Author: Laurie Tritschler

Laurie Tritschler is a multimedia journalist with international industry experience. He started as Shootin’ the Breeze’s civic affairs reporter in November 2022. He holds an undergraduate degree in history from the University of British Columbia and a journalism diploma from the British Columbia Institute of Technology. While at BCIT, he secured internships at CBC’s Vancouver newsroom and at Politico Europe’s headquarters in Brussels. He cut his teeth as a newsroom of one, serving for nearly two years as the editor/digital reporter/photographer and videographer at two weekly newspapers in B.C.’s West Kootenay region. He took two second-place finishes at the 2021 B.C. Ma Murray Awards for news videos he filed for Black Press.

Livingstone-Macleod candidates make last appeals at Crowsnest Pass forum

Riding candidates in Livingstone-Macleod gave mostly stock performances at an election forum in Crowsnest Pass on Wednesday, May 24.

The United Conservatives’ Chelsae Petrovic and the Alberta NDP’s Kevin Van Tighem, certainly no strangers to political controversy in what has been a bitterly contested election, were distinctly on-brand, repeating, defending and doubling down on their parties’ campaign planks. 

A re-elected UCP under Danielle Smith would “embrace the renewed Alberta Advantage,” Petrovic said, warning that to vote for anyone else would jeopardize her party’s recent accomplishments — especially this year’s whopping budget surplus.

Smith’s erstwhile promise to replace the Alberta RCMP with an independent provincial police force “is no longer a topic of conversation,” the candidate said. Nor does Petrovic have “any affiliation with” Take Back Alberta, the right-wing populist movement whose Marco Van Huigenbos watched the forum from the back of the room. 


Wooden storefront of Crockets Trading Company in an ad promoting the store as a source of handcrafted jewelry


Petrovic, who told TBA founder David Parker in a February podcast interview that she wouldn’t necessarily cleave to the party line if she were elected, strongly endorsed Smith’s leadership.  

Holding precisely the opposite view was Van Tighem, who wasted little time laying claim to Peter Lougheed’s Progressive Conservative legacy for the NDP. Party leader Rachel Notley would deliver “good government you can trust,” he said, holding up Smith’s “unstable and chaotic leadership” as the mirror opposite. 

An NDP government would eliminate Alberta’s small-business tax, and wouldn’t add to personal income taxes, he promised. He was less keen to engage Notley’s plan to raise the corporate tax rate from eight to 11 per cent, although he said the increased rate would stay the lowest in Canada. 

The Alberta Party’s Kevin Todd, who briefly entertained a run at the UCP nomination, repeatedly positioned himself as an independent voice for Livingstone-Macleod, reminding the audience that his party doesn’t whip votes — unlike the UCP and NDP.


Bride with long blonde hair smiles brightly in an ad promoting Ascent Dental for pre-wedding brightening.


Van Tighem took knocks for his untrammelled opposition to coal exploration on the Eastern Rockies. 

“It’s a terrible position to take,” Pincher Creek MD councillor John MacGarva said from the floor, drawing thunderous applause from roughly half the audience. 

Lougheed’s PC’s blocked regional coal exploration for perfectly sound ecological reasons, Van Tighem shot back, scoring loud approval from the other half. 

Another resident introduced himself to Van Tighem as “one of those entitled rednecks you despise,” alluding to the candidate’s 2021 Alberta Views article wherein the author paints a disconcerting stereotype of oil and gas workers. 




The candidate said the article’s subtext underlined widely held conceptions about a rapacious oil and gas industry — conceptions Van Tighem has consistently said hurt Alberta’s interests on the world stage — but the barb stuck. 

Petrovic and Independence Party candidate Corrie Toone were pointedly asked if they would support a woman’s right to choose an abortion. Neither candidate gave a yes or no answer, despite prodding from moderator Val Danielson. 

Toone and Petrovic each said “life begins at conception,” with Petrovic saying that, while she supported bodily autonomy when it came to vaccines, she and the UCP are “pro-life.” 

The most compelling performance came from the Alberta Liberals’ Dylin Hauser, if audience reactions are to be any guide. 


Check out the local scene words


When the candidates were asked to defend their leadership credentials, Hauser was the only one who gave a full “with flaws and all” recounting of a life well lived, but also tempered by ordinary struggles. 

“What do I bring?” he asked rhetorically. “I bring failure. I bring hardship. I bring the ups and downs we all face down in life.”

His answer palpably won over the audience, drawing applause so loud and intense, it rumbled the floor. Many cheered as strenuously Hauser’s call to “vote for who you want,” rather than voting in the least offensive party with the most realistic chances of forming Alberta’s next government. 

Toone and independent candidate Erik Abildgaard spent much time trying to convince the audience that climate change was bogus, that pandemic health restrictions were draconian and that the UCP and NDP were fundamentally untrustworthy. 




Albertans head to the polls Monday, May 29.

Advanced voting is open May 23 to 27.

For voter information, including polling stations, see pages 9 to 11.

View Crowsnest Pass election forum videos here: Part 1, Part 2

Individual candidate statements:

Dylin Hauser – Alberta Liberal Party

Kevin Van Tighem – Alberta New Democratic Party

Kevin Todd – Alberta Party

Erik Abildgaard – Independent

Corrie Toone – Independence Party of Alberta

Chelsae Petrovic – United Conservative Party




Related articles:

Livingstone-Macleod Candidates Make Last Appeals At Crowsnest Pass Forum

‘Not Notley’ Sign To Come Down, Says MD Of Pincher Creek

Scheduling Conflicts Derail Livingstone-Macleod Election Forum In Pincher Creek

Pincher Creek Health-Care Forum Draws Large Audience

UCP Candidate Calls Out Heart Attack Survivors

Claresholm Politician Enters UCP Nomination Race For Livingstone-Macleod

Read more Livingstone-Macleod articles

Pincher Creek hospital staff up for Rhapsody Awards

Several of Pincher Creek’s front-line health-care workers are up for awards in rural medicine.

Nominated for this year’s Rhapsody Rural Health-care Heroes Award are the nurses on Pincher Creek Health Centre’s maternity ward, according to Melissa Fredette, assistant head nurse and vice-chair of the town’s Attraction and Retention Committee. 

The health centre has held fast throughout the tumultuous years of the Covid-19 pandemic and the nominees richly deserve some recognition, Fredette told a room full of nurses, doctors, and support staff at the centre April 26.




Drs. Bev Burton and Tracy Burton are up for Rhapsody Rural Physician Awards. 

The awards, named after the “effusively enthusiastic or ecstatic expression of feeling” captured in the Oxford English Dictionary definition of “rhapsody,” have recognized excellence in an increasingly tough medical field since 2002, according to the Rural Health Professions Action Plan’s website. 

Rural medicine is tremendously rewarding and the committee has done equally tremendous work helping newly arrived doctors find their feet, the Burton sisters told Shootin’ the Breeze.


Delicious looking ribs on ad promoting Twin Butte Country General Store as a bachelor or bachelorette venue


Like every doc in town, the Burtons “do it all” when it comes to rural family medicine. 

They have to. 

All nominations were backed by a multitude of supporting letters from people in Pincher Creek and the neighbouring MD, Fredette said. 

Fredette also thanked Jeff Brockman, executive director at Pincher Creek’s Associate Medical Clinic, for his help with the nominations, as well as the Attraction and Retention Committee’s Dan Crawford, who helped prepare for the presentation in late April.


Three women – one with short brown hair and glasses wearing a black-and-white striped shirt, one with long dark hair wearing scrub with a black top and purple pants, and the other with long blonde hair and glasses wearing light-blue scrubs, pose with a man with short grey hair and moustache with sunglasses on his ball cap and casual clothes.
The Pincher Creek Attraction and Retention Committee’s Tracey Correia, left, RN Melissa Fredette, Dr. Ashley Rommens and Dan Crawford came out to support the health centre’s maternity-care team and the Burton sisters last week.


Pincher Creek RCMP seek to reunite missing man with family

Original post:

Pincher Creek RCMP are asking for the public’s help in their search for a missing man. 

Chris Mezei, 40, was last seen in Pincher Creek on Monday, May 15. 

Details are sparse at this point, but Mounties and Mezei’s family are concerned for his well-being, according to Cst. Patrick Lambert. 

Mezei is six feet tall, weighs around 175 pounds and has a muscular build. 

He is bald and has green eyes, and there is lettering tattooed on his collarbone. 




Anyone with relevant information as to Mezei’s possible whereabouts is asked to call the detachment’s non-emergency line at 403-627-6000 without delay. 

Anonymous tips are always welcome through Alberta Crimestoppers’ hotline at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), or online at, or through the P3 Tips app, which is available for download through Apple or the Google Play Store. 

Shootin’ the Breeze will update this story as more details become available.


White male, bald, with black ball cap on backwards and grey T-shirt on poster sharing that Chris Mezei is missing from Pincher Creek

‘Not Notley’ sign to come down, says MD of Pincher Creek

The MD of Pincher Creek has asked a resident to take down a political sign from their property, citing the MD’s land use bylaw, which requires permitting for a broad spectrum of free-standing signs. 

Development officer Laura McKinnon said the MD received a complaint about the sign on Thursday, May 18. The sign, which went up on a Burmis property owner’s fence line along Highway 3 at some point in the provincial election campaign, shows a graphic of a stop sign and bears the slogan Not Notley. 

The land use bylaw (1289-18) specifically exempts “election signs” from any permitting requirements, according to Section 55.10, subsection (i), but the bylaw doesn’t explicitly define what an election sign is.


Group of people in orange T-shirts standing together on a poster seeking nominations for the Direct Energy Volunteer Citizen of the Year


“There is definitely a precedent for this,” McKinnon told Shootin’ the Breeze

In years past, homemade signs for and against the expansion of coal exploration on the Eastern Rockies and signs for and against logging also violated the bylaw and the MD requested that some of these be taken down, McKinnon said. 

Billboards, canopy signs, free-standing signs, portable signs and other types of signs are considered discretionary uses and require permitting from the municipal planning commission, which sits on the first Tuesday of every month.




The agenda for the commission’s next meeting (Tuesday, June 6) has been finalized, meaning the next available opportunity to apply for the necessary permitting would be Tuesday, July 4 — 36 days after the provincial election. 

Alleged bylaw infractions trigger notifications and requests for compliance by the MD. Formal, written requests are sent to property owners in the case of ongoing infractions. The MD can issue stop-work orders for alleged violations that continue past that point. 

The MD informally contacted the owner of the property at issue on Thursday, asking that the sign be removed. 

No letter or stop-work order has been issued, according to McKinnon.




Anyone in the MD is free to put up official election signs anywhere on their property, according to the bylaw. 

Election signs can be put up on public land, provided the signs are put within safe distances from roadways, according to Alberta’s Election Act. However, election signs are not allowed to imitate traffic control signs, including stop signs, according to the Government of Alberta’s website. 

MD council passed the land use bylaw in 2018. Enforcement is driven primarily by residents’ complaints, McKinnon said.


Albertans head to the polls Monday, May 29.

Advanced voting is open May 23 to 27.

For voter information, including polling stations, see pages 9 to 11.

View Crowsnest Pass election forum videos here: Part 1, Part 2

Individual candidate statements:

Dylin Hauser – Alberta Liberal Party

Kevin Van Tighem – Alberta New Democratic Party

Kevin Todd – Alberta Party

Erik Abildgaard – Independent

Corrie Toone – Independence Party of Alberta

Chelsae Petrovic – United Conservative Party




Related articles:

Livingstone-Macleod Candidates Make Last Appeals At Crowsnest Pass Forum

‘Not Notley’ Sign To Come Down, Says MD Of Pincher Creek

Scheduling Conflicts Derail Livingstone-Macleod Election Forum In Pincher Creek

Pincher Creek Health-Care Forum Draws Large Audience

UCP Candidate Calls Out Heart Attack Survivors

Claresholm Politician Enters UCP Nomination Race For Livingstone-Macleod

Read more Livingstone-Macleod articles

Scheduling conflicts derail Livingstone-Macleod election forum in Pincher Creek

A forum for Livingstone-Macleod candidates scheduled for this evening in Pincher Creek has been cancelled after the top two contenders confirmed they weren’t coming. 

Emails sent Wednesday morning to Marie Everts, who volunteered to organize the forum on behalf of the Southwest Alberta Sustainable Community Initiative, show a last-minute cancellation from the NDP’s Kevin Van Tighem and more qualified regrets from the United Conservatives’ Chelsae Petrovic, who couldn’t attend owing to a work commitment.   

Van Tighem’s campaign manager Stephanie Keyowski emailed Everts at around 9:45 a.m., writing that, “… given the UCP candidate will not be present, I am afraid Kevin must decline to attend as well.” 

Petrovic’s campaign manager Thane Hurlburt followed suit roughly an hour later. Petrovic, who is an ER nurse in Claresholm, was scheduled to work Wednesday night and couldn’t find another nurse to take her shift, despite her best efforts, Hurlburt wrote. 


Woman with long blonde hair styled for a wedding and promoting Loxx Beauty Lounge for wedding hair and esthetics


Hurlburt notified Everts late Monday afternoon that Petrovic likely wouldn’t be able to attend, but SASCI chose not to cancel the forum in hopes the candidate would find a way to come.  

“When putting together a forum, you have to set a date and hope that the candidates do their best to make it,” Everts said Wednesday afternoon. 

“I am saddened that we were not able to host a forum in Pincher Creek, but I’m grateful that Crowsnest Pass’s chamber of commerce will host a forum next week and that technology allows us to watch recent forums that did go ahead.” 

Both candidates joined the Alberta Party’s Kevin Todd, the Independence Party’s Corrie Toone and the Alberta Liberals’ Dylin Hauser at forums earlier this week in Claresholm and High River. 




Hauser informed Everts last week that he couldn’t attend the Pincher forum, owing to a long-standing prior commitment, Everts said. 

The Crowsnest Pass Chamber of Commerce confirmed Wednesday afternoon that the five candidates have accepted invitations to attend the chamber’s forum on May 24. 

A sixth candidate, Erik Abildgaard, will not be attending, according to the chamber.

Profiles for all six Livingstone-Macleod candidates are available in this week’s issue of Shootin’ the Breeze.


Albertans head to the polls Monday, May 29.

Advanced voting is open May 23 to 27.

For voter information, including polling stations, see pages 9 to 11.

View Crowsnest Pass election forum videos here: Part 1, Part 2

Individual candidate statements:

Dylin Hauser – Alberta Liberal Party

Kevin Van Tighem – Alberta New Democratic Party

Kevin Todd – Alberta Party

Erik Abildgaard – Independent

Corrie Toone – Independence Party of Alberta

Chelsae Petrovic – United Conservative Party




Related articles:

Livingstone-Macleod Candidates Make Last Appeals At Crowsnest Pass Forum

‘Not Notley’ Sign To Come Down, Says MD Of Pincher Creek

Scheduling Conflicts Derail Livingstone-Macleod Election Forum In Pincher Creek

Pincher Creek Health-Care Forum Draws Large Audience

UCP Candidate Calls Out Heart Attack Survivors

Claresholm Politician Enters UCP Nomination Race For Livingstone-Macleod

Read more Livingstone-Macleod articles


Copper wire theft knocks out power to Cottonwood Campground

Pincher Creek RCMP are asking the public to stay out of the Cottonwood Campground for the next three days, following a copper wire theft that knocked out power to the entire site. 

Alberta Parks, which operates the campground near the Oldman River Dam, reported the theft Thursday, May 4, according to Const. Rachel Welsh. 

Dave Hagedorn, Alberta Parks chief ranger for southwestern Alberta, said Thursday afternoon that crews will be on-site through the weekend to determine the extent of the damage. 

It remains to be seen if the damage will significantly impact the site’s availability this season, he said.

Welsh said copper wire thefts are common in the area, adding that thieves recently targeted wind turbines at a wind farm near Pincher Station. 

The campground theft damaged several electrical panels on-site, all of which have to be replaced, she said.  

Mounties are actively investigating both wire thefts. 

Welsh said the campground theft happened sometime after the campground closed last September. 

The campground’s main entrance was then closed to vehicle traffic, but Welsh said Alberta Parks kept another gate open so that parents could access a children’s play area on the campground’s east side. The campground is popular among young families and dog walkers and is easily accessible on foot, she continued. 

Anyone who thinks they’ve spotted suspicious activity at or around the campground is asked to phone Pincher Creek RCMP’s non-emergency line at 403-627-6010.

Alberta Crime Stoppers welcomes anonymous tips at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), online at, or through the P3 Tips app, which is available for download through the Apple Store and Google Play. 



Pincher Creek health-care forum draws large audience

Alberta’s rural health-care system needs more public funding, more efficiency and much more local autonomy, residents and esteemed panellists said at Pincher Creek’s health-care forum in late April.

Upwards of 150 people came for a one-hour discussion that saw residents, politicians and one riding candidate engage local doctors and public health policy researchers from the University of Calgary.

Between panellists who said the status quo isn’t holding and residents who said they felt ignored by the province, the conversation registered an uneasy mix of frustration and hope for the future. 

‘If you want to find someone who can fix this, find a mirror’

Drs. Gavin Parker and Kristy Penner, both of whom practise family and emergency medicine in Pincher Creek and neighbouring Crowsnest Pass, repeatedly called for more community involvement. 

“If anybody can help solve this, or at least start to work on this, it’s the people in this room,” Parker started off. 

“I do think there is hope,” he continued, qualifying in the next breath that “Clearly, what I’m doing and what we’re doing isn’t working.”

Penner’s prognosis was no less sparing.

“If we keep doing the same thing, we’re only going to be waiting longer” for routine medical services, she told the packed forum, painting graver implications for women and the elderly. 

“You’re going to have to leave [home] to have a baby — you won’t be able to get surgery in Pincher Creek or Crowsnest Pass. You won’t be able to get home care or long-term care in your community. And as a senior, you’ll have to move out of your community to access long-term geriatric care.”

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta is working to fast-track foreign-trained doctors’ credentials, while licensed practical nurses are picking up the slack at Pincher Creek’s medical clinic, according to Parker.

But the system can’t build capacity when there aren’t enough doctors to train med school graduates, much less foreign doctors. 

“Our voice is stronger when it’s collective,” Parker said, acknowledging the residents on Pincher Creek’s Attraction and Retention Committee, the citizen/council body that helps settle incoming doctors within the community, among other functions.

Parker also noted that Albertans who work outside of medicine make up a significant proportion of the CPSA’s board of directors.  

“So, if you want to find someone who can fix this, find a mirror. That’s who,” he said. 

It’s Friday night: Do you know where your MLA is?

Audience speakers questioned how civic participation could reverse the Government of Alberta’s concentration of authority in a sclerotic Alberta Health Services, the provincial health authority that executes government policy. 

“I’ll vote for any party that starts taking that system apart and returning power to the community so that we can make a difference with some of the things you’re asking us to make a difference on,” one speaker said. 

Another speaker noted that United Conservative MLA Roger Reid, who represents Livingstone-Macleod, was conspicuously absent. 

“Where’s our MLA?” the speaker asked, drawing groans from the crowd.  

“Is anybody from the Alberta government here?” another speaker asked. “Maybe that’s part of the problem,” the speaker suggested, drawing thunderous applause.

In the crowd were town Coun. Sahra Nodge, MD Coun. Dave Cox and Reeve Rick Lemire, and a host of doctors and nurses from Pincher Creek Health Centre. 

The NDP’s Kevin Van Tighem, the only riding candidate to show, suggested that Pincher Creek has the talent and the grit to restore the health centre to a model of rural health care. 

“Do we have to change ourselves? Or can we change medicine so it fits into our community without the community changing?” he asked from the mic. 

The UCP’s 2023 provincial budget funds public health care to the tune of $24.5 billion, a roughly four per cent annual increase. This year’s budget includes $105 million for capital projects under the UCP’s Rural Health Facilities Revitalization Program. 

Don’t expect a quick fix 

Funding and educational programs need to deliver a robust, “team-based” rural health-care model that empowers Indigenous and rural learners to practise medicine, Dr. Penner explained. 

More immediately, Penner said, doctors-in-training have complained about a lack of affordable housing and limited child-care options in Crowsnest Pass.

Melissa Fredette, a registered nurse at the health centre, vice-chair of the town’s Attraction and Retention Committee and mother of three, implored the community to promote Pincher Creek as a career destination for young health-care providers. But Fredette and her colleagues need more local support.  

“We’ve just come out of a pandemic. We’re tired in health care,” she said. “We would love to have more help from the people here.”

Once it’s gone, it may never come back

Aaron Johnston, associate dean of rural medicine at the U of C, warned after the forum that many rural health-care teams are on the verge of collapse. 

An under-resourced team “works until it doesn’t work — until there’s the loss of that last one person,” he said. “Lose a rural anesthetist and say goodbye to that town’s surgical team. Lose a team, and good luck restoring the services it was designed to provide.”

“Imagine how difficult it is to recruit 10 highly-trained medical staff at the exact same time,” he suggested, “because that’s what it takes to reboot these services once they’re gone.” 

Pincher Creek council to host housing developer

The Town of Pincher Creek will invite representatives from a company that manages small-town housing projects to council’s next community housing committee meeting.

Council unanimously voted to extend the invitation following a motion by Coun. Sahra Nodge, April 11.

Nodge, who sits on the housing committee with Couns. Gary Cleland and Wayne Oliver, had taken in a project pitch by AND Villages at a recent convention of AlbertaSouthwest, a regional economic development alliance of 15 area municipalities, including the town and neighbouring MD and Crowsnest Pass.

AND hopes to partner with 12 municipalities on an overarching project to put up manufactured homes in each participating community. The homes would be installed in identical 12-unit blocks. 

The company’s pitch calls on municipalities to sign over one-acre land parcels serviced by underground utilities, while AND would manage the project. The company wants to hear from interested partners by the end of the month, Nodge said. 


Wedding setting of white tables and chairs in a greenhouse promoting Crowsnest Mountain Weddings as an indoor and outdoor venue


Council’s resolution directs staff to invite AND to give a 20-minute presentation, likely via Zoom, when the housing committee meets April 27. It doesn’t amount to a commitment of any kind. 

“I think we should at least listen to their presentation,” Mayor Don Anderberg said, drawing murmurs of agreement from councillors. 

Chief administrative officer Angie Lucas meanwhile advised that AND’s pitch leaves “a lot of unanswered questions” for the town’s administration. Serviced land parcels might be hard to come by, and any land used for housing development would have to be properly zoned, she noted. 

There were 70 units on Pincher Creek’s rental market as of 2017, down from 73 the year before, according to a 2018 housing-needs assessment by the Alberta Rural Development Network. 

Most homes in the town of Pincher Creek and village of Cowley were 38 years or older, while the majority of homes in the MD were 28 and older, the assessment found. 



Budget amendment slightly raises MD of Pincher Creek taxes

Council for the MD of Pincher Creek has passed a slight property tax increase through an amendment to this year’s budget.  

The amendment, passed April 11, adds about $185,000 in taxes to the roughly $13.4 million in municipal revenue approved by council when it passed the 2023 budget last fall, an increase of just under 1.4 per cent, according to finance director Meghan Dobie. 

Most of the extra revenue will go toward a $250,000 transfer to the MD’s Regional Community Initiative Reserve, a store of money set aside for capital projects and services MD residents access in the MD and town of Pincher Creek, Cowley and Crowsnest Pass, Dobie explained. 

Just over $57,800 of the extra taxes will supplement the MD’s contribution to recreation services at the town’s Multi-Purpose Facility at 895 Main St. The MD pays for one-third of those costs every year, according to the current agreement between town and MD councils. 

The tax bump pales against the roughly 13 per cent year-over-year rise in assessed residential property values across the MD. The assessed values of non-residential properties meanwhile swelled by around $125 million, a roughly 7.5 per cent increase over 2022. Both increases were driven overwhelmingly by inflation, Dobie said. 

Property assessments determine a municipality’s maximum allowable tax base, but elected councils decide the rate at which residents and business owners pay municipal taxes each year. MD council dropped this year’s residential property tax rate by about nine per cent, while rates for farmland remained essentially unchanged. 

The impact on individual taxpayers will depend on the class of properties they own, their assessed property values, and the property tax rates applied to those values. 

Municipal budgets, also decided by councils, reflect the amount of taxes needed to maintain or increase service levels, pay down debt and put cash into reserve accounts, according to Municipal Government Act regulations. 

This year’s tax increase is offset by initial cost projections for the Pincher Creek Emergency Services Commission that came in roughly $166,500 above what the commission actually needs from the MD this year. 

Clean energy programs need a reboot to satisfy provincial legislation

Pincher Creek’s town and MD councils are redoing their clean energy improvement bylaws owing to a legislative technicality, according to their energy project lead, Tristan Walker. 

Both councils must rescind their bylaws, passed by town council last August and MD council last October, and then go through the bylaw process a second time. 

The original bylaws set eligibility criteria for property owners looking to finance energy improvements to their homes and businesses through Alberta Municipalities’ Clean Energy Improvement Program. 


Bride and groom gaze at one another standing in a green field with mountains in the background, in an ad promoting Amber MacKinnon as a wedding photographer


What’s the CEIP and who pays for it? 

Eligible property owners can apply for loans from participating municipalities and then pay off the loans in instalments tacked onto their property taxes. Under the terms of the program, the loans would be tied to qualifying owners’ properties rather than the owners themselves.  

If passed a second time, the CEIP bylaws would authorize a $2.1-million, four-year program, after which Walker said both councils could decide to continue the program. 

Walker was applying for $1.7 million in loan and grant funding for the program when he realized the town and MD had tripped on a legislative snag in Alberta’s Municipal Government Act. 

Neither municipality put its CEIP bylaw to a public hearing as required by the MGA, according to Walker’s March 30 report to MD council’s April 11 agenda.




CEIP bylaws get a mulligan

MD council voted April 11 to rescind its 2022 CEIP bylaw, after which it gave  first reading to the new bylaw. Walker said council was tentatively set to host the requisite public hearing at its last regular meeting in May. 

Town council is due to rescind its CEIP bylaw at chambers April 24, after which council will put its new bylaw to a public hearing. 

If both councils re-pass their bylaws and Walker’s loan and grant applications are successful, the remaining $400,000 in available CEIP loans would be available to qualifying owners at no cost to the town or MD. 

Walker said the town and MD would encourage eligible property owners to put their CEIP loans towards structural upgrades like energy-efficient windows and insulation, new and more energy-efficient furnaces, etc., before supplementing their energy needs with solar panelling. 

The town and MD have yet to finalize a cost-sharing agreement, but Walker said the respective councils were eyeing a 50-50 split. 

With files from Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Shootin’ the Breeze.

Pass council approves extra taxes, squares away half of added revenue

The Municipality of Crowsnest Pass is on track to take in over $1 million more in property taxes than was laid out in this year’s budget.

Budget 2023 projected roughly $10.2 million in municipal taxes when it was passed by council last December.

Council on April 4 unanimously approved a property tax rate bylaw that brings in roughly an extra $1.1 million, for an approximate total of $11.3 million in municipal taxes. The bylaw also authorizes the municipality to collect provincial taxes for education, as well as extra municipal taxes for seniors housing.

The property tax bump comes on the heels of a roughly 12 per cent annual rise in assessed property values across the Pass. Property assessments, finalized in February, added about $130 million to the Pass’s total tax base, according to an executive summary of the bylaw attached to council’s agenda. 


Group of people in orange T-shirts standing together on a poster seeking nominations for the Direct Energy Volunteer Citizen of the Year


What’s the difference? And how does it hit home? 

Budget 2023 initially projected a two per cent property tax increase in order to maintain service levels and balance the budget, according to a summary of the bylaw. The extra $1.1 million in property taxes represents a roughly 11 per cent increase over that projection. 

The impact on individual taxpayers will depend on this year’s mill rates, so-called because they set municipal tax levies per $1,000 in assessed property value, and how much a given property rose or fell in assessed value, according to chief administrative officer Patrick Thomas. 

The Pass’s residential mill rate fell from around 10.5 to around 7.5. At the same time, just over 80 per cent of properties either retained their assessed values or saw those values climb by up to 15 per cent. 

Municipal taxes on a home valued at $300,000 last year would rise nearly $335 in 2023 if that home’s assessment came in 15 per cent higher year-over-year. Taxes for the same home would drop by around $120 if its assessed value held at $300,000.   

Slightly over six per cent of Pass properties went down in assessed value, Thomas explained.




How will council spend the extra dough? 

Council unanimously voted to bank half of the extra tax revenue and spread the other half across a short list of new initiatives: $250,000 for a new trails master plan proposed by Coun. Lisa Sygutek; $64,000 for capital upgrades to Crowsnest Community Library; $70,000 for environmental monitoring projects at two area landfills, both recommended by administration; a $22,000 grant for Crowsnest CanDo — the non-profit organization lobbying to revive the Pass’s Roxy Theatre — tabled by Coun. Dean Ward; $200,000 for various road repair initiatives tabled by Couns. Ward and Doreen Glavin; and $30,000 for new beautification projects, following a motion by Sygutek. 

Sygutek said the Pass needs a new trails master plan to prepare for the massive influx in regional tourism backed by Travel Alberta last fall.

“The tourist stuff is coming, whether we want it to or not,” and staking municipal funds would boost the Pass’s chances of landing supplementary grants from the federal and provincial governments, she added.

Ward noted that the Pass and surrounding areas were promoted as tourist destinations at the Tourism Industry Association of Alberta’s convention in January.

Painter said the master plan initiative was “critical” to the Pass’s tourist economy. 

“I wish it had been done last year,” he said.


Interior of arched barn and exteriors of two barns promoting Heritage Acres as a wedding venue


What’s driving municipal taxes? 

The higher tax burden partly reflects a steep climb in property values since the “buying frenzy” that hit the Pass’s real estate market at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Christopher Snelgrove of Benchmark Assessment Consultants, the Lethbridge firm that handles the Pass’s property value assessments.

“I saw roughly twice as many [real estate] sales compared to pre-Covid years,” Snelgrove continued, noting that the Pass’s natural beauty and slower pace of life strongly appeal to urban professionals.  

Inflationary pressure on the Pass’s real estate market added roughly $92.5 million in overall assessed property value, according to council documents. Real estate development — new builds, renovations and other improvements — meanwhile added roughly $38.5 million. 

There are no physical barriers to real estate speculation in the Pass (or anywhere, for that matter). Not so for local development, which is sharply constrained by the region’s mountainous topography. 

The Pass will run out of room to grow unless it were to annex land from neighbouring municipalities, Snelgrove explained.




A reach too far? 

Council was rather exacting in its budget deliberations last fall, when it earmarked about $575,000 for 18 out of 42 proposals for new initiatives at a combined ask of nearly $20 million. 

Council passed the extra tax increase after a lengthy discussion at chambers on March 28, when the property tax rate bylaw came up for first reading. 

“While it looks like a bit of windfall for Crowsnest Pass, it definitely isn’t when you look at the improvements we’re looking at in the near future,” Coun. Vicki Kubik said on April 4. 

Councillors joined the mayor and chief administrative officer Patrick Thomas in pointing out that the province has steadily “downloaded” costs onto small municipalities since 2021. Many of these costs were budgeted for in December, but Kubik and Painter stressed that more are still to come, especially the Pass’s bill for policing costs.

Smith promises UCP is committed to preserving public health care

Premier Danielle Smith has issued a “public health guarantee” that, if re-elected, her United Conservative government won’t leave Albertans paying for medical treatment, including visits to doctors.

Speaking Tuesday in Sherwood Park, Smith said, “I want to be clear: under the UCP’s public health-care guarantee, we are committing to all Albertans that under no circumstances will any Albertan ever have to pay out-of-pocket to see their family doctor or to get the medical treatment they need. And it means that a UCP government, under my leadership, will not delist any medical services or prescriptions now covered by Alberta Health Insurance. No exceptions.” 

The United Conservatives’ 2023 budget includes $24.5 billion for Alberta’s public health-care system — roughly a billion dollars more than spending forecasted in 2023-23, according to budget highlights published on the Government of Alberta’s website. 




A 2021 public policy paper written by Smith and published by the University of Calgary makes it clear that Smith was open to other ideas two years before she won the UCP leadership race last fall. 

“We can no longer afford universal social programs that are 100 per cent paid by taxpayers,” Smith wrote in her paper, entitled “Alberta’s Key Challenges And Opportunities.” 

Under the subheading User Fees, Smith specified that Albertans should pay for doctor visits out of personal health spending accounts to be subsidized by the province.

“If the government funded the account at $375 a year, that’s the equivalent of 10 trips to a GP, so there can be no argument that this would compromise access on the basis of ability to pay,” Smith wrote. 

Smith went on to insist that any redefinition of universality “must mean that no one is denied care when they need it and no one should face bankruptcy because of medical bills. Full stop.”

MD councillor receives Platinum Jubilee Medal

Roger Reid, MLA for Livingstone-Macleod, left, presents MD of Pincher Creek Coun. David Cox with his Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal last Thursday at Reid’s local office. Cox’s medal acknowledges his many years of service with local fire services, including the Pincher Creek Emergency Services Commission. 

The commemorative medal marks the 70th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne as Queen of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth realms.

In Canada, it is awarded to those who are viewed by their communities as remarkable volunteers and contributors, members of the Canadian Armed Forces, emergency service workers and those that go above and beyond in an effort to positively impact their communities. 

Town CAO receives a fond farewell

Laurie Wilgosh, chief administrative officer with the Town of Pincher Creek for 14 years, flashes a genuine smile at her March 31 retirement party at the Pincher Creek Legion.

Wilgosh was joined by town and MD councils, current and retired town staff, and her family. 

“It was a great send-off, but it can never be enough. She did a really great job!” Mayor Don Anderberg said.

UCP candidate calls out heart attack survivors

Chelsae Petrovic, an ER nurse and United Conservative Party candidate for Livingstone-Macleod, is refusing media interviews after flirting with “political suicide” by suggesting that heart attack survivors should bear accountability for their poor health. 

Petrovic offered her remarks, first reported by Global Edmonton’s Saif Kaisar, during her guest appearance on a podcast episode of The Canadian Story published to YouTube on Feb. 21, roughly three weeks before she swept the UCP’s nomination in Livingstone-Macleod.

Social media response to reports on this issue has been overwhelmingly negative. 

Speaking as a hopeful nominee and the mayor of Claresholm, Petrovic also disparaged unions, including her own, and made it plain that she would rather be ejected from the UCP’s legislative caucus if she felt supporting the party line would go against the riding’s best interests. 

Petrovic’s campaign responded to Shootin’ the Breeze’s request for comment with a statement saying her remarks about heart attack survivors had been “taken out of context.” 

A statement attributed to the candidate reads: “I understand my comment could be offensive when removed from the longer interview, and I should have chosen better language. I believe we should be a province that not only focuses on reactive health for those in need but also one that teaches our kids to practise healthy living, which includes taking care of our physical and mental health.”

“No interviews or additional statements will be made regarding the situation,” her campaign team wrote.  


Couple embracing on the front porch of an old white building promoting Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village as a spot for wedding photos


Accountability, dependence and heart attacks 

Telling podcast hosts David Parker and Zach Gerber that she’d seen “a lot of similarities” between her roles as a nurse and a small-town mayor, Petrovic started talking about hospital patients.

“Everyone comes in with their problems, and how do you fix it? How do you go about being polite to them when you’re trying to save their lives in a high-stress environment?” 

It’s a matter of “balancing saving their life and doing it with a smile on your face as they’re bleeding out,” she told Parker, who founded the right-wing populist movement Take Back Alberta, according to TBA’s website. 

Asked where she saw “a lack of accountability and responsibility playing out in our Canadian society right now,” Petrovic told Parker that what she was about to say “might be political suicide … which is fine with me, because it needs to be said.” 

Canadians have become “so dependent on being saved” by the government, they no longer take responsibility for themselves, she said.

“And I see it in health care,” she continued, dressing down a hypothetical patient. 




“You know, I’m going to say it: Maybe the reason why you had a heart attack was because you haven’t taken care of yourself. You’re extremely overweight. You haven’t managed your congestive heart failure. You haven’t managed your diabetes and there’s no personal accountability. 

“But they come into the hospital, and all of a sudden, it’s everyone else’s problem but their own.”

Petrovic went on to say that she wanted to rally behind one of her neighbours she said had recently suffered a heart attack. 

“Well, let’s start shovelling his driveway,” she suggested.  

Kevin Van Tighem, the NDP’s riding candidate, issued a statement Tuesday calling on Premier Danielle Smith and Petrovic to apologize for Petrovic’s comments “blaming Albertans for cardiac disease.” 

“Last year, Danielle Smith said Albertans are responsible for developing cancer. Now her candidate blames Albertans for having a heart attack. This is a pattern of cruel and hurtful language that kicks Albertans when they’re down,” Van Tighem said.

Kevin Todd, the Alberta Party’s riding candidate, wrote in a prepared statement, “People of our constituency shouldn’t be made to feel as though their access to medical care is predicated on whether or not they ‘deserve’ help in one of life’s challenging moments.”  


Two photos of a woman with short blonde hair officiating weddings and promoting Love Speaks as a wedding celebrant


‘All the nurses are going to hate me for that’

On the subject of front-line nursing, Petrovic said during the podcast, “We have the unions who butt in [to the nursing process]. Let’s be honest, the unions only have [their] best interests at heart and how they make money.”  

“All the nurses are going to hate me for that,” she went on, adding, “Union reps are going to come after me for that one.” 

Livingstone-Macleod above all else 

Petrovic went on to say she’d represent the interests of Livingstone-Macleod if they conflicted with her party’s policy agenda. 

“I promise that I’ll never cross the floor, but I can’t promise that I will always be a UCP representative,” she said, telling Parker and Gerber that she understood that the UCP, like most parties, would boot her out if she won her riding and then voted against the party as an MLA.  

“If that means that … someone says, ‘You have to vote this way, otherwise you’re kicked out,’ and it’s not in Livingstone-Macleod’s best interest — well, I guess I’m no longer a UCP representative.” 

Petrovic several times stressed that she valued Claresholm’s “very diverse” council, and that effective leadership meant honing the ability to change one’s mind. 

The candidate will face the NDP’s Kevin Van Tighem and the Alberta Party’s Kevin Todd when Albertans head to the polls in May.

Petition against borrowing bylaw submitted

The Town of Pincher Creek has received a petition against a contentious borrowing bylaw for a new curling rink, according to chief administrative officer Angie Lucas

Lucas has 45 days to determine if the petition satisfies a host of conditions specified in the Municipal Government Act. 

The petition, which calls on council to put the borrowing bylaw to a referendum, needs signatures from at least 10 per cent of town residents, which amounts to around 360 people, according to the 2021 census. Signatures must be witnessed and dated, with the names of petitioners clearly written out, among other MGA requirements. 

If Lucas finds that the petition satisfies the Act, council must either drop the borrowing bylaw or put it to a referendum of town residents within 90 days. 

If not, council could pass the bylaw, which would authorize council to take out a $4 million construction loan.  

If the bylaw fails, council could finance the new rink through the town’s capital reserves, or through a combination of reserves and borrowed money according to a March 27 memo attached to council’s agenda.  


Traeger barbecue loaded with meat, vegetables and a pie in an ad promoting barbecues from Rocky Mountain Mechanical as wedding gifts


Elizabeth Dolman, who submitted the petition on Thursday, March 30, said it received 394 signatures. Lucas confirmed that number, but said she hadn’t reviewed the petition. 

Opponents of the curling rink build say the project would unduly distract from the town’s affordable housing shortage, and that council hasn’t presented enough relevant information. 

Supporters say the build’s estimated $4 million price tag wouldn’t overly burden municipal taxpayers because the town will likely qualify for federal grant funding for up to 60 per cent of construction costs. Council is meanwhile working on proposed housing solutions, supporters say. 

Few on either side would say the town’s aging curling rink at 837 Main St. has much more life to give. The building is visibly unsound and various engineering studies, mounted at the town’s expense, have found the building is beyond repair. 

Council narrowly approved the project on Feb 13, giving the borrowing bylaw the first of three readings on Feb. 27

Finance director Wendy Catonio declined to speculate in an interview with Shootin’ the Breeze last week about how or if the build might affect town taxpayers.




The town is carrying an unremarkable debt load (around $3.6 million as of the new year), she said. Passing the borrowing bylaw would not instantly dump any money onto that burden. Instead, Catonio explained that it would allow council to take out a loan of up to $4 million. 

The town would be on the hook for whatever amount council draws on the loan, Catonio said. 

The Pincher Creek Curling Club owns and operates the Main Street curling rink at the club’s expense. The town owns the land on which the rink sits.  

The club’s membership is roughly evenly split between town and MD residents, according to outgoing president Glenda Kettles. 

There is no plan for what to do with the Main Street lot after the curling rink inevitably comes down, according to an FAQ page on the town’s website.



Sunrise solar project presented in Pincher Creek

A renewable energy company that plans to build a solar farm in the MD of Pincher Creek hosted community stakeholders Tuesday at an open house in town.

Evolugen, an affiliate of Canadian-based Brookfield Renewable Corp., invited residents within an 800-metre radius of the proposed project one week before the open house on March 28. Company representatives meanwhile had in-person conversations with residents within a 400-metre radius, as per provincial regulations, according to project spokesman Mike Peters.

The proposed Sunrise Solar Project has cleared initial regulatory hurdles at a time when renewable energy projects are proliferating across southwestern Alberta. Evolugen says the project will inject $140 million in local capital spending, but observers, including Rural Municipalities of Alberta president Paul McLauchlin, have cautioned that unrestrained development for renewables could disrupt local food-security networks.

The project aims to generate enough solar electricity to power the equivalent of about 28,500 homes every year, although Peters said the company intends to sell the energy to a corporate buyer through a power purchasing agreement. Evolugen hopes to deliver the juice by installing more than 210,000 photovoltaic cells on 575 acres of privately owned, cultivated land near Highway 507, northwest of town limits.

The landowners intend to raise sheep on-site if the project goes ahead, Peters said. Tristan Walker, energy project lead with the town and MD, said sheep are suited to solar projects because their constant grazing effectively mows grass without kicking up dust or rocks.


Traeger barbecue loaded with meat, vegetables and a pie in an ad promoting barbecues from Rocky Mountain Mechanical as wedding gifts


Make hay while the sun is shining

Southwestern Alberta is ripe for solar energy due to its prevailing clear skies and its long summer days. The Pincher Creek area is relatively flat, allowing for solar farms on industrial scales.

Peters acknowledged that Sunrise would be a fairly big project, but “it’s certainly not the biggest” in the region.

Walker, who has no involvement with Sunrise or Evolugen, broadly concurred.

“In terms of solar farms, [Sunrise would be] a little bit smaller than a lot of projects that have gone through lately,” especially in Vulcan County to the northeast, he said.

Today’s photovoltaic cells generate power year-round, regardless of temperature, and can be adjusted to resist strong winds, Walker and Peters said.

Snow tends to melt off solar panels, especially because they’re designed to absorb light and heat. Photovoltaics inevitably reflect some glare, and Peters said Evolugen was working on a glare mitigation program for the benefit of local residents and motorists on Highway 507.

The company anticipates that Sunrise could generate about $140 million in local spending, the bulk of which would pay for solar panelling and construction costs, Peters said.

Evolugen would pay municipal taxes to the MD, while the farm would likely support two full-time positions post-construction, Peters said. Renewable energy isn’t subject to Alberta’s royalty scheme for non-renewable energy resources owned by the Crown.




Who allows the Sunrise? 

The RMA has consistently advocated for rural municipalities who say they want to be more involved in land-use decisions for all energy projects within their jurisdiction, prompting a conciliatory response from the Alberta Utilities Commission, which independently regulates the province’s utilities sector.

Food producers generally oppose fragmenting agricultural land for industrial development, but many producers welcome renewable energy projects on their land for the money the projects bring in.

“It’s obvious that utilizing [renewable] sources of energy is going to be an important part of our energy mix going forward,” the RMA’s McLaughlin told Shootin’ the Breeze shortly after a proposed wind farm near the Waterton Biosphere stirred controversy in Cardston County in mid February.

In determining whether or not utility projects are in the public interest, the AUC “makes land use decisions in rural Alberta, [without] considering incompatible land uses, food security, and other issues,” McLaughlin said.

Alberta Environment and Protected Areas signed off on Evolugen’s baseline environmental study late last year, ruling that Sunrise would pose a “low risk” to local wildlife and wildlife habitat, but provincial regulations don’t require assessments of potential disruptions to food security.




The AUC adjudicates projects on a case-by-case basis and has not yet ruled on the Sunrise farm. The regulator’s decisions “will prevail” when project approvals conflict with decisions by local governments, according to an FAQ page on the AUC’s website.

“The AUC encourages, appreciates and values municipal involvement and input in its regulatory decision-making process around energy projects and encourages their participation through its application rules,” a home-page bulletin states.

The proposed site falls within an urban fringe where the town and MD are obligated to consult each other on proposed developments, as per their intermunicipal development plan bylaws.

In order to be successful, project proponents would need MD council to rezone the Sunrise site for industrial use through a land-use bylaw amendment, according to Roland Milligan, the MD’s chief administrative officer. The amendment and subsequent permitting decisions would need to be referred to a joint IMDP committee, Milligan explained.

Solar energy doesn’t produce greenhouse gas emissions, but unmitigated heat absorption through solar panelling can fry topsoil to the point where disturbed land can’t support agriculture.

Evolugen hopes to get AUC approval by year’s end.

Evolugen hasn’t scheduled any follow-up public consultations in Pincher Creek or the MD, but Peters said the company will continue to engage stakeholders.



Major crimes unit investigating suspicious Healy Bridge death

Alberta RCMP’s major crimes unit is investigating a suspicious death near Willow Creek, according to media relations officer Cpl. Gina Slaney. 

Slaney said a 33-year-old man was found dead under the Healy Bridge on Highway 511 Saturday morning, March 25. Fort Macleod RCMP and Blood Tribe Police were called to the scene, where investigators found blood on the bridge.  

Details were sparse when Slaney spoke to Shootin’ the Breeze on Tuesday morning. Authorities won’t identify the deceased unless there’s a pressing investigational need or the investigation leads to criminal charges, though it remains to be seen if foul play was involved. 

The man’s family has been notified.

An autopsy scheduled for later today at the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Calgary could show how the man died, Slaney said.  

Shootin’ the Breeze will update this story as more details are made available. 

Borrowing bylaw for curling rink petitioned

A petition circulating in Pincher Creek could upset council’s plan to build a new curling rink, according to an administration report in council’s March 27 agenda. 

The petition, launched by town resident Elizabeth Dolman on March 17, aims to block the passage of a borrowing bylaw for a multi-million-dollar construction loan, pending a referendum on the loan, Dolman told Shootin’ the Breeze

“We don’t have enough information [about the curling rink project],” Dolman said, questioning the potential tax implications and calling for more attention to other civic priorities, namely housing

“Curling is a wonderful thing, … but people can’t move here for jobs because there’s no place to live. The town’s known this for at least 20 years, and they’ve made plans here and there. But they haven’t done anything yet,” she continued. 


Woman in wedding gown standing in a field of light golden grass and holding a giant bouquet of flowers, in an ad promoting the Bayshore Inn & Spa as a wedding destination

The petition is the latest development in a long-running and hotly contentious debate about whether or not to build a new rink and where to build it. 

Whatever might be said of the project, the town’s existing curling rink at 837 Main St. is at the end of its working life, according to structural studies dating back at least to 2008. The rink is run by the Pincher Creek Curling Club, at the club’s expense. The club has around 150 members, roughly evenly split between the town and MD of Pincher Creek, according to outgoing president Glenda Kettles.   

Council on Feb. 13 narrowly passed a resolution to build a new rink at the Community Recreation Centre at 942 Hyde St., to be renamed the CRC and Events Centre if the build goes ahead. The borrowing bylaw, still before council, was given the first of three readings at chambers on Feb. 27. 

Second and third readings are not listed on council’s March 27 agenda. 



Pincher Creek holds approximately $3.5 million in debt as of the new year — roughly $1.85 million for the town’s early learning centres and around $1.65 million for Pincher Creek RCMP’s current headquarters at 1369 Hunter St., according to finance director Wendy Catonio

That burden represents just under one quarter of the town’s approximately $15 million allowable debt limit, which the Municipal Government Act caps at 150 per cent of a municipality’s most recent annual revenue. For context, Catonio said the town’s current debt load is unremarkable compared to regional municipalities. 

If passed, the borrowing bylaw would authorize council to take out a loan for up to $4 million in estimated construction costs for the curling rink build. The town would then be obligated to pay down whatever amount it draws on the loan. 

The town has meanwhile applied for a federal grant that could cover up to 60 per cent of the build. Tristan Walker, the town and neighbouring MD’s energy project lead, said he hoped for a decision by the grant funder sometime this summer. 



Town council in 2017 committed $1.25 million to match the curling club’s hoped-for grant through the province’s Community Facility Enhancement Program. The CFEP grant didn’t come through, and council has included the $1.25 million commitment in subsequent budgets. 

The $1.25 million was always intended to be financed through a loan rather than the town’s capital reserves, Catonio explained.

Coun. Mark Barber, a longtime supporter of the build, told council last month that the curling club would contribute $200,000 through fundraising efforts, adding that the club would donate its ice plant, which Barber said was worth $500,000. 

Barber also said the MD would probably kick in some money. Reeve Rick Lemire later told the Breeze that MD council discussed that possibility in a joint session with town council, but the MD hasn’t made any financial commitments. 


Willow Tree figuring of man and woman with hands and foreheads touching together in an ad for wedding gifts from Christine's Gift Shoppe

In order to be successful, Dolman’s petition would have to satisfy a number of conditions listed in the MGA.

Petitions to council need signatures from 10 per cent of municipal residents, which amounts to roughly 360 people in Pincher Creek, according to the 2021 census. 

The petition would have to come to Angie Lucas, the town’s new chief administrative officer, no later than March 30. Lucas would then have 45 days to decide if the petition satisfies the Act’s requirements. 

If the petition holds up, council would have to either scrap the curling rink build or put the borrowing bylaw to a town referendum. If the petition fails, council could pass the borrowing bylaw and move ahead with the project, according to Lucas’s latest report to council.  



Lucas has recommended that council receive for information an explainer at chambers Monday evening about the petition process.

Few of the project’s vital details have been made public as of Friday afternoon, including a detailed cost estimate, according to an FAQ page on the town’s website.

The curling club owns the existing rink, while the town owns the land on which it sits. There is no plan for what happens at the old curling rink after the building comes down,  nor information about the financial implications for the town and tax implications for residents, the FAQ page explains. 

The curling club did not respond to a request for an interview before Shootin’ the Breeze published this story online on Friday afternoon. 



Roughly 170 people had signed Dolman’s petition to that point. Dolman has said she will continue to collect signatures at Ranchland Mall over the weekend. 

Kettles said Friday that the curling club has so far raised around $100,000 toward the new rink.

New CAO looks to Pincher Creek’s future

Pincher Creek’s new chief administrative officer has set her sights on long-term planning as mayor and council update the town’s policy framework.

Angie Lucas, who officially took the reins late last month, said last Friday that Pincher Creek is already a regional centre.

From its retail shops and parks to its hospital, Lucas said the town and its roughly 3,400 residents are a steady draw for about 35,000 people across southwestern Alberta.

The region is still emerging from an economic downturn that hit before the Covid-19 pandemic, but, “It’s 2023 now, and people want to do business here,” Lucas told Shootin’ the Breeze.


Line drawing of a bride advertising Lynne DeCock as a seamstress for wedding and graduation dresses


The town is facing a number of challenges, though, especially its lack of affordable housing. 

“If people want to come here and work, there’s nowhere for them to live. And if businesses can’t get staff, they can’t grow,” Lucas said, noting that mayor and council are on top of the situation.

“There’s plenty of long-range capital planning to do,” which already has Lucas’s staff taking stock of municipal facilities. 

Are we looking after them correctly? What’s our operating budget saying?” she pondered.




More immediately, the town’s municipal development plan — a living document that broadly envisions Pincher Creek’s future — is now 10 years out of date.

“There’s lots of work to be done internally before we can make changes in the community,” she said. 

To that end, Lucas brings years of experience in Alberta and neighbouring British Columbia, having served in top administrative positions with Calgary’s Tsuut’ina First Nation and nearby Wheatland County. 

Born in England and raised in Australia (Lucas joked that she’ll never outgrow her “Aussie twang”), she holds a master’s degree in environmental design and planning from the University of Calgary.




Credentials aside, Lucas was the last candidate standing after a tough selection and interview process that started back in September. 

Lucas has been working alongside outgoing CAO Laurie Wilgosh since January. 

Wilgosh will step down for good in March, having held the position for 14 years.


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