The council years

It’s been an eye-opening and challenging few years on Black Diamond Council. It’s not something I will ever regret doing – putting my name forward in 2017 and being elected has been, by and large, a wonderful experience. Now, trying to relay all I’ve done over the past five years in an easy to read post is the trick.

Here are some of the highlights:

Sustainable Black Diamond Advisory Committee – I was with this group for two years. The committee wanted to increase youth participation with the town, so we partnered with Oilfields High School and welcomed a youth member. We also started supporting the sustainability efforts the students were working on and the school’s garden and outdoor classroom grew from there. I am still involved with student-led projects and am happy to say the relationship between the Town of Black Diamond and Oilfields High School is stronger than ever.

Community Futures Highwood – I had the amazing fortune to join the CFH board in 2017. This organization is tasked with lending money to local and regional entrepreneurs to start or grow their businesses. This is a federally funded program, but it is managed at the regional level. I am now the chairperson at CFH and the board just approved a full restructuring of how they operate. The mandate remains the same, but we have made the board a more manageable size (down from 18 to 9). This will allow for better future planning and delivery of services from CFH.

Amalgamation – this was a complicated and complex task. Looking back, this topic took up the bulk of my time on council. It was no easy decision, but I stand by my vote to amalgamate. What finally helped me decide was looking to the future and imagining what our community would be like if we did not amalgamate. I didn’t feel the status quo was good enough so I said yes.

Intermunicipal Economic Development Committee – this committee was created to build name recognition for Turner Valley and Black Diamond and to promote business retention and new business development within our community. I am proud of the the way this group formed. Amalgamation talks were in full swing and I viewed the IEDC as a training ground for how the two towns could work together towards a common goal. This committee has grown from the original 10 members to 12 people; four councillors and eight members at large, all business leaders within the region.

Foothills Tourism Association – my work with FTA is not part of my council duties, but it does play a huge part in what I believe is the future of our region. The FTA encourages tourism from Bragg Creek to Nanton and Kananaskis to Okotoks/High River. By bolstering tourism we create a visitor economy where all businesses, tourism facing or not, can flourish. The Foothills Tourism Association works with municipal and provincial support. We want visitors to see our region as we do and of course support our businesses while they enjoy this incredible place.

It was a full five years. I managed to keep within my interests and talents when it came to committees of council. I hope to continue being part of these initiatives in the future whether I am on council or not.

Council Meeting – November 6

It’s a big one this week. We have two delegation presentations; one from TCEnergy (formerly Trans Canada) on a natural gas pipeline in our area and the second presentation from MDB Insight on their report on the Intermunicipal Economic Development Strategy.

I sit on the Intermunicipal Economic Development Committee and we were pleased with the report and its contents. The presentation is expected to take longer than the standard 15 minutes so bring a pillow as the chairs in Council Chambers aren’t that comfortable for extended sitting.

Council is also being asked to decide on next year’s Fortis franchise fees; a budget reallocation of $3,000 and $6,000 for conceptual design of a park and ride, washroom and bus shelter; and to determine a voting representative for the Sheep River Regional Utility Corporation (SRRUC) AGM which will be held Thursday, November 28 at 5 p.m. in the Sheep River Library

We are also being asked to decide on a utility account refund in the amount of $393.39.

The correspondence, reports and information list looks quite long and daunting but it’s mostly all CAO reports. Council receives them quarterly and they outline what the CAO has been up to.

There is a letter introducing a new higher up in the RCMP: Trevor Daroux, Chief Superintendent, District Officer for Southern Alberta. Also from the RCMP, a letter thanking the council members who met with them at the AUMA last September.

On October 2, 2019, Black Diamond Council filled out a self-evaluation. You can take a look and see if you agree with the responses.

Lastly, an invitation to join the campaign to stop ageism let by the Alberta Council on Aging.

Below is the pdf version of the agenda. Hope to see some of you there on Wednesday.

REGULAR COUNCIL – 06 Nov 2019 – Agenda – Pdf

Proposed sewer rate increase


Before Black Diamond Town Council are some amendments to Bylaw 18-01, the Water and Sewer Bylaw.

The most significant change is to Schedule A sewer rates, and they are going up or down depending on your situation. Should Council pass this amendment, the rates would be in effect starting January 1, 2019.

Let me explain using my own utility bill.


Currently, everyone with a water meter pays an $86 flat fee for sewer charge. The change would be a new flat fee of $43 per billing cycle (every 2 months) for buildings with a 15mm (5/8″) and 20mm (3/4″) meter. It’s mainly residential buildings that have those meter sizes. Those customers would also begin paying $2.35 per m³ (cubic meter) for sewer use based on water consumption. So charged for 100% in and 100% out.

Residential Customers

My family uses about 20 m³ of water per billing cycle. Last bill I paid was $207.91, all in.

I did the math and if you use 18.29m³ you will pay the same as before. If you use less, under the proposed amendment you will save money. My sister, who uses between 5m³ to 7m³ per billing cycle stands to save under this proposed rate plan.

In my opinion, the silver lining in the rate increase is this could encourage residents to use less water and in turn less sewer. If the thought of paying twice to water your lawn doesn’t sit right with you, there are easy rainwater catchment systems you can install. Then you wouldn’t be paying for water or sewer for your garden at all.

Commercial Users

Commercial users will be paying more. Those with 15mm (5/8″), 20mm (3/4″) and 25mm (1″) meters would pay $43 flat fee. For buildings with a meter size of 40mm (1.5″) and 50mm (2″), these being the more common commercial meters so I’m told, the rate is going from $86 to $215 per billing cycle. Up $129 every two months. There is also a section in the bylaw that allowed for 36.37 m³ of sewer use before customers are charged $2.35/m³. This allowance is removed under the amended bylaw. Users would pay 100% of use in and out. There are larger rate increases for commercial buildings with meters of 75mm (3″) to 150mm (6″) but I’m told there are very few 3″ and 4″ meters and no 5″ or 6″ meters in use.


Multi-family is where it was explained to Council that the current bylaw is most unequal in terms of billing for use. Right now, residential buildings all pay $86 for a sewer hook-up regardless of how many units are within the building. So a single family dwelling pays the same as a 20 unit condominium. Under the bylaw amendment, this would change based on meter size; 15mm (5/8″) and 20mm (3/4″) meters would pay $43, 25mm (1″) would pay a $107.50 flat fee, 40mm (1.5″) would be charged $215 and 50mm (2″) would owe $344 per billing cycle. This is going off the assumption that the larger the meter, the more units are being fed water and the more capacity for water and sewer use. As with commercial and residential, the charge for m³ of sewer use will be $2.35m³ based on water consumption with no allowance of 36.37m³.

Why the change you ask?

  1. Residential users, specifically residential customers who use less than the average of 22 m³ per billing cycle, are subsidizing the higher users. This new rate plan will alleviate that.
  2. Both the water and sewer rates had not seen a change since 2015. Council was advised, based on inflation and increasing costs of operations in general, this is unsustainable. They just have to go up.
  3. So the theory goes, buildings with a larger water meter could conceivably use more water. There is a clause in Schedule B in the bylaw that allows for a change out of meters and downsizing. The fee is $600. Commercial users would recoup that cost in 4.6 months.

The only other thing that is changing is Section 2 of Schedule B. This stipulates bills are due on the 15th of the month and late payment is now subject to 5% of the amount outstanding.

The bylaw is still in draft stages and I urge residents and utility users to read it and comment under the Town of Black Diamond’s public consultation policy.

We want you…

photo of man pointing his finger

To give us your opinions.

On the Town of Black Diamond’s website, you will find a page for public participation. All current surveys, open houses and draft bylaws (those that do not get passed all in one meeting) are listed there.

If you have any thoughts, questions or you want your opinion heard, please email, call or snail mail the Town of Black Diamond before the next meeting of Council.

You can also reach me by email at or by phone/text at 403-921-2811.


High River’s godmothers celebrate 20 years of community support

Last Saturday, August 25th, I was gifted the chance to celebrate 20 years of excellence in our community. Our region has been blessed with a quartette of incredible women who have dedicated the past 80 years – albeit collectively – to supporting those in need. These four women, have sometimes loudly, but mostly behind the scenes, helped so many within the MDs of Foothills and Willow Creek to improve their lives and the lives of their families and children. These godmothers, as they are affectionately called, have worked totally unselfishly and are the dedicated founders of the Foothills SNAPS, Literacy for Life, Wild Rose Community Connections and Foothills Fetal Alcohol Society.

Last Saturday was a celebration of these four women and the legacies they have built. Held in George Lane Park with dancing, cakes and camaraderie we toasted their past successes and future dreams.


Four incredible social agencies on celebration: Foothills SNAPS, Wild Rose Community Connections, Foothills Fetal Alcohol Society and Literacy for Life alongside dancers from High River’s Mexican community.

On a personal note, the Foothills Fetal Alcohol Society (FFAS) holds a special place in my heart. I met the founder, Danna Ormstrup, several years ago and have played a small part in their fundraising and events marketing. A more dedicated and honest woman I have yet to meet. I fully support her’s and the Foothills Fetal Alcohol Society’s work as I have seen first-hand the effects of consuming alcohol during pregnancy as a family member of mine was affected with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

I unfortunately missed posting about this celebration prior to the date but there is another event I wish to share. On Sunday, September 9, 2018 again at George Lane Park in High River, the FFAS is hosting a 5km dog walk to help spread awareness about fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. There will be lots of treats for dogs and a BBQ for their owners after the walk. It all starts at 10 am at the stage in George Lane Park.


Foothills Fetal Alcohol Society poster

The walk will begin at 10:30 a.m. I invite you to join my favourite dog Beezus and I, Sunday, September 9.


My best girl, Beezus, and I.

Calling all entrepreneurs

As an elected official with the Town of Black Diamond, I participate on several committees. My term-length position is with Community Futures Highwood.

Prior to being elected I knew of Community Futures but would have been hard pressed to describe what they do. Now I know they do a lot. Here’s an excerpt from their website:

Community Futures Highwood is a community driven, non-profit organization staffed by business professionals and guided by a volunteer Board of Directors. They provide a wide range of small business services and business management tools for people wanting to start, expand, franchise or sell a business. They also run a number of specialized business programs, organize exciting business events and actively work with community and business leaders to foster rural economic growth.

Community Futures Highwood also offers business coaching and training and they put on many business programs throughout the year. These programs are designed to either build skills, provide networking opportunities or help your business start or grow. The staff at Community Futures are incredible. They are kind and want to see you succeed.

This summer, Community Futures Highwood is offering three programs for our local youth:

1. Loans – kids can get help creating a business concept and starting up a business. Up to $10,000 per loan is available with no interest until October. Community Futures is there every step of the way to offer support and guidance.

2. Job search – for those who just want to be an employee for the summer, Community Futures Highwood has partnered with McBride Career Group to get youth into the workforce. Community Futures is also posting jobs on their Facebook page.

3. Mentors – Community Futures is seeking local business people to mentor student on topics such as advertising, networking, invoicing and day-to-day operations.

This program and Community Futures Highwood is funded by your federal tax dollars, so make use of this amazing opportunity and all of the knowledgeable people at Community Futures who want to share their expertise with you. If you know a local youth who could benefit from this creative self-employment program, contact Community Futures Highwood at 403-995-4151 or or



Poster for Community Futures Highwood’s creative self employment program.

Feed me Seymour!

At my house we eat a lot of tomatoes. We’ve been growing our own for years now and each spring we forget how a few small plants morph into a jungle of leaves and stems in a few short weeks. A downside to growing plants and gardens is the amount of water and time spent watering to get a decent yield.

This year we’ve finally got our watering system figured out. We purchased four rain totes from Dusty Williams and set them up under the deck. From there we have two pumps; one for a solar powered automatic waterer and the other is a remote controlled pump that moves water from the front of the property  to the back so we can water the rest of the garden.


Our four rain totes.

We have the tomatoes on a timer and lines running from the totes and up to the plants on the deck above. Each plant gets a dripper head all of its own. No more watering by hand morning and night, the plants get a steady drip, drip, drip of water whenever the timer in the solar powered pump kicks on. The beauty of a timed release of water is the soil remains moist, allowing less water to be used than if it dried out completely. Kind of like a dry sponge will take a lot of water to get it wet as opposed to a damp sponge that will easily soak up any water with which it comes in contact. There is a name for this phenomenon but it escapes me, it’s something like capillarity or capillary action. Feel free to correct me.


Close up of a dripper.

This year our tomatoes are ridiculous. We bought nine plants back in May and planted them in a raised bed on our south facing deck. They are now so big they threaten to cover the kitchen window. I highly recommend this automatic watering system. Last year it was a huge job keeping up with the plants’ water needs and this year we are just sitting back and watching them grow.


Tomato babies; May 23rd.


Monster tomato plants, nine weeks later.

On Council’s agenda for July 18th is a draft of a new bylaw concerning Water Use and Water Conservation; Bylaw 18-06. I’m sharing our set up to hopefully educate and inspire you to design your own water harvesting and automatic watering system. It really wasn’t too hard; I just had my husband do it.

Jokes aside, the system works and all the parts were easily purchased through Lee Valley. I would love to hear from others about how they’ve designed their watering systems.


The solar pump.

Black Diamond Carnival

I was asked to participate in the dunk tank at this year’s Black Diamond Gospel Chapel Carnival in conjunction with the Canada Day Music Festival. Of course I said yes. It gave me the chance to trash talk the local kids who have surprisingly accurate aim when it comes to throwing a baseball. I got dumped into the cold water many times during my half hour stint.

I think the person who had the most fun soaking me was my cohort, Councillor Ted Bain. Here he is attempting to drop me. Out of his three chances he mercifully only managed to connect once. Better luck next year, Ted.