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.

Harvesting rainwater

In the excitement to share photos of my huge tomato plants I realized I neglected to show how we get the rainwater.

It’s quite simple. We have four 1,000 litre tanks under the deck. We put on a new roof last year – metal – and put up new gutters at the same time. A simple diverter on the downspout feeds water into the tanks in the warmer months or out on to the lawn during winter.

IMG_3672

The diverter

We rigged up a bunch of 4″ PVC pipe under the deck from the downspout and into one of the tanks.

IMG_3671

Tank tops

To equalize all the rainwater in the tanks, we just ran hose off the valves on the front. It took a few hours to get all the tanks at the same level after the first rains but it doesn’t affect the operation.

IMG_3576

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 marisaa@cfhighwood.net or billiec@cfhighwood.net

 

youth_poster_-_students-1

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

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.

IMG_3561

Welcome

Welcome to my blog site. This is where I will share my thoughts and insights on life as a small town councillor. Please scroll through my past posts.

A bit about me: I was elected as a first-time councillor in 2017 for the Town of Black Diamond, Alberta. I have a family; my spouse and I and our son. We own a duplex with my sister and share a front and backyard. We try not to argue too often. I am self-employed. I like dogs and horses. I try to do as much of what I enjoy in life as opposed to what I hate. Speaking of my dislikes: I try not to waste, I don’t like olives at all and crowds make me nervous.

I look forward to sharing more about myself and what I see and do about town. Please feel free to contact me or leave comments. This blog is a place not just for me to ramble but for you to present your ideas, complaints, queries and thoughts.

I’ll end this introduction with one of my favourite thoughts, and I think a great way to look at life:

Spend the afternoon. You can’t take it with you. — Annie Dillard

IMG_3347