In late 2017, we welcomed our four new Councillors on board, and orientation is well under way. Committee assignments have been made, and everyone’s calendars are quickly filling up.
The provincial carbon tax is on the rise, and provincial and federal governments are cutting back on traditional operating and capital funding. In addition to downloading services onto rural municipalities, the province has recently passed a revised Municipal Government Act (MGA), which mandates the cost sharing of services with our neighbouring communities.
Cost sharing, which is being termed, "collaboration,” is not all bad, but it will cost the rural tax payer more. We hope to be able to negotiate a measure of equity and fairness in the cost of shared services with our neighbours. Negotiations will take time and mediation/arbitration services may be required.
In addition to other provincial mandates, we will be required to update, and in a number of cases, completely overhaul our planning documents. Planning documents include the Municipal Development Plan (MDP), Land Use Bylaw and Intermunicipal Development Plans (IDPs) with each of our nine adjoining municipalities.
Over the past several years, there has been increased pressure for country residential development, as well as recreation opportunities in the foothills and along waterways. Extensive proactive planning and public consultation will be required to get the right balance for our County.
We are grateful for the work our operations staff has undertaken to ensure that the County’s roads are open and maintained, for the utility personnel that keep the water plants operational, for the agriculture service group that responds to the needs of our producers, for the administration staff in cheerfully responding to the servicing needs of our residents and for our senior management staff that keep the wheels on our organization.
We especially wish to thank the County staff for their effective and professional manner in executing our emergency management plan and arresting the breakout of the Waterton fire this last fall. In addition, a thank you to all the area farmers and ranchers that readily responded with equipment to assist the efforts. The provincial emergency personnel commented that they have never witnessed a better coordinated response by a municipality.
In addition to the day to day operations, we are pushing ahead with internet and water supply infrastructure initiatives. We believe that these services are vital to the economic growth of our community, and also to the welfare and sustainability of our farm families.
M.J. (Jim) Bester, P.Eng.
Councillor, Division 4
Reeve, Cardston County
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