You are invited to this year’s 4th annual Sustainability Fair. It’ll be great.
You are invited to this year’s 4th annual Sustainability Fair. It’ll be great.
Something has been bugging me since I was elected in October 2017. Why are residents waiting until the bitter end to voice their concerns on bylaw changes and Council matters? Why aren’t you emailing your Councillors when you have questions, or concerns, or issues, or even rants? We would be thrilled to actually hear from you.
Since I’ve been on Black Diamond Council, there have been three bylaws that have caused public outcry; the change to the water rates, the smoking bylaw and the increase to the sewer rates. We did have a large showing of residents for the initial water rate increase but most of the audience was silent. Council voted against the original plan to increase commercial water rates. There was still an increase but a much smaller one in comparison to the initial rate plan that was presented to Council.
Then there was the smoking bylaw, which was required so our Peace Officers would have something to go on should public marijuana consumption become a problem after legalization. We had a handful of citizens show up to the council meeting but no one stayed until the end, so no one heard the discussion.
Most recently, there was the sewer rate increase. No one came speak to Council at that initial meeting. I even wrote a blog post about it explaining the increase and the reasoning behind it because I figured any rate increase is bound to cause some contention among citizens. One person asked a question of Council at the final reading meeting then, not a peep; not until early March 2019 when the January/February utility bills came out.
I have to say, the final reading of the bylaw is not the time to voice your concerns. These bylaws take many hours to write; not always in-house either. The water and sewer rates required engineering consultants and came with a decent sized bill. (Those are yours and my tax dollars). The time to notice is during the public engagement part of bylaw enactment. That’s after the first reading but before the last. Town of Black Diamond administration will post the proposed bylaw here immediately following the meeting that included the first reading. Then, residents have two to three weeks to read it and make their comments, to voice their concerns.
Did you know that councillors can’t enter into a debate during question period if the topic is on the agenda for that meeting? Well, we can’t. It’s in our Procedure Bylaw 16-06.
So if you’re feeling ignored during question period in a Council meeting, it’s not so. We hear you, we just aren’t supposed to comment or debate a topic if it’s on that meeting’s agenda. We will debate it when the topic comes up on the agenda; NOT DURING QUESTION PERIOD! So don’t leave right after you pose your question if you want to hear what we have to say.
When your Council was sworn in, each Councillor agreed to put the interests of the residents and rate payers of the whole municipality above personal interests. That’s in the Code of Conduct Bylaw 17-13.
According to the Municipal Government Act (Div 3 153), the general duties of councillors are:
(a) to consider the welfare and interests of the municipality as a whole and to bring to council’s attention anything that would promote the welfare or interests of the municipality;
(a.1) to promote an integrated and strategic approach to intermunicipal land use planning and service delivery with neighbouring municipalities;
(b) to participate generally in developing and evaluating the policies and programs of the municipality;
(c) to participate in council meetings and council committee meetings and meetings of other bodies to which they are appointed by the council;
(d) to obtain information about the operation or administration of the municipality from the chief administrative officer or a person designated by the chief administrative officer;
(e) to keep in confidence matters discussed in private at a council or council committee meeting until discussed at a meeting held in public;
(e.1) to adhere to the code of conduct established by the council under section 146.1(1);
(f) to perform any other duty or function imposed on councillors by this or any other enactment or by the council.
RSA 2000 cM-26 s153;2015 c8 s17;2016 c24 s15
I’m not supposed to speak for my fellow councillors but I don’t see any of them shirking their duties, responsibilities or ignoring the oaths they took.
I want to hear from constituents. I want to present your ideas and concerns to Council. What I will not do is engage in dialogue on Facebook forums. If you want to private message me on Facebook that is one thing, but do not expect me to comment or respond on open forums. I read ’em but getting chewed out online does not suit my temperament. Call me cowardly, lazy or whatever you want but I will not respond on Facebook.
Instead, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or better yet text me (don’t call) on my personal cell at 403-921-2811.
I want to hear what you have to say; just don’t bait me on Facebook because I won’t take it.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 email@example.com or by phone/text at 403-921-2811.
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.
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.
The walk will begin at 10:30 a.m. I invite you to join my favourite dog Beezus and I, Sunday, September 9.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
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.
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.
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.
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.