Monday, December 22, 2008

Spice Things Up For The Holidays

With the holidays upon us I thought I'd do a quick post this afternoon to wish all my readers a Merry Christmas and all the best for 2009!

2008 has been a very busy year for the City of Grande Prairie and I think we'll see the same in 2009. Of course we're aware of the concerns out there about the economy but over all I believe that our region will enter '09 in at least as strong a position as any other city in the province, or country for that matter.

Exciting things are happening in our city; construction has started (finally) on the swimming pool / multiplex, the new Library/Art Gallery will open this spring and this winter our roads are benefiting from the extra $1.3m in snow removal budget passed last year.

I'm going to try to do a year end wrap up over the break so check back for that as the new year approaches.

In the mean time I had to share this little bit of municipal news from south of the border:

"ANKENY, Iowa (AP) — Slush has never smelled so spicy.

City crews in the Des Moines suburb of Ankeny are using garlic salt to melt snow and ice on streets from Tuesday's storm. The salt was donated by Tone Brothers Inc., a top spice producer headquartered in Ankeny.

Public Works Administrator Al Olson said the company donated 18,000 pounds of garlic salt to use on its 400 miles of roads.
Olson doesn't have details, but he said the salt would have ended up in the landfill, so the company donated it. A telephone call Wednesday to Tone Brothers wasn't immediately returned.

Olson said the city mixed the garlic salt with regular road salt and it works fine. He said some road workers say it makes them hungry, but Olson doesn't recommend it to spice up lunch or dinner."

That town is going to smell great come spring - I see an upswing in business coming for the local Italian restaurants!

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Talkin' Taxes

At last night's council meeting we approved the budget for 2009 as well as what should be considered a draft budget for 2011. Of course there is always a lot of public comment & media coverage with municipal budgets and taxes in general. Usually the discussion rotates around how much the taxes are or how much they are going up rather than what they are paring for.

So I thought I'd try to find a little different way to show what your monthly taxes will be paying for in 2009.

The charts below are based on a house valued at $350,000. Using the city's online tax estimator tool we can find out that the approximate municipal tax bill will be $2271.04 per year, or $189.25 per month.

This first chart shows roughly how much of that $189.25 per month goes to different city departments.
All the numbers shown in the chart are in dollars. For example; of that $189.04 monthly tax bill, $61.43 goes to pay for the Protective Services department, $9.74 goes to Transit and $2.39 supports the activities and expenses of Council.

Protective Services Breakdown
This second chart breaks it down even further by looking at the $61.43 per month in the Protective Services Area. Of that total $31.69 per month goes towards paying for RCMP and $23.82 pays for the Fire Department.

So, someone living in a house valued at $350,000 is paying approximately:

• $32 per month for access to round the clock, 365 day a year RCMP service
• $24 per month for access to round the clock, 365 day a year professional Fire Fighting service

Ok, ok... I know it's likely that breaking it down this way isn't going to change how one feels about paying taxes. I do hope that it at least give a little perspective on the "value for dollar" that your local government is providing.

By an interesting coincidence, the chart that inspired me shows that residents in Guelph are paying a similar amount for fire protection.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Gallery Reconstruction (re)Considered Tonight at Council

At tonight's council meeting there is a motion to reconsider council's previous direction on the fate of the historic Prairie Art Gallery building.

About 1/4 of the building was lost when the roof collapsed in March 2007. Since then it's sat open and exposed to the elements while it's fate has been bounced around and the insurance issues have been sorted out. Late this summer council passed a motion directing staff to seek permission from Alberta Culture & Heritage to demolish the building and begin construction of a new building on the site.

At the time I was the lone dissenting vote - As I said previously I really believe the building is important given Grande Prairie's limited amount of historical resources. Apparently the ministry feels somewhat the same as their response to the City's request seemed to indicate between the lines that restoration was the way to go. The building expert the minister sent to inspect the site was pretty clear in his report that the building was still very salvageable.

I think the motion to move forward with restoration and reconstruction will pass easily tonight given the letter from the minister and out-pouring of support old high school building we've seen over the last few weeks.

The collapsed Prairie Art Gallery building (finally) gets a temporary roof to protect the structure while it's fate is decided.

Workers installing the roof on the old gallery building.

This picture shows the connection area where the new cultural centre is supposed to connect to the old art gallery building. The connection hasn't been built yet because of the uncertainty of what would happen to the old building.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Accessible Taxi Launch Pictures

Some pictures from today's media event launching Grande Prairie's first wheelchair accessible commercial taxi. See my previous post (Here) for the background and media release.

Yellow Cabs Owner, Percy Sekora speaks to the media.

DTS President John Minue (left) speaks with Ald. Radborne (middle) and DTS board member Darrell Watchorn.

Darrell become the first Grande Prairie resident to ride in our new taxi as the media looks on.

The ramp is lifted and Darrell is on his way!

GP's First Accessible Taxi Launched Today!

This afternoon I'll be at City Hall for a very special event as Grande Prairie's first wheelchair accessible taxi is launched. I've volunteered on the board of the Disabled Transportation Society for the last few years and serving there has really opened my eyes to the different ways you have to plan your life if you are in a chair. One of the goals we set out was to help our clients and members by exploring options for round the clock service.

Right now DTS can only afford to operate between certain hours. So that means if you wanted to go out to a late movie (or even a late Storm hockey game) you might not be able to get home because the DTS buses stopped operating at 10:30! Also because of the demand clients have to book trips DTS in advance. So, what happens if a visiting friend surprises you with a call asking you out for coffee? Sorry, if you haven't booked your ride with DTS 24 hours in advance we probably can't fit you in.

This new taxi should help solve those kind of things and really improve the quality of life for folks in wheelchairs. Yellow cabs will operate the taxi while it is still owned by DTS which I think is a good arrangement.

I've been working on this since council originally approved the grant a few years ago before I got on the board and I'm happy to see it finally all fall into place.

The city's news release is below:

"Partnership Paves Way For Wheelchair Accessible Taxi

The City of Grande Prairie and the Disabled Transportation Society (DTS) have partnered to provide the community with its first-ever wheelchair accessible taxi.

At a ceremony today, the new unit, a Chevrolet Uplander, operated by Yellow Cab in a lease arrangement, was unveiled at City Hall.

“We are proud to invest in this initiative to ensure a group of our citizens can participate more fully in the community,” says Mayor Dwight Logan. “I commend everyone involved for working hard to see this initiative through to fruition.”

The $50,000 taxi was purchased with the support of a $20,000 grant from the City of Grande Prairie and DTS contributing the $30,000 balance from their own funds.

“This initiative is an important step forward for accessibility,” says John Minue, present of the DTS. “Today’s launch has been more than three years in the making and we’ve overcome several challenges along the way. This is an exciting day.”

DTS and Grande Prairie Transit, the only providers of public wheelchair accessible transportation, have limited hours of operation, from 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., and have limited availability, notes Minue. “The wheelchair accessible taxi will be in service around the clock every day,” he says.

DTS’s door-to-door service requires 24-48 hours advance booking on a first-come, first-served basis. Difficulty in accessing bus stops in winter, restricted transit hours and fixed routes have also meant gaps in service, notes Minue.

The new unit will address a myriad of needs, says Minue. These range from early morning flights, late-evening social events, after-hours trips to and from the hospital, and as an option when the DTS is already booked.

Percy Sekora, Yellow Cab owner, has offered to donate 10 per cent of the profits from the unit to the Society. “I am thrilled to partner in this initiative,” he says. “I am pleased to help fill gaps in service for residents who deserve the opportunity to enjoy social activities or get to appointments readily like able-bodied citizens.”

The new taxi can transport those in wheelchairs and regular passengers. Those wishing to utilize the taxi can make arrangements through Yellow Cabs' regular dispatch at 780-539-3366."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

International Human Rights Day

Have you every actually read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? I have to admit that although I'm sure I've seen it many times I couldn't recite it.

I found this clip on the Oscio website and I have to be honest, it gives me chills when I watch it.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights from Seth Brau on Vimeo.

I can't help but think; what if every nation on Earth abided by the principles laid out here? Or, even closer to home; what if the needs of every person in Canada were addressed in accordance with the Declaration?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Not Time To Give Up Yet

I was really disappointed last week.

At the regular Government Services committee meeting we received a response from the Minister of Municipal Affairs to our request asking him allow Grande Prairie to utilize internet voting in the 2010 municipal election. His response in the official letter to the City was very similar to the email he sent me:

"Dear Mr. Given:

Thank you for your recent e-mail confirming that the City of Grande Prairie is offering to be a pilot site for internet voting for the 2010 general municipal elections conducted under the Local Authorities Election Act (LAEA).

To confirm our discussions and followup letter to your mayor, at this point in time, internet voting is not permitted under the LAEA, but there is an ability to pass a regulation allowing an elected authority to prescribe a system for the conduct and procedure of an election or vote not provided for in the LAEA. If the city was interested in pursuing alternative voting, a business case would have to be presented to request internet voting. The business case would need to address the pertinent issues, such as the need for internet voting in the city, who is the licensed provider, how is security guaranteed, how is voter validation dealt with, what are the costs, how are results verified and recounts conducted.

I understand you have provided a contact with a company that may be supplying internet voting services to the city. For the ministry to review your request, the city needs to present a written business case addressing the potential security, privacy, validation and process issues that may arise as a consequence of implementing internet voting methods.

Once we have received the information from the city on the process issues noted above and anticipated costs, we will further review your request.

Ray Danyluk

The Minister's response isn't what I was disappointed in, after all he's basically asking for more info which is reasonable. This idea is gaining steam, Grande Prairie had resolution adopted by the AUMA in 2007 and now it looks like Edmonton is catching on to the idea (from this article you'd think it was their idea). This will be reality eventually and the Minister wants to cover all the bases, that's fair.

Anyways, what disappointed me was what happened when I tried to move the process along.

The short version of the story is: I made a motion asking administration to come up with a plan on how we could put together a business case, including what it would cost to do so. The Mayor spoke against my motion saying that it would be an example of provincial downloading. The vote was called on my motion, Mayor Logan & Alderman Minhas voted against it while Alderman Rice and myself voted for it - and on a 50/50 tie, the motion was defeated.

So the request to check in to what it might cost to build a business plan to submit to the Minister died right there. Right after the meeting I was very disappointed and confused. I couldn't understand why the two other committee members would vote against an idea that:

A) didn't cost us anything
B) could have helped us build a case that would encourage the province to pick up part of the costs of an internet vote

So anyways, my mood right then is probably what caused me to sound so fatalistic in the newspaper interview.

But, upon reflection... I've decided not to give up.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Celebrate International Volunteer Day

Today is International Volunteer Day.

Designated by the UN in 1985 International Volunteer Day is a time to thank the volunteers in our communities for their efforts and increase public awareness on their contribution to society. During the course of my work on council I've realized that with out volunteers our city would be a very, very different and depressing place.

If you are looking to volunteer, to support the work of volunteers (or even for a way to thank volunteers) in Grande Prairie you should contact the Volunteer Services Bureau.

Thanks to all you volunteers out there!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Library Update - December 1st, 2008

An update on the action at the GPPL from Library Director Laurie Harrison:

The Giving Tree
The Giving Tree in the Children’s Library will be accepting stocking stuffer donations from December 1 to December 19. New items such as socks, toothbrushes, hats, mitts gratefully accepted. Donations will go to the Odyssey House.

Learn German with Auralog
Join us for weekly German lessons as you learn with Auralog, the language learning software now available through the Grande Prairie Public Library. Learn how to use the software and then practice at home and with the group. Registration is required. Maximum of eight participants. Materials fee: $5.00 This program will be 12 weeks. Beginning Thursday, January 15 at 7:30 pm in the Isabel Campbell Room. For more information and registration call Luba at 532-3580 ext. 259.

The Grande Prairie Public Library 21st Annual Clem and Muriel Collins Writing Contest: WINNING AND LOSING
Writers come one, come all. Start thinking about entering one of Alberta’s best writing contests! There are five entry categories: Grades 1-3, Grades 4-6, Grades 7-9, Grades 10-12 and Adult all with great cash prizes. Pick up a brochure for specific guidelines at the Library or online at . The Children’s Library will begin accepting submissions Monday, January 5, 2009. Contest closes Friday, April 3 at 6:00 pm.

Wrap up your Library this Christmas!
Put your Library under the tree this year. Purchase a Library membership for that hard to buy for person on your Christmas list and give them unlimited movies, books and CDs all year long! Gift certificates are available at the Circulation Desk.
Families: $15.00
Adults: $7.50
Seniors: $5.00
Students grades 7 and up : $2.00
Children grades 1 to 6 : $1.00
Preschoolers :Free

The Featured Online Research Tool for December is: Credo Reference
Did you know that your Library offers extensive and credible reference sources to answer all your questions? From music to history, literature to business, your Library has an online research tool. Use of these online research tools is included with your Library membership.

This month’s featured tool is Credo Reference. Credo is a vast online reference library, providing access to the full text of hundreds of highly regarded and popular titles. Credo brings the facts alive with images, sound files, animations, videos and much more. Find speedy, simple answers and full in-depth articles. Credo Reference is constantly expanding and currently offers around 300 quality reference titles on every major subject.

You can access over three million cross-referenced, searchable, authoritative entries a growing world of information at the click of a mouse! Credo Reference contains dictionaries, bilingual dictionaries, thesauri, encyclopedias, quotations and atlases. Plus a wide range of subject-specific titles covering everything from the arts to accountancy, science to Shakespeare and law to literature.

To access the online research tools, visit and click on Online Research Tools in the left hand menu. Have your Library card ready.

The Future of Muskoseepi Park

I'm really impressed with how every time we do a survey on recreation the highest rated amenity Grande Prairie has is our urban park, Muskoseepi. The park was largely developed in the early 80's with money from a provincial urban parks program. (Probably one of the best programs the province has ever had if we judge by the success and longevity of the park it left behind!)

Today Muskoseepi stretches from one end of the city to the other and brings together a wide variety of activities and features. The city is doing some planning ahead and developing a Muskoseepi Park Master Plan which will guide the future development and expansion of the park. As with all of our master plans we take community input seriously as part of this process there have been surveys and public input sessions. Before the consultants go away to draw up the final plan based on what they've heard you get one more chance to have your say:

What: Muskoseepi Park Master Plan Review
Where: Muskoseepi Park Pavilion
When: Wednesday, December 3rd - 6:30pm

News Release:

Resident Voice On Muskoseepi Park Future Encouraged

City residents have one further chance to have their say into the future of Muskoseepi Park.

An open house to review the Muskoseepi Park Master Plan is set for Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Muskoseepi Park Pavilion. This is the last opportunity for residents to provide input prior completion of the plan.

“The first round of public consultation and stakeholder meetings provided valuable feedback and we want to ensure we’ve given residents as much opportunity as possible to participate in this important process,” says Operations Manager Laurie Barry. “A second open house will validate the goals and recommendations are as accurate as possible regarding the community’s vision of this park for the future.”

Muskoseepi Park includes Bear Creek North, the Reservoir, Crystal Lake, Centennial Park, the Trail System, and Bear Creek South.

“We are grateful to all community members who took the time to respond to the public survey,” says Barry. “This input gives us a very good understanding of the issues, ideas, needs and wishes to better meet the needs of our community. This Park is an extremely valuable resource in the City and we want to maximize its potential through the Master Plan.”

Information on the survey feedback will be provided at the Open House.

All the goals will be collected from the public input and these will be formalized into recommendations within the Master Plan. The document is due to be finalized in April for City Council approval.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Alderman Wong Joins The Blogosphere!

I just found out today that another of my colleagues on GP council has started blogging! Alderman Dan Wong has just started a blog of his own.

Dan said his blog is going to be a mix of personal thoughts and council notes. From his first three posts you can tell that Dan will likely cover a lot of territory with his posts.

So it's nice to be able to add fellow Grande Prairie council member Dan Wong and his blog to the Worthwhile Blogs section on the right side of the page. Scroll down and you'll find Dan's Blog in the Muniblogs section along with Leslie from Peace River and the guys from Crowsnest Pass; Gary Taje and Dean Ward.

Check out Dan's blog to see another perspective of what it's like to be an Alderman in Grande Prairie.

Welcome to the blogosphere Dan!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Council Time - Oct 16 to Nov 15, 2008

Here's where I spent my time in meetings and events from October 16th to November 15th of this year.

As I say every time; please take this only as a rough estimate of time spent on things that I have physically attended . Some of these may have taken slightly less or slightly more time.

Also, I'm not including; time spent reading agendas, doing research, travelling to and from meetings or answering resident's phone calls & emails. Those add up too but again they are really tough to measure. For example I didn't include the 8 hours it took for me to drive to Westlock and back again. So, if you think I might be overstating how much time something took or that the amount of time spent isn't really all that onerous please keep these "unmeasureables" in mind - they add up.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Council Time - Sept 16 to Oct 15, 2008

One of the questions that I get asked about city council pretty frequently is: "How much time does it take to serve on council?"

It's a tough question to answer but I had started to make what I thought would be regular postings on the topic back this spring. Well, as things come and go I forgot to keep up with it until this great post from Leslie in Peace River reminded me that it's a question people might be interested in.

As I said back when I first posted on the topic; it's difficult to say exactly how much time being on council takes. That's mainly because it depends on how much the individual council member chooses to put in to the job. You can attend information sessions or conferences to learn about new ideas that you can bring back to the council table or you can choose not to. You can attend at community events, either as the official council rep who brings greetings or just to talk to different groups of people to see what is happening with different sectors of the community .... or you can choose not to.

As I also mentioned before you can't choose to ignore is reading. There is a lot of reading; background information and agendas are a part of practically every city meeting but this is still difficult to capture. For example "Did I spend a couple hours reading those agendas for the up coming week or was it only 15 minutes this time around?" One of the other things I find I'm doing more and more often is researching ideas and best practices from other places, again that time is tough to measure.

Now, as I've said it's tough to measure everything so please; take this only as a rough estimate of things that I have physically attended at. Some things may have taken slightly less or slightly more time. Also, I'm not including; time spent reading agendas, doing research, travelling to and from meetings or answering resident's phone calls & emails. Those add up too but again they are really tough to measure. So, if you think I might be overstating how much time something took or that the amount of time spent isn't really all that onerous please keep these "unmeasureables" in mind - they add up.

For reference my previous posts on the topic are:
Oct 15th to Nov 15th, 2007
Nov 16th to Dec 15th, 2007

And here is Sept 16th to Oct 15th, 2008:

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pilot Project: LED Street Lights

Before I head off to my Environment Committee meeting at 3pm I thought I'd take a moment to highlight a pilot project the city is running.

I've mentioned LED street lights before when I saw them at the FCM convention in Quebec City. Well since then public works has installed two of the units on light poles in front of city hall.

As you can see in the detail photo below the lamp head is a slightly different shape than regular lights. The biggest advantage of LED lights is that they take less power to operate so they can save money by reducing operational costs. In 2008 the city paid about $1.1 million dollars to keep the street lights on. Generally it's recognized that LEDs can reduce electrical use by up to 90% so, even if we were conservative and said we'd only see a 20% reduction in electricity consumption that would save tax payers over $200,000 per year!

This is actually the city's second move towards LED lights on our streets - the first was when we converted the majority of our intersection traffic lights to LED technology. A note on the city's traffic FAQs page explains the savings that LEDs can achieve over the old incandescent bulbs, through their longer life-span and reduced power consumption.

These LED lights are becoming popular especially in northern cities where winter means long, dark nights.

Next time you drive by city hall at night check out the lights, they produce a little more of a "white" light compared to the "orange/red" light from the traditional bulbs. Hopefully you'll see them in your neighbourhood soon!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Free Education for Non-Profit Organizations

I received this note from the Grande Prairie Volunteer Services Bureau. There are a couple of great educational opportunities for anyone involved with non-profit & community based organizations. Check out the VSB website for more great supports for community groups. And, for those looking for something to do, the VSB also maintains a database of volunteering opportunities. My attention grabbing headline aside; only one of the events is actually "free", the other is just very inexpensive.

"- Alberta's Promise is hosting a professional development learning opportunity Community Building in Real Life. This is a sponsored fund development and capacity building workshop being held Thursday, December 5, 2008 from 8:45 am to 4:00 pm in the Muskoseepi Park Pavilion in Grande Prairie.

There is no cost to attend but you must pre-register by Monday, December 1 here. This workshop will examine how a non-profit can use its social cause to change beliefs and behaviours as well as generate new resources. For further information, please contact or call 402-297-6665. Volunteers, board members and staff members are encouraged to attend. complimentary beverages, snacks and lunch provided.

- Volunteer Alberta and Grande Prairie Volunteer Services Bureau are hosting an information session on Generative Governance, The New Perspective on Thursday, December 4, 2008 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm in the Muskoseepi Park Pavilion in Grande Prairie.

This is an opportunity for organizations and their board members to gain some insight into a new and innovative way to govern. Whether your organization has an established succession plan in place or your organization is in the process of developing an effective governance model, we are all looking for individuals who will contribute responsibly to the governance of the organization. The cost to attend is $25.00 for one individual or $50.00 per organization ( 2 or more from the same group). To register, visit here. For more information, please call the VSB office at 780-538-2727"

Monday, November 17, 2008

Library Update - November 17th, 2008

An update from Laurie Harrison at the Grande Prairie Public Library:

"The library's fall fundraiser, Franklin's Family Christmas Concert, was a big success -- two sold out performances! Thanks to all the sponsors and to all the families that attended.

The Broken Thread Book Launch
A capacity crowd of Linda Smith's friends, family and colleagues were on hand at the library Saturday afternoon for the launch of her final novel The Broken Thread. Tears, laughter, music and moving tributes were shared as people celebrated and remembered Linda's life and talents.

It's Canadian Children’s Book Week
November 15 -22
Come and see our display of the best in Canadian Children’s Literature. Borrow a Canadian Children’s Book and enter a draw to win a Canadian Children’s Book collection! For more information on the national Book Week celebrations visit

Elson the Dog Visits the Library
Elson the dog will be visiting the library on Thursday November 20 at 1:30 pm in the Story Room for a special story time about dogs, dragons and other magical creatures. Elson is featured in Elson and Elena's Adventures in the Autumn Forest. All ages welcome."

Friday, November 14, 2008

Construction Pictures: Library/Gallery & Rotary House

There's a lot of change happening in our community. In fact change has become such a prominent feature of Grande Prairie that sometimes I enjoy just driving around to see what new building has popped up or what new business has opened! I've often thought that it was a shame no one was documenting these changes.

One of the fun things about being on council is that we know where things are about to happen. On the private sector side we approve plans for neighbourhood designs and commercial developments. In the public sector we see the project proposals, often help find land for them and sometimes even fund them directly.

I decided to put a little of this knowledge to use in the summer of '07 by taking "before pictures" of sites that I knew would see some massive changes shortly. I should point out that I was really inspired to do this by the work of Beth Sheehan. Mrs. Sheehan documented much of the community in the early eighties by taking pictures of businesses and street corners all across the city. Beth's photos are at the South Peace Regional Archives.

So, here are photos showing the development of just a couple of the new public buildings being constructed:

Summer 2007

This site is directly south of City Hall, just behind the Care Centre and Aberdeen Place.

Fall 2008

Today construction is in full swing on the land city assembled as a site for Rotary House - the replacement for the aging Wapiti Dorm homeless shelter.

Summer 2007

To the West of City Hall earth-work is just underway on the site of the former Montrose Junior High School.

Fall 2008

The new Montrose Cultural Centre is nearing completion and will be ready for it's grand opening in 2009 when this replacement for the Library and expansion of the Art Gallery will host the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Awards.

Action From the First Two Bays of Budget

Well, council has worked through the first two days of budget meetings for the year. Wednesday and Thursday focused on reviewing the 2009 budget and the capital portion of the 2011 budget respectively.

To carry on a tradition I started last year I'm posting the unedited list of motions produced changes to the budget. This list is just from the first couple of days so there will likely be more next week when we deal with the operating potion of the 2011 budget.

1.Moved by Alderman Wong that the City fund $10,000 per year for 2009, 2010, 2011 for Community Futures for a grant writer.

2.Moved by Alderman Given the 2009 budget be adjusted to add $3-million and a further $3-million total in 2010/2011 for the Community Energy System, with the source of funding beingborrowing.

3.Moved by Alderman Rice that the budget be adjusted to reflect $250,000 in 2009 and $250,000 in 2010 to be allocated to the Community Village Capital project.

4.Moved by Alderman Given the 2009 budget be adjusted to fund the SPCA at a 1:1 ratio with the County of Grande Prairie up to a total of $25,000.

5.Moved by Alderman Given the 2009 budget be adjusted to reflect a total of $85,000 for a Marketing Coordinator position for the Aquatics and Wellness Centre commencing January 1, 2009.

6.Moved by Alderman Given that Council adjust the 2009 budget to reflect $50,000 funding for STARS.

7.Moved by Alderman Rice the 2009 budget be adjusted to add $28,000 for transit shelters and stops.

8.Moved by Alderman Rice the 2009 budget be adjusted to add $45,000 for one mechanic commencing in July.

9.Moved by Alderman Rice the 2009 budget be adjusted to delete $40,000 for a Communications Coordinator.

10.Moved by Alderman Blackmore the Grande Prairie Museum Expansion project be delayed to reflect project planning costs in the 2011 Capital Budget and construction costs in the 2012 and 2013 Capital Budget.

11.Moved by Alderman Wong Council allocate $500,000 in the 2011, 2012 and 2013 Capital Budget for the River of Death and Discovery Dinosaur Centre project.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Quick Update On Budget Action

I'm just getting ready to head in to day two of budget discussions but I thought I'd take a moment to post a quick update on the status of the items that I mentioned yesterday:

Hiring a Marketing Co-ordinator for the new multiplex.
- This position is in starting in January 2009.

Hiring an Environmental Co-ordinator.
- This position is not in, the city is receiving funding for a Sustainability Coordinator from AUMA and the majority of council thought that would be good enough for the time being, maybe in 2010.

The future of the Dave Barr twinning.
- I flagged this item and we'll be talking about it today.

The District Heating project.
- Is in! Really this is the big news of the day, a total of $6m between now and 2011 to create Alberta's first bio-fueled district heating system. After a lot of debate, my motion to include it passed with a narrow 5-4 margin.

I've gotta go now but remember the sessions are open to the public - if you want to check it out first hand you are welcome to join us! We'll be at the Holiday Inn again today from 9 am to 12 pm and we'll be there again on the 19, 20 & 21.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

5 Days of Budget - Starts Now!

This morning council will kick off 5 days of budget discussions. We run a three year budget cycle normally but this time around we are also setting the 2011 budget. The extra year will readjust the 3 year cycle to avoid what we had this year where a new council's first responsibility after getting elected is to deal with three years of budget.

A couple of items that I hope to discuss at the sessions are:

Hiring a Marketing Co-ordinator for the new multiplex (someone needs to start getting sponsorships, lining up companies for the lease spaces and doing pre-sales for memberships. This is a position that will generate revenue for the city.)

Hiring an Environmental Co-ordinator. (Now that the city has an environment committee we need to have some staff to work on the issues the committee will deal with. This position was rejected by a majority of council last year, I hope that will change this year.)

The future of the Dave Barr twinning. (The region needs more ice surfaces but the twinning will cost in the area of $10m - I'm not sure the city has the financial capacity to tackle it though.)

The District Heating project. (This great project could heat major community buildings like the multiplex and the college using the excess heat from the Co-Gen plant at Canfor. It would replace the use of natural gas fired boilers in each building with one centreal system that is getting it's heat from waste wood chips! This project is really in trouble but I'd like to find a way to make it happen - we're going to have to get creative, or have more than a little help!)

I'll post more on the budget over the next couple of days but the sessions are open to the public - if you want to check it out first hand you are welcome to join us!

We'll be at the Holiday Inn from 9 am to 4 pm on Nov 12, 13, 19, 20, 21. Come and see how a budget is made, I'll save you a seat!

Monday, November 10, 2008

What To Do With Graffiti

A few weeks ago I wrote about the success of council's first 'town hall' meeting. You might remember that the first question posed to council that night was about graffiti... specifically if it was possible to create a program to engage, let's call them "street artists" to produce public murals rather than having them defacing private property.

Well, at this morning's Protective Services Committee meeting there was some follow up on the graffiti issue. Alderman Alex Gustafson has asked to have an item added to the agenda to discuss the issue. Although Alex wasn't there to speak to it we did get some helpful information from administration and asked them to develop a program for our consideration.

Karen Garipey with Community Crime Prevention provided information on the efforts currently underway to reduce the impact of graffiti. The key concept for reducing graffiti is a three point procedure:

Record It - Take a picture of the graffiti as soon as it's identified.

Report It - Report all incidents of damage to your property by calling the local RCMP detachment at 780-830-5700.

Remove It - Remove graffiti from your property as quickly as possible. The faster and more frequently graffiti is cleaned up, the less it appears. If you remove graffiti within 24 Hours - there is a 10% chance it will reappear. But if you wait 2 weeks to remove it there is a 100% chance it will reappear.

The best solution is to remove it immediately whenever it appears. Eventually the vandals will give up.

As a part of the effort to clean up the community Crime Prevention (in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce and the DownTown Association) have clean up kits available. The kits provide everything a property owner needs to wipe out the graffiti (aside from the paint - you'll have to match your own). They also have a great Idea Book (downloadable PFD here) that includes facts about graffiti, suggestions on how to set up your own graffiti wipe out day, and contact info on where to get the clean up kits. Find out more about the program on the Crime Prevention "Graffiti Wipe-Out" page.

So, the efforts to wipe out graffiti are obviously well underway but that still left the question of how to direct these "creative urges" in a more positive manor. I suggested that what is really needed is a program where the city (in partnership with building owners) specifically sanctions graffiti on certain walls. Hopefully we'd be able to give the "street artists" a place to express themselves while working within some content ground rules. I can't see any harm in at least trying to provide a positive option for those who are currently working on the wrong side of the law. The committee agreed and asked admin to develop a concept for such a program and report back at a future meeting.

Maybe one day we'll be able to help graffiti move past it's current status as vandalism to more of a kind of "urban art". Providing space for it is just one challenge, the next is finding those truly creative artists who have something to say and the skills to say it well.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

In Westlock to Learn From Dr. Friedman

I'm in the Best Western, Westlock tonight getting ready for tomorrow's workshop with Dr. Avi Friedman. If you're from Grande Prairie you may have heard Dr. Friedman's name when council sponsored a visit from him last term. I liked what I heard back then and since we are working on a Municipal Development Plan (MDP) review right now I wanted to know more.

The MDP is the overarching document that guides all the other plans that the city does so it's principles have a big impact in how our community develops. In fact it literally shapes the way our neighbourhoods grow, mature and redevelop - so it has a big impact on our quality of life. I'm hoping that Dr. Friedman's workshop will lead to some positive idea that we can include as we rework our MDP.

The Town of Westlock is hosting Dr. Friedman this time and he is running a workshop entitled "Designing Sustainable Communities and Homes: a workshop focusing on the topic of sustainability". The day will consist of six lectures:

Lecture 1: Principles of Sustainable Developments
Lecture 2: Master Planning for Sustainability
Lecture 3: Sustainable and Affordable Neighbourhoods
Lecture 4: Sustainable Dwellings
Lecture 5: Sustainable Downtown Renewal
Lecture 6: Reinventing Communities – Selected Projects

(for a detailed description of the lectures you can check the workshop brochure PDF)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Stamped Concrete - Adding a Little Colour

With so much construction going on in the city over the last few years we've had lots of opportunities to do a little extra and improve the over-all look of our city. In my opinion we haven't always made the best of these opportunities but that's starting to change.

Over the next couple of weeks you'll notice a little colour being added to our streets through the use of stamped concrete in some of the road consturction projects that are being finalized. There isn't much of a cost difference to use the colourful concrete and I think it makes a big improvement.

There's been a lot of work to match the colour with the brick sidewalks downtown. The idea is that over time the interlocking brick sidewalks could be replaced with stamped concrete which would require a lot less maintenance. For the time being I think it will be a welcome splash of colour that will help improve our streetscapes!

You'll see the stamped concrete at 107th Avenue south of the Casino, the new 102 Street connection to 116th ave (pictured above), 100 Avenue & 92nd Street by Cobblestone and 68th Avenue by Countryside South.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Library Update - October 20th, 2008

My council report of the action at the library starts off with a very sad note this week:

From Laurie Harrison:

We at the library were all saddened to hear of the passing of Clem Collins. He was a staunch supporter and friend of the library. Among his many contributions were the Collins Membership Fund -- a fund he established that pays for library memberships for those who can't afford one.

As well, Mr. Collins established and funded the annual Clem and Muriel Collins Short Story Writing Contest which celebrated its 20th year this year. He believed strongly in encouraging and supporting a love of writing and this contest was very popular with aspiring writers of all ages.

Mr. Collins also contributed funds towards the new library and we are deeply saddened that he will not be with us as we open the new library next Spring.

Halloween Hoots
Ghost and goblins, witches and werewolves are invited to a Halloween party with a puppet show, stories, games and Halloween treats. Unparented. Ages 4 - 8. Registration required. Saturday, October 25, 2:00 - 3:00 pm in the Story Room.

Win tickets to see Franklin!
Join Franklin and friends as they get into magical adventures with a dancing snowman, a wacky gingerbread cookie, and a trio of playful elves. Celebrate the holiday season with lots of audience participation, singing, dancing and the jolliest Christmas spirit ever!

Library Fall Fundraiser Tickets 70% Sold So Far! Don't Delay -- Get Yours Today

Tell us what you like best about the Christmas season and be entered to win tickets for 4 to Franklin! Enter in the Children’s Library from October 1 - November 5.

Monday, November 10, 2008
Shows at 4:00 pm & 7:00 pm.
Douglas J. Cardinal Theatre at the Grande Prairie Regional College
Tickets: $24 (adult - 18 and over) & $18 (child - 12 months to 17 years). Tickets are on sale at the Crystal Centre box office.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Hearthstone Manor Opens

You may have been following the development of Hearthstone Manor, the City's 40 Unit affordable housing complex. My previous posts mentioning Hearthstone can be found here.

Today was the building's grand opening and I have to say that I am very proud of it. Not only is it addressing the need for quality affordable housing, its also built to a LEED Silver standard, meaning it is very environmentally friendly and over time it will realize significant operational savings over conventional construction.

There were of course a few speeches and a ribbon cutting but talking with residents of the building was the real thrill of the day for me. Many people played an important role in realizing this vision, of course not all of them were in attendance today but they can all be proud of what they helped to achieve.

Here's a little picture tour for you:

Hearthstone Manor

A detail view looking up from the main entrance. Even though the construction looks simple it's certainly not boring.

One of the great things about the building are the outstanding common areas. The units are modest in size but the building feels open and comfortable. This is on the first floor.

Of the 40 units 9 are fully accessible to those who maybe in wheelchairs. Notice the stove with knobs on the front, the sink that wheelchair can roll under and (if you look closely) the lowered peep-hole in the door.

Again in the accessible unit... notice the unique design of the shower that allows a chair to roll in over the little rubber seal at the bottom.

Some residents gather in the multipurpose (MP) room. The MP room is adjacent to a common kitchen and will be available for residents to book for birthday parties or family gatherings. It will also be available as a meeting space for community groups or for on-site courses or programs for residents.

From left to right; MLA, Wayne Drysdale, Brian Hillaby from Grande Spirit, Ald. Gustafson & Ald. Radbourne listen as Felix Seiler describes details of the building's construction.

And, as a look back here we are at the sod turning for the project....

... and here's most of the group back at the grand opening.

First Town Hall Meeting A Success

Last night at the Golden Age Centre the City hosted the first in what will likely be a series of Town Hall meetings. The turn out was good with probably 40 people in attendance. The night was chance for residents to interact with council on a fairly informal basis - everyone was free to ask questions and bring forward concerns or ideas.

I was really impressed with the discussion and happy to have an opportunity to hear the range of issues that are on people's minds. I took notes through the evening so I could share a general sense of what people were talking about and it's a pretty wide ranging list.

• Suggestion: Sanctioned "graffiti" art projects
• Concern: South Muskoseepi Park & Rumoured Golf Course Expansion
• Concern: Contractors and Timely Finishing of Construction Projects
• Concern: 6 Month Shutdown of the Building Materials Recycling Centre?
• Concern: Spending on Capital Projects Given the State of the Economy
• Kudos: For Sidewalks but Desires for Expanded Network
• Desire: For More Trees and Protection of our Existing Urban Forest
• Kudos: For the Muskoseepi Master Plan Consultants
• Question: Space for Higher Level Athlete Development at the New Multiplex
• Suggestion: Seniors "Play Parks"
• Concern: Long Term Care - Who's Responsibility
• Question: Future Development of Transit
• Question: Design Standards for Commercial Development
• Concern: Driving & Talking on Cell Phones
• Kudos: City Staff Action on Noisy Vehicle Complaint
• Concern: Poor Work on Catch Basins in Country Club West
• Suggestion: More City Support for Multicultural Association
• Question: Who so Few Bidders on the Multiplex Construction?
• Concern: County Support & Use of Multiplex
• Concern: City Treatment of People Tenting In Muskoseepi Park
• Kudos: City Focus on Disabled Parking Enforcement
• Question: Road Construction Standards
• Kudos: Info Available on City Website
• Concern: Redlight Camera Malfunctions
• Suggestion: Create a Job Bank for Youth
• Kudos: Bras Across the Bridge Promotion
• Concern: Unsightly/Unhealthy Premises

All in all a good night. I think council and staff will be able to pick up on the concerns to make sure they are addressed and hopefully we'll be able to integrate some of the good ideas into our planning and decision making.

Thanks to all who attended!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What did we get out of that Election?

The federal election is over and I feel a little ripped off. One really has to question what value the 5 week, $290 million dollar campaign actually provided to Canadians.

After all, we are back in a minority government and we had the lowest voter turn out in history. I have quite a few friends who think that "government doesn't affect my life" so I'm not surprised that turn out is declining. Governments at all levels have to work to re-engage citizens in the process.

At the local level there are lots of tools we can use but at the federal level what could one do? Perhaps ensuring that everyone's vote counts by using a system of Proportional Representation (PR) would help. This came to me this morning from Fair Vote Canada who work to promote the use of PR:

"Once again, Canada’s antiquated first-past-the-post system wasted millions of votes, distorted results, severely punished large blocks of voters, exaggerated regional differences, created an unrepresentative Parliament and contributed to a record low voter turnout.

The chief victims of the October 14 federal election were:

- Green Party: 940,000 voters supporting the Green Party sent no one to Parliament, setting a new record for the most votes cast for any party that gained no parliamentary representation. By comparison, 813,000 Conservative voters in Alberta alone were able to elect 27 MPs.

- Prairie Liberals and New Democrats: In the prairie provinces, Conservatives received roughly twice the vote of the Liberals and NDP, but took seven times as many seats.

- Urban Conservatives: Similar to the last election, a quarter-million Conservative voters in Toronto elected no one and neither did Conservative voters in Montreal.

- New Democrats: The NDP attracted 1.1 million more votes than the Bloc, but the voting system gave the Bloc 50 seats, the NDP 37.

Had the votes on October 14 been cast under a fair and proportional voting system, Fair Vote Canada projected that the seats allocation would have been approximately as follows:

Conservatives - 38% of the popular vote: 117 seats (not 143)
Liberals - 26% of the popular vote: 81 seats (not 76)
NDP - 18% of the popular vote: 57 seats (not 37)
Bloc - 10% of the popular vote: 28 seats (not 50)
Greens - 7% of the popular vote: 23 seats (not 0) "

Full Article Here (PDF file)

I'm not sure how we ensure that politics is seen as relevant to our daily lives but letting everyone's vote count couldn't hurt.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Go Vote - Federal Election Day

Although I'm not running in this election I thought I'd post a little reminder that it is in fact Election Day in Canada and everyone should be planning to get out and vote. Remember you only have until 7:30pm here in Alberta.

If you need to find out where to vote you can check with Elections Canada All you have to do is type in your postal code in the center of the page to find out where your local polling station is.

Don't forget that you need to bring some ID with you this time around (that's new) - bring your driver's licence or two utility type bills that show your address. (things like your power, water, cable or natural gas bills will work)

If you don't think you know enough about the parties and what they stand for you can go here to read up a little.

There are lots of neat things going on out across the country in this election... things like this for example. On the other hand it's kind of a shame that people feel they need to resort to this because the federal electoral system is set up the way it is.

All I know is that after the Arctic Winter Games executive committee meeting wraps up tonight I be on the couch watching the results roll in!

Go vote.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Arctic Winter Games Bus Unveiled

This morning a city transit bus, wrapped to promote the up coming 2010 Arctic Winter Games was unveiled.

Representatives of Ernie's Sports, Bus Bench Promotions and SOS Graphics pose for the media.

AWG President Debbie Reid poses on the left side of the bus which features AWG sports such as table tennis, snowshoeing, the one foot high kick and some of the cultural delegations.

The right side of the bus also features a cultural performer at the front and working back from there; gymnastics, wrestling and figure skating.

I think the bus will be a great way to promote the games and raise awareness that they are coming up quickly! It's going to get put in to service soon and from the 22nd to the 25th of this month is will be our tour vehicle as we host the first Chef de Mission tour. The representatives from all the participating countries and jurisdictions will be in the city to check out how preparations are going and what our facilities are like. I think we'll wow them!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Library Update - October 6th, 2008

October is Canadian Library Month - "Your Library, Your World"

Pet Food for Fines
Get rid of those pesky overdue fines and support the local SPCA. In exchange for pet treats or toys have your overdue fines waived in the Children’s Library. Monday, October 20 – Sunday, October 26

Win tickets to see Franklin!
Join Franklin and friends as they get into magical adventures with a dancing snowman, a wacky gingerbread cookie, and a trio of playful elves. Celebrate the holiday season with lots of audience participation, singing, dancing and the jolliest Christmas spirit ever!

Tell us what you like best about the Christmas season and be entered to win tickets for 4 to Franklin! Enter in the Children’s Library from October 1 - November 5.

Monday, November 10, 2008
Shows at 4:00 pm & 7:00 pm.
Douglas J. Cardinal Theatre at the Grande Prairie Regional College
Tickets: $24 (adult - 18 and over) & $18 (child - 12 months to 17 years). Tickets are on sale at the Crystal Centre box office.

Daily Herald Tribune Archives Online!
Check out our new online resource Sun Media Corporation Library Archives. You will find complete editions of the Grande Prairie Daily Herald-Tribune that are archived back to November 1, 1999. This resource is only available within the Library. From our website at, click on Online Research Tools under Resources for a list of all of the electronic tools offered by the Library.

Used Book Donations
The Library will not be accepting donations of used books and other materials until the move to the Montrose Cultural Centre is completed in the spring of 2009. Thank you for your understanding!

Mobile Blogging (or Lack Thereof)

Last week I was in Edmonton for the annual AUMA conference. I went down a day early so I could be there at 9am for a full day pre-convention workshop on "Green Building". During the session I was taking notes and then during the break I typed up a little synopsis on my blackberry that I emailed in to Blogger (the system that runs this website) so that it would come up as a new post for your to check out.

I did the same thing the next couple of days as I attended education session and the rest of the conference. During a little downtime in the hotel room I thought I'd just check in on the site to make sure that the posts looked ok as the formatting doesn't always translate well from the blackberry to the website.

Imagine my surprise when none of the posts I had emailed in where up on the site! Not a single one had made it up there - I don't know if the problem was with blogger or with my email or with the blackberry.

Luckily I still have my notes, so over the next few days I'll take some time an put together a post to cover the conference. There was a lot of good information and I'd really like to pass it on.

In the mean time, you can check out this overview from Peace River Councillor Leslie Ayre-Jaschke. Leslie and I have emailed back and forth a few times since she's started her blog but this AUMA conference was only the second time we've met in person (the other time was when she represented PR council in GP for the 50th Anniversary Home Coming Weekend).

Monday, September 22, 2008

Library Update - September 22nd, 2008

Thanks again to Laurie and the crew at the GPPL for the update that I'll present at tonight's council meeting:

Friends Book Sale a Success!
Congratulations to the Friends of the Library. They held another successful book sale this past weekend. Approximately $1700 was raised.

Gaming @ Your Library
Wii has arrived at the Library! Explore gaming with the Children’s Library. Join us on Saturday October 4 for an afternoon of Wii fun! Refreshments provided. Registration is required so please call 532-3580 ext 226 to claim your spot! Ages 13 – 17.
Saturday Oct 4 from 1:00 – 3:00 pm.

The library will be holding two Fall fundraisers:

Grande Prairie Public Library's Non-Stop Crop
Do you love to scrapbook? Have you always wanted to learn? Before the turkey and the stress this Thanksgiving weekend, kick back and scrapbook with your friends while raising funds for the Library. Join us for 21 hours of uninterrupted cropping fun.

We’ll begin with a pajama party, coffee and snacks on Friday night. Classes will be offered throughout. Looking to start scrapbooking? Join us for a beginner class and start this addictive hobby with a bang!

Vendors will be on-site for all your scrapbooking emergencies. Tools will be available for your use. Prizes will be awarded to the three top fundraisers. Door prizes and goody bags are included. Meals & snacks are provided.

Make a date with your friends and book early as space is limited. Registration forms and pledge sheets will be available at the Library and online at September 2!

Fee: $25.00 + minimum fundraising amount of $50.00
Friday, October 10 at 7 pm to Saturday, October 11 at 4 pm at St. Paul’s United Church.

Franklin the Turtle Comes to Grande Prairie
Mark your calendar for Franklin’s Family Christmas Concert, an evening of fun in support of the Grande Prairie Public Library.

Join Franklin and friends as they get into magical adventures with a dancing snowman, a wacky gingerbread cookie, and a trio of playful elves. Celebrate the holiday season with lots of audience participation, singing, dancing and the jolliest Christmas spirit ever!

Monday, November 10, 2008
Shows at 4:00 pm & 7:00 pm.
Douglas J. Cardinal Theatre at the Grande Prairie Regional College

Tickets: $24 (adult 18 and over) & $18 (child 12 months to 17 years). Children under 12 months requiring a seat must purchase a child’s ticket. No infant carriers, car seats or strollers permitted in the theatre.

Tickets are on sale at the Crystal Centre box office.

Help Improve Muskoseepi Park!

Everyone knows the feeling of having a great idea trapped inside because they don't have an avenue to express it. We all need a soap-box now and then, we need some way to get those great ideas out!

So, if you've ever had a great idea about how to make Muskoseepi Park better, do I have a soap-box for you!

The city is in the process of developing a the Muskoseepi Park master plan. The first phase of developing any plan is to gather public input on the issue. You can have your say on what works, what doesn't, what could be improved and how to go about it!

So even if you are just a casual user of the park who likes to go for walks on the trails or sometimes attends a concert at the amphitheatre we want to hear from you!


There just over 30 questions so make sure you have about 10 or 15 minutes that you can spend.

For those of you with big ideas; your soap-box has arrived.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Northern Alberta Recycling Conference

I'm going to be out of the city for the next couple of days - I'm making the trip to Valleyview for the Northern C.A.R.E. Recycling conference. It actually started today but given the light agenda I thought it would be worth while to stick around GP.

I'll try to do some mobile blogging from the sessions to fill you in on the conference. Oh, for those of you who have a keen interest in banning plastic shopping bags (it's a hot topic after all) check out who is a speaker on Friday morning....

SEPTEMBER 10-12, 2008
Valleyview Memorial Hall, 4432-52 Avenue, Valleyview, AB
Sponsored by Town of Valleyview, Town of Fox Creek, MD of Greenview No. 16 and
Greenview Regional Waste Management Commission

11:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Conference Registration

Light Lunch and Refreshments Prior to Tours

2:00 p.m.
TOURS – Tour Guide – Garry Peterson, CAO - Town of Valleyview
New Valleyview Transfer Station & Recycling Centre
CCS Energy Services
Atco Power Plant
Greenview Regional Landfill Site
GOLFING – at the Riverside Golf and Country Club
(Transportation Provided from Memorial Hall)

6:00 p.m.
Cocktails (Cash Bar)

6:30 p.m.
Welcome & Greetings – Mayor of Town of Valleyview, Mayor of Town of Fox Creek, Reeve of MD of Greenview No. 16

7:00 p.m.
BUFFET BANQUET with Local Entertainment

7:45 a.m.
Exhibit Viewing & Hot Breakfast

8:45 a.m.
Welcome – Sam Wipf - Vice-Chairman – Northern CARE

9:00 a.m.
GARBAGE!! The Revolution Starts at Home – PART 1 – An average
urban family were asked to keep every scrap of garbage that they
created for 3 months, from the organic waste to the stuff flushed down
the potty to the water they drink out of bottles, the air pollution they
create when transporting the kids around, to using lights at Christmas, the
McDonalds discover that for every action there is a reaction that affects
them and the entire planet. Video will be provided to delegates to use as a
social marketing tool

10:15 a.m.

10:45 a.m.
GARBAGE!! The Revolution Starts at Home – PART II
General waste diversion initiatives for the residential sector (householder)
Dave Douglas –VisionQuest Environmental Strategies, Toronto, Ontario


1:00 p.m.
Increase Diversion – The Color of the Bag!! – An overview of maximizing
diversion programs, having safer and quicker inspections for recycling and
composting initiatives – Nova Scotia Too Good to Waste.
Amy Hillyard & Nicole Haverkort – Regional Coordinators/Nova Scotia

2:00 p.m.
Waste Control Regulations – Update and summary of reviewed areas, such as
designated materials, burning materials, landfill prohibitions and limits,
provisions for hazardous wastes and recyclables, waste transfer stations, littering
provisions, and amendments to certified operators. Comments and opposing
views will be taken back and addressed at meetings in October/08.
Janet McLean – Alberta Environment

3:00 p.m.

3:30 p.m.
Energy Recycling – a renewable energy solutions and products including solar
hot water systems for domestic hot water, solar PV systems for producing
electricity, personal biodiesel processors from cooking oil, grey water recycling,
geothermal systems and rainwater collection.
Trimline Design Centre – Harold Verburg

6:00 p.m.
Cocktails (Cash Bar)

6:30 p.m.

8:00 p.m.
Keynote Address - Beyond Blue Boxes – Connecting the Dots.......
Wendy Holm – Economist, Author, and Award Winning Journalist from
Vancouver, BC.

8:00 a.m.
Exhibit Viewing/ Hot Breakfast

9:00 a.m.
Play it Forward – The challenges and update of the “Ban the Plastic Bag” 2007’ program
for the Town of Leaf Rapids, Manitoba.
Ed Charier, Mayor of the Town of Leaf Rapids

9:45 a.m.
Alberta Environment – Update of EPR Task Force and other updates and
information for waste reduction.
Christine Della Costa - Waste Reduction Specialist

10:30 a.m.
Northern CARE - to announce New Regional Initiatives for Northern
CARE Members:

• Regional Scrap Metal Collection Programs
• Regional E-waste Collection Programs
• Update of Proposed Regional Fluorescent Collection Program
• Regional Solar Energy Education Program
• Regional Plastic Bag Workshop
• Proposed Regional Transportation Plan for Recycling &Waste Diversion

11:00 a.m.
Nuclear Energy – Speaker TBA

Closing Remarks – Sam Wipf – Vice- Chairman – Northern CARE &
Councillor for the Town of Valleyview

Conference Ends

Monday, September 8, 2008

Library Update - September 8th 2008

From Laurie and the good folks at the GPPL:

Friends Fall Book Sale
Looking for that rare, out of print or hard to find book? Check out the Friends Book Sale - a treasure trove for the book lover!
Come Saturday for first choice books or arrive Sunday and grab a bag of books for a toonie. Ask about our special preview night for Friends of the Library members. Presented by the Grande Prairie Public Library Friends Society.
Saturday, September 20, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, September 21, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Spencer Room – Grande Prairie Public Library

Canadian Children’s Author Jean Little Visits the Library
Meet internationally acclaimed and award winning Canadian children’s writer Jean Little as she shares her stories with us. Jean has been writing since 1962 and some of her newest books are part of popular Canadian series such as Dear Canada and Orca Readers. Jean’s books will be on display in the library for the month of September. Registration required. Parents and children of all ages will enjoy this very special visit.
Monday, Sept 22, 2008 from 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Spencer Room – Grande Prairie Public Library

Art & Poetry
Join Sabine Schneider in exploring the connections between art and poetry. Local artwork from the Prairie Art Gallery will be incorporated into this exciting program. For ages 6-12. Registration required.
Tuesdays Sept 23, Oct 21, Nov 18 from 1:30 – 3:00 pm

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Looking for Firefighters

I made a note a while ago about the adoption of the new Fire Service Master Plan. The Plan calls for the largest investment in fire since the city moved from having one hall to our current two. We will add a third hall on the west side of the city in the next few years at a projected cost of $10.7 million.

But of course the capital cost of the hall and equipment is only one small part of the service expansion - you also have to factor in the operational costs. In this case that means paying all the new firefighters that will be required. By the time the new hall is operational in 2010 the staffing costs will be just slightly less than $2 million dollars per year.

It's a big commitment of course but it's an important step in ensuring that city service are keeping up with the growth of the community over the last few years.

So with all that in mind:

"New Release
Have you considered becoming a Firefighter?

The City of Grande Prairie’s Fire Department is hosting a number of recruitment sessions in early September for people interested in a career as a firefighter. The first is Wednesday Sept. 3 at 7 p.m. at the Pete Eagar Fire Station on Resources Road.

“Firefighting is a challenging and rewarding career,” says Deputy Fire Chief Janine Blackburn. “If you are interested in seeking employment in this field, attending one of these sessions will be very valuable for you. It will provide an opportunity to talk to staff who’ve been through the recruitment process, and a thorough understanding of the qualifications required. There will be tours of the fire hall and visitors can review the opportunities available.”

Applicants must be 18 years of age and have no criminal record.

The dates and times for the recruitment information sessions are:
Wednesday, September 3 at 7 p.m.
Monday, September 8 at 7 p.m.
Saturday, September 13 at 2 p.m.

**Note: This is the same information session repeated on different dates.

Pete Eagar Fire Station
8111 Resources Road
Grande Prairie, AB

If you require more information on these Firefighter career information sessions, please contact Janine Blackburn, Deputy Fire Chief, at phone number:  780-830-5022.

Media enquiries may be directed to:
Janine Blackburn
Deputy Fire Chief
Grande Prairie Fire Department
Phone:  780-830-5022"


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