Thursday, October 31, 2013

Beiseker Fire Department Photo!

You may recall that a couple weeks ago, our local newspaper had forgotten to include a photo of the Beiseker Fire Department in their tribute page during Fire Prevention Week. Other departments were featured from Acme to Chestermere.

In fact, this was the second year our team was missed! I am very proud of our volunteer fire department and was most upset when their photo was missed.

We have now corrected that error. Here is a photo of our volunteer fire department in front of our new fire truck!

I will send a copy of this photo with all the volunteers' names to the newspaper with the hopes that this error can be remedied.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Party Politics at the Municipal Level

Team Airdrie United, photo courtesy Airdrie Echo
A couple of communities around the province came face to face with partisan style politics during the recent municipal election: a group of candidates, all with like ideas, who run together.  If elected they would push their own agenda and vote as a bloc.

I truly believe that this would be detrimental to municipal governments as we know them.

Municipal politicians must represent their constituents; those who elected them.  Voting on an issue simply to support fellow Councillors elected on the same slate, does not wash!  In my opinion, each municipal Councillor must vote on every issue based on his (or her) convictions.  Those convictions should be formed only after regular consultation with their electors!

Calgary's Mayor Naheed Nenshi was one of the municipal politicians to come face to face with this type of partisan politics.  He came out strongly against the practice!  I totally agree with his stand.

One of the things that makes Alberta strong is its municipal governments and their ability to represent as many of their constituents as they possibly can.  We must never lose that.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Stage East Successful Again!

photo by Bernice Niemeyer, via Facebook
Stage East Dinner Theatre 2013 took to the stage this past weekend at the Beiseker Community Centre.  We had a blast putting it on for the more than 350 guests over the two nights!  I think those in the audience enjoyed it too!

Stage East is a total community effort, with people coming together from all walks of life to volunteer to put on the performance every October.  

We've held off distributing our funds to the different community activities.  We needed a container for all of our costumes and props.  With the help of a grant, we now have that container and it fully functional as our storage room!

We are hoping to distribute our remaining funds before the end of the year.  More on this later. 

Thank you to our sponsors, actors, set builders, costume makers, decorators, back stage crew, promptors, servers, and planners who all volunteered to make Stage East 2013 a huge success.  And thank you to our audience, too!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Thank You!

Thank you to all who voted for me in yesterday's municipal election.  Know that I will work hard over the next four years to make Beiseker that much better. 

Congratulations to all the candidates who allowed their names to stand for election across Alberta.  You all helped democracy win!

Beiseker's council will consist of four incumbants Warren Wise, Karen Ursu, Al Henuset, myself, and new council member Dave McKenzie.  I'm excited about working with all these folks over the next four years. 

This is Beiseker's time to shine! Stay tuned!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Welcome to Beiseker, Aquilla Homes

It was recently announced that Aquilla Homes of Strathmore has been chosen as the first Custom Home Builder for our new Grasslands residential subdivision

I am very excited over this announcement!  This means that our long awaited building season is about to start! 

Aquilla, welcome to Beiseker's Grasslands!  I sincerely hope this will be the beginning of a long friendship!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Beiseker Fire Department Missed?

I was somewhat confused when I read about the area fire departments last week in the local weekly paper. 

It was Fire Prevention Week, and what better time to honour the men and women who volunteer their time and risk their lives in our local fire departments. 

I anxiously scanned through the photos of all the fire departments around Rocky View and beyond looking for our Beiseker #130 Station.  It wasn't there! 

What happened?  I need to know!  Do we need an up-to-date photo of our brave firefighters?  Did the weekly newspaper not realise we have a very active, competent and dedicated bunch of firefighters here in the village?  I really do need to know!

If one of you out there knows of that up-to-date photo of our volunteer firefighters proudly standing in front of our new firetruck (which those same volunteers played a major role in obtaining) please contact me.  If we don't have that photo yet, I would be honored to do it myself.

Call me!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The North Road Issue

With continuing upgrades to Highway 72, the portion which passes through our village - called North Road - has caused problems for Beiseker residents.  Speeding is the most common problem, but other issues with drivers have been noted.

Village council has met with Alberta Transportation on several occasions to discuss this very issue.  Our last meeting was held almost a year ago, at the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association convention. During that time, we devised a strategy to slow traffic down as it passed through our village.

Some of those changes have been have been done. Others are still waiting to be implemented.  I suspect that Alberta Transportation has had its hands full with the areas of the province affected by the June floods - so I think we have to be patient.

But, here's what we have already planned to do;
  1. Increase the number of painted and marked crosswalks from 2 to 3. This has been completed.
  2. Move the 50 km/h sign farther to the west, so the traffic has more time to slow down and will be at the 50 km/h speed limit as they pass by the Grasslands subdivision. This has not been completed.
  3. To place decreasing graduated lines on the highway in the "Slowdown Zones."  These painted lines visually draw the drivers' attention to their speeds.  This has not been completed.
  4. To increase the number of enforcement visits (speed traps) by both the RCMP and the Alberta Sheriffs' Highway PatrolThis has occurred.
  5. To examine the School Zone vs Playground Zone issue, and make adjustments to the signage as required.  I understand this is ongoing.  The signs designating a School Zone remain.
Other suggestions which have been made include;
Installing speed bumps and/or rumble strips along North Road.  This has been mostly ruled out, because of the noise factor.  Vehicles slowing down and speeding up, and the sound of tires rumbling over these structures, can be very annoying to neighbours - and, occurring at all times of the day.

Construction of traffic circles at both ends of North Road. Traffic circles do indeed slow traffic down.  And a traffic circle at the Beacon Heights Road and the junction of Highway nine and Highway 806 would have an effect, but this option would be quite expensive.

There has been some discussion about the Village starting its own speed enforcement program. This would involve the village buying some kind of radar unit, and hire trained and certified personnel to operate it (and issue tickets for infractions).  I don't believe the village can afford to maintain such a unit as this.   It would probably make money immediately after it started but as compliance increased, less and less revenue would be realized from this very expensive unit.  I also understand that this kind of speed enforcement by municipalities on provincial highways is frowned upon be the province.

Finally, there was a suggestion to install a radar speed sign (like the one pictured above) along North Road to deter speeders.  These signs have proven effective to slow drivers down, and wouldn't require hiring someone to man it.  However, these signs don't write tickets and I don't know how much it would cost to install and maintain such a unit. 
Beiseker Village Council will be meeting with Alberta Transportation again this fall during the AUMA convention.  North Road will be the topic of much of the discussion there.

If reelected, I will continue to push for these and possibly other changes to make North Road safer for all.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Keeping Beiseker Growing

We've all seen municipalities in Alberta run into problems fueled by their own desire to expand.  Growth isn't a bad thing, but municipalities that accept growth at any cost often end up creating problems that they have difficulties in solving.

Here are some of the problems I see;
  1. Growth across a barrier (such as a major river, or a huge highway) and then getting residents and services from one side to the other across that barrier, will haunt the municipality forever.
  2. Creating residential and commercial subdivisions to fill an immediate demand, with little thought of upgrading the infrastructure to support them. What usually happens is the long term residents end up paying for those improvements -- even though the systems servicing their residents or businesses were operating quite satisfactorily, before!
  3. Creating subdivisions with little or no forethought as to how the new residents or patrons will get into and out of that subdivision.
If re-elected, I will encourage council to monitor all expansions to ensure that the growth does not over-burden our existing infrastructure, roads, and village services.

We have two residential and one industrial subdivision within the village which are currently in development.  The Grasslands (on the west side) is starting up again, while Skyland (between Third Ave. and the CN tracks) is completely stalled.  The industrial subdivision on the east side of the tracks is growing, slowly.

Our engineers tell us that the current service infrastructure can handle up to seventy homes in Grasslands.  When we get close to that number, we must insist that developers design a plan to handle any more increases.   The best solution at the moment appears to be a deep sanitary sewer line on the South side of  the village, running from the west to the east, and into our upgraded force main.

I believe that the south end of Beacon Heights Road must be upgraded so it will provide two exits and entrances to Grasslands.  In my opinion, a portion of this upgrade will have to be funded by Grasslands.

Council must stay on top of these developments to avoid the pitfalls seen elsewhere in Alberta!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Keeping Beiseker Moving

In my opinion, Beiseker has more unfinished streets than any other municipality in our area.  By unfinished, I mean unpaved.  We've had so many other issues to deal with, lately, that our streets have taken a backseat. I believe the time is come to start improving our streets in this village.

There are three areas of concern that I can see;
  1. Seventh Street remains unpaved, many years after the petition was presented to stop that project.
  2. Part of every Avenue (except First Avenue and Fifth Avenue) are unpaved.
  3. Beacon Heights Road south from the entrance to Beacon Heights to the junction with First Avenue is full of potholes, washboard, and generates a huge amount of dust every summer despite the very best effort of our Public Works department.
If re-elected, I will encourage Council to revisit those three projects. I will press Council to ask our engineers to gather us some up-to-date figures on the cost of paving each of these streets.

With those figures in hand, we will be able to create a priority list for the improvements.

Our sidewalk rehabilitation program is almost complete, with very few sections left to replace.  I would like to see a portion of our streets improvement program (which is funded by the provincial government) set aside for paving.

I will also propose council meet with the residents along Seventh Street to discuss their street, and the cost of that project.  Nothing should be done to improve that street until the majority of folks who live there agree.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Election Forum Well Attended

Last night's Election Forum at the Beiseker Community Centre was one of the best attended ever!  Moderator Dave Fegan said there were almost 100 people in attendance!  It was good to see so many come out to hear their candidates speak to the issues facing Beiseker.

Some good points were made by all candidates.   Questions from the floor were wide and varied.  The issue of the Bassano Station eyesore came up.  Once again, we explained to the crowd that that project has very little to do with Beiseker Village Council, beyond the building and development permits issued.

Other questions dealt with Village pathway systems, the enforcement of bylaws, a committee to oversee Public Works, the Grasslands subdivision and possible project timelines.  I thought all were answered well by the candidates; some answers were better than others.

I was disappointed that more didn't stay to hear the two candidates for Rocky View Schools trustee for our area - incumbent Norma Lang, and challenger Jennifer Avery.  Only about half the folks stayed.

It was certainly an eye opener!  The question of playground demolition dominated the Q&A part.  It was very evident indeed that there needs to be some serious rethinking into that whole policy of school playground demolition and replacement.

Overall, it was a most enjoyable evening of municipal politics in Beiseker.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Keeping Beiseker Happy and Healthy

Beiseker is very lucky to have the support services it already has, for a community of our size.  But they can be better!
  • Community Links:  This new facility in Lions' Centennial Park (across from the Community Centre) has made living here even better for many people!  Family support services, parenting programs, counselling services, and a multitude of other programs can be accessed through Community Links!  The building also houses our very active and attractive Library and Play School.
  • Medical Centre:  Our Medical Building on Main Street at Third Ave. is home to a physician twice a week and a dentist once a week.  It is not operated by the Village but is supported by them.
  • EducationBeiseker Community School is now a K to 12 facility and will become one of the main attractive features for those considering moving to Beiseker in the future!
  • Recreation;  Our village offers an amazing choice of recreational activities and facilities, from the village owned Beiseker Arena (operated by the Ag Society) to playgrounds and outdoor facilities such as the skateboard park and ball diamonds. 
  • Youth Justice:  Young offenders in our area can be referred to the Alternate Measures Program through the Big Country Youth Justice Committee, founded here more than twenty years ago!  If they successfully complete the Alternate Measures Program, the young offender avoids having a police record.
  • Fire Department;  Beiseker has a very active and effective volunteer fire department manned by very dedicated people.  Their job has been made easier with the recent purchase of a more modern fire truck! Operating in conjunction with our fire department is our first response medical team who are equipped and trained to provide assistance to those in our village injured or ill and waiting for the ambulance.

With your vote, I will continue my efforts to enhance these services.  Here are some of my goals;
  • To investigate the possibility of having the Community Links program open more than two days per week.
  • To help get the word out as to what the Community Links programs and facility can do for you.
  • To communicate with the operating board of the Medical Building to make sure they are receiving all the assistance they need to operate this important facility.  I do firmly believe in the adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" - and I will recommend the village become involved only if invited!
  • To keep reminding the provincial and federal governments that we need effective policing from our RCMP detachment here, with a full complement of officers at all times.
  • To remain serving on the Big Country Youth Justice Committee and I will be active in recruiting new members to that committee.
  • To continue supporting Rocky View Schools and their efforts to make Beiseker Community School an active part of our community.
  • To ensure that the recreational facilities meet the need of our villagers and to keep them in tip top order.
  • To do my utmost to create mutual aid agreements with all surrounding jurisdictions in regards to emergency services.  I believe this is imperative to maintaining a strong volunteer fire department, providing emergency services to Beiseker and the surrounding area.
  • To once again throw our voice into the debate to have a full hospital built in Airdrie.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Keeping Beiseker's Water Flowing

My second issue is water!  We in Beiseker have difficulties getting inexpensive drinking water into the village - and getting storm water out! 

Drinking Water

Beiseker is a member of the Aqua7 Regional Water Services Commission.  The commission buys treated water from the town of Drumheller, treats it again, then pumps it through to two rural municipalities and five urban municipalities from a treatment and pumping station at Kirkpatrick, in the Red Deer river valley.

Beiseker buys water from Aqua7, then treats it a third time, before pumping it out to our residents from a pumping station at the corner of 9th Street and 4th Avenue.

The price of water at our homes is controlled by four factors;
  1. The price the Town of Drumheller charges Aqua7 for water.
  2. The cost of operating the pumping station at Kirkpatrick.
  3. The cost of managing the Aqua7 Regional Water Services Commission, including servicing their huge debt created during construction of the system.
  4. The cost of re-treating and pumping water after it arrives here in the village.
  • The Town of Drumheller raised its price of water to Aqua7 twice in the last two years - totalling 10%!
  • Rocky View County is a full member of Aqua7, but has not bought or sold any water!
I believe that Beiseker Village Council must keep working to lower our water rates by;
    • Helping to find ways which Rocky View County can sell water.  The more water sold means a lower rate for all of us.
    • Making sure all the water Beiseker buys is sold; no leaks or bypassed meters.
    • Continuing to pressure the provincial government to help us eliminate our huge debt as they verbally promised to do when the project was first proposed.  They have done that for other water commissions set up after Aqua 7!
      I have been very close to this water issue ever since Aqua7 (which was originally called the Kneehill Regional Water Services Commission) was first proposed.  I took over from past Mayor Dave Fegan as a member of the commission, twelve years ago.

      With your vote, I will continue to fight for our right to have safe, plentiful and inexpensive drinking water here in Beiseker.

      Storm Water

      Beiseker was built in a low spot here on the prairie.  As a result, we continue to have storm water and runoff water issues.

      The situation has greatly improved over the past few years but there are still shortcomings within our system.  Council has initiated a program to allow water to leave town as quickly as possible, by clearing drainage ditches and installing lift pumps at low spots.

      With your vote, I will continue to work toward perfecting our drainage system so that floodwaters will drain more quickly from our village and the impact on residents will be lessened.