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Tag: Village of Cowley

Pincher Creek town councillors and administration sit at chambers table and one is on-screen, attending virtually. Four have hands raised, voting in favour of new curling rink plan.

Pincher Creek to build new curling rink, pending borrowing bylaw

The motion, tabled by Coun. Mark Barber, triggered a lengthy deliberation at chambers Monday, drawing input from all six councillors and Mayor Don Anderberg as they weighed the project against the town’s acute, chronic housing shortage, the potential tax increase to pay for the build, and the state of the existing facilities at the CRC. 

Council several times acknowledged the long-running contributions by the local curling club, which has long operated the current curling rink at 837 Main Street at its own expense. 

Council set aside $1.25 million of the estimated $4 million build in its 2023 capital budget. The remaining $2.75 million will be funded by a long-term loan, pending council’s upcoming vote on a borrowing bylaw, which will be the subject of a public hearing. 

Speaking in favour of Barber’s motion, Mayor Anderberg said that, in a worst-case scenario, council could pay for the project with a three per cent municipal tax increase. Council will apply for a federal grant that would cover up to 60 per cent of construction costs, provided the build goes ahead on a “net-zero” carbon footing, he told the public audience. 

 

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

 

Coun. Gary Clelland cast the vote as an “11th-hour” decision that would determine the curling club’s future.

“This is the time for us to take a positive step forward in our community, and say, ‘We want hundreds of people involved in this (curling) centre that for 100 years paid their way, have been leaders in the community … paid taxes in the community for 100 years, and still do today,” he said.  

Coun. Sahra Nodge objected that the long-term borrowing costs and subsequent maintenance of the rink would overly burden taxpayers, adding that the CRC’s gym and bowling alley are approaching their end of life.

“My role on council is to make sure that the monies that are spent by the town are done so responsibly, and with the due diligence and transparency that our community expects,” she said. 

Echoing Nodge, Coun. Brian Wright asked council, “How do we not bring a tax increase in order to get this to move forward?” 

 

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Anderberg noted that residents surveyed in Pincher Creek’s March 2021 master recreation plan identified an upgrade to the curling rink as a top priority for indoor recreation.

“If our community tells us that a new curling facility is high on their list of priorities, I’ll follow their direction,” he said. 

Coun. David Green said housing solutions should take priority over the proposed curling rink. 

The town’s population has marginally shrunk in the past 15 years. Its housing vacancy rate was less than 1.5 per cent in 2017, when most of the town’s and neighbouring village of Cowley’s housing stock was close to 40 years old, according to a 2018 housing-needs assessment commissioned by council. 

“The lack of adequate and affordable housing for low-income families is a barrier to the economic growth and stability of (Pincher Creek) communities,” the assessment found.

 

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Coun. Wayne Oliver, who attended the meeting remotely due to illness, said he trusted Anderberg’s business savvy. 

“Yes, housing is extremely important. But, I think we could work parallel on housing while building a new curling rink facility,” Oliver said. 

Barber’s motion passed 4-3 after Anderberg called the question, with Couns. Barber, Clelland and Oliver in favour, and Couns. Nodge, Green and Wright against. 

Council then unanimously passed Barber’s motions to apply for the federal grant and to tack $2.75 million onto 2023’s operating budget. 

Council must now decide whether to authorize a $4-million loan through a borrowing bylaw. The loan would  cover construction costs not already budgeted for if council’s grant application fails, but Anderberg said the town probably wouldn’t spend the full amount.

 

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Laurie Tritschler author information. Photo of red-haired man with moustache, beard and glasses, wearing a light blue shirt in a circle over a purple accent line with text details and connection links

Laurie Wilgosh, CAO of the Town of Pincher Creek. Woman with short, grey hair and glasses sits at her desk.

Town CAO to retire after storied career

 

Pincher Creek’s top civic administrator will retire this spring, marking the end of an era at town hall. 

Laurie Wilgosh, chief administrative officer for the last 14 years, informed mayor and council in September that she planned to step down after lining up a suitable replacement. 

“It’s time to spend more time with my family,” she told Shootin’ the Breeze from behind her desk last Thursday. 

Wilgosh will stay on until the end of the month, when she’ll be succeeded by the town’s new CAO, Angie Lucas. 

Wilgosh started with the Town of Pincher Creek in 2008, when she was hired as director of corporate services. Within six months, she’d replaced outgoing CAO Fran Kornfeld.

Wilgosh had served as neighbouring Cowley’s CAO for 20 years, but experience is no guarantee of longevity in her line of work.

 

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It’s the CAO’s job to manage the town’s administration while advising council on the complex legislative requirements and industry best practices that define local government. It’s not easy squaring civic priorities with the people who craft them, and Wilgosh noted that CAOs don’t always get to plan their exits. 

“If the residents are not satisfied with their service delivery, they’ll take that to council and, sometimes, councils decide that the best way to meet those needs is to start fresh with somebody new.” 

As Mayor Don Anderberg wryly observed, “There’s politics and council members, but administrators have to be great politicians without showing it.” 

That Wilgosh thrived in her position for so long “speaks a lot to her abilities and the type of person she is,” he said Monday.

But Wilgosh was slow to tout her accomplishments, speaking instead in the calm, clipped statements of a veteran administrator. 

“Things were rather fragmented when I started,” she noted, adding that she was proud to leave behind a strong, cohesive team. 

 

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She’d presided over successful contract negotiations with CUPE 927, the union local that represents town hall’s roughly 25 staff. She was at the helm throughout the pandemic, as her team managed not just to keep Pincher Creek running, but to open two brand new child-care facilities in the summer of 2020. 

Wilgosh highlighted the town’s working relationship with the municipal district, remembering fondly that both councils partnered on the opening of Pincher Creek’s new humane society on Kettles Street. 

The only time she seemed to speak without thinking was when she was asked what she’d miss the most about her job. 

“The people,” she said. “I have a fantastic team.” 

Angie Lucas started as interim CAO on Tuesday, making her first public appearance at that morning’s committee of the whole meeting. Lucas will assume her full duties Feb. 1, with Wilgosh staying on in an advisory role until her last day on March 31.

 

Laurie Tritschler author information. Photo of red-haired man with moustache, beard and glasses, wearing a light blue shirt in a circle over a purple accent line with text details and connection links

Text "Three from Fort Macleod charged in Cowley break-in" over top of red and blue lights with RCMP logo

Three charged in Cowley break-in

Three people have been charged in connection with a weekend break-in at a public works yard in the village of Cowley. A fourth suspect remains at large, according to Sgt. Ryan Hodge, commanding officer at Pincher Creek RCMP.

Mounties arrested the trio Monday on Highway 3 near Pincher Station, roughly a day after two men allegedly stole keys and hand tools from the works yard at 518 Railway Ave. in Cowley.

Two Fort Macleod men, aged 50 and 21, are charged with breaking and entering and possession of stolen property.

“There was quite a bit of property recovered,” Hodge said Tuesday. 

 

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

 

A third suspect, a 21-year-old woman from Fort Macleod, was arrested and charged with possession of stolen property.

The 50-year-old suspect was in police custody as of Tuesday morning, held on a number of outstanding charges and arrest warrants. The second man was released Tuesday, following a telephone hearing through Pincher Creek provincial court. The female suspect was also released.

Hodge said Mounties are looking for the fourth suspect, another Fort Macleod woman who is believed to have been involved in Sunday’s break-in.

Hodge praised Monday’s arrests as the result of a combined investigation by the Pincher Creek detachment, Taber RCMP and Taber Police Services, Lethbridge Police Services and Fort Macleod RCMP.

“The only way to catch (the suspects) was to co-operate. We’re always co-operating,” Hodge said.

 

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Male youth pins poppy to Remembrance Day cross held by female youth, while another male youth stands at attention, on the front page of Shootin' the Breeze. Alberta news from Pincher Creek area and Crowsnest Pass.

Nov. 9, 2022

We will remember them

Peter Van Bussel and Abigail Rigaux receive a poppy from Walker Anderson at the MHHS Remembrance Day assembly in Pincher Creek.