Thursday, March 27, 2008

Wireless City

Yesterday the General Government Services committee which I chair received an update on the city's efforts to pursue a municipal wireless network. So far staff have identified the uses the city would have for such a system, what other community organizations might be interested and then worked with a consultant to determine what we should include for specifications when we do a Request for Proposals. You'll probably see a story about it when the news paper comes out later today.

Media Release, March 26, 2008

City of Grande Prairie Explores Wireless Broadband Options

Grande Prairie became a city 50 years ago last month when district guide and hunter Henry McCullough delivered its charter on horseback. With tribute to Henry’s trusty steed, Diamond, the City has long since surpassed its one horse-town status and is ready to hit the information superhighway at full speed.

A feasibility project has been completed to explore development of a wireless broadband network that would blanket much of the community, providing the municipality, businesses, government agencies, other public sector groups, and schools with high-speed internet access.

The wireless network will be capable of supporting advanced applications, including emergency response and sophisticated transit and automated vehicle monitoring systems.

Other uses could consist of security and camera applications for traffic monitoring. Part of the project may include hot spots throughout public facilities for citizen and visitor use.

“Grande Prairie is already a hub of commerce as a regional trade centre for about 250,000 people and implementing this project would help us become even more competitive by having access to the technological advances that other larger urban centres have,” says Interim City Manager Ken Anderson.

“At this time, high-speed wireless Internet service is fragmented and is concentrated in the business community,” he says.
The City, guided by a committee comprised of staff along with education, health and business sector representatives, is working with KAZAM Technologies, a management consulting firm in Markham, Ontario that provides professional services in the area of broadband and wireless for a study and development of a strategic framework and a Request for Proposal (RFP) document.

The RFP is expected to be released by the end of April 2008. An RFP process will help determine the final solution and schedule. The City’s Information Technology Services department will bring a recommendation to Council after the close of the RFP process and subsequent evaluations.

The implementation of the project will be based on a cost-benefit analysis, improved municipal service delivery and economic development opportunities, the availability of suitable technology, and a sustainable strategy.

“In addition to the enhanced access to information, the advancement would make Grande Prairie more business- and tech-friendly, increasing the opportunity to attract new investment,” says Dawood Khan, Vice-President, Services and a partner with Kazam.

KAZAM and the City are considering a number of business models including private-public partnerships to recoup its investment in the development of the network or leveraging the City’s assets and needs.
Grande Prairie is ideally suited as a consideration for a municipally run wireless network or a partnership arrangement, says Khan.

“The advantage that Grande Prairie has is its mid-size population with a highly tech-savvy and young population eager to adopt new technologies fast,” he says. “The City is also home to a great deal of enterprise activity in need of wireless applications and mobility that can enhance their operations and increase efficiency.”

The success of municipal networks depends on a viable revenue generating model. Advertising and subscriptions are two solutions that have been considered by other municipalities. The main remaining question is how to develop the right pricing model that would attract customers and convince them to sign up for the services.

“Building a citywide network does not guarantee that businesses will be flocking to sign up for it,” says Khan. “It is a matter of having the right vision and implementing the right strategy for Grande Prairie to make the increasing weight of its economic influence felt across Alberta and perhaps become a model for other like-minded cities.”

Monday, March 24, 2008

Library Update - March 24th 2008

Successful Friends of the Library Silent Auction!
A big thank you to all the businesses and individuals who provided items for the Friends of the Library Silent Auction and thanks as well to everyone who bid on the great array of items. A total of $3200 was raised with all proceeds going towards furnishings and equipment in the new library.

Armchair Travel
Have you had enough of winter? Escape those winter blues without leaving the city - local travelers will share their stories, slides, pictures or memorabilia from where they have traveled.
Tuesday March 25
Katalin Ormay - Hungary
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm in the Spencer Room

Cartooning Workshops
Create your own fuzzy creatures and scaly monsters! Have fun learning to draw horns, fur, eyes, tails, and scales on fantasy creatures you've designed. For children ages 7 and up.
Wednesday, March 26 from 10:30-12:00 pm or 1:30-3:00 pm

Science in a Suitcase
Ice Age: Cold Facts About Environmental Change
Come to the library and view this exciting exhibition on the weather. Ice Age is full of the latest information on climate change.

Also, after my last Library Update I had a note from our new writer in residence, Diane Schuller...

"I'm also available to all the libraries and all writers in the entire Peace region. If a library or community group would like me to visit, please contact Anna Scott 532-3580, ext 234 or

Also, if anyone would like to have a personal one-on-one consultation with me they can email me at

I hope to be able to help as many writers and aspiring writers in the region as possible! I really appreciate what you're doing with your blog."

Well, thanks Diane - I appreciate you sharing your talents with the Peace Country! If you'd like to fine out more about Diane and her work you can also check out her website at

Monday, March 17, 2008

50th Anniversary Photo Contest

Win $100 gift certificate good at any down town business - all you have to do is identify the building in this photo (include both what it was used for at the time and what it is used for today). The contest is part of the City's 50th Anniversary celebrations and is meant to encourage people to think about how our community has changed over the years.

To enter the contest go to the City's website here.

The winner will be chosen from a random draw from all the correct answers submitted before the deadline, so hurry!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Yellowknife AWG - Day One

It's the end of what has been a full day. I'm about to crash in to bed but I thought I'd upload some pictures from Day One of the trip to the 2008 Arctic Winter Games in Yellowknife.

After the flight from GP to Calgary to Yellowknife we (Mayor Logan, his wife Carol, Kirsten Maher and myself) checked in to the Explorer Inn. The first order of business was to get registered and catch up with members of the 2010 host society who have already been in town learning for a few days. (As an aside, I noticed in the Games newspaper that to this point team Alberta had only managed two medals.)

During a sightseeing tour out on the lake where some events are being held we stopped to take in an ice castle! The white on white contrast in most of the pics doesn't show up well but you can see the detail in the windows behind Kirsten and Lee.

Our first event stop was outdoors joining the crowd of competitors here at the "Snowsnake" competition.

The snowsnake replicates throwing a spear over the ice, as would have been done when hunting seals. For the competition they measure distance that the spear travels.

One of the Alaskan team demonstrated the proper snowsnake form. If you are good at it you can get up to 500 ft in a toss!

Another athlete displays great form as they fire away down the snowsnake course.

I display a snowsnake form that looks a lot more like bowling. My first try the "spear" went about a foot before lodging itself in the snow. On my second try I probably got it about fifteen feet (maybe).

By supper time our little group was getting pretty hungry so we headed to a Yellowknife institution called "Bullocks" (.... hmmmm spelling may be different) Caribou Steaks and Arctic Char fish n' chips were on the menu.

The last competition that Kirsten and I made it to on our first day was the one I was looking forward to the most; the two foot high kick. Unfortunately we couldn't get close to the action and I had to take this pic from behind the arena glass. You can barely make out the "seal" (the little blotch in front of the girl's face) At this point it's probably about 6 feet off the ground.

The reason Kirsten and I couldn't get close was because of the huge crowd! I think people were really excited to see this unique sport. I was blown away too; the jr men's division was won with a kick at SEVEN FEET! The guy might have been 5'9" and he did an extra one making it all the way to 7'2"!!!!

After all this activity there was still one event to go to - the Team Alberta reception. I was really surprised at how many people there that I knew were volunteering as coaches, officials or mission staff. It's great to see so many people involved in making sure kids have an opportunity to participate. The word around the room was the the Alberta athletes had had a great day setting personal bests, Games records and picking up medals in quite a few different sports. Looks like the newspaper will have some more encouraging Alberta results to report tomorrow!

Oh, if you are looking to keep track of the medal count you can go to the Yellowknife Games website here.

So, it's now 12:21 am and I'm off to bed to get ready for Day 2!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Off To Yellowknife - Arctic Winter Games

Tuesday morning I'll be heading off to Yellowknife as an observer for the Arctic Winter Games. Grande Prairie has been awarded the 2010 games so a number of locals are heading up to watch the games in operation. It's going to be invaluable learning for the volunteers in all the different sport and administration areas. I get to go because I am the city's representative on the games executive committee - also travelling from the City of GP will be Mayor Logan, his wife and Kirsten Maher (the City's Community Recreation Coordinator and point person for the games.)

If you're not familiar with the Arctic Winter Games check out the official website of the AWG International Committee. Aside from familiar sports like basketball, volleyball, curling, gymnastics and hockey the AWG also have some very unique competitions. Events like Dog Mushing and the Dene Games are the ones I'm really looking forward to seeing - after all who wouldn't want to check out events with names like "The Finger Pull" or "Snowsnake".

Keep an eye on the Yellowknife Games website to track the progress of our Team Alberta North athletes and as you get ready for 2010 you can join the Grande Prairie Arctic Winter Games facebook group.

I'll post pictures of the action in Yellowknife so check back through the week for updates, or sign up to receive a free email every time the site is updated.

Library Update - March 10th 2008

Laurie Harrison has passed on another update from the public library, just in time for council tonight. If you haven't seen it recently check out the construction at the new library here . With most of the floor poured and about two thirds of the steel up the building is really starting to take shape.

Library Update:
Armchair Travel
Have you had enough of winter? Escape those winter blues without leaving the city - local travelers will share their stories, slides, pictures or memorabilia from where they have traveled.

Tuesday March 18
Betty Grunau - Nepal and Mt. Everest
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm in the Story Room

Tuesday March 25
Katalin Ormay - Hungary
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm in the Spencer Room

Money 101
Need help with budgeting and developing a financial plan? Todd Williams from World Financial Group will be on hand to talk about money and finances for all families. Wednesday, March 12 from 7:00 - 9:00 pm in the Spencer Room

Check Out the Writer
Communities across Alberta will now have access to a Writer-in-Residence through their regional library system, thanks to a new program called Check Out the Writer!. A Writer-in-Residence provides public consultations to aspiring and established writers as well as author readings, workshops, and more.

Diane M. Schuller, of Hythe, will be the Writer-in-Residence for the Peace Library System and will be based at the Grande Prairie Public Library. Diane is a freelance writer, columnist and award-winning short fiction writer. Watch for workshops and programs with Diane from March to May. She will be in the Library on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

For more information or to set up an appointment with Diane, please contact Anna Scott at (780) 532-3580 or

Friends of the Library Spring Silent Auction
Join the Friends of the Grande Prairie Public Library for their annual Silent Auction in the Library from Tuesday, February 19th to Saturday, March 15th, 2007.

Exciting items including a miniature figurine from the Trail of Painted Ponies, a hockey stick autographed by the Edmonton Oilers and an original work by local artist Janice Lutsenko will be auctioned to support the purchase of furnishings and equipment for the new Library due to open in 2009.

Place your bid beginning February 19 and check back to see if you are still the winning bid! For more information call 532-3580

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Crowsnest Pass Councillor Blogging

It's interesting what you notice when scanning who visits your page. I keep stats of how many people visit here (just over 10,000 since I started last year!) and where they came from. I noticed someone come in a couple times from a blog by Gary Taje so I thought I'd check out his site.

Turns out that Gary is a council member in Crowsnest Pass and it looks like he's been blogging for a while but has really kicked it into another gear for 2008.

So, in my continuing search for local government politicians on the web I'll be adding his blog to the Worthwhile Blogs section on the right side of the page.

Check out Gary's blog to see what's happening in Crowsnest Pass - I hear they are freedom-loving mountain people down there.


Quick Round Up

It's been a while since I've done a Quick Round Up post. Lately with council, work and the online course I'm taking up a pretty fair chunk of my time I've noticed that I'm not posting as much as I used to. So rather than feeling like I have to sit down for an extended period to write a full post I'll try to do these a little more often.

A few quick hits for your reading pleasure

Kelowna Looking At Sister Cities
The city of Kelowna is exploring opportunities to start sister city agreements, with the assistance of grants from the B.C. government.
full story

My Comment:Of course GP just signed a sister city agreement last weekend, with Mazatlan, Mexico. Interesting that the B.C. government sees these kind of connections as valuable enough to actually put $50,000 up to encourage cities to do it.

City Manager of Hamilton Resigns
full story

My Comment: Well, it looks like GP isn't the only city having to deal with changes at the top of the organization. We are currently recruiting to fill the vacancy that will be left by Dave Gourlay's impending retirement as of March 14th. This is probably a part of the shifting demographic of municipal employees, expect more and more top civic officials across the country to retire over the next few years. Anyone out there thinking about a career in municipal government?

City of GP Appoints New Fire Chief
Dan Lemieux is the new city Fire Chief, taking over from Bill Walker who will continue on as Protective Services Director.
full story

My Comment: Bill had been doing double duty for quite a while now and both the Protective Services Director and Fire Chief positions have grown in that time. It makes sense to have someone directly involved in the day to day operations assume the Fire Chief role and Dan is going to be great. He has probably one of the broadest ranges of experience with the city of any one I know having worked in everything from Parks to HR to Public Works.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Mazatlan Mayor Experiences Canada

The visit form the Mazatlan delegation what a complete success. The weekend was great - with lots of learning for both sides and the start of some great relationships that should benefit both communities. I want to post more on the visit later but for now I just have to share this picture from the weekend.

One of the events lined up was a sleigh ride on Saturday afternoon. The weather was sharp and cold with a biting wind but it doesn't look like it stopped Mayor Jorge Abel (left) and his wife Perla from enjoying a great Canadian experience.

... rrrrrrrrroll up the rim!


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