Crowsnest Pass council hears plans to resurrect the Roxy

·6 min read

Crowsnest Pass has always prided itself on its rich history and coal mining tradition. Coincidentally, the first two delegations who presented at the Oct. 20 regular council meeting are both intent on adding to that legacy.

Resurrect the Roxy

Crowsnest Cando announced that a purchasing agreement had recently been reached between the society and the private owners of the Roxy Theatre in Coleman. It is Cando’s intention to restore the theatre to its former glory to act as a centre for the growing performing arts community in Crowsnest Pass.

The theatre, built in 1948, is made of an asymmetrical entranceway and a prefabricated quonset with a large movie theatre screen and stage that sits around 300 people. The theatre has not been occupied since 2003, though the Alberta government is currently reviewing the structure for historical designation.

Only two other theatres of the same style exist in Canada: the Alma Theatre in Wainwright and Blue Ridge at the Roxy in Victoria, B.C.

Cando is currently asking for donations and applying for grants from both provincial and federal governments to reach the project fundraising goal of $150,000. The idea is to have $50,000 raised by the end of 2020 to finalize acquisition of the building and to then secure $100,000 to complete the engineering and restoration studies needed to proceed with the project.

Once completed, the goal is to ensure operations of the theatre maintain it as a community asset.

“The operator could be Cando, it could be leased out to another group to operate,” said Fred Bradley, Cando’s engineering director. “Right now we see it as a Cando project, and I think Cando is quite excited at the office space it could have there, office space for perhaps other community performing groups or culture groups.”

“We do want to make sure that it’s operated as a social enterprise,” he continued. “We think that the facility is there to make some profit and invest that money back into the building and further some of the other objects of Cando to further the cultural, youth and recreational activities in the community.”

Restoring the unique facility, said Coun. Lisa Sygutek, will greatly aid in the creation of an arts district in Coleman and add to Crowsnest Pass’s reputation of being an arts centre in southern Alberta.

“A facility this fantastic, this unique, puts us on the map,” she said. “If at some point you required some funding, I would have no problem with you coming back to council and we’d debate that.”

More information and project updates on the Roxy project can be found on the Cando website at crowsnestcando.ca/the-roxy-project.

Montem Resources quarterly update

Wade Aebli, Montem’s manager of environment and community, provided a brief update to council on the Tent Mountain mine and Chinook project.

Negotiations are still being held over how the provincial Tent Mountain regulatory process is going to proceed. The other big announcement was that exploratory drilling in the Chinook Vicary area has begun.

The drilling will confirm the coal quality as hard-coking coal, as well as investigate if the area has structurally thickened coal seams, which will determine the potential for the open-cut mining.

Rapid decision-making

A number of municipal issues put forward by administration were decided upon in quick succession.

Changes to add sections for employees’ psychological and social well-being to the municipality’s health and safety policy were unanimously accepted.

Council passed first reading of Bylaw 1057, 2020, a land use bylaw redesignation. The bylaw will rezone a property in Coleman from a recreation and open space (RO-1) designation to residential (R-1).

Administration received a development permit application for a residential addition to the property. It was discovered that part of the land was designated as residential while the other was set aside for recreation and open space.

After going through municipal records and past council meeting minutes, it was determined the split zoning was a mistake. Second and third readings will be presented after a public hearing can be scheduled.

In another bylaw, council unanimously passed first, second and third readings of Bylaw 1060, 2020, which coincides with the golf course road closure bylaw (Bylaw 1025, 2019).

After council passed Bylaw 1025 back in September, administration provided a certified true copy of the bylaw to the surveyor in order to register the road closure with Alberta Land Titles. ALT informed the surveyor that the bylaw could not be registered until technical errors in the bylaw were amended, all of which are covered in Bylaw 1060.

As a final item, council requested that administration investigate using the fire department to hose down community main streets and sidewalks throughout the municipality as a way to provide summer cleaning.

The request came after a citizen submitted a letter asking for an increase in street cleaning.

Virtual RMA convention and FRIAA protection

At the invitation of the Rural Municipalities of Alberta, council decided to register for the organization’s annual conference on Nov. 3 and 4.

The event is being held virtually this year in light of the pandemic. Council approved the registration of all council members who can attend. Should all of council attend — including CAO Patrick Thomas and the municipality’s newly elected councillor — registration will cost $1,600.

Additionally, in conjunction with a $30,000 grant from the Forest Resource Improvement Association of Alberta, council endorsed an interagency structural fire protection exercise.

The exercise will be conducted in 2021 with emergency services from Pincher Creek, Sparwood, Elkford and the MD of Willow Creek. Representatives from the RCMP and Alberta Agriculture and Forestry will also attend.

The exercise will help protective services better understand different operating systems and equipment, as well as the municipalities’ capabilities and limitations.

The exercise will include the deployment of a sprinkler trailer, wildfire firefighting equipment, and command post operation equipment.

Strategic plan check-in

To help in its efforts, administration distributed a report reviewing council’s strategic plan. The goal is to have a future discussion with council members to gauge priorities, as well as create a metric that will help administration measure when a strategic priority has been sufficiently accomplished or addressed.

“The whole idea is when we look five years from now and we’ve checked all these boxes, we would all say that was success,” said CAO Thomas. Appropriate metrics, he added, would also allow council and administration to communicate that success to the public.

One advantage council identified of administration bringing the strategic plan forward as an agenda item was the sheer number of projects that were conveniently summarized and grouped into one document.

“It really does show how many irons are in the fire,” said Mayor Blair Painter.

Further discussion will take place after council members have had time to review priorities and brainstorm appropriate metrics for action items.

Next meeting

The next regular council meetings will be held in the MDM Community Centre on Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. Agenda packets will be made available online at https://bit.ly/CNPagenda.

Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze