Pincher Creek reviews water vulnerability assessment

·5 min read

More than just a namesake, the Pincher Creek is an important source of drinking water for town inhabitants.

During their Oct. 26 meeting, town council members reviewed a two-year study of the town’s water infrastructure and forwarded recommendations to future budget discussions.

Water source reviewed

Alberta Innovates, along with Alberta Environment and Parks, partnered with Associated Engineering in a project to review 48 drinking-water facilities in a vulnerability risk assessment across Alberta.

The assessment had two focuses: climate and facility. Local climate conditions were analyzed to determine how potential climate change may impact the high and low flow of water sources, and the facility review was conducted to determine how water infrastructure would be affected by fluctuating water flows.

The review found Pincher Creek’s water facilities were at a moderate risk of increasing and decreasing water flow. Recommendations included modifying the river inlet and sediment management to reduce the risk of exposure during drought, investigating additional raw water storage to add to the current three- to six-month capacity, and updating water safety and drought/flood readiness plans annually.

Council accepted the recommendations as information and decided to address them through budget processes in the near future. Administration also indicated implementing some of the suggestions was already underway.

The report can be viewed online as part of the meeting’s agenda at https://bit.ly/oct26PCcouncil.

Lest we forget

Sergeant-at-arms Fred White and poppy fund chairman Dick Burnham of the Pincher Creek Legion were on hand to present the mayor and council with poppies in preparation for Remembrance Day.

Poppy sales started last Friday, though in a reduced amount given Covid-19 precautions. A Remembrance Day ceremony will be held Nov. 11 but will be limited to 100 participants attending by invitation only.

In order for more community members to watch the proceedings, the Legion will broadcast the ceremony over Facebook Live, and communications with Shaw Cable about covering the event on Channel 12 are also occurring.

For more information on Remembrance Day ceremonies, please turn to page 8.

Response to tax concerns

Mayor Don Anderberg read a letter that addressed specific concerns raised by Jim Litkowski during a delegation last month.

The document was prepared by a subcommittee authorized by council to respond to the statistics Mr. Litkowski cited in his presentation, many of which council believed were misrepresented or even untrue.

The major concern council wanted to correct was the assertion that municipal taxes had increased by 100 per cent. The claim rests on comparing previous tax rates with current per-person operating expenses, which are only partially funded by municipal taxes. In reality, municipal taxes increased 5.8 per cent from 2015 to 2019.

Though the municipal portion of taxes has experienced only a modest increase, Mayor Anderberg did note that significant portions of residents’ taxes outside of town council’s control have increased, such as the provincial government increasing its educational levy by over 30 per cent from 2010 to 2012.

Other concerns expressed over the town’s debt were also overblown, the mayor said, as the town has adequate repayment plans in place along with partnerships, such as the intermunicipal collaboration framework with the MD of Pincher Creek, that help cover payments.

Historically, the mayor concluded, council has received no opposition to debenture bylaws advertised, nor any recent tax appeals or anomalies from property assessors.

“I’ve been on council for 16 going on 17 years now, and been through a lot of audits with this organization,” Mayor Anderberg said. “As I recall, we’ve had two, probably three, different audit firms, and I can’t remember one firm not giving this organization a clean audit.”

The address was the first of a series council is releasing in response to concerns raised by Mr. Litkowski’s presentation. The full document read at the Oct. 26 meeting can be accessed at https://bit.ly/37councilResponse1.

REDA

Council directed administration to draft a letter to the minister of jobs, economy and innovation, Doug Schweitzer, asking him to reverse provincial cuts to the Alberta Southwest Regional Alliance.

The provincial government had recently announced reduced funding to Regional Economic Development Alliances by 50 per cent, as well as decreasing its five-year agreement with such alliances to three years.

REDAs are regional economic development offices that are comprised of local communities and stakeholders. Through co-operation and networking, REDAs help generate business development, especially in rural areas. There are nine REDAs across Alberta.

Through co-operation, the Alberta Southwest Regional Alliance has been able to encourage development that otherwise would be too large for any one community to tackle on its own.

“We do a pretty good job of getting good bang for our buck,” said Coun. Scott Korbett. “One dollar that we put in has generated $8.9. Since 2002,

$4.83 million [has come] from the $488,000 which we as a group have contributed.”

He added that an estimated $30 million has come back into the region through the REDA agreement.

The letter will request that Minister Schweitzer restore provincial investment in the REDA to $100,000 for the original five-year time frame.

Disciplinary sanctions

As part of accepting the minutes for previous council meetings, council ratified the continuation of disciplinary sanctions on Coun. Sussanne O’Rourke, which were approved at a special council meeting on Oct. 16.

Coun. O’Rourke’s was the only opposing vote tallied.

The decision comes on the heels of “certain recent statements” made by Coun. O’Rourke that were deemed defamatory. Should similar public statements be made again, the minutes said, the town will refer to legal counsel for defamation litigation.

The town also made clear Coun. O’Rourke’s comments do not represent the views of town council.

Coun. O’Rourke is prohibited from holding council committee appointments, as well as attending functions and events as a council representative. As a result, her registration for an upcoming elected officials education program through the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association has been rescinded, and Coun. Scott Korbett replaced her at the Halloween in the Village event at the museum.

Next meeting

The next regular council meeting will be held Monday, Nov. 9, at 6 p.m. in council chambers. Meeting agenda packages are available online at https://bit.ly/PcCouncil.

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