Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Retirement from Municipal Politics

Yesterday was Nomination Day for municipal offices across the province.  I did not submit nomination papers which makes it official:  I am retiring from municipal politics.

This retirement comes without any malice!  It is simply time.  I have had the honor and pleasure of working with some great people over my almost thirty years as a village councilor in Beiseker.  We have accomplished some great things for this tiny village!

Beiseker is not out of the woods yet as far as our finances go, but we have survived one of the biggest economic down-turns this province has seen!  The provinces answer to our fiscal issues is simple; just raise property taxes!  Council has resisted that, and I hope they will continue to do so! 

Here's some things this Council can take credit for:
  • We have been very successful at reducing the amount of back-taxes owing. This was  accomplished through many different programs, one of which is the monthly pay system.  Unfortunately, we still have a ways to go here!
  • We have reduced the amount of "lost water" by the village so that Beiseker is selling most of the water it buys.
  • This council has spearheaded a program to upgrade the streets.  So far, Fourth Ave., Seventh Street and First Avenue have benefited.  Our sidewalk replacement continues, too!
  • We have created a program to replace faulty water valves around the village also saving lost water.
  • We have our Public Works Department running extremely well.
  • As a member of the Aqua-7 Regional Water Services Commission we have seen that organization become much more viable.  We survived the provincial government reneging on a deal to help us out, and we are now "in the black"!
  • We started a "Building A Better Beiseker" project by upgrading the first block of our Main Street business district.  Hopefully as the economy picks up the project to revitalize the rest of Main Street will resume!
  • We finally will see some action on dismantling and removing the now defunct railway museum.  We were unable to convince the federal government get a good accounting on where that half million dollars went! Hopefully that site will be cleaned up soon.
  • I think we finally have our fire department woes solved.  The Beiseker Fire Department in the envy of many small municipalities and it continues to thrive. 
  • We are in the process of subdividing and selling lots at the airport.  This will ultimately generate even more funds for our airport and village!
To mention a few!

To my fellow councilors and the village's Chief Administrative Officer with her staff;
thank you for your support, your advice and your candor.  All have been most valuable to me over the past years.

Ray Courtman
Mayor; Village of Beiseker

Sunday, September 17, 2017

A Great Decision!

Last week we heard of a young hockey player refusing to wear a team jersey because it has an image of an indigenous warrior featured on it.  I thought the image was very similar to that of an NHL hockey team.  People lined up on both sides of the argument.  A solution had to be found.

Images of warriors appear on many sports teams' uniforms.  They could be Spartan warriors, Roman warriors or in this case Native warriors.  I've always regarded these images as a tribute to the bravery and tenacity of these ancient warriors.  Most, especially the indigenous and Spartan warriors were faced with incredible odds against them as their lands were being invaded by foreign armies, yet they fought on gallantly.  Their bravery has been celebrated for years.

A solution has been found!  The hockey team in question has engaged the help of the Chief of a local First Nation to help them update the image on their jerseys.  Hopefully this process will include an education process which will address the sensitive issues of the image on their jersey.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Sir John A. Takes a Hit

The Ontario Elementary Teachers' Federation have decided that the name of our first Prime Minister, Sir John A. MacDonald should be removed from all schools. He, along with most of the Fathers of Confederation agreed with the creation of residential schools for our native population.

This is getting ridiculous!  We cannot judge past history by today's standards.  We will all agree that residential schools were a terrible failure and caused suffering and death to many, but those who set up those schools thought they were doing the best for our indigenous population!  I don't believe they were being vindictive!  Removing their names from history won't change the past and I think it will give Canadians a better chance of forgetting these horrible indecencies!

I do concede that the statues of Cornwallis in Nova Scotia be removed from places of prominence and put in museum grounds.  Cornwallis actually put a bounty on heads of indigenous people living there, but that was hundreds of years ago.  That fact cannot be erased from history but his statue is causing quite a bit of consternation in Halifax.  I say decide on a new location for his statue along with a sign describing reason for its move.  We must not lose this history!

We need to examine each situation like this with cool heads!  If we don't, this whole process can get really silly!  When you read the writings of Winston Churchill, it's not hard to notice that he was a chauvinist and a bit of a bigot!  Is he next on the hit list?

How about William Van Horne and the rest of those who built Canada's national railway!  They promoted the importation and exploitation of workers from China!  Shall we zap them?

Why stop there?  You do know that the Roman Emperors Julius Caesar and Caesar Augustus both promoted slavery and gladiator games fought to the death!  Will we soon be changing the names of the months of July and August?  That's how silly it could get!

LED Lights & Seventh Street

Street Lights;  I was very pleased to see that our new LED street lights are being installed!  These new lights are far less expensive to operate and their light is less glaring thus cutting down on the light pollution.

I'm hoping that they'll be installed throughout the village soon!

Seventh Street;  I'm sure you've noticed that we began work on Seventh Street.  We're trying something different, there.  We are removing the top layer of surface and replacing it with chipped asphalt, then sealing it with a special material.

It's not as good as pavement but it is considerably cheaper!  By my calculations, far less than a quarter the cost fresh asphalt.

You will recall that when we planned to pave Seventh and Eighth Streets some years ago, the folks along Seventh took up a petition to stop that work along their street,  Provincial municipal acts dictate that council must agree to their wishes.  Seventh Street was dropped from the project.  That project included a Local Improvement Tax (Frontage Tax).

The residents along Eighth are partially paying for their pavement through that frontage tax.

Council decided that since this Seventh Street project is significantly cheaper and it's an experimental procedure, we would not reinstate the Local Improvement portion of that project.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

No Water From Beiseker?

A couple of you mentioned to me that you were concerned that the Rocky View Fire Services was recently refused water to fight a fire outside the village.  Last night at our council meeting, we got the whole story from our fire department.

A while back our firefighters and the Rocky View Fire Services responded to a fire east of the village.  The Beiseker Fire Department arrived at the scene first (they were closer) and started work on the fire.  The RVFS soon arrived from Irricana, took over command and joined in fighting the fire.  It was decided that more water might be needed, so water trucks were dispatched to the closest water source which was Beiseker.

Standard Operating Procedures dictates that the municipality providing the water be informed so that adjustments can be made to the pumps and pumping capacity of that municipality's water system if necessary.  Beiseker has one of its pumps in for repair.  Caution must be taken so the people of the village don't completely lose water pressure.

Due a communication glitch, the Rocky View firefighters were unable to contact village staff so they decided to proceed to Irricana to get the extra water.  As it turned out, the extra water was not needed and the water trucks stood down and returned to their fire hall in Irricana.

Beiseker Fire Chief Martens reported to council that the communication glitch has indeed been rectified.  Fire apparatus fighting fires in this area (whether inside or outside the village) are once again able to get water from our hydrants here in the village.  There is also another source of water in Beiseker, the old reservoir behind the post office which has well water and it is untreated.  Unfortunately the pumping capacity there is quite low and filling up one of those huge tanks would take a very long time!

I hope this clears up some of the misunderstandings around this incident.

I'll take this opportunity to give shout-out to all of our firefighters both from the Beiseker Fire Department and from Rocky View.  You folks do an incredible job protecting all of us!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Gas vs. Electric Cars

I think it'll be just a matter of time before our governments outlaw gasoline as a propellant for cars,  Other jurisdictions have already done it!  Britain is the most recent, saying it will outlaw gasoline in 2040!  my question is; why?

A little over a hundred and ten years ago, the automobile was just coming into being.  Engineers and scientists experimented with different ways of fueling and propelling these new contraptions.  There were steam powered cars, methane powered cars, electric cars and gasoline powered cars all roaring around,

Eventually the gasoline powered cars won out, and the others faded away.  There were no laws outlawing them.  Gasoline just happened to be the most efficient and least expensive way of powering these new machines!

Now, environmentalists say we must stop using gasoline because it creates too much pollution.  Major car companies have all joined the race to create cars using other fuels, mostly electric powered though batteries.  These vehicles are becoming more efficient in every new model coming out but they are still more expensive then their gasoline powered equivalents.  Some of the processes making components and power for those electric cars create huge amount of pollution!

Why don't governments just stay out of it?  Gasoline won out in 1910 because it was the cheapest and most efficient.  When electric cars are the cheapest and more efficient than gasoline powered cars, they will win too!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Volunteer Lawn Mowing?

Hauling equipment and personnel out to the Beiseker Airport to mow the large expanses of grass, there, is expensive for the Village.  A group of hangar owners out there have volunteered to mow the grass themselves.  So far this year, Public Works has yet to go out to our airport to mow yet the grass is all mowed and tidy!  We owe a huge vote of thanks to those volunteers.

I was thinking; if it works out there, could it work here in the village?  Residents and businesses are responsible for mowing the grass on the Public Reserve area (boulevard) in front of their home and the area behind their property to the middle of the lane-way -- but are there other public spaces which could be kept tidy, voluntarily?

Areas around the fire hall, the medical center, the ball diamonds, the public flower beds,  and other places within the Village might benefit from this kind of volunteerism!  I know there are some folks who already volunteer to tidy up some of these areas, but I think we could use more.  Just an idea!

If you think you'd like to help out somewhere in the Village, please check with the Village Office first.  And - thank you!