Saturday, October 30, 2010

Peace River Town Council Committee of the Whole: November 1, 2010

Items on Monday's Committee of the Whole agenda include:
  • An update by Staff Sergeant Brian Bohlken, RCMP Detachment Commander, on the annual performance plan
  • The July and August RCMP reports
  • My request to join the library board as a public member 
  • A backgrounder from Wendy Nickel, the Town's Finance Manager, on the 2011 budget process. This budget process is intended to be completed earlier than in previous years, which is something CAO MacQuarrie has been moving staff towards for two years. I note that there is a budget open house scheduled for January 5, 2011. January 24 is the proposed date for Council to adopt the 2011 operating and capital budgets, with the tax rate bylaw to be passed in April.
  •  Significant Events for September and October 2010 from the CAO, Corporate Services Department (which includes Planning & Development, Communications and the official election results), Community Services Department (which includes Family & Community Support Services--FCSS, Recreation, & Administration), Protective Services (Fire Department & Bylaw Enforcement plus Safety Committee Meeting minutes), Engineering, Infrastructure & Public Works Department.

    From Corporate Services, note the initiative from the museum to join a project so that Peace River's historical bylaws from 1914 to 1964 can now be accessed. Note that the link in the report doesn't work. Bylaw No. 1 was about animal control--something the Town recent revisited. While dogs don't roam the way they did in 1914, animal control continues to be challenging--now it's uncontrolled barking dogs.

    Planning & Development: In September and October there were 2 commercial building permits issued (total value of $15,000 and 4 residents (total value of $721,700).

    Recreation: A first draft of the Parks and Trails Master Plan is being reviewed prior to presentation to Council on November 8. 
  • Request for Decision: Think Local Market Initiative (proposed website).
  • Request for Decision: Visitor Friendly Community Assessment draft terms of reference
  • Request for Decision: Peace Region Waste Management Company Proxy. This is a request to appoint a proxy holder, who will vote on behalf of the Town of Peace River, during shareholder meetings.
  • The official list of 2010/11 Council Member Appointments to Boards & Committees
  • A request to cancel the November 22 Council meeting, since mayor and council will be attending the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association convention in Edmonton
Under Information items:
  • Provincial Fund-raising Functions and Provincial Political Contributions. This letter from Elections Alberta clarifies proper payment policies for councillors that attend political fundraisers.
  • Northern Alberta Development Council (NADC) Communique for September 23, 2010.
  • Letter from Transport Canada accompanying a copy of the Rail Freight Service Review Panel's Interim Report and a letter of response from PREDA (Peace Region Economic Development Alliance).
  • Thank you letter from the U of A Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry for the Town's involvement with the Preclinical Networked Medical Education (PNME) pilot project. Thirteen second-year students spent 4 weeks here as part of that project.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Keys to Good Governance

When I was elected to Town Council in 2007, I went looking for resources, the way I do when faced with any new situation. One of the books I bought was called Guide to Good Municipal Governance by C. Richard Tindal & Susan Nobes Tindal (2007) published as part of the Municipal Knowledge Series by Municipal World Inc, Union, Ontario. Municipal World is an excellent magazine that I also subscribed to in order to stay informed about municipal issues across the country.

Tindal & Tindal lay out 10 Steps to Good Governance that could serve Peace River's new Council well: 

Step 1. Start with a shared sense of what there is about the municipality that is unique, distinctive and worthy of preservation.
The community committee that developed the Town's vision statement has captured this well and the work of the municipal sustainability planning committee has added to this understanding. 

Step 2. Identify, in consultation with the public, the key priorities that the municipality needs to pursue.
Again, the community consultations carried out over the past three years have laid excellent groundwork and this work deserves to be honoured by the new Council. 

Step 3. Review what you do and how you do it. 
This involves looking at what is offered, what is not, what the Town can afford, etc. It's an important part of the budget process, which the new Council will be undertaking over the next couple of months. 

Step 4. Align the organization so that planning, policies, procedures, resources and structure are consistent with the priorities.
Again, there has been excellent work already done on this. It would be a waste of municipal resources to completely re-do because some segments of the community object to having rules. 

Step 5. Measure results and reward superior performance.
Staffing is stable and functioning well. 

Step 6. Involve the public in municipal decision making.
Good headway was made in this over the past three years and there is much more that can be done. 

Step 7. Manage intergovernmental relations more effectively.
The former Council established regular meetings with our MLA and MP and there are protocols in place for regular meetings with neighbouring municipalities. I hope the new Council sees the value in continuing to nurture these relationships. 

Step 8. Articulate the values of the municipality, ensure that they are not in conflict, and reflect them in the decisions that are made. 
Values were articulated during the community  various consultations and are visible in the Town's vision, in the Municipal Development Plan, and in the Municipal Sustainability Plan. 

Step 9. Recognize that ethical considerations underlie many municipal decisions. 

Step 10. Agree on the roles and relationships of council members and staff and spell this out in a written code of practice.
This may be a critical step that needs to be undertaken soon.
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Monday, October 25, 2010

Unofficial List of Peace River Council Committees & Boards

Former councillor Laurin and I both attended the first meeting of Peace River's new Council tonight. The swearing-in was conducted by Judge Claus Thietke in the presence of family and friends, media, and a number of Town of Peace River staff.

During the organizational meeting, North Darling was elected Deputy Mayor. This position often goes to the councillor with the most votes, although Mayor Mann did offer councillors the opportunity to put forth other nominations (none other than Councillor Darling were made).

Following is an unofficial list of the various committee and boards that councillors will serve on--my apologies if I have any of these wrong. The official list will be available on the Town's website once it is finalized. 

North Darling: Peace Regional Waste Management Company (the former East Peace Regional Landfill Authority), Salary Negotiation Committee, Subdivison & Development Appeal Board, Mackenzie Municipal Services Association (MMSA). 

Cole George: Emergency Services Committee, Mighty Peace Tourist Association, Municipal Planning Commission, Peace Library System

Rob Lafontaine: Aboriginal Interagency Committee, Community Services Board, Salary Negotiation Committee, Subdivision & Development Appeal Board, Community Economic Development Committee, County of Northern Lights Fire Services Committee.

Geoff Milligan: Peace Regional Waste Management Company, North Peace Housing Foundation, Municipal Planning Commission, Intermunicipal Development Plan Committee, Peace River Museum Committee, Salary Negotiation Committee, Peace River Heritage Places Committee. 

Colin Needham: Airport Review Committee, Municipal Planning Commission, Northwest Corridor Development Corporation, Peace River Municipal Library Board. 

Tom Tarpey: Peace Regional Waste Management Company, Education & Joint Use Committee, Municipal Policy Advisory Committee, PREDA (Peace Regional Economic Development Association), Off-Highway Vehicle Committee. 

Mayor Mann, along with Deputy Mayor Darling and CAO Norma MacQuarrie sit on the Intermunicipal Cooperation Committee (MD of Peace) and the Joint Advisory Committee (Northern Sunrise County).

The  Regional Assessment Review Board requires members who have received training and are appointed by the province. Iris Callioux and I have both agreed to stay on in this capacity until councillors receive training and are appointed.

The Chamber of Commerce was not mentioned, but I hope that Mayor and Council will plan to attend whenever possible.

CAO MacQuarrie took the opportunity to have staff that were in Council Chambers introduce themselves. They then moved around the table to shake hands with the new councillors and mayor.

Once the Organizational Meeting was adjourned and a short recess taken, the regular Council meeting was convened. It was a short agenda with no difficult items so it was a good opportunity for everyone to get comfortable in their new roles. I was impressed with the decorum as everyone took turns speaking and addressed the chair appropriately. The agenda moved along smoothly under Mayor Mann's leadership and CAO MacQuarrie's able guidance.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Builder or Divider?

Former Toronto mayor, David Crombie, during a radio show earlier this month discussing Toronto's mayoralty race, commented that people "want to know you are a builder, not a divider." That really struck me as I considered our own Peace River mayoralty race between incumbent Iris Callioux--a builder par excellence and Lorne Mann--a former mayor better known for dividing than building.

Last Monday, voters chose Mann over Callioux by a small margin. In his first public appearance as incoming mayor at last night's Peace River & Region Chamber of Commerce Davis Awards, Mr. Mann unleashed his well-known insulting sense of "humour," which had been kept largely under wraps during the campaign. This embarrassing performance, geared more towards tearing down than building, marred the evening of celebration of excellence in local employees and business.

During his often rambling speech, Mr. Mann mentioned the challenge of following our MLA and Solicitor-General Frank Oberle's excellent presentation, and observed how Oberle's political career had "rocketed past" his own. If last night is any indication (and I sincerely hope it is not), three years out of power don't seem to have helped Mr. Mann gain any insight into why this may be.

Our community has many challenges ahead as it continues to find its place in the region and in the increasingly urban Alberta landscape. I hold out hope that if our mayor cannot, then the rest of Peace River's Council will work hard to provide this crucial building element at the local, regional, provincial and national level.
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Saturday, October 23, 2010

First Meeting for New Peace River Council on Monday

Monday, October 25, 2010 will be memorable for five newcomers to Town Council (North Darling, Colin Needham, Cole George, Tom Tarpey and Rob Lafontaine), returning councillor Geoff Milligan, and returning mayor, Lorne Mann. At 5:00 PM, the Organizational Meeting will be convened and they will be sworn in, elect their Deputy Mayor, and decide on items such as councillor appointments to committees and  boards, members-at-large appointments to committees, and the 2011 meeting schedule. An organizational meeting is held every year, and in an election year, must be held within two weeks of the election. Residents are encouraged to attend.

Although Mayor-elect Mann has been on Council and previously served as Mayor for many years, he has not worked under the Council Procedural Bylaw that was adopted by the 2007-10 Council, so this will be a new experience.

Following adjournment of the Organizational Meeting, the first regular Council meeting will be called to order. On this agenda are the routine items of Adoption of the Agenda and Adoption of Minutes for the regular Council meeting on September 27 and the Committee-of-the-Whole meeting on October 4.

There are no Public Hearings, Presentations, Bylaw items, or Unfinished Business items.

Under New Business there are five items:
  1.  Peace River Watershed Planning and Advisory Council Formation Workshop. This 2-day workshop is being held in Peace River (Oct. 28-29) and will include a wide variety of stakeholders. The agenda package includes an invitation letter with information about the workshop from Alberta Environment's Environmental Management, Northern Region Director's Office, the Peace Watershed Planning and Advisory Council Formation Information Paper and a Request for Decision (RFD) to appoint a councillor to participate in the workshop and that council advises whether it is interested in participating in the Initiator's Group, which will meet over the next few months.
  2. Oil Sands Sustainable Development Secretariat appointment. This RFD includes a letter of introduction from Robert A. Fernandez, who has been appointed Acting Assistant Deputy Minister of the Oil Sands Sustainable Development Secretariat and a request to set a date for a meeting with Mr. Fernandez. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the "Comprehensive Regional Infrastructure Sustainability Plan." The RFD further indicates that Mr. Fernandez is meeting with stakeholders to continue working on the Responsible Actions strategic plan and the Comprehensive Regional Infrastructure Sustainability Plans (CRISP) for the oil sands area.

  3.  Delia Gray Memorial Gala request for contribution. This RFD requests council's approval for an annual request from the Metis Nation of Alberta. There are a number of options presented, and a recommendation that a gift basket be donated (the RFD indicates it is for a silent auction, but I note that the letter says the items will be used for door prize giveaways). This event (the 11th annual) will be held in Edmonton on November 16 and it honors Metis youth recipients of the Delia Gray Memorial Scholarship as well as the Pearl Calahasen Scholarship Award. The RFD also includes a screen capture of the MNA's website Education tab that outlines the various kinds of recognition and scholarship opportunities are available for Metis youth.

  4.  Royal Canadian Legion Remembrance Day service. This RFD asks council to enable the mayor or designate to attend this annual service and to provide a donation to the Legion for a wreath. An enabling motion is required before mayor or councillor can claim reimbursement for attendance at a meeting or event. Some motions will enable all of Council or a certain number. The donation has been included in the 2010 budget. The service is on November 11 at the Al Adair Rec Centre, starting at 10:30. The gym has been overflowing the past few years so if you wish to have a seat, you'll want to be there early.

  5.  Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron Annual Promotion and Banquet. This RFD is for an enabling motion for the mayor or designate to attend this event, being held at the Misery Mountain Ski Chalet on November 7.
Under Reports is the routine Cheque Register (to October 20, 2010). This is a listing of cheques produced in the previous period (this does not include paycheques) and enables Council to review transactions and ask questions. This list shows who the Town is doing business with to purchase supplies and have services provided, includes donations made by Council, expense claims, etc. For example, on this report is the cheque for $7,500 to the Weberville Community Forest, which is a contribution towards the community forest's application to become a member of the Canadian Model Forest Network, approved by the previous Council.

There are no Councillor Reports. This is where mayor and councillors can provide minutes of committees they are involved with, reports on conferences attended, etc.

There are five Information items:
  • a September 13 letter from the Minister of Municipal Affairs, Hector Goudreau, regarding changes to the Local Authorities Election Act. It outlines changes that were made earlier this year to "enhance the integrity of, and public confidence in, local elections, by clarifying the rules for both voters and those who run for elected office." The letter briefly outlines the key changes in the election rules regarding campaign contributions. (Candidates in the October 18 election received this information in their nomination packages.)

  • an October 13 letter from the County of Northern Lights confirming the adoption of the Weberville Joint Development Area Concept Plan. This was a joint project with the Town of Peace River and involved extensive public consultation.

  • a September 30 letter from the MD of Peace indicating that the Council supports the Peace Region Centre of Medical Excellence in principle but is not prepared to make a financial commitment at this time.

  • an invitation to attend the first annual Metis Nation of Alberta Zone VI Business Mixer and trade show on October 29, 6:00-9:00 at the Sawridge Inn.

  • a congratulatory message to mayor and council from the Peace River African Descendants Society (PRADS).
There are no Notices of Motion.

The In Camera portion of the meeting, which follows the regular public portion, includes two legal matters. There is generally a brief recess between the regular and in camera portions of the meeting. Once Council comes out of the in camera portion, the meeting is adjourned.
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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Penn West-China Investment Corporation Joint Venture: Peace River Oilsands

Here's an article from the Calgary Herald about the Penn West-China Investment Corporation joint venture that Peace River residents may find of interest. This venture has provided an important cash injection for Penn West's Peace River oilsands assets, which may result in output of 10,000 barrels per day by the end of 2012 compared to about 2700 barrels per day now, according to the article. Peace River and the surrounding area is already seeing some results of this increased investment and we anticipate much more in the coming years.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Peace River Election 2010: Big changes

I went to bed last night knowing that our incumbent mayor, Iris Callioux, had been defeated by former mayor, Lorne Mann. And woke up to discover that incumbent Wanda Laurin and I had also been defeated.

Democracy works in surprising ways. The results are personally disappointing, of course, but also disappointing from the perspective of having a women's voice on Council. And although there are smart and thoughtful men who have been elected, with only the incoming mayor and incumbent councillor Geoff Milligan with previous municipal experience, the loss of knowledge and experience will be challenging for Council, Town staff, and the many committees and boards that mayor and councillors serve on.

I wish the new mayor and council all the best and will watch with great interest to see in what direction Peace River and the region is taken over the next three years.

North Darling
Rob Lafontaine
Geoff Milligan (incumbent)
Tom Tarpey
Colin Needham
Cole George

Friday, October 15, 2010

Blog Action Day 2010: Water

For yesterday's Blog Action Day on water, although international water issues are pressing, the topic that is on my mind is the soon-to-be formed Peace River Watershed Planning and Advisory Council.

On October 28-29, a wide range of government, industry, NGO and First Nations and Metis representatives will come together in Peace River to begin the process of forming a council. This is exciting and important--the Peace River is the last watershed (and one of the largest) to establish a watershed advisory council.

I hope to be at the 2-day workshop, but whether it's me or someone else, there will be Town of Peace River Council and staff representation. Stay tuned for further news.|Start Petition

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Peace River & District Chamber of Commerce-sponsored Election Forum: Oct. 13

We are fortunate to have the Chamber of Commerce sponsoring an election forum tomorrow (October 13) that gives Peace River residents the opportunity to hear from all the mayor and councillor candidates. The event is at the Sawridge Inn & Convention Centre (thanks to the Sawridge for donating the space) and will start right at 7:00 PM (doors open at 6:30).

Candidates draw lots for speaking order. Mayoralty candidates Iris Callioux and Lorne Mann will each have five minutes to present themselves to the audience. Then candidates for councillor (Ayre-Jaschke, Darling, George, Grimmelt, Lafontaine, Laurin, Milligan, Needham and Tarpey) each have three minutes. Following a 15 minute break and a Q&A period, each candidate has time to sum up (3 minutes per candidate for mayor and 1 minute per councillor).

The formal portion is over by 10:00, with time for candidates and audience members to chat afterwards. I hope there will be a big turnout and lots of questions and that help each of us elaborate--three minutes is an awfully short time to capture the essence of who we are, what we stand for, and what we want to accomplish. But it also encourages us concisely capture what we think is most important to get across. Should be an interesting night--please plan to attend if you are a Peace River resident!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Mayor Callioux's website

Check out Mayor Callioux's new website for her platform and background and also for her perspective on the work of the 2007-10 Council.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Speech writing/Council activities

I've been working on my speech for the Election Forum next Wednesday. Trying to compress three years of experience into three minutes is very difficult, and I'm reminded of the Woodrow Wilson quote: "If I am to speak ten minutes, I need a week for preparation; if fifteen minutes, three days; if half an hour, two days; if an hour, I am ready now."

To round out what will be a very cursory overview during that speech, here's a bit more about life as a small town councillor for anyone who is curious.

Since my election in 2007, I've participated on many Town, Council and community committees. Those with a star are ones I'm currently serving on.

These committees require varying time commitment. Many are monthly meetings lasting for a couple of hours and not requiring much preparation or follow-up (other than reading minutes and the agenda) while others are more time-consuming. I receive the Council reimbursement of $47.50 for the first hour and $19.00 for each additional hour to a maximum of $95.

With many committees and a small Council, we all need to take on quite a few commitments outside regular Council meetings, which can eat into the work day. To compensate and still do my consulting practice, I start early and work late and on weekends.

Here's the list of committees:
* Aboriginal Interagency Committee (which organizes the annual Aboriginal Gathering & Pow Wow, Sisters in Spirit Walk, among other activities)
* East Peace Landfill Authority (soon to be a Part 9 Company called the Peace Regional Waste Management Company)
* Municipal Planning Commission
* Off-Highway Vehicle Committee
* Library Board
* Library Building Committee
* Library Fundraising Cabinet
* Peace Regional Housing Coalition
* Town Beautification Committee
* Peace Oilsands Synergy Group (now called Peace Synergy Group)
* Chamber of Commerce
Peace River Community Health Council (until it was disbanded by Alberta Health Services)
Town of Peace River Health & Safety Committee (Councillor Milligan is the current Council rep)
Town of Peace River Risk Management Committee (Councillor Milligan is the current Council rep)
Business Vitality Initiative Sponsor Committee (this has now become the Community Economic Development Committee and I'm not a part of that other than through the Town Beautification sub-committee)