Monday, April 30, 2012

Frogs and Wetlands

A sure sign of spring is the songs of the frogs at every pond around this country.  I get a few complaints every year asking me if we couldn't fill in these tiny wetlands around Beiseker to shut the frogs up!  Short answer; no.

These tiny wetlands are very important to the ecology of this area.  They hold and slowly release a fairly large quantity of water.  They also provide home for a large variety of wildlife, including the noisy little frogs.

The most common of those frogs are Boreal Chorus Frogs - they're often called "Prairie Peepers" and they appear every spring after the water warms up a bit and releases them from the mud at the bottom of the pond.  They only have a few short weeks to define a territory, find a mate and reproduce before the pond dries up and they're forced to retreat back into the mud.  That's what all the noise is about.

I enjoy hearing the frog songs every spring from a small pond behind our home.  I know that those little critters are going to be eating mosquitoes and other bugs.  I also know that they and their tadpole offspring will provide food for other wetland critters so valuable to the prairie landscape.

They should quiet down in a little while as they continue through their cycle, so my advice is to enjoy the little songsters when you can!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Water Line Repairs Finally a "GO"!

The Aqua 7 Board met last night and tentatively set May 22 as the start day for the repairs to the main water line between the communities.  There will be an official announcement in the local papers confirming that date but we're pretty sure we can proceed at that time. 

It has been yet to be determined how long the water line will be shut down.  We're still hoping to have it shut down for less than four days. 

Each community, including Beiseker will have water in its reservoir to hold us over.  We will be asking our residents to conserve water at every step during those few "shut off" days.  Beiseker is also looking into trucking in water on those days.  Major water users on the Aqua 7 line will also be asked to find strategies to severely reduce their water consumption during those few days.

For more information, contact the Beiseker Village Office at (403) 947-3774 after May 1, 2012.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Off-Road Problems

Sgt. Patricia Neely of the RCMP visited Village Council last night to give her regular report on policing in the Village of Beiseker.  The one topic which took up much of our time was the use  (or misuse) of off-road vehicles within the Village!

At present our by-law permits the operation of an off road vehicle within the Village under certain stipulations;
  1. they are restricted to lanes and alleyways.
  2. their speed can not exceed 20 km/h
  3. they must take the shortest and most direct route out of the Village.
  4. they must be operated as quietly as possible into and out of the Village.
  5. applicable registration and insurance will be carried by the operator
Most off-road vehicle operators comply to our by-law but there have been a few exceptions which are spoiling it for everyone!  If we cannot achieve compliance with our current by-law, then council will have to look at simply banning the operation of off road vehicles within the Village completely. 

That would mean that all off-roaders would have to shut off their vehicle and push them in and out of the Village or trailer them in and out of the Village!  It would be a shame to spoil it for most off-roaders because of the actions of a few.

What Can You Do?

If you see someone operating an off-road vehicle (quad, snowmobile, or dirt bike) without heeding our by-laws, please report them to our RCMP detachment at (403) 947-3496.  If you know someone who operates an off-road vehicle in the Village, ask them to review our very generous by-law regarding their use within the Village.

Congratulations Bruce! Now What?

May I be one of the first to congratulate our new MLA-elect Bruce Rowe on his win tonight!  Bruce took a leave of absence as Beiseker's Mayor a month ago to run as the Wildrose candidate for Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills in the provincial election.  

Bruce now joins the other 16 or so elected Wildrose MLAs to form Her Majesty's Loyal Oposition sitting on The Speaker's left, facing Premier Alison Redford's Progressive Conservative government!  We in Beiseker are very proud of Bruce!

But what becomes of his position on Village Council?

First, we must wait for Bruce to hand us his official resignation as councillor of the Village of Beiseker.  Then we are given a set period of time by the Municipal Government Act to hold a byelection to select a new councillor. 

After we have elected a new councillor, we will ask the Minister of Municipal Affairs for permission to have an organizational meeting.  These are normally held once a year in October.  Permission will be given automatically.  That meeting will be chaired first by or Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) and then taken over by the newly elected mayor. 

In small municipalities like Beiseker, the mayor and deputy mayor are elected by council from their number.

I will continue in my role as Acting Mayor until the organizational meeting is held.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Airplanes, balloons, and Aggie Days

Coffee & Muffins: This coming Saturday is the third Saturday of April so you know what that means!  It's coffee and muffin time at the Beiseker Airport!  We serve coffee and muffins starting at 10:00 a.m.  But this time we have something extra special happening at the Beiseker Airport! 

Balloon Launch:  The latest in a series of high altitude unmanned balloon flights will be launched from Beiseker Airport at 9:00 a.m. Saturday!  These balloons are filled with helium and carry scientific packages and video equipment aloft. 

They can achieve altitudes of 100 000+ feet, more than twice as high as an airliner flies!  After their mission is complete, the balloon deflates and the package parachutes to the ground somewhere far east of here!  The launch is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. this coming Saturday morning!

Aggie Days:  It appears that the media folks are mesmerized by all this election fruhaha and have totally ignored Aggie Days 2012!  A seriously pinched nerve in my hip has prevented me from attending Aggie Days, but I'm getting frequent reports that all is going very well indeed.  Wednesday, yesterday, and today are part of our Educational Component.  At the end of today, Aggie Days will have seen about 10 000 students come through the BMO Center at Stampede Park.  They've had a chance to see cows milked, sheep sheared, eggs layed, chicks hatched, grain threshed then milled into flour, plus a hundred other things happening on Alberta's farms and ranches.

Tomorrow is when the fun begins!  Saturday and Sunday are Family Fun Days at Aggie Days.  All those things that happen during the week happen again on the weekend but in a way we like to call "Edu-tainment"!  You'll learn something about Alberta's agriculture and have fun too.

It's fun, it's family friendly, and it's free.  It's at the BMO Centre - Stampede Park, Calgary, starting at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow and going to 5:00 p.m. On Sunday, it's the same start time but we close at 4:00 p.m.  I hope you can make it down!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Bean Counters Report In!

At last week's Village of Beiseker Council meeting, our auditors reported to council on the financial situation of the village at the end of 2011.  It wasn't pretty! 

Two main things contributed to Beiseker's cash shortfall at the end of 2011; the Alberta government's slow transfer of funds and over $300,000 of owed taxes!

  1. Slow Payments;  Beiseker had three major projects to pay for in 2011.  They were the Beiseker Airport repaving, Main Street upgrading, and Chinook Crescent repairs.  The first two projects were to be paid for by provincial grants.  But the contractors want to be paid as soon as their work has been inspected and deemed satisfactory.  The Village of Beiseker had to pay the contractors even though the promised provincial grant money had not arrived!   
  2. Back Taxes Owed;  As mentioned earlier on this blog, Beiseker has been unable to collect over $300,000 of property taxes even though it must still pay the education portion to the province in full!
Problem number one has been solved; the provincial bucks are here!  But problem number two is still with us.

The solutions;
  • The Village will have to borrow some money to pay the bills while we wait for our 2011 tax bucks to trickle in.
  • If you are one of those who are having difficulty paying your 2011 property taxes, contact the Village of Beiseker Office (403-947-3774).  There is a good possibility that you can make a plan with the Village to pay those taxes over a longer period of time.
  • Village council will likely have to scale back or postpone some projects over this upcoming construction season until we have full funding in hand.
  • We will be asking the provincial government (through the AUMA) to speed up future transfers to us and other small municipalities so we might avoid these cash crunches.
  • We will also be asking the provincial government (through the AUMA) to consider collecting their Education Portion of the property taxes based on a formula related to the percentage of taxes collected.  
The problems cited here do not constitute a "Doomsday Scenario" for Beiseker.  It is just simply a minor glitch.  But Village Council is determined to make sure we get Beiseker out of this situation before it does get serious.  Stay tuned.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Feds are just plane stupid!

Sixty years ago the Liberal government decided we needed a new advanced fighter plane for the R.C.A.F.   They poured millions of dollars into the development of the fabled Avro Arrow amidst screams from the opposition over the cost of the new plane and inside deals.  The Conservatives were elected to form the next government and promptly cancelled the Arrow program.  The cancellation cost the federal government tens of millions of dollars in payouts without one plane to show for it.   Canada eventually leased substandard jets from the U.S. to take the role the Arrow was to perform.

Fast forward to the 1980s.  The Conservative government decided we needed a new helicopter for the Canadian Armed Forces.  They poured millions into a program to build the European EH-101 helicopters here amidst screams from the opposition over the cost of the new plane and inside deals.  The Liberals were elected to form the next government and promptly cancelled the EH-101 program.  That cancellation cost the federal government tens of millions of dollars in payouts without one helicopter to show for it.  Canada eventually bought EH-101 helicopters from Europe (we call it the Cormorant) to replace the Labrador helicopters for search and rescue.

Now to a few years ago.  The Conservative government decided we needed a new advanced fighter jet for the R.C.A.F.  They’ve poured millions into the development of the F-35 Lightning II amidst screams from the Opposition over the cost of the new plane and inside deals.

Does anyone else see a pattern here?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Highway Robbery

I filled up my car yesterday!  I noted that the price of gas at the gas station I use in the city increased its gas prices by 9 cents per litre overnight!  I don't understand.  Someone tried to explain that "supply and demand" crap to me.  I still don't understand.  Both of the leading political parties here in Alberta say they're our resources.  So why does it cost more for gas here than it does just south in Montana.  Most of the gasoline comes from here!  They say the price of gas may hit $1.60 per litre in the summer.  That's crazy!

To heck with supply and demand.  Albertan refineries make gasoline from our Albertan oil right here in Alberta.  It doesn't cost them $1.60 per litre to make it.  It probably doesn't cost them 25 cents a litre to make it.  So where's all the money going?  Somebody's making a whole peepot full of money at our expense! 

Another question for our political candidates?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Trash and Taxes

TRASH: After the snow melted from the ditch on the west side of Beiseker Airport, pilots noticed paper and plastic bags blowing across the runway.  We went to investigate.  We found a whole pile of household garbage thrown in the ditch about 400 yards north of Highway #9 along that road allowance!  How would anyone in their right minds confuse a rural road ditch with a landfill site. 

The authorities told me I would have to catch the culprit in the act of dumping it there and get a vehicle licence number in order to press charges.  We (Rocky View County and Beiseker's Public Works) cleaned it up. 

If you ever see a suspicious vehicle with folks throwing garbage from it, get a plate number!

TAXES: As you know, the provincial government adds on an "Education Portion" to your property taxes each year.  We collect it but it's their money!  Today they came to collect their first installment. 

We owed the province $70,000.00

But over 20% of Beisekerites haven't paid their 2011 taxes yet!  We still owe the province over $70,000.00!  We paid it, but that payment severely hurt our village cash flow!  Right now there is a little over $300,000.00 of unpaid 2011 tax money owed the Village of Beiseker!  But the province doesn't care - They just want their $70,000.00! 

Those amounts might not seem much if you're looking at a big city, but it sure matters here!  Some of our summer projects may have to be delayed until these back taxes are paid.