Notes from Council, March 31, 2022

Dear Residents & Ratepayers,

March started off with our regular meeting on the 9th where we heard a presentation from STARS air ambulance providing an overview of their 2021 operations. We were able to finalize loan arrangements for the Carmangay Curling Association and the capital improvements that they are making to their facility. Also addressed was a minor land use bylaw amendment to rezone a parcel near Travers. We discussed the new draft recreation agreement with the Town of Vulcan as well.

One item that was finalized at this meeting, after significant discussion, was the new grazing lease terms and conditions for County-owned parcels, especially when it concerns sharing of surface lease revenue. The primary objective of these new lease arrangements is to ensure a standard of public fairness and equity. While, historically, these leases were based on terms initially drawn up by the province for lands held by the Crown, management of surface leases is now delt with directly by County administration and not the grazing lease holders. The new terms of lease will be phased in over five years and based on a per acre charge (future increases thereafter based on the federal Consumer Price Index). Surface lease revenue shared will not exceed fifty percent of the rent paid, ceasing entirely after five years (compensation for disturbance will be provided). Lease holders will have first right of refusal on renewals and assignment of a lease can only be made between family members for a fee of $500. Should a leasehold be surrendered, the parcel will be put out for public tender. Language was added to protect parcels from over-grazing.

This month also included a volunteer firefighter appreciation night on March 19th. It was held in Arrowwood, being organized by Protective Services personnel and the Northwest Fire Protection Association. Regional and local department chiefs were able to recognize the accomplishments of their members. Our local Member of Parliament, Martin Shields, was in attendance to present long-service awards to recipients. Volunteers then enjoyed a game of Family Feud modelled after the original game show. It was very entertaining to watch!

The County’s Audit Committee had it’s first meeting on March 23rd, followed immediately by a Governance and Priorities Committee meeting for all of Council. At the latter meeting we heard from Highwood Community Futures, Vulcan Regional Victim Services Society, as well as the Oldman Watershed Council. This meeting also provided a chance for discussion with Administration on a proposed fire hydrant suppression bylaw, tax incentives, as well as a branding logo for the new industrial park subdivision.

Thanks to the efforts of Deputy Reeve Laurie Lyckman and the SouthGrow Regional Initiative, a community economic forum closed out the month on March 30th. Regional leaders gathered in Carmangay to discuss rural doctor recruitment and retention, labour market challenges, economic recovery, as well as municipal energy management opportunities.

Sincerely, Christopher Northcott

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