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Arm of person passing a fast-food drink from a drive-thru window and hand of person in vehicle accepting it.

Town council to focus on the bigger picture

Pincher Creek town council has put the brakes on plans to include drive-thrus in its C4 transitional zoning designation.

In a vote of 6-1, with Coun. Sahra Nodge the lone dissenter, council defeated the second of three readings of an amendment that would have allowed businesses, like restaurants and financial institutions, to potentially have drive-thrus in the downtown core.

“The one thing, in my view, that makes it slightly incompatible, is you’re transitioning from residential to commercial and that whole area of transition has public sidewalks right in front of it,” said Coun. Wayne Oliver, referring to the Subway restaurant on Main Street, which had been hoping to open its existing drive-thru window.

“Having a drive-thru that has to cross (two) public sidewalks is not an ideal design,” he said. “And that’s a high-traffic area with a swimming pool and a skating rink.”

There was also concern across the board that an alleyway behind the restaurant might be impacted by a drive-thru lane.

While there’d been no direct dialogue with the owner of the Subway on the access route, the town’s CAO assured council that vehicles wouldn’t be able to line up in the alley. 

“Private development isn’t able to use back alleys. Everything has to be done on their site,” confirmed Angie Lucas, when asked by Coun. David Green where the vehicles would enter the drive-thru.

Oliver, however, followed up on an earlier comment from Mayor Don Anderberg that any amendment changes need to be considered for all the businesses that might be affected, not just one.

 

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New direction for future development? 

While in favour of seeing the amendment go through second reading, Nodge also accepted there might be a shift in what the community wants from its downtown, which includes Kettles Street, where a number of lots fall under the “transitional” designation.

The zoning “was primarily along the Kettles Street piece. It’s more than just Main Street,” she said. “It was meant to facilitate more commercial development on Kettles and also on the west end of Main Street, west of the Hewetson intersection, on that block, on both sides.”

But have the wants and needs of the community changed?

“I don’t think where our community is moving now is foreseeing Kettles as a commercial core, as it once did, and I think there’s a shift in how the downtown is viewed in terms of growth possibility and the desirability,” Nodge added.

Anderberg, meanwhile, would like to see any future discussion on land use include the stretch of Main Street west of Hewetson.

“The (original) intent was to intensify that section for commercial development. It hasn’t worked too well,” he said.

Anderberg hopes an updated land use bylaw, with new provisions for C4, will address that.

“I think the plan (for the C4 district) was put in place … 1998, 1990, so it’s been 25 years. It’s out of date,” said the mayor.

The first draft of the new land use bylaw could come across the council table as early as next month.

Group of people in business suits at the base of a large hurdle

Borrowing bylaw for curling rink passes first hurdle

Pincher Creek town council narrowly approved first reading of a $4-million borrowing bylaw to pay for a new curling rink at the Community Recreation Centre at 948 Hyde St. Council then unanimously voted to expand the project in hopes of qualifying for a federal Green and Inclusive Community Buildings grant for up to 60 per cent of the build. 

A second grant could deliver up to $1 million in construction costs, while council has already set aside $1.25 million in its 2023 capital budget.

Council greenlit the new curling rink through a contentious 4-3 split Feb. 13, with councillors voting along the same lines when the borrowing bylaw was put to the test Feb. 27. 

 

Pig roast at wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

 

Coun. Mark Barber tabled the borrowing bylaw at chambers, stressing that grant funding and a hoped-for contribution by the MD of Pincher Creek would offset the rink’s $4-million price tag.

Both councils discussed a potential contribution by the MD at a closed meeting last month, but MD council hasn’t decided anything, Reeve Rick Lemire told Shootin’ the Breeze last Thursday. 

“We’re keeping our options open at this point,” he said. 

Mayor Don Anderberg and Couns. Gary Cleland and Wayne Oliver supported Barber’s motion, with Couns. David Green, Sahra Nodge and Brian Wright voting against. 

 

 

Barber and Anderberg cited the town and MD’s joint master recreation plan, which ranked a new curling rink as a third-tier priority in March 2021, based on a survey of around 630 residents. 

The curling club and its estimated 150 members hope to donate $200,000 toward the project, plus an ice plant that Barber said was worth $500,000. 

Anderberg said council has funded new walking trails and has started to address upgrades to the Memorial Community Centre arena at 867 Main St., which survey respondents listed as first- and second-tier priorities.

The mayor’s comment drew jeers from residents in attendance, to which Anderberg replied, “I believe the survey was accurate and that it was done for a purpose.” 

 

 

“I would say we’re aggressively pursuing grant money, and all indications are that there would not be a need to borrow the entire [$4 million] amount,” Coun. Oliver said. 

Coun. Nodge was the first to speak against the motion, reminding council that the project remains largely unfunded, and warning that residents might have to support a heavy debt load through higher taxes. 

Nodge also highlighted the town’s 2022 master infrastructure report by the engineering firm ISL, a planning document that recommends roughly $13 million worth of sidewalk, storm sewer and other upgrades as part of a 10-year capital plan. 

Acknowledging strong support for the curling rink among some portions of the community, Nodge insisted that council hasn’t hadn’t done its homework ahead of the project. 

 

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“If this goes ahead, which it probably will, and somebody asks, ‘What are the implications for this on taxpayers for the Town of Pincher Creek?’ I don’t have an answer other than my own speculation, and that worries me.” 

Noting the town’s acute, chronic housing crunch, Coun. Green reminded council that the community and the municipality have limited resources to bear across a host of civic projects. 

“Consequently, a plan for priority spending should be developed in conjunction with the current council’s strategic priorities from 2022 through 2026, which will help eliminate any reactive or misaligned development decisions,” Green said. 

Council then unanimously voted to add a bouldering wall and an exhibition space to the Community Recreation Centre. The additions strengthen the town’s chances of receiving the GIBC grant by making the facility more accessible, according to the grant’s funding criteria. 

 

Aerial view of the Cowley Lions Campground on the Castle River in southwestern Alberta

 

The grant requires a carbon net-zero build, which would add about 30 per cent to projected construction costs, according to Tristan Walker, municipal energy project lead for the town and MD. 

Walker said the additions would ultimately save money because the grant would cover up to 60 per cent of total construction costs — if council receives the grant. 

The recreation centre currently runs year-round, and project supporters say the new amenities would offer a more robust selection of activities.

The borrowing bylaw must be put to a public hearing and two more readings at chambers, according to the Municipal Government Act. 

If passed, opponents would have 30 days to challenge the borrowing bylaw, according to finance director Wendy Catonio.

 

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Members of Pincher Creek high school reunion committee meet around a u-shaped table

Plans underway for Pincher Creek classes of 1950-73 reunion

Pincher Creek’s multi-year high school reunion — for alumni who were part of or could have been part of graduating classes from 1950 to 1973 — is making its return this summer for the first time since 2018.

Individuals from the aforementioned years are welcome to get together with friends and fellow alumni for a weekend of fun, festivities, storytelling and activities taking place from June 30 to July 2.

“It’s both wonderful and heartwarming to see people that you’ve grown up with after so long, and interesting to see what the people that you spent so many years with have done with their lives and what they’re doing now,” says BJ Scott, one of the lead organizers.

While the majority of attendees and organizers attended Matthew Halton High School, alumni from St. Michael’s School are welcome and encouraged to participate as well.

 

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The Pincher Creek/Matthew Halton High School reunion has been taking place since 2003 and takes place every five years. The range of graduating classes expands with each edition of the reunion.

Planning began in early December, when the reunion committee convened for the first time to discuss plans, make arrangements for venues and activities, and get organized for the summer. The committee is made up of representatives from the majority of grad classes featured at the weekend festivities.

While many details remain to be ironed out, the event will be held primarily at Pincher Creek Community Hall, where alumni can look forward to sharing meals together, socializing, dancing, singing, taking in a live band and storytelling.

Additionally, a local photographer will take pictures of alumni from each graduating class to produce a reunion yearbook. 

 

 

“The reunion will be both emotional and heartfelt. It’ll be so incredible to see all of these folks back here again and socializing and talking about those days when life seemed perhaps a little simpler,” says David Green, chairman of the reunion committee and a town councillor in Pincher Creek.

“This is really an important step out from the pandemic. I mean, for many of the alumni this will be one of the first major opportunities since the last reunion to get out and socialize. It’ll be a great chance for people to cut loose.”

Further decisions and updates regarding the reunion should be made available when the committee gets together to discuss further plans for the weekend event.

The reunion committee will have reconvened as of Jan. 10, so if you are interested and eligible for the event, and wish to learn more, visit the Pincher Creek High School Alumni page on Facebook or shoot an email to the committee.

 

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Dollar sign inside speech bubble

Pincher Creek council mulls raise for mayor

 

Town council is considering an increase to mayors’ monthly stipends.

The proposed bump came up for discussion at chambers Nov. 28 in the form of a proposed amendment to Pincher Creek’s remuneration bylaw for councillors and mayors.

If passed, the amendment would increase mayors’ stipends by $125 per month, a roughly 11.5 per cent raise from $1,075 to $1,200.

The amendment wouldn’t change councillors’ stipends, now set at $600 per month.

Mayor Don Anderberg recused himself from council’s deliberations, with Coun. David Green presiding as deputy mayor.

 

 

Anderberg spoke briefly on the amendment Friday, explaining that council will decide whether or not to pass the amendment.

“When you’re working for someone, or you own your own business, and you run for council, there’s a cost to that,” he said.

Mayors and councillors are paid $235 for every council meeting they attend. They are paid $120 for committee meetings that run up to three hours and $235 for those that run longer, according to the bylaw amendment.

Crowsnest Pass council upped pay for mayor and councillors this fall, bringing councillors’ monthly stipends to $965, and $1,350 for the mayor. The municipality pays $150 for committee meetings of less than three hours, and $275 for meetings that run longer, according to the minutes of council’s Sept. 27 regular meeting.

Pincher Creek council will revisit the amendment proposal at its next regular meeting Monday, Dec. 12, according to chief administrative officer Laurie Wilgosh.

 

 

Kids trick or treating in lion costumes – one roaring and one smiling on the front page of Shootin' the Breeze. Alberta news from Pincher Creek area and Crowsnest Pass.

Nov. 2, 2022

Lion’s share of fun

Ames and Miles were spotted enjoying Spooky Town and the great weather Saturday at Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village in Pincher Creek.