The April 12 regular council meeting of Crowsnest Pass saw council discuss a municipal app, outstanding business licences, feedback on the municipality’s adventure tourism, and approving the municipality’s fees bylaw and annual property tax rate.
The municipality will soon offer a mobile app that will be synchronized with its website. Box Clever, the current website provider for Crowsnest Pass, offers an app called Loop for Municipalities that citizens can download and then subscribe to their community. The app contains all the information on the municipal website but is more accessible for mobile devices.
The app is available to the municipality at no additional cost. After downloading the app, residents can manage their notification settings to receive updates including news, events, garbage pickup reminders, as well as providing information on the business directory and allowing citizens to report a problem.
While there are other app options with more features for a greater cost, CAO Patrick Thomas said Loop for Municipalities is a good place to start.
“We’re going to see if it fills all the holes or most of the holes, and what holes may remain when people are looking for additional information,” Thomas said.
Administration is aiming to have the app available for download later this year.
Outstanding business licence fees
Four hundred and sixty-six business licences were issued in Crowsnest Pass this year. Of that total, 62 have yet to pay their licence fee.
The municipality mailed invoices last December and the licensing fee was due Feb. 2.
Council approved administration’s recommendation to move forward in issuing fines to businesses with overdue bills.
“Every business owner knows they have to have a business licence,” said Mayor Blair Painter. “We’re 3½ months into the new year — there’s no excuse.”
Fines and progressing toward stop orders was a justified response, he added.
“We’re well past warning. There’s no excuse for this, in my opinion.”
Lost revenue for the municipality from outstanding business licences is $10,805. The fine for a first-time offence is $250.
Fees and property tax bylaws
Bylaw 1108, which sets the amount charged for different fees and charges for different departments in the municipality, passed both second and third readings.
A couple of notable changes are a two per cent increase to water, wastewater, solid waste and recycling fees and a $0.95 per cubic metre adjustment to the bulk water rate.
All rates, fees and charges included in Bylaw 1108 are now in effect, though the municipality’s utility rates will take effect July 1.
Council also approved second and third readings for Bylaw 1113, which maintains the municipality’s mill rate at 7.6415.
Although keeping the mill rate constant, an increase in property assessment will result in higher property taxes for residents.
Several council members suggested decreasing the mill rate as a way to keep property taxes down, but after debating the issue, maintaining the current mill rate won out.
In a recorded vote, Couns. Dean Ward, Lisa Sygutek and Dave Filipuzzi opposed approving the bylaw.
The municipality participated in the Outdoor Adventure Show Calgary back on March 19 and 20. In addition to operating a booth, the municipality offered a survey to collect information from participants about their experiences visiting Crowsnest Pass.
Of 122 respondents, almost half indicated they visit the Crowsnest Pass a few times each year. Over 83 per cent said they come during the summer, and 69 per cent said they would recommend others come visit.
Respondents said they came to the area for hiking and camping, as well as golfing, fishing and biking. The natural beauty and scenery were common reasons.
Almost 40 per cent of responses said hiking was their favourite activity in the Crowsnest Pass; nearly 20 per cent said mountain biking, and fly fishing and skiing each made up about 10 per cent. The Frank Slide museum was listed as a favourite place to visit.
The survey concluded by asking respondents what changes would make them likely to visit more. While the majority of responses said nothing should change, other answers included no more coal mining, increasing shopping opportunities, more community events and activities, and more Airbnb and camping options.
CAO Thomas said the survey was a useful sample that could be used to bolster the community’s attractiveness to visitors.
“Overall, some good information, some decent results. We’ll be using it to help inform some of our future campaigns for marketing,” he said.
The next regular council meeting will be held in council chambers on Tuesday, May 3, at 7 p.m.
Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze