Thursday, October 25, 2012
It was a packed house at the Blairmore Legion last night for the Crowsnest Ratepayers Association meeting. Approximately 200 people were in attendance. Bill Kovach president of the Ratepayers moderated the meeting doing his usual stand-up job.
Bill told us that as of last night they had 2,024 signatures on their petition with at least 30 people having sign-up sheets who hadn't turned them in yet. The cutoff for the petition signing will be Monday, October 29. A delegation (maybe even a busload of people) will then be going to Edmonton to personally hand deliver the petition to the Municipal Affairs Minister, Doug Griffiths himself, by the end of the week or early the following week.
Having over 2,000 signatures the goal now is to surpass in number of signatures collected the number of actual voters in the last election which I believe was in the 2,700 range. This is certainly an achievable goal and one that should no doubt impress the Minister.
There was so many questions and statements from those in attendance that at times it was hard to keep track. One that comes to mind is what happened to the $32,000 in fireworks that we the residents of this community by way of our donations, 50-50s, etc. paid for? Another was that along with losing our volunteer firefighters, swimming pool volunteers, etc., we learned last night that our Animal Control Officer has been let go and her duties from now on will be handled by our Peace Officers (catching speeders, I guess, wasn't good enough, now they have to catch stray dogs too?). All in all there was a very good exchange of ideas and opinions with several people getting up multiple times to have their say.
Two things stand out for me about this evening. First, Bill Kovach stating that the municipal books were okay. "They look okay to me", he said. I was astounded by that statement, which in my mind showed naivete. Having had a former mayor, prior to our current one, for two decades who with his boys controlled things here with an iron fist, while at the same time having a revolving door at the municipal office, especially in the Finance department, I for one have for years advocated we have a forensic audit done on our books. I still maintain that position and in this regard have gone on the record stating that I would have one done, if and when I am elected.
The second thing was in regards to our volunteer base which in recent months has been decimated, with no end in sight. The scary part is that practically nobody is stepping up to the plate to volunteer anymore leaving numerous boards short of members. The Economic Development Committee is one such board that can't even get off the ground because they can't find enough people to fill the chairs.
I have to publicly state that I personally disagreed with the course of action the Ratepayers took with respect to their petition in that I believe the petition should have been about the removal of mayor and council, rather than intervention. I know the argument about only one year left in their mandate (eleven months by the time the Minister intervenes... if he does?) but for all intents and purposes even with intervention we will have a lame-duck mayor and council, a decimated volunteer base, sullied reputation, a rudderless ship of state floundering both socially and economically waiting until the next election to be towed ashore. In addition, a year from now after the next election, will we land up with a council made up mainly of agitators and malcontents (protest vote) several of whom are already electioneering using the Ratepayers as their platform for a seat on council, who only end up creating, yet again, a dysfunctional council succeeding only in pissing-off and alienating others to do as they did? Déjà vu all over again?
I'm afraid there are dark clouds in the sky for the Pass and troubling times ahead with no sign of either relief or promises of better times to come. This is our lot here in the Pass at the present time, to weather the storm of discontent knowing full-well that in all likelihood it is only going to get worse, before it gets better.
We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that once our eyes watered.