Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Fifth Avenue Fire Hydrant

Hats off to Public Works Foreman Dave and his crew for tracking down the leak in that fire hydrant on Fifth Avenue.  He and our water system expert Chris worked on Good Friday to complete the job!

The leak apparently was in the valve connecting the hydrant to the main.  It was decided to remove that hydrant and replace the valve which will be turned off.  That hydrant is redundant because there's another one about a half a block down the street.

That hydrant had been leaking for months, but now it's fixed!  Good going Dave and Chris!  Your dedication to your job and to our village is duly noted!

Friday, March 25, 2016

New Commenting System

Howdy folks!  Rhys here.

As you may know, I help my Dad with the technical side of his blog - I make sure things run smoothly and that the blog looks good.  And part of it is reviewing all comments made on his blog.

I've mentioned before that the commenting system used here since Ray started Write Ray! in 2010 is far from ideal.  We've been looking for new solutions, and, starting today we're going to be trying a new commenting system called Disqus.

Disqus is used by a number of different websites, including the Rocky View Weekly.  This system will (hopefully) allow us to keep better track of comments, and have more accountability for everyone -- this means that anonymous commenting on this blog will now be disabled.

As always, I will be monitoring all comments made on Ray's blog before they are published.  If you have any questions, you can leave them below or on Facebook!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Dark Day

Last Monday, March 21, 2016 will go down in history as a dark day. The terrible carnage in Brussels will top the list.

I send my sincere condolences to that city and to Belgium. The world is going to have to find ways to stop these useless but deadly terrorist attacks.

I also think that the world's entire Islamic community must become more proactive in eliminating these small terrorist groups who appear to enjoy inflicting casualties on innocent citizens with no clear reason or objective as to their actions.

Former Toronto mayor Rob Ford passed away on Monday after a courageous battle with cancer. Love him or hate him, you've got to admit that he was a defining entity in Toronto politics over the last dozen years. He died far too young and leaves a young family behind.

Rob still has a huge following of Torontonians, even after some of his questionable indiscretions. The man was a huge player in municipal politics for that city and he did many great things for the people, there. Hopefully he will be remembered for that. Rest in Peace, Rob.

But some good things happened on Monday, too!

American President Barack Obama visited Cuba. This was the first time an American president has visited that Caribbean island in almost a century! President Obama's plan to normalize relationships between his country and Cuba are progressing well.

While in Cuba, President Obama managed to get some good digs in over Cuba's dismal record of freedom of speech and democracy. I hope that President Obama's legacy will include this new relationship with Cuba.

Nixon went to China, but Obama went to Cuba!

And Premier Notley got some bad news on Monday. The Progressive Conservatives won a provincial by-election in Calgary-Greenway. The message was faint, but it was still there!

The vote was very, very close, but indeed the NDP candidate came in fourth in the race. I just hope that the Premier and her fledgling government were listening to hear that faint message!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

So Many Projects, So Little Funding!

Village councilors, key village staff members, and our engineers met together last week to discuss priorities and our project plans.

It became very obvious, very quickly that the number and costs of projects outnumbered the funds available.

Funding for the upgrading of village projects, facilities and infrastructure comes from three main sources; property taxes, provincial grants, and federal grants.

Provincial Municipal Sustainability Initiative grants for 2014 have now been received. Last year's MSI grants for 2015 are expected soon. Council's job is to allocate funding for a number of projects within the village.

Here are the projects being considered [in no particular order];
  • Upgrading and paving streets, especially those plagued by potholes.
  • Replacing deteriorating water lines, and valves.
  • Replacing crumbling sanitary sewer lines.
  • Replacing crumbling sidewalks, or installing new sidewalks were none exist now.
  • The upgrading of village owned facilities such as the playgrounds, the community hall, the fire hall, the arena, the library – play school – community links building, the sewage lagoon, the public works complex, and the Village Office.  (Improvements to some of these facilities such as the fire hall and the arena are accomplished by groups using and operating those facilities. Village Council is hugely grateful for the contribution of those groups, but those facilities are still the property of the village.)
  • The construction of a new "Welcome Centre" in Legacy Park. (this is subject to a federal grant application)
  • Rebuilding the second block of Main Street from First Avenue to Second Avenue to resemble the first phase between First Avenue and Second Avenue.
  • Rebuilding the road bridges over the drainage channel.
We have already approved two projects;  the upgrading of our sewage lagoon system and the replacement of the shingles on the Village Office.

Last week, we created a tentative priority list based on information we had.  We asked our engineers to do a more accurate cost assessment on a couple of  other projects. We're hoping to accept the final priority list at our next Council meeting.

At that time, we also hope to have a couple of "shovel ready" projects on our desk just in case the federal government follows through on its promise to help fund municipal infrastructure upgrades across the country.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

About Donald Trump (?!)

I know it's none of my business, but I have to comment on it! 

I speak of Donald Trump, one of the Americans running for election as President of that great nation.  In my opinion Mr. Trump is everything people should not be looking for in a President!  He appears to be brash and in many ways inflexible when it comes to dealing with his opponents. There have been violence at his rallies and he appears to be egging them on.  Some of the things he's said about minority groups are preposterous!

Why does he have so much support?

The Americans appear to be less than happy with their political and economic systems at this point in time. The economy is not well. They see a threat from others around the globe. Mr. Trump is telling them that the fault lies with the Hispanics and the Muslim extremists. They need to blame someone and Mr. Trump has picked primarily those two groups. He suggests building walls, closing mosques, and preventing immigration. I think that would be a backward step in dealing with the problems faced by the United States.

I hope that the Americans come to their senses over the next few months. In my opinion electing Mr. Trump to the presidency would be a serious blow to that great nation. But again, it's really none of my business!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Passing the Buck(s)

I didn't get the memo! But members of our new provincial government did.  The memo read:
When faced by Alberta municipalities and school boards asking for financial assistance for projects or  programs, respond in the following manner:  " Under the existing law (or model, or guideline, etc.) municipalities (or school boards) are permitted (or can)  to fund enhanced resources (or facility, or program etc.) through their own budgeting process."
Statements like this, with the appropriate words filled in, are being given out to municipalities asking for new health facilities, better provincial roads, better policing, or any other project which could use some provincial funding.

The problem; municipalities don't have those extra funds!   We've got to start working together again to create these projects which, in the long run, will benefit many if not most Albertans!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Why do we still have Daylight Savings Time?

I'm grumpy this morning.  I feel like I've lost an hour's sleep somewhere. 

Wait, I have lost an hour's sleep!  It's Daylight Saving Time's "spring jump ahead."  I hate Daylight Savings Time.  It takes me most of the summer to get me used to waking up an hour early! 

I know my biological clock is an old, rusty timepiece, but I'm not alone.  Almost everyone I talk to hates Daylight Saving Time as much as I do.  Then why do we still have it?

There used to be a reason for it.  People liked that hour of daylight tacked on to their day.  In fact, during the Second World War we had double daylight savings time.  The theory being that if it was lighter longer in the evening, folks would use less energy lighting their home and they could do more outside after contributing to the war effort all day.  I don't think that theory holds water anymore.

Here are the facts as I see them;
  • I've heard that the Monday after Daylight Savings Time starts is one of the worst days of the year for traffic accidents.  What does that tell you?
  • I remember my kids asking me "Why do I have to go to bed when it's still daytime?" 
  • I've also heard that the Monday after Daylight Savings Time starts is one of the most unproductive days of the work-year!
  • Studies have shown that energy savings created by moving the clocks ahead one hour are negligible!
  • Saskatchewan doesn't do the daylight savings thing and they're doing OK.  Except maybe for those wearing watermelons on their heads and painting their faces green at football games.  But that can hardly be blamed on the lack of daylight in their evenings.  Maybe it's the water!
  • Agriculturalists don't use daylight savings time unless they're dealing with folks off the farm.  It appears that cows, pigs, chickens and wheat fields don't have accurate watches.
I remember many years ago one of my young students told me that his dad said that the extra hour of daylight was hard of the plants and animals.  I remember hoping he was joking.

Last year Beiseker Councilor Karen Ursu was toying with the idea of starting a province wide petition to kill Daylight Savings Time.  I think we had better encourage her more this year!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Was It Something We Said?

Canadian provinces used to help each other out.  When one province or area in Canada had a run of bad luck, the other provinces helped out with transfer payments and other assistance. 

Not so much any more.  To me it looks like Alberta is getting kicked while we're down.  Was it something we said?  Maybe we didn't cheer loud enough in the Saddledome when the Canadiens were here last.  Maybe Toronto has been become overly sensitive about all the Maple Leafs jokes. 

Whatever the reason, we appear to be getting hits from every direction.  Quebec mayors said they will outlaw any pipeline bringing Alberta oil to the East going through their municipalities.  Now the Quebec provincial government wants to do a separate environmental study on the proposed pipeline even though it is clearly a federal matter and the federal government is set to start their study!.  B.C. Premier Christy Clark has thrown up roadblocks in front of western pipeline plans through her province.  Even young Justin Trudeau is in the act, pushing for a carbon tax.

I know it sounds like I'm whining, but what did we do to deserve all this animosity?  Let's get back to the negotiating table and get these projects going!  A stronger Alberta means a stronger Canada!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Blue Box Blues

Beiseker is one of the smallest communities in this province to offer a complete curbside pickup of most recyclables! 

We recycle cardboard, household metal, plastic, newsprint, and bond paper, all of which are picked up in the blue boxes every Wednesday morning! We offer drop-off recycling/disposal facilities for used oil, paint, batteries, tires, appliances, furniture, mattresses, and e-cycling material.  We do not recycle domestic glass.  Glass recycling will resume when a suitable glass recycling receiver can be found. 

Our program is one of the most comprehensive recycling projects to be offered in Alberta!  Unfortunately, it has come under scrutiny in these tough economic times as being too expensive to continue.  All of our volunteer recycling team has moved on, leaving all the work of recycling to our Public Works Staff.

Council agreed to continue the program until more information is acquired.  The first item on the "hit list" is the Blue Box pick up service.  Is this service being used to its maximum?  Would folks be willing to haul their blue boxes down to the Recycling Shed in the Public Works Yard, if picked up was discontinued?  Or would most recycling end up in Friday's garbage to be hauled to Drumheller and buried, if the Blue Box Pick Up was discontinued?

I, with former Beiseker Village Councilor Fred Bell, started our extensive recycling program many years ago and I am very proud of it.  What can we do to save it?