Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Water Shut Off

Some good questions have been asked about the pending water shut off.  The Aqua 7 Regional Water System Commission has advised all its water users that it will shut off the water for a period of time to facilitate repairs to the water line.  Hopefully the shut-down will be less than 48 hours but sometimes unforseen diificulties make these kinds of things take longer!

Beiseker will be informed of exactly when the line will be shut down.  At that point we will fill our resevoir to the top.  At normal usage, that gives us enough water for three days.  We will likely ask village residents to avoid activities using large volumes of water while the shut-down is in effect.

I will reccommend to council that we have a contingency plan ready in case the shut-down goes past that 48 hour timeline or if we need more water for firefighting.  That plan will likely involve trucking water to the village.  In my opinion, those costs would have to be covered by Aqua 7!  Let me know if this answers your questions and addresses your concerns.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Wind Damage Update

Remains of the damage done by that huge windstorm we had in November still litter the village.  I would imagine the insurance adjusters are swamped with cases from throughout this area. 

The Beiseker Fire Department Fire Hall was one of the worst hit of village property.  The insurance company had an outfit come out and put on a temporary cover.  They then took bids from companies willing to re-roof the building.  It is my understanding that the process is complete.  Work will begin as the resouces become available and as weather permits. 

Other village roofs were damaged but those repairs will likely be done in the spring. 

I have noticed that the private and commercial properties damaged in the storm are also being repaired now.  No word from DynAgra on the fate of those three large bins blown over by the wind. I would imagine they're pretty hard to handle on their side like that.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Good News & Bad News

The good news is that Beiseker Public Works has found some more water leaks!  The bad news is that Beiseker Public Works has found some more water leaks!  Huh?

Bill and his crew have found more holes and cracks in the water pipes under village streets.  Water which the village purchased has been leaking out of those holes into the ground.  We didn't get paid back for that water because it didn't go through a water meter!

Once found, the offending piece of pipe can be removed and replaced.  That means less of our expensive water will flow out into the ground.  That's the good news.

These water breaks are expensive and time consuming to repair, especially in the winter.  And the amount of purchased water hasn't dropped that much since we began fixing the holes.  We've got to get those expensive new water meters installed a.s.a.p. so that we accurately account for all the water used in the village.  That's the bad news.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

New Commercial Signs Downtown

Hey, here's a tip of the old hat to the businesses along Beiseker's Main Street who have been working on a new signage project.  Probably around half the the Main Street commercial entities are now sporting very classy signs announcing their wares to all passers-by!  These colourful and eye-catching signs are a positive addition to the newly renovated Main Street between First and Second Avenues.  I'm waiting for the rest of the businesses along Main Street to put up their new signs!  Well done everyone!

Here's some photos of a few of the signs already up;

Monday, January 23, 2012

More Water Woes

Many of you have indicated to me that you are very pleased that the province has finally ponied up and given the regional water commission some money.

I'm getting less pleased every time I think about it! 

The province is telling us that we MUST use this money to pay the huge penalty for refinancing our debt load.  An accountant did an audit of the whole regional water commission a couple of years ago.  At the general meeting in Acme over a year ago he recommended that the regional water commssion be given $6.2 million dollars to bring them up to a viable status.  Other water projects have been given funding up to 90% of the costs of construction.  Our water commission has received far less than that!   He suggested that wrong be righted.

He also noted that all attempts by the commission to sell its water have been thwarted by others while the provincial government sat back, saying and doing nothing!  This was after the province had promised the water commission members that it would help find customers for the water and help out any other way they could until the commission was self supporting!

But we received less than 2 million dollars!  We still have the original huge debt, it's just spread out over a longer term so the monthly payments will be less.   And the way I see it is-if the province comes up with some more money to buy down that debt we will have to pay those huge penalties again to lower the principle of the loan!  Those penalty payments are being paid into a fund created by the province using taxpayers' dollars.

Are we paying huge penalties to refinance our loans which we originally borrowed from ourselves?

I am not pleased!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

New Truck

You might have noticed that our Public Works Department has a new truck.  The truck was purchased used as a lease turn-back.  It became available at the New Year.  Beiseker's Council decided it was a good opportunity to upgrade our vehicle fleet, but it will have to be accounted for in the Public Works 2012 budget. 

The Public Works Department will now have to evaluate all of its licenced vehicles and decide which one must be taken off our inventory.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Water Rumours

I've heard rumours that some are saying the recent provincial grant of almost 1.8 million dollars to the Aqua7 Regional Water Commission will not change the water rates or fees to the individual users in Beiseker.  

Nothing along those lines has been decided by the Water Commission yet.  We have yet to have a meeting since the grant announcement was made.  I personally would like to see a modest drop in water rates but that will be up to the Water Commission when it meets.  Our next meeting will likely be held in mid to late February.  At that time our manager will present a proposed budget to us.  It will be fine tuned and hopefully accepted at that meeting.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Water Commission gets some funding

The Government of Alberta has presented a grant to the Aqua 7 Regional Water Commission (formerly the Kneehill Regional Water Commission) of $1,785,000.00 with conditions!

The conditions are that the money is to be used to pay the penalty imposed on the commission for refinancing their loan!   The commssion originally borrowed the money from the Alberta Capital Finance Authority, which was set up by the provincial government so that municipalities could borrow money for projects to benefit their community.  Taxpayers' dollars were used to set up the fund.

The way I see it is that this grant money is coming out of one pocket and going into another up there in Edmonton.

But it is a start!  I think the province is finally realizing that the Aqua 7 Commission was treated unfairly many times back when it first started. 

This latest move is a very positive step forward!  Stay tuned.

Where's the Station Building?

Last week we were told that the Bassano train station building was to be finally moved to Beiseker after a two year delay!  It was supposed to be here on Wednesday, January 11, but it didn't arrive.  We were told it would be here on the 12th.  It was still a no-show!

Now I hear it won't be here until mid-February!  This is getting crazy!

Henceforth, I'm not going to predict the station's arrival here until I see it rolling into town!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Check out the Beiseker Airport!

As you may know Beiseker now owns its airport.  During the summer of 2010 the provincial government repaved the 3000 ft. runway, an approach zone, the large apron and three taxiways - then they gave the airport to the the Village of Beiseker

The airport attracts mostly recreational pilots who want to fly in a less crowded airspace.  We have had six new hangars built over the past year and a half with more coming this spring!  The new skydive company has been operating for about five years now and offers a fantastic skydive program with safety a top concern!   Each summer two aerial applicator companies make our airport home as they work over the fields around here.

To show off our airport, the airport society and the Village have been sponsoring a coffee and muffin morning each month in the society's clubhouse at the airport.  It's open to anyone who would like to check out our little airport and what goes on there. 

Each third Saturday of every month (that makes our next one Saturday, January 21) from 10:00 a.m. until Noon is Airport Coffee Time!   Come on out to our airport, meet some of the pilots, have a coffee and a muffin.  Check out the Beiseker Airport!

Happy Sir John A. Day!

Our first federal Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald was born on this day in 1815! Sir John A. can take much of the credit for Canada the way it looks today!  He was one of the main movers and shakers in creating and building the Canadian Pacific Railway which played a huge role bringing Canada together from sea to sea!  The CPR played a huge role in colonizing what is now Alberta!

 Yes I know his tenure as Prime Minister was muddled with scandals and political wranglings (nothing has changed in Canadian politics) but he still must be remembered as a great man; one of the key fathers of Canadian confederation!  Happy Sir John A. Day!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Thank You!

To all of you who sent me best birthday wishes today, thank you so much.  Your comments and best wishes were most heart warming!  I had a super birthday; one of the best! Thanks again!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Are Local Improvements the Answer?

I have received responses to my post yesterday on paving streets in the village.  Other problems have been mentioned such as sidewalks and existing paved streets in need of big-time repair or replacement.

Other municipalities have addressed these kind of issues by declaring them a "Local Improvement".  That means that part of the cost of the major repair or replacement of the street or sidewalk can be assigned to the property taxes of those residences fronting onto the sidewalk or street being repaired or replaced.  It is called a frontage tax.  Taxpayers pay a couple of dollars per foot of frontage per year for a period of years or they are given the option of paying it off outright.

This is quite common in a city's or town's older residential areas where the streets and sidewalks have seriously deteriorated.  The cost of streets and sidewalks in new areas are paid for by the developer and added on to the price of the new homes there.

Taxpayers along the street being repaired or replaced have the right to cancel the project by petitioning the municipal council.  This is what happened along Seventh Street a few years ago.

Local Improvements are a way to go to get some of these projects done sooner than the village could otherwise.  The village has to wait for street improvement grants to be issued by the province before such work can proceed.  At our present rate, all existing street and sidewalk issues would be completed well into the 2030s!  And that's not counting any new issues which might pop up!

Let me know what you think.

Merrry Christmas...again

The twelfth day of Christmas has now passed.  Time to put away the decorations for another year.  For those celebrating the Epiphany or on the Eastern Calendar this weekend, I wish you Merry Christmas!

Friday, January 6, 2012

2012 Priorities: Paving

Our first council meeting of 2012 will be held on Monday, January 9 at the Village Office.  I'm sure we'll start talking about priorities for the 2012 budget which for us is set in May of each year.  Besides the issues I mentioned in my New Years message a few days ago, there are a number of other projects we need to consider.  One of my favourites is pavement.

 There are a number of streets in the Village which need paving!  They are;  the avenues starting with Second Avenue going south at the Mountain View Credit Union, then Third Avenue going south from the Community Links building, and Fourth Avenue going south from the entrance to Friendship Park.  Beacon Heights Road going south from Beacon Heights also needs paving. 

The residents along Seventh Street turned down pavement a few years ago, but I think we need to ask them again!

All of these can't be paved over one year, probably not even over five years, but I believe we need to start the process of engineering, base preparation and applying for grants.

Let me know what you think.

The Station is Coming!

On Wednesday, January 11, the Bassano Railway Station is due to arrive in Beiseker!  The station was purchased by the railway museum here about two years ago.  The plan is to move it onto the newly built foundation on museum land south of DynAgra.  Contrary to past reports, it is unlikely that the power company will have to shut the power down in the whole village to get the station under the wires.  They may have to shut some lines off, but they will inform those affected.  I don't recall hearing a time schedule nor a route plan to get it here. 

We've been waiting for this move for a very long time.  For a while there, it looked like it would never get here!  Let's wish them good luck and a smooth move next Wednesday.  Everyone take lots of photos, too!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Main Street Redevelopment Photos

A local photographer, Donna Chow, has graciously allowed me to post some of her photos of Beiseker's new Main Street, which she took a few months ago:
photo by Donna Chow
photo by Donna Chow
photo by Donna Chow

photo by Donna Chow
Donna has lived in Beiseker with her husband Elvis Chow for more than twenty five years, and is able to work her talents and creativity into her photography. 

Thank you, Donna!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year, 2012!

Here comes 2012!  I'll take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy New Year! 

Our little village is facing some very difficult challenges in 2012, but I am confident we will be successful in finding solutions during this calendar year!

Challenge One:  The Water Crisis;  Our water commission has a new name but the same old problems exist.  We are paying some of the highest water rates in the province!  I really believe that 2012 will be a "Make or Break" year for this water crisis.  The fact is that the five urban municipalities in the Aqua 7 system cannot afford to continue buying water.  And the Aqua 7 system cannot afford to continue on its present funding course!  Stay tuned.

Challenge Two:  The Beiseker Fire Department;  The Village of Beiseker cannot afford to equip its fire department to an appropriate level on its own.  Nor can Rocky View County properly give fire protection to its north east corner without Beiseker's firefighters.  I predict that an agreement will be hammered out over this next twelve months that will meet the requirements of both village and county.

Challenge Three:  Residential Development;  This is related to Challenge One.  We have two stalled residntial subdivisions in Beiseker!  Both need a swift kick in the butt to get them moving again.  All five councillors are putting on their steel toed boots for this one!

Challenge Four:  Economic Development;  In 2012 we're all going to have to find ways to stimulate economic development within the village.  We have too many empty lots and shops on Main Street and too many people taking too much of their shopping to Airdrie or CrossIron Mills

Challenge Five:  Waste Water Disposal;  Beiseker has always had trouble pumping its waste water out of town!  Both runoff water and sanitary sewer water systems are overtaxed in the spring of each year.  Council is going to have to work on ways to make these systems work efficiently and effectively throughout the seasons!  We've made some significant headway this past year but more needs to be done!

Well, there they are; the five biggest challenges I see the Village of Beiseker facing in 2012!  I am confident that we'll tackle these problems head-on and prevail!