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Tag: Glen Girhiny

Three people skating on outdoor rink shown from knees down

C.N.P. council funds temporary outdoor rink, park improvements

During its June 20 meeting, Crowsnest Pass council approved two expenditures that will help improve outdoor recreation for residents.

Temporary outdoor rink 

Earlier this year the parks and recreation advisory committee began exploring options for a viable location for an outdoor skating rink. The idea was to pick a suitable area and run a test season to see if a permanent rink would be successful.

Several locations were considered, such as Frank Playground, Gazebo Park, Flumerfelt Park, Pete’s Park and Hillcrest Memorial. Ultimately, space just south of the Coleman Complex was selected.

The Coleman Complex was chosen partly because all necessary equipment and staff are on-site. When open, the building also provides a heated place for skaters to warm up.

Council approved the committee’s request to fund expenses of the rink, set at $1,750. Expenses include installing the ice ($911), wages for workers maintaining the rink ($647.70) and clearing the rink for an estimated five heavy snow events ($189.80).

With all the information provided by the committee, Coun. Dean Ward said moving forward with the trial rink is a logical thing for the municipality to do.

“I’m not convinced yet 100 per cent that an outdoor skating rink makes sense, but I think this is  a good way to give it a try,” he said. “It’s cheap, it’s reasonable, it’s in a good location — if it works out, let’s do something for permanent next year. This is a good way to trial it.”

Building the outdoor rink outside the complex, added Coun. Lisa Sygutek, is a good step toward determining a permanent location.

“I like the idea of trying it out here as it’s only a $1,700 ticket,” said Sygutek. “And if it’s super, super well used, the group really felt the best bang for the buck would be to do it at Pete’s Park and that we could look into that and budget implications in the future.”

 

Wedding banquet view of wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

 

Bellevue Memorial Park

At the request of the Bellecrest Association, council voted in favour of covering $5,500 in unexpected costs spent re-grading and landscaping the picnic area west of the concession in Bellevue Memorial Park.

Due to a water main break a few years ago, the picnic area had been rendered unusable. About 1,000 square yards was levelled with concrete blocks, a border of limestone boulders and compacted gravel to revitalize the space.

The association had $5,000 of funding at its disposal and initial permission from the parks department to go ahead, but unforeseen issues bumped up the overall project cost. These included the need for deeper trenches for electric and sprinkler lines, extra concrete blocks, and cutting back broken concrete to allow for better grading.

Despite the larger-than-expected cost, Coun. Doreen Glavin said the work was something that needed to be completed.

“I actually commend Bellcrest Association for actually improving it and fixing it, because as far as I’m concerned it was a big safety issue,” she said. “I understand maybe they shouldn’t have went ahead and did it, but they did have permission not to grade the slope towards the adjacent lot because that’s how it was to start with.”

“There’s an awful lot more usable space there now,” added Coun. Glen Girhiny. “It surprised me how much room there was there, actually, in the end, compared to what it was before. It should’ve been fixed a long time ago.”

Not talking to the municipality about the situation before the work was completed, however, was something that concerned council and administration.

“My only concern here is process. I’m concerned that groups will go out, do work, without talking to the municipality first, and then they show up here,” said Coun. Ward. “To me they should’ve come to administration before they did the work. You don’t get to just do stuff and then show up and say here’s the bill.”

“It would be better to come at the front end and we can make a conscious decision if that’s a project we’re going to go ahead with, instead of coming at the tail end,” added CAO Patrick Thomas.

Although OK with covering the cost, Coun. Sygutek said the municipality’s expectations needed to be made clear with the Bellecrest Association.

“Those issues are going to come at us with any group. The difference is this group is a very functional group and they did a really great job,” she said, “but I think that they need, not a reprimand, but it made very clear that they need to come to us in these situations.”

As a result, council directed administration to provide the needed funds and also send a letter to the association explaining the municipality’s expectations.

Next meeting

The next Crowsnest council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 15, 7 p.m. in council chambers.

Firefighter gear hanging on fire hall wall

Hillcrest fire station to remain open

Historic buildings play an important role in the cultural identity of a community. As buildings age and their initial uses get transferred to modern facilities, however, rising maintenance costs can bring up questions about how much maintaining cultural identity is worth.

Such was the conversation about Hillcrest’s Fire Station 4 during Crowsnest Pass council’s Oct. 18 regular meeting. Administration brought the topic forward with the recommendation that council close the firehall due to the facility not meeting current fire protection standards, specifically in equipment requirements and staffing levels.

Only two volunteers man the station. One works a mining shift schedule and the other is in their late 70s and has reduced work function. The Fire Underwriters Survey, a fire insurance statistical group, states the minimum staff level for a station to be recognized is 10 personnel.

On top of requiring considerable upkeep and operating costs, the aging hall also is unable to house a front-line fire engine. Currently, the only firefighting truck is a 2001 Ford Type 6 brush/wildland truck that is past its end of life.

Emergency services calls to Hillcrest are serviced from Station 3 in Bellevue. Closing the Hillcrest station would not affect Hillcrest’s emergency or fire protection.

Closing the hall, said CAO Patrick Thomas, would allow the municipality to utilize the building and the respective funds in a more meaningful way, but would in no way be meant as a slight against the legacy of the facility.

“First and foremost, no one wants to go and put forth that there is not an immense appreciation for the years of service that have come out of that hall,” he said.

“That is not the intent, to try and put any slight against that. This is more looking at it from a business sense. It’s essentially just running as a hall on paper and nothing more.”

Though recognizing the financial commitment to the hall did not result in any additional advantages to the municipality’s fire response, Coun. Lisa Sygutek said keeping the hall open would carry a deeper meaning than monetary value could communicate.

“Sometimes there’s things you just do because it’s the right thing to do,” she said.

“It shouldn’t have a cost price attached to it. This is a community that has nothing left in it — it has the Hillcrest Fish and Game, it’s got the Miners Club, and it’s got a facility that matters to them. It matters to them for their perceived safety.”

“Even if we don’t feel that it matters to their safety, for them, it matters for their safety,” Sygtuek continued.

“There’s right things to do and wrong things to do, in my opinion, and in this situation we are removing so many things from the community in such a short period of time, I’m just not willing to do this one.”

Coun. Vicki Kubik agreed.

“As it is, I get the financial part of it, but I also understand the connection that people have that gives them that sense of community, and a fire hall can be an important part of that,” she said.

“The general consensus when I meet with the constituents in that area is they would be really offended to have the firehall closed. They perceive it to be something that speaks to their safety.”

“I wonder if they just don’t even know that there’s nothing in that hall that would service them,” Kubik added.

“There is a lot of concern expressed about the railroad tracks and how long it would take for them to receive service if they needed it. Just on principle alone, given what the constituents in that area have told me, I can’t in good conscience vote in favour of closing the Hillcrest firehall either.”

Although still reliant on Bellevue, Coun. Doreen Glavin said, previous experience showed a station in Hillcrest could make a difference when a life was on the line.

“I know in one instance they didn’t do that [wait for help from Bellevue] and they went and helped with a heart attack patient. And whether it be medical or even a vehicle accident, I would feel better with having it closed if the personnel that live in that community can respond without having to go to the fire station first before they acted on whatever the emergency situation would be,” she said.

“I’m really concerned, we see it all the time with CP Rail, [where] that train is stuck on the tracks.”

Sentiments aside, however, the fact remained: the station did not have enough staff or the right equipment to provide an acceptable level of emergency service.

“Maybe what administration needs to do is to put it out to the public and say, ‘Hey look, these are the options: if we can’t get volunteers from this community to be members of the fire department, we are going to be forced to close this hall,’ ” said Mayor Blair Painter. “Lay it out in black and white and see if anybody steps forward.”

Apart from volunteers, the major issue was lack of equipment, said Coun. Dave Filipuzzi.

“Even if you recruited six people in the Hillcrest area — what are they going to do? There’s not going to be no equipment there,” he said. “You’re still going to have to go to either Bellevue or Blairmore.”

“I mean you’re going to a hall that’s got nothing in it. Even if you got 20 people from Hillcrest, it’s still got no value,” Filipuzzi continued.

“Other than you know what, the value that it’s got, is that ‘Hey we still got the Hillcrest firehall. Even though it’s falling down around us, we’ve got a nice rock outside and we got a nice thing outside and this looks great.’ But the value of it — think of the value of it. Does it have value to the community? No, it don’t.”

Closing Station 4, he said, would mean the municipality could repurpose it to fulfil another need. “It’s not like we’re just going to go there and plow it over,” he said.

Keeping the hall open, added Mayor Painter, would mean ignoring the facts of the issue and the logical course of action for the municipality to take as a whole.

“You’re not thinking with your head, you’re thinking with your heart. And that’s not always in the best interest of the community,” he said.

Council eventually voted not to close Station 4.

At the request of Coun. Sygutek, a recorded vote was taken. Mayor Painter and Couns. Filipuzzi and Girhiny voted in favour of closing the hall, while Couns. Sygutek, Kubik, Glavin and Ward opposed its closure.

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.