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Curling rock with yellow handle sits in blue ring on the ice

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.  

 

Table setting of wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

 

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.

 

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Profile of Trevor Hay, a man with short grey hair, wearing a black jacket, speaks into a microphone while addressing Crowsnest Pass council.

Crowsnest Pass to seek legal advice on Blairmore subdivision

The Municipality of Crowsnest Pass is seeking legal advice after a resident asked to build a road through his proposed subdivision before putting up a security deposit.

Trevor Hay, who hopes to build homes for his family atop Blairmore’s Greenwood Heights, says the project has been held up since 2010 because he can’t afford the deposit and construction costs at the same time.

“There’s a very real human component that’s significant in order to completely understand this situation,” Hay told council Jan. 13. He’d hoped to build a home for himself and his wife and to give lots to their three adult children.

“This should’ve been one of the most exciting and fulfilling times of our lives,” he said. “Instead, it’s been like a recurring nightmare.”

 

Ad for Sara Hawthorn, Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass realtor

 

Council’s subdivision policy (2006-02) requires that developers put up the full estimated costs to build civic amenities through a subdivision — including public roads — before breaking ground. Security deposits keep municipalities off the hook should these amenities fail in the two years after construction, Patrick Thomas, Crownest Pass’s chief administrative officer, explained at council’s regular meeting Feb. 7. 

Hay wants to put down a 25 per cent security deposit after the municipality signs off on the road through Greenwood Heights. The municipality would close the road to the public and block the subdivision if the road were to fail inspection. 

“It would stay a private road through (an undivided) private property,” Thomas said, adding that Hay’s 25 per cent would safeguard the municipality’s interests. 

 

Ad for Ascent Dental in Pincher Creek

 

Council unanimously approved a two-year extension for Hay’s project, but set aside his request for a smaller security deposit. 

“My biggest concern is that this will set a precedent moving forward,” Mayor Blair Painter said. 

Coun. Dean Ward drew on the example of a Blairmore development that went bust 15 years ago, which council had to buy back at taxpayers’ expense. 

“I’m not talking about (Hay’s) development, specifically. But, it’s not our job to just look after the safety of the municipality. It’s also to look after the safety of all our residents,” Ward said, cautioning that hilltop construction can put underlying homes at risk of flooding. 

 

Ad for Dragons Heart Quilt Shop in Pincher Creek

 

“How many times do you hear about unintended consequences?” Ward asked, echoing Painter’s concerns about setting a potentially dangerous precedent.

Speaking to the public perception that recent councils have been overly cautious, Coun. Vicki Kubik said, “If we sit here tonight with a bit of trepidation, it’s for a good reason.” 

Coun. Lisa Sygutek then tabled a motion calling for legal advice from the municipality’s legal team. 

“Are we willing to go down this road?” she asked. “Because once we’ve opened up this box, every developer is going to come to us asking for the same thing.” 

 

Ace of spades card on ad for Chase the Ace at the Pincher Creek Legion

 

Council unanimously passed Sygetuk’s motion. 

Hay defended his position when council opened the floor, stressing that he was “very sensitive to the issue of flooding.” 

Three engineering surveys have shown that a properly built road would improve drainage atop Greenwood Heights as much as 85 per cent, he said. 

Mayor Painter thanked Hay for his input and said council would revisit the issue of his security deposit at a later date.

 

 

 

 

People stand in line outside Pincher Creek council chambers waiting to vote

Municipal elections wrap up for another four years

The ballots have been cast and counted and the unofficial results are in.

As municipal elections wind to a close, new councils start preparations for the next term and some of the results look much different from the last four years.

Four new councillors have been elected to Pincher Creek town council and MD council has seen a complete turnover, with the exception of incumbent Rick Lemire from District 2.

One new councillor will serve alongside five incumbents on Crowsnest Pass council.

Livingstone Range School Division has seen no change in trustee positions while Holy Spirit Catholic School Division has gained a new local representative.

Town of Pincher Creek

Don Anderberg will return as mayor for another term. He captured 729 votes (59 per cent) on Monday night. Scott Korbett was second with 319 votes (26 per cent) and Jim Litkowski finished with 185 (15 per cent).

Incumbents Mark Barber and Wayne Elliott are returning to council as well, with Elliott receiving 676 votes (10.8 per cent) and Barber capturing 603 (9.6 per cent).

Of the newly elected councillors, Wayne Oliver came out on top, with 701 votes (11.2 per cent). David Green received 679 (10.9 per cent), Brian Wright 629 (10.1 per cent) and Sahra Nodge 577 (9.2 per cent) to fill the remaining positions. 

Not making the cut were incumbent Brian McGillivray with 513 votes (8.2 per cent), Judy Lane with 481 (7.7 per cent), Tammy Carmichael with 478 (7.6 per cent), Corinne Payne with 417 (6.7 per cent), Jocelyne Sheen with 315 (5.0 per cent), Blaise O’Rourke with 127 (2.0 per cent) and Mike Chaput with 58 (0.9 per cent).

MD of Pincher Creek

As lone candidates in their ridings, Anthony Bruder of Division 1 and Rick Lemire of Division 2 were elected by acclamation. Lemire is returning for a second term and Bruder will serve his first.

David Cox captured the majority of support in Division 3 with 165 votes (73.3 per cent), defeating Garry Marchuk, who had 60 votes (26.7 per cent).

In Division 4, Harold Hollingshead won the seat, finishing with 118 votes (63.8 per cent), while Jim Welsch had 67 (36.2 per cent).

John MacGarva carried the vote in Division 5 with 193 (58.1 per cent), while Chuck Lee came in with 139 (41.9 per cent).

Municipality of Crowsnest Pass

Blair Painter was elected mayor by acclamation and all incumbent councillors are back for another go.

Serving another term are top vote-getter Doreen Glavin with 1,293 votes (16.2 per cent), Dave Filipuzzi with 1,263 (15.8 per cent), Dean Ward with 1,217 (15.3 per cent), Glen Girhiny with 1,182 (14.8 per cent) and Lisa Sygutek with 1,147 (14.4 per cent).

Securing the final spot was Vicki Kubik, who captured 1,081 votes (13.6 per cent).

With 794 votes (10 per cent), Tara Lynn Fletcher was unsuccessful in her bid for council.

Cowley

The Village of Cowley did not hold an election as all three candidates were acclaimed.

Barbara Burnett, Dave Slingerland and Paula Watson will decide amongst themselves which of them will step up as mayor. The decision will be announced in next week’s paper.

Livingstone Range School Division

Three candidates were in the running as trustees for Ward 3 and incumbents Lori Hodges and Lacey Poytress have retained their positions.

Hodges took 1,333 votes (45.9 per cent) and Poytress 1,145 (39.4 per cent), while challenger Purdy Martodihardjo won 425 (14.6 per cent).

Holy Spirit Catholic School Division 

Blake Dolan won a Ward 4 position on the Catholic school board, taking two-thirds of the vote.

Dolan amassed 190 votes while Bart Denie had 94.