Election 2017 in the County News

By Enrique Massot
The County News

As the election campaign 2017 gets into high gear, the County News needs to change pace.

As a candidate for Div. 1, this scribe won’t be able to report the news because of potential or perceived conflict.

Secondly, having had a hard time letting go writing stories, this candidate is now in full catch-up campaign mode.

However, the County News will remain as a place where information can be found and readers can comment. To achieve that, this publication will open the ELECTION 2017 section, where all Rocky View candidates will be welcome to submit their platforms and other messages to electors, unedited.

Candidates can send their submissions in emails or as attached documents. Postings should be around 750 words maximum. Photos, about two per submission, are accepted.

Beside candidates, opinion pieces from residents or organizations will be accepted as well.

In addition, the section CANDIDATE CONTRIBUTIONS will give an opportunity to candidates that so choose to disclose their election campaign contributions prior to the Oct. 16 election.

The Local Authorities Election Act mandates disclosure of contributions–four months after the election.

Early voluntary disclosure will allow voters to make a more informed choice, empowering citizens and improving the democratic process.

Rocky View firefighters announce scrutineer workshop

By Jeff Salkeld
President
Rocky View County Firefighters Association

The Rocky View County Firefighters’ Association has demonstrated its commitment to professionalism and ethics by facilitating one scrutineering workshop in April that was open to Association members and the public alike.

To ensure sufficient scrutineers will be available for multiple and advanced polling stations, the Association will hold another workshop September 27 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

It will also be open to the public. Please RSVP to president@rvcffa.org

We are surprised with administration’s and current Council’s confusion regarding our intent and the its relevance to the Local Authorities Election Act.

To see the original announcement click: Invitation to Rocky View candidates

Opinion: No incorrect reporting – firefighters will volunteer as scrutineers

By Jeff Salkeld
President, Rocky View County Firefighters Association

(Editor’s note): Members of the Rocky View Firefighters’ Association will be volunteering as scrutineers for candidates in the Oct. 16 municipal election. On Sept. 24, they will be holding a workshop to form their members and any interested members of the public. In an open letter, the firefighters’ association addresses a recent communication issued by Rocky View County.

To All Rocky View County Municipal Candidates and Residents:

In a “fact sheet” issued by Rocky View administration and Council entitled “2017 Election Fact Sheet – Setting the Record Straight on Municipal Elections,” the County states:

“It has been incorrectly reported that fire fighters will be acting as scrutineers in the 2017 municipal election. This incorrect information stems from the International Association of Fire Fighters union offering their members as scrutineers. However, only if a candidate chooses to have a union representative as a scrutineer, and only if that union representative meets the legislated requirements for the position of scrutineer, can that person be present in a voting station. Under Provincial law, only three types of people are permitted in a voting station: 1. Authorized election staff 2. Voters 3. A candidate OR a candidate’s agent OR a candidate’s scrutineer.”

There was no incorrect reporting in the following articles:

Rocky View Weekly

Cochrane Eagle

The County News Online

The message was clear; The Rocky View County Firefighters Association has promoted one goal for the upcoming municipal election; to support an unbiased and fair election process for all candidates and residents at no cost to either group.

This is correct and aligned with the LOCAL AUTHORITIES ELECTION ACT Revised Statutes of Alberta 2000 Chapter L-21: Candidate’s scrutineer 69(1):

“If, at any time during voting hours, a person who is at least 18 years old presents to the presiding deputy a written notice, in a form acceptable to the returning officer, (a) signed by a candidate, and (b) stating that the person presenting the notice is to represent that candidate as the candidate’s scrutineer at the voting station, the person presenting the notice shall be recognized by the presiding deputy as the scrutineer of the candidate.

(1.1) A person who has, within the previous 10 years, been convicted of an offence under this Act, the Election Act or the Canada Elections Act (Canada) is not eligible to be recognized as a scrutineer.

(2) Before a person is recognized as a scrutineer, the person shall make and subscribe before the presiding deputy at the voting station a statement in the prescribed form.

(3) The presiding deputy shall not permit a candidate to have an official agent or a scrutineer present while the candidate is present in a voting station during voting hours.

(3.1) The presiding deputy shall not permit a candidate to have both an official agent and a scrutineer present at the same time in a voting station during voting hours.

(4) A candidate or official agent personally may (a) undertake the duties that the candidate’s scrutineer may undertake, and (b) attend any place that the candidate’s scrutineer is authorized by this Act to attend.“

We have demonstrated commitment to professionalism and ethics by facilitating one scrutineering workshop in April that was open to Association members and the public alike.

To ensure sufficient scrutineers will be available for the multiple and advanced polling stations, the Association will hold another workshop September 27. It is also open to the public. Please RSVP by September 24 to: president@rvcffa.org

The Rocky View County Firefighters Association members, their families and friends, are surprised by administration’s and Council’s confusion as to our intent and its relevance to the Local Authorities Act.

Our sole and consistent focus is to make positive contributions to Rocky View County for its residents.

Jeff Salkeld, President
Rocky View County Firefighters Association
Local 4794
International Association of Firefighters

To see the open letter click: Letter to all RVC 2017 candidates

Firefighters respond to Rocky View

Resident update Sept. 15

By Jerry Arshinoff
Councillor, Div. 2 Springbank

Rocky View Fire Ban reduced to Fire Advisory

Rural Crime Watch

Jerry Arshinoff

It is still my intention to go to every door in Division 2 during this election campaign. This is taking far, far longer than I thought, largely because many people have told me of various crimes and suspicious activities. Greatly enhanced policing must be a priority for the forthcoming Council.

At the risk of redundancy, I will again ask that all those who have not yet done so please join Rural Crime Watch.

​In Springbank ​Jim Willson is your contact if you are south of Highway 1

jim.willson@telus.net

If you are north of the highway your contact is Simone Byers

byers@telus.net

________________________________

Edge School Terry Fox Run – Sept 21, 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Location : Mt View Trail and Twp. Rd 250 between Edge School and Hurricane Drive

For more info please contact Karen Sargent

ksargent@edgeschool.com  or 403-246-6432 ext 416

______________________________​

Letter to Rocky View Council and Sr Administration from the ​Rocky View County Firefighters Association

See Rocky View County Firefighters Association response

(Regarding the firefighters’ voluntary efforts to provide scrutineers to help ensure fair elections and a recently released “Election Fact Sheet”).

See Rocky View County’s 2017 Election Fact Sheet – Setting the Record Straight

Calgary, Cochrane appeal Glenbow Ranch ASP

By Enrique Massot
The County News

Calgary and Cochrane have filed appeals against the Glenbow Ranch area structure plan (GRASP) that aims to build a residential development for over 10,000 in Rocky View County, between the two urban centres.

The City and the Town, located adjacent to the GRASP boundaries, submitted late August appeals to the Alberta Municipal Government Board.

“The Town of Cochrane cannot support the development of a large scale residential
community adjacent to the boundaries of two existing, established communities,
with little to any regard for the consequences,” wrote Cochrane Mayor Ivan Brooker on April 24 to Rocky View’s Reeve Greg Boehlke.

“In the absence of the characteristics that make up a complete community…the inherent costs of this development and the provision of services…will immediately shift to the Town of Cochrane, the City of Calgary, and subsequently to the residents in each community.”

The Town of Cochrane’s notice of appeal can be found here.

Cattle grazes on the Glenbow Ranch area structure plan land. Photo: County News archive.

 

Rocky View approved the GRASP on July 25.

“This process is similar to the 2016 appeal of the County’s Conrich Area Structure Plan,” noted Rocky View in a release. “In that case, the city of Chestermere lost their appeal outright, and the County successfully reached a mutually beneficial agreement with Calgary over transportation concerns.”

The City of Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi wrote on April 5 to Boehlke to request that Rocky View not approve the GRASP, citing transportation, transit, recreation and water protection as areas of concern.

“We cannot support a development that would shift many of the costs of development and operation of this ASP area onto our residents,” he wrote.

Nenshi’s letter is included in the City’s notice of appeal.

Defending the Conrich ASP cost the County about $500,000.

 

 

Opinion: Rocky View sinks to new low in public relations

By Enrique Massot
The County News

An attempt to polish an image tarnished by an endless series of antics is shown in the County’s latest, clumsy public relations operation.

The most recent attempt to polish an image tarnished by an endless series of antics is shown in the County’s latest, clumsy public relations operation.

Just days before the start of the election campaign, Rocky View has issued a “fact sheet” that claims to be “Setting the Record Straight on Municipal Elections.”

“Some misinformation is being circulated that is causing concerns among residents,” the four-page document states.

The text offers minutious details and convoluted explanations that attempt to justify the use of multiple voting stations that council will, in any event, support on Sept. 12.

See Rocky View’s 2017 Election Fact Sheet – Setting the Record Straight

It also leaves out arguments that have been made in support of creating a list of electors or at least single voting stations per division to reduce opportunities for double voting.

Rocky View firefighters and residents at a Balzac Hall Scrutineer School April 30. Photo: County News archive

 

But the document sinks to its lowest level in the section headlined “Scrutineers.” Let’s see:

“It has been incorrectly reported that fire fighters will be acting as scrutineers in the 2017 municipal election,” the “fact” sheet states.

(The County News stands by its report about the initiative).

The “fact” sheet then expands:

“This incorrect information stems from the International Association of Fire Fighters union offering their members as scrutineers.” (Emphasis mine).

Then, the text goes on to reveal the “ultimate truth:”

“However, only if a candidate chooses to have a union representative as a scrutineer, and only if that union representative meets the legislated requirements for the position of scrutineer, can that person be present in a voting station.”

So?

So what are those “legislated requirements” according to the Local Authorities Election Act?

No big deal. Pretty much anyone can be a scrutineer. To become one, all they need is a designation by a candidate, be at least 18 years old and not been, within the previous 10 years, convicted of an election-related offence. Scrutineers must also sign, before the presiding deputy at the voting station, “a statement in the prescribed form.”

End of story.

So what was “incorrect” in the statement about firefighters volunteering as scrutineers for candidates who choose to take their offer?

Nothing. The truth is, the “Scrutineers” section and the whole “fact” sheet is nothing but an attempt to muddy the waters and try to show in a bad light a worthy initiative of the Rock View firefighters.

We don’t know how much this “fact” sheet has cost the taxpayers. But the big question is why is the County staff is spending time and energy trying to improve the image of current councillors intending to run again.

Opinion: Last-minute changes to election procedure disturbing

By Enrique Massot
The County News

Why is Rocky View planning to make changes to the number of voting stations just days before the Oct. 16 election is called?

Confirming what Coun. Jerry Arshinoff recently revealed, a report to council is recommending the option of having one or more stations per electoral division without designating specific areas, so that voters will be able to cast their ballot at any station within their division.

Click on the link to see the  Report Sept. 12 meeting

However, since early 2016 it was clear that one polling station per division would be operating on election day.

At that time, council rejected Arshinoff’s initiative to create a list of electors to reduce risks of multiple voting, and instead supported an Administration’s recommendation for “Enhanced Status Quo” measures to “improve public perception of county electoral process and deter potential fraudulent voting.”

Click on the link to see the Feb. 23, 2016 Report Voter List

Among those measures, Administration recommended conducting a “voting station review (that) may indicate it is beneficial to have only one voting station per division, consolidating resources.”

In spite of that, it appears somebody during the dog days of summer decided that multiple polling stations in each division were, for some reason, needed. Rocky View then asked – and obtained on Aug. 14 – authorization from Municipal Affairs Minister Shaye Anderson to pass a bylaw authorizing the change.

The timing is so tight, if council does not reach unanimous vote at the Sept. 12 meeting, third reading to the bylaw may will not be passed, forcing council to hold a special meeting to pass third reading on a subsequent day but before Sept. 19.

The County is required to go through those steps because the Alberta Local Authorities Election Act allows one voting station per electoral division.

What are the arguments in support of such a hurried move?

The text of the bylaw contains a vague reference to the County being “a geographically diverse area.” Administration, however, did not include any clear argument in support of its recommendation.

This is concerning. Who runs the ship? How decisions with no clear motives are made?

According to statistics from the last election that are detailed in the staff report, more polling stations do not improve voter turnout.

Holding an election with multiple polling stations will cost the County more – $17,000 according to the staff report – and it is clear that staff are scrambling to rent additional venues at the last minute.

So, why this last-minute scramble to reinstate a system that offers no advantages, costs more and creates potential for voting irregularities? Who prompted this change in the middle of summer?

The administrative report that council will just be giving the Returning Officer the “flexibility” to decide whether to establish more than one polling station for division. So why did the Returning Officer wait until the last minute to tell council that such a hurried move was necessary? This has never happen in Rocky View, at least since 1999. Staff members are responsible people who know the legislation and do things well in anticipation. Let’s not kid ourselves here.

It’s interesting to note that, at least since 2001, Rocky View held elections with up to five polling stations per division without the required ministerial permission and without ever passing a bylaw allowing for it. As such, the County would have run afoul of electoral law in the last five elections.

Is anybody watching?

Arshinoff: resident update Sept. 10

By Jerry Arshinoff
Councillor, Div. 2 Springbank

Springbank Fall Fair

 

Saturday: The Springbank Park for All Seasons (SPFAS)​ had another very successful Fall Fair. Thank you to all the many , many workers, organizers, etc who put in so much time and effort to make it so good. I would mention specific names but it would be a long list and I might inadvertently omit some.

Bottom line: Well done – very, very well done.

Reminder – Rural Crime Watch 

It is very unfortunate , although not surprising, that Rural Crime Watch has become necessary. Rocky View’s efforts to change Springbank from farming and country residential to urban and semi urban means we have to expect urban type problems. That is especially true since RV has given us the urban type problems without urban type solutions  – namely police patrols , something a new Council will hopefully deem as a priority.
Nevertheless the crime rate has increased and we all must do what we can to ensure SB remains a safe, vibrant community. Rural Crime Watch certainly helps but its effectiveness is directly proportional to the number of participants. It is, in essence, a case of everyone watching out for their neighbours. Everyone should join. If you have not yet done so please contact :

Transportation Off Site Levy (TOL)

As previously mentioned, the TOL has been postponed. It is possible the new TOL will be based on a per door, instead of a per acre, levy. This would be good, really good.
A variety of small landowners  have asked me for advice. Since I don’t know what Council will decide I cannot predict if the new TOL will be advantageous or disadvantageous in any individual case. However, if you own five acres or less and wish to sell, for example, two acres, it may be worthwhile to apply now.
If so you should ask admin to give you the amount of your TOL in writing.

Related Note: It is administration’s intention to get a Council’s decision on the TOL prior to the election. ​That’s not entirely bad. ​If the current Council chooses another very unfair TOL, a new Council can still change it.​

Voting Polls and Regulations

Attached is a document titled 2017 Election Fact Sheet – Setting the Record Straight, sent by administration to councillors in order to allow them to answer residents’ questions concerning voting procedures and possible past or future irregularities. This “fact sheet” has numerous problems, some of which are:
  • If a Council member knows so little that he or she needs this “fact sheet,” they shouldn’t be voting on the matter
  • The “fact sheet” is very demeaning to the firefighters who went out of their way to hold a free scrutineer school for members of the public and to offer to help in any way possible at no cost
  • They deserve our appreciation, not Rocky View’s ​attempt to de-legitimize ​their efforts
  • I​t does not mention any controls to ensure​, among other things, that​ no one votes more than once
  • T​o put it simply, what it says about a Voters’ List is just not true
  • I​t does correctly state that there has never been an official objection. It doesn’t say that to file an official objection the complainant must go to court at a minimum cost of $20,000, none of which is reimbursable regardless of the court decision
  • T​he “fact sheet” says : “No one who witnessed voting irregularities first hand in Rocky View County has come forward.” (​There were numerous complaints). The statement is, word for word true, but only to the extent that “come forward” means no one has been willing to undergo the time and expense of going to court
  • The “fact sheet” also states “no evidence of voting irregularities has been presented or found” – also true but ​same as above.T​he essence of the matter is that proper controls cost nothing and are not an inconvenience to anyone
Wh​at’s the problem?​

Opinion: Residents must stand together on gravel issues

By Rocky View Gravel Watch
For the County News

Members of Rocky View Gravel Watch attended an Aug. 31 meeting on the STAR pit to discuss the problem of overnight crushing at the STAR pit and the pit’s 24/7 operation. 

The meeting was called by Councillor Lowther to encourage people  to write letters to the Province asking it to restrict the STAR pit’s hours of operation from 24 hours a day to 12 hours a day.

Residents who live close to the STAR pit are being woken up, if they can get to sleep, by the loud aggravating noise of one crusher that is operating 24/7 within the pit. Many residents noted that the noise in the day is tolerable. However, come evening it’s a whole other story.  

Councillor Lowther provided some background information about the pit and played his latest recording of the crushers at 3 a.m. He stated that the best way to move the province into action was to write to them emphasizing your own story of how the noise of the pit impacts you. 

Residents listen to area Coun. Eric Lowther Aug. 31 at a meeting on gravel issues. Photo: Enrique Massot

 

This is where it gets awkward. This July, the majority on council, including Councillor Lowther, voted in favour of placing three new pits in Division 9. This despite overwhelming written opposition to these pits as well as in-person opposition at the public hearings from Rocky View residentsRocky View Gravel Watch finds it difficult to ignore the hypocrisy of a councillor who approves three pits elsewhere in the county and who then, on the same dayasks council to write to the province requesting that it restrict the rules of a pit in his own backyard.  

However distressing the actions of current council may bethis should not detract from the issue of the day which is the deplorable behaviour of another level of government – the Province – in its lax regulation of operations at its STAR pit.  Rocky View Gravel Watch is here to help all Rocky View residents on gravel related issues.  The impact of STAR’s overnight operations is one of these issues.  

We recognize that many of you may not be affected by STAR.  However, at some point it is likely that we will need to fight another application from the Scott pit or from other pits elsewhere in Rocky View. Writing a letter today and helping your neighbour may encourage the residents who are  affected today to help you when it is you who needs support at a later date.  Hopefully, the province will be more receptive to these letters and more willing to make changes than our own Rocky View Council was regarding the pits in Division 9.

We need to stand together. Write a letter today. Send it to the provincial contacts listed below.  Let the province know you don’t support 24/7 gravel operations close toresidential neighbourhoods. At the very least, the province should acknowledge that pits that operate near municipal borders must adopt the operating standards, including hours of operation, of the more restrictive municipality. For Rocky View that would be 12 hours.

As well, we are all aware of the impacts of silica dust on health and of gravel trucks on road safety, but there is another serious health impact with overnight crushing – sleep deprivation. A number of residents at last night’s meeting voiced their concerns about longterm health effects that may result in not getting enough sleep or interrupted sleepThese include cardiovascular problems, diabetes, depression and obesity.

Gravel is a huge industry that spends millions of dollars lobbying various levels of government, even at the county level. We saw the impact of this in the heavy industry bias in the first draft of the Aggregate Resource Plan when the County hired Golder Associates, a consulting firm with connections to the aggregate industry, to draft the document. After severe resident backlash and input the county committed to a rewrite of the ARP draft, which still has not been released.

As Rocky View Gravel Watch member and Division 9 resident Keith Koebisch so rightly stated – if all people in RVC do not stand together as one united front, we don’t stand a chance against big gravel and government.

Please write to the following:

Honorable Brian Mason – Minister of Transportation – transportation.minister@gov.ab.ca
Honorable Shannon Phillips – Minister of Alberta Environment and Parks – aep.minister@gov.ab.ca
Premier Rachel Notley – premier@gov.ab.ca
Merwan Saher – Auditor general info@oag.ab.ca or msaher@oag.ab.ca
Peter Dalla-Vicenza – Minister Mason’s Chief of Staff – peter.dalla-vicenza@gov.ab.ca
Naheed Nenshi – Calgary Mayor – themayor@calgary.ca
Anne McGrath – Manager, Premier’s Southern Alberta Office – anne.mcgrath@gov.ab.ca