen, and myself) attended an all-day workshop hosted by the Town of Grimshaw and presented by Alberta Municipal Affairs & Housing. Councillors and administrators from Grimshaw and the MD of Peace (#135) were also in attendance.

Through lectures and activities, we were educated about a wide variety of topics and reviewed relevant sections of the Municipal Government Act (MGA) (available online at:

It was interesting to learn that a municipality is a corporation with the same powers as a "natural person," except where those powers are limited by the MGA or other legislation. What these "natural person" powers do is give councils flexibility in how the municipality is organized and administered, what services are provided, and the delivery of those services.

We looked at the roles and responsibilities of councillors (section 153 of the MGA), of which there are many! The Chief Elected Official (CEO), who is called a mayor or reeve, has duties in addition to those of a councillor, and those were reviewed as well.

There was considerable time spent on the concept of "pecuniary interest," which is what most people think of as conflict of interest (section 170). The MGA sets out the procedure we need to follow if we have a pecuniary interest in an item that comes up at a meeting, and we did an exercise to give us practice in distinguishing situations where a person would need to exclude him/herself from discussion and decision-making.

The MGA describes pecuniary interest as something that could monetarily affect the councillor, his/her spouse, adult interdependent partners or children, the councillor's or councillor's spouse's/adult interdependent partner's parents, or a business that employs the councillor or one in which the councillor has an interest.

We found out how a councillor can be disqualified (section 174 of the MGA), for instance, by not voting at meetings, by missing all council meetings in an 8-week period, or by being convicted or an offense punishable for five or more years. These are just some of the ways to be disqualified.

Council decision-making processes were discussed in some detail, as were the procedures used at meetings, agenda formats, minutes, etc.

It was a day well-spent in meeting councillors from other municipalities, spending time with members of Peace River Town Council, and in learning a great deal about our new roles and responsibilities. Many thanks to the Town of Grimshaw for scheduling this session and inviting us to participate.

When we attend the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) conference in Calgary at the end of the month (November 28-30), we'll have the opportunity to spend another day on orientation activities for new councillors, which should reinforce what we've already learned and perhaps also introduce new information. It will also be an excellent opportunity to meet new councillors from around the province. The full conference program is available at:

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Community Health Council Forum: October 26-27, 2007

This Forum is held annually by Peace Country Health (PCH) for members of the Community Health Councils (CHCs) and I was pleased to be able to attend on behalf of Peace River Town Council. This was the first year that municipal officials (other than those already active on the CHCs) were invited.

Community Health Councils are established and disestablished by regional health authorities, according to provincial legislation. The PCH website describes CHCs as working to: Provide advice to the Peace Country Health Board; facilitate two-way communication with the community; act as a forum for public input on health needs; and promote awareness of health resources, programs and services. More information on PCH CHCs can be found at:

The forum included representatives from CHCs from Peace River as well as Grimshaw, Manning, Smoky River, Worsley, Sexsmith, Beaverlodge, Hythe, Fox Creek, Grande Cache, Tri-Settlement (Gift Lake, Peavine and East Prairie), High Prairie, and Central Peace. There are also CHCs in Fairview and Faust but there were no representatives at the Forum.


Following the afternoon Trade Fair, with displays by community organizations and PCH programs and services, there was a dinner and welcoming remarks from Peace Country Health Board Chair Marvin Moore. Following this, verbal reports were given by CHC representatives, with the level of activity for councils varying. Julie Gour reported on behalf of the Peace River CHC, which has a fairly low level of activity and is experiencing difficulties recruiting members.


On Friday night and Saturday there were updates on PCH activities in areas such as workforce recruitment and retention, funding, deficit-combating initiatives, capital planning, strategic planning, primary health network development in the region and the upcoming year.


We also received a detailed update on the new Peace Country Regional Health Centre, which will be constructed just outside Grande Prairie and be designed to serve the whole region. The QEII Hospital will be renovated to accommodate administration and community-based programs. PCH is currently working with architects on the design of the new facility and there have been a number of public and professional consultations, with more planned. See the link below for the PowerPoint presentation.

PRESENTATIONS: Seniors Falls Skit (Beaverlodge CHC) and Living Well

Members of the Beaverlodge CHC did an entertaining skit on falls and PCH staff presented information on healthy living.


The afternoon panel featured five experts who provided different perspectives on how industrial development affects human health. Speakers included:

  • Dr. Albert de Villiers, Peace Country Health Medical Officer of Health.
  • Jim Meagher, Peace Country Health’s Director of Environmental Public Health and a co-founder of the Peace Air Shed Zone Association.
  • Dr. Warren Kindzierski, Associate Professor of Environmental Health Services in the University of Alberta School of Public Health.
  • Dr. Stephan Gabos, Senior Science Advisor, Surveillance and Environmental Health, Public Health Division in Alberta Health & Wellness.
  • Douglas Haines, Manager of the Environmental Health Surveillance Division in Health Canada’s Safe Environments Programme (Ottawa).

The PowerPoint presentation for each speaker as well as the PC Regional Health Centre update and the Living Well presentation are available at:

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Swearing in and first Council meeting

Monday was the first formal get-together for the new mayor and Council. At 5:00, we gathered in Council Chambers, before the public portion of the meeting, to get settled into the spot where we'll sit for the next three years and to learn how to use the computer at that station.

Once we were settled into our new spots, Mayor Callioux welcomed us with a few remarks. Then Kelly Bunn, CAO (Chief Administrative Officer), did a PowerPoint presentation on the realities of life as a councillor. This is a presentation he has done with each new Council since joining the Town of Peace River. The main points that I took away, which are consistent with what I have learned from board development workshops, were:
  • the CAO is the only employee of Council. All Town staff report to and are directed by the CAO, therefore Council members may not direct staff but may make issues or concerns known to the CAO. This keeps the lines of responsibility and accountability clear and avoids the confusion that could arise if a staff member was receiving instructions or requests from a councillor and the CAO.
  • Council sets the direction of the Town through policy that is articulated by resolutions/motions.
  • We're not expected to agree all the time, but to come to decisions through respectful discussion and debate. An effective Council is more likely to result if we all listen well to the points of views of others as well as express our own.
We delayed the selection of the various committees and boards that we'll participate on until we've had more time to consider the options.

Berry Heinen was appointed Deputy Mayor for one year, with the full support of Council, based on his receiving the highest number of votes in the election. Next year Council will nominate and elect the Deputy Mayor.

At 6:00, which was the start of the public portion of the meeting, we were joined by the media and sworn in/affirmed by Judge Rick McIntosh, who also offered remarks on the responsibilities we have undertaken.

Mayor Callioux effectively guided the meeting and we worked our way through a fairly lengthy agenda. I was impressed with the level of discussion and thoughtful questions and comments. The CAO and experienced council members answered questions and provided background, which certainly helped me, as a newcomer, to feel comfortable.

Following the public portion of the meeting, we moved in camera for discussion about a personnel issue, and then back out in order to make a motion.

I'm grateful for the board experience I had before being elected to Town Council, which enabled me to feel less overwhelmed than I might otherwise have been, and I enjoyed this first meeting. We next meet on Monday, November 5, for a planning session (this is not open to the public), and the following week is our second Council meeting.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Getting Right Into It!

With the election over, we are now getting right into our new role. On Friday we picked up our Town Council orientation binders and on Saturday the new mayor and council attended the Chamber of Commerce Davis Awards on Saturday night--our first public event since being elected. It felt a little odd to be a local "celebrity" all of a sudden! The evening was a lot of fun and I was very impressed with the talents of the local residents who did such a great job of bringing a Grammy Awards feel to the evening.

Tonight the serious stuff starts--we'll learn how to use the computers in the Council Chambers, and then get sworn in before participating in our first council meeting. The agenda and supporting documents are available on the Town's website at:{18E34156-0336-40DA-8043-979F6075210E}

On Friday, November 2, we will attend a full-day orientation session done by Alberta Municipal Affairs in Grimshaw on "Relationships, Roles and Responsibilities." This will give us a great opportunity to meet other new councillors in the region along with receiving training in our new role.

Later in November (28-30), we'll attend the AUMA (Alberta Urban Municipalities Association) annual convention and AMSC Trade Show in Calgary. New councillors can attend a full day session on Wednesday called "So I've Been Elected, Now What Do I Do?" I'm looking forward to meeting new councillors from all over Alberta and learning more about this new job I've taken on.

Sessions on Thursday include a wide variety topics that I'm interested in. We can choose from sessions on sustainable community infrastructure, partnering, risk assessment, reducing energy costs, climate change adaptation, a small communities symposium and increasing women's participation in municipal government.

On Friday, we can choose from sessions on regional challenges, sustaining the land resource, the Rural Alberta Development Fund, working effectively with Aboriginal groups, affordable housing, and being a good councillor. The full program can be viewed on the AUMA website at:

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Blog Action Day Results

The results of the 2007 Blog Action Day on the environment are available at this website: Bloggers registered for the day and Technorati tracked the action.

Be sure to check out the graph showing the impact on the blogosphere for Monday--impressive!

Here are some of the stats:
  • 20,603 Blogs Participated
  • 23,327 Blog Posts
  • 14,631,038 RSS Readers (this indicates only a small number of readers)
You can see links to a variety of blogs that participated in the Action Day on this website's October 15 entry:

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Election Results

What a rookie blogger mistake--in all the excitement of the election on Monday, I forgot to post the results here yesterday!

Iris Callioux defeated incumbent Lorne Mann, bringing a new era to Peace River Town Council as (if I have my history correct) the first woman mayor. Congratulations on an effective and hard-fought campaign!

I'm thrilled to be among the new councillors, who also include Berry Heinen, Jim Hancock and Wanda Laurin. The new Council is fortunate to also have depth of experience with the return of incumbents Don Good and Neil Martin as well as the experience on another council that Jim Hancock brings.

Voters appear to have measured the successes of the former Council and Mayor against what they hope for the future, which includes more openness in how Council conducts its business and attention to issues that go beyond (as well as include) economic development. I think the next three years are going to be exciting and challenging.

Many thanks to those who won't be returning to Council--Lorne Mann, Geoff Milligan, Tom Day, and Gordon Troup. Their commitment to the Town over their past years of service is much appreciated. I hope that once they've had a chance to overcome their disappointment at not being re-elected they will find ways to enjoy having more free time or find exciting new opportunities for their experience and energy.

For the new Mayor and Council, the next weeks and months will mean a huge learning curve, starting on Monday with our first meeting and swearing in. Whew--what have we got ourselves into? Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Blog Action Day: The Environment

Today (Monday, October 15) is Blog Action Day. The website asks bloggers to unite on one issue--the environment. Blog Action Day is about mass participation.

I decided to take a look at a resource I've had for awhile--Community Energy Workbook: A Guide to Building a Sustainable Economy (1995) from the Rocky Mountain Institute (

The book provides a blueprint for helping a community to identify ways it can reduce energy consumption while building sustainability into its economy. Although the book seems to be mostly geared towards larger urban areas, I'm sure there are ways we could adapt for a smaller town like Peace River.

The book talks about the characteristics of communities that have led in finding ways to improve their economies through energy planning. These include:
  • Widespread awareness of energy alternatives
  • Incentives to change
  • Community and political support
  • Strong local leadership
  • Ability to mobilize resources
  • An effective organization to carry the effort on, year after year
Could we find ways to develop the characteristics listed above? Perhaps a new Town Council with a commitment to community consultation and mobilization can begin to move us in that direction. And as citizens, we can encourage our local politicians to see energy sustainability as an issue worth working on.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Meeting People

I had the pleasure today of wandering around my neighbourhood, talking with people about my candidacy. It's shocking to discover how few of them I've ever met despite living near one another for years.

What helps people get to know each other? Kids can be a catalyst for stopping to talk as can pets. But if you don't have kids or animals, how do you meet people in the neighbourhood, or get past simply saying "hello" and then going back to our busy lives?

Maybe the Town could find a way to encourage block parties or other ways of creating a sense of neighbourhood. Something to think about ...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Election Forum

How exciting to have been through my first forum, as a candidate, and to have such great responses from people about my speech and platform.

There was a pretty good turnout, although I had hoped there would be standing room only. Maybe a bit optimistic, but with around 275+ people, it was a pretty good turnout.

I was impressed with the thought that had gone into many of the speeches (5 minutes for mayoralty candidates and 3 minutes for the councillor candidates). Unfortunately, some gratuitously nasty comments by the current mayor seriously detracted from the evening for me.

There seemed to be some continuity among candidates in the desire to see more planning and public consultation, although SAYING you want it and actually getting it done are two different things. Public engagement is an important part of my vision for identifying future direction and I'm committed to doing my best to getting it done, whether or not I'm elected.

There were a number of thought-provoking questions during the Q&A and many people stayed afterwards to talk to candidates and others. I had a chance to speak with many people, including some I didn't already know, so that was a rewarding part of the evening.

Onward to Monday's vote!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Election Forum Tonight

Tonight's the BIG night--the election forum at the Sawridge Hotel at 6:00. There could be a large crowd if the conversations I've been having with people are any indication.

It's very good for a community when there is discussion around issues and often an election is what really gets people talking (an election and oh, perhaps a proposed nuclear power plant...).

Without this community discussion, citizens and politicians alike can get too complacent. Many people have told me that it's nice to have a choice in candidates and that they think it will be good to have some new faces on Council. We'll know next week whether I'm one of those new faces!

Issues I'm hearing about include:
  • Town Council accountability and transparency
  • Regional cooperation
  • Citizen involvement in planning and visioning
  • Energy policy
  • Maintaining/improving quality of life along with economic development
  • The health of the downtown area as development moves to the West Hill
  • Housing and social concerns like poverty and safety.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Vibrant Communities/Poverty

This morning I visited the Tamarack: An Institute for Community Engagement website ( for information on Stand Up Against Poverty events around the world on October 17, which has been recognized since 1992 by the United Nations as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty . You can see the list of Canadian events at:

Also on the Tamarack website is information about the Vibrant Communities initiative. Although there are no small towns involved, I wonder if we couldn't learn from the work being done in large urban centres? Edmonton and Calgary are involved as "Trail Blazer" communities so we have role models close by.

Vibrant Communities is described as "a community-driven effort to reduce poverty in Canada by creating partnerships that make use of our most valuable assets – people, organizations, businesses and governments. It’s a unique approach to poverty reduction that allows communities to learn from — and help — each other."

If you want to learn more, here's the URL:

The Poverty Action Committee is a small group of people in Peace River working on the issue , but they can't do it alone. What else could we be doing, as a community, to tackle poverty in our midst? Is there a role for Town Council?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Nuclear Power

Last Saturday night Dr. Gordon Edwards of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility ( kept a large crowd at the Catholic Conference Centre spellbound as he described the history of atomic energy, explained how nuclear power plants work, outlined concerns about uranium production, radiation, waste storage and disposal, and then answered questions and responded to comments.

Most people stayed until he finished speaking at 11:00 and there was a line-up to talk with him afterwards. The next morning, there were around 100 people at the pancake breakfast in Grimshaw and the discussion was apparently again lively.

People in the area are taking advantage of opportunities to learn about the issue from the variety of options, such as Energy Alberta's open houses, sessions put on by the Peace River Environmental Society, and, judging by comments made on Saturday, extensive use of resources available online.

Nuclear power is a rather large departure from the way Alberta currently generates electricity. Where is the provincial government in this discussion with public education and consultation and a full debate in the legislature? Where is the evidence that we actually need to generate this power? What effort has the province taken to reduce demand for electricity? Has enough help been given to alternative technologies? I have many questions!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Talking with People

I spent some time talking with people around town this afternoon and at the regular Wednesday night supper at the Senior's Drop-in. During the course of these conversations I heard about the nuclear power plant (one person being "pro" due to the need for energy in the future and the safety and pollution performance of nuclear compared with other energy production he'd seen; another hoping that if the plant is built, the town will do adequate planning for infrastructure). Several other people I've spoken with are wondering about the situation with the Town's CAO contract.

Peace River Museum, Archives and Mackenzie Center Public Consultation

Last night I attended the evening session of the public consultation undertaken by our museum. The museum staff and advisory board will use the public feedback to develop a new 5-year plan.

I think this is an exciting initiative, inviting community members to participate in the planning, and the large attendance seems to be an indication that people want to have a say in the direction of public institutions.

After introductions, an historical overview of the museum, a briefing about museums today, and comments from Gerry Osmond, Executive Director of the Alberta Museums Association, facilitator Larry Stewart led us through activities that helped us generate discussion and ideas and then organize those ideas.

Our museum has recently been designated a "Recognized Museum" by the Alberta Museums Association new accreditation program, becoming one of only 76 facilities in the province with that designation. Congratulations to all those who were involved with obtaining the designation!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

It's election time!

On September 17, I submitted my nomination papers to run for Town Council. To my surprise, 11 other people also did the same, so 12 of us are in the running for 6 positions. Since 5 incumbent councillors are running, and incumbents can be hard to beat, the competition for the one empty spot could be intense (as intense as small town politics gets, anyway!).

But how great that there will be a real election this year after everyone was elected by acclamation in the previous election. It's a good feeling to win an election because you know people supported you.

I hope we get a record voter turnout on October 15. All polls are at the Al Adair Rec Centre. Advance polls are on October 9 at the swimming pool and October 12 at Heritage Towers.