Saturday, July 18, 2009

First FlowRider Experience

When I left for a quick west coast vacation a couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I might have time to squeeze in a little activity that what "somewhat" council related. Well, here are the pics...

On the way back to GP we stopped off in Kelowna to visit the brand new H2O Activity & Fitness Centre. Of course with our new aquatics centre under construction it's worth while to visit any new facility for ideas but this one is special; it has Canada's first FlowRider... Grande Prairie will have Canada's second.

I lobbied hard to have the Flowrider included in the facility because I felt that it would add a unique, active, element to the building. I thought that it would be just the thing to attract the "15 - 20 yr old skateboard/snowboard kids" who I feel are kind of missed by the other pool elements we had in the design. On top of all that I think it has a good opportunity to be a revenue generator for the facility.

After trying it and seeing who was using it - I'm pretty confident that it will tick off all those points above.

Here's some pics of my first time on a FlowRider:

The use of the FlowRider was included in my drop in fee of $9.50 (non-member price) but since we were just making a quick detour and I wanted to get a lot of rides in a short period I also bought another band that allowed me to go approximately once for every four or five normal riders. That was an additional charge of $10. Here's body-boarding. To get on you enter from the top of the wave.

After body-boarding a couple times next up was surfing. The lifeguard had a rope for me to hang onto as I got started, from the bottom of the wave this time...

... confident enough to let go of the rope and managing pretty well!

.... but it all comes to a finish as I wipe out (the kid sitting down on the right obviously liked it)

A few quick things I noticed:

• There were always about 20 people lined up to ride
• Users ranged from boys and girls of about 8 or 10 up to guys that had to be 40+
• Two other boys had the "skip the line" wristband I paid $10 for & they could do lots of tricks
• The attendants (one at the top and one at the bottom) would control how long each person's ride was
• There was always a big crowd watching the action from the dry area of the pool

All in all it was a VERY fun time and I think the FlowRider is going to be great in GP!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Draft Transit Master Plan - New Bus Routes!

At the public works committee today there was a presentation on the draft Transit Master plan. I wasn't at the meeting but I received the plan ahead of time in my council mail box.

The plan has taken some time but the end result is very encouraging - it lays out a great plan for improving our transit system over the next few years. In particular three of the biggest problems with the current system (operating hours, frequency and coverage) will be addressed in the new plan:

• Operational hours will be extended to 6:20am to 10:00pm M-F, 10:00am to 6:00pm Saturdays and 10:30am to 5:00pm Sundays.

• Service frequency will now be 40 minutes on all routes and every 20 minutes on selected routes during peak times.

• New routes will be established to connect to pretty much all subdivisions of the city. (see the rout map below).

There also a lot more in the plan; a downtown transit terminal, standards for bus stops and the possibility of linking up with the school system to replace the yellow busses for high school students. (The document is about 100 pages long) as soon as it's up on the city's website I'll post a link to it here - or in the mean time if you're interested email me and I'll send you the pdf.

So this is great progress but there is still some work to do as each of the recommendations / ideas in the plan require resources and that means money.

UPDATE: You can download the new transit route guide here (It's 3MB .pdf)

Draft Municipal Development Plan Available

Back in March I mentioned that the city was working on redoing it's Municipal Development Plan (also known as the MDP). As I mentioned back then:

"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."

There have been lots of input sessions and open houses since then and there is now a draft version of the new plan available. If you take a moment to check it out you'll notice that it highlights things such as; more respect for the pre-existing natural environment when new neighbourhoods are developed, increased focus on sidewalks and walkable communities as well as bike paths, direction to develop a 20 year economic development vision, and standards that will yield more attractive commercial development.

That's just a few of the high points.

To see the detail check out the full version of the draft plan HERE.


Check out the "easy reading" version in the promotional flyer HERE.

Read either version and send me your comments, positive and/or negative.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Library Update - July 13th, 2009

It's been a while since the last Library Update. Of course Laurie and her team at the Library were just a little busy over the past month or two. But, I guess that with moving buildings, working out the kinks in the new space, learning where the bathrooms where and hosting a major provincial event with the Lieutenant Governor's Arts Awards we can give them a break. ; ) Here's the report Laurie passed on for me to provide to council tonight:

A special thank you to Michelle Gairdner and the others who worked so hard preparing and staging such a wonderful grand opening of the Montrose Cultural Centre.

Thank you to the City of Grande Prairie for providing this new library for the community.

The public response has been wonderful. The tutoring room is being booked, memberships are up 230%, and the public has found their favourite corners to curl up with a book by the window or study in a quiet area with a cup of coffee or use the public computers. Teens love their new area for studying and visiting with friends. The parents and young children love moving the cushions and bean bag chairs into just the right position for lounging and sharing a good book.

Celebrate with us!
Join us for the Grand Opening of the Grande Prairie Public Library! The festivities will begin on Saturday, August 22 at 10:00 am. There will be activities for the whole family including performers and special story times as well as coffee, juice and snacks.
Opening ceremonies will be at 3:00 pm in the Teresa Sargent Hall.
There will be giveways for the first 500 visitors. Enter to win fantastic prizes including a Wii!

Discover Great Summer Reads at the Library
Why should the kids have all the fun? Discover the latest summer reads at your Library and win prizes. Keep track of the books you read or listen to between July 2 and August 31. Read 3 books or listen to 3 books (tape, CD or downloadable eAudiobook) and be eligible for weekly prizes. After reading or listening to six books, complete your reading log and enter your name for the Booklover's basket to be drawn in September.

Reading logs are available at Customer Services or online.

We are now able to offer Group Computer Training for the public in our new Training Lab.
Group Computer Training

June 22- August 31
Microsoft Word - Tuesday and Friday from 10:00 am to11:00 am
How to use E-Bay - Fridays from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm)
How to use the Library’s Online Tools - Learn a new research tool every Thursday from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm
How to use Facebook - Tuesdays from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Registration is required. Maximum of 10 participants.

Summer Activities for Children at the Library
Agent 009 – Summer Reading Club
Join the TD Summer Reading Club this summer! Plan to visit the Library this summer for detective themed events including our new online summer reading club at

Spy School
Ages 7 to 12
Tuesdays: July 7, 14, 21, 28, Aug. 4, 11, 18 from 2:00 - 3:00 pm

July 7: Make a thumb writer, notebook and spy kit holder
July 14: Codes and ciphers
July 21: Camouflage and disguise
July 28: Finding evidence (finger prints, teeth prints, etc.)
Aug 4: Observation and memory skills
Aug 11: Creating a crime (group story writing)
Aug 18: Spy gadgets

Special Missions
Ages 7 to 12
Thursday July 9, 16, 23, 30, Aug. 6, 13, 20 from 2:00 - 3:00 pm
Presented by members of the community.

Children’s Summer Programs

Wednesdays - July 8 to August 19
10:30 am - 11:00 am - Musical Tots: stories rhymes and music for 2 and under.
1:30 pm - 2:15 pm - Melody Magic: stories, songs and musical activities for 4’s and 5’s
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm - Book Detectives: book talk and share favourite reads
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm - Family Night: Bingo, Booknik (book sharing and snacks), scavenger hunt & games.

Wednesdays - July 9 to August 20
10:30 am - 11:15 am - Storytime: stories, finger plays and films for 3 to 5 year-olds.

Is the Book Better Than the Movie?
Enjoy popcorn, refreshments and a movie. Which was better? The book or the movie? Discuss and defend your choice!
Thursday, July 23 @ 6:30 pm - The Three Musketeers based on the book by Alexandre Dumas.
Thursday, August 20 @ 6:30 pm - Carrie based on the book by Stephen King.

Computer & Internet Training @ the Library
Sign up for a free, one-hour session on any of the following:
• Using the Library Catalogue
• Computer Basics
• Learning to Email
• Surfing the Internet for Beginners
• Introduction to Microsoft Word

Visit the Information Desk to sign up for your one-on-one instruction with Library staff. Call (780) 357-7455.

GGS Committee Agenda for July 13th

This is my first post after being out of the city for a while on a short summer vacation. I did manage to squeeze in the "council related activity" I mentioned and I'll be posting pictures soon.

Today is a "Council Monday" so we will have our full regular meeting tonight at 7pm. I was going to post the agenda for that but it doesn't seem to be online this morning. So, in it's place I'm getting a little head start on the week and posting the Agenda for the General Government Services committee meeting that will happen on Wednesday.

The names you see below the agenda items are the staff members who are presenting the report on that item. My quick comments are in italics.

1. Refund of Property Tax
S. Smith, Assessor
It doesn't happen very often but occasionally the city's tax assessment department does make mistakes. In this instance there was an error in the square footage calculation of a property that resulted in the owner being over billed. Since 2004 they've been paying more in taxes they they should have. City staff are recommending that we refund the total amount of the over billing, $10,542.15

2. Bill 202 Municipal Government Act
J. Ferguson, Legislative Services Manager
This bill from the province calls for the creation of a Municipal Auditor. Not a bad idea but 1) it has the potential to create a lot of additional work for municipalities and 2) the Minister of Municipal Affairs already had the power to order municipalities to under go an audit.

Along with Bill 203 I think it's an example of a private member's bill that addresses a perceived problem rather than an actual one. Both pieces of legislation have their good points but I think they went ahead without a lot of research being done. For example I don't think either AUMA or AAMD&C (the organizations representing Alberta municipalities) were consulted in the creation of these. Janette is bringing this bill to council's attention (I first heard of it this spring on Twitter) and I imagine that the committee will ask for a report on how this will impact the city. We may also take a position forward to AUMA asking them to lobby the province for changes. Looking on Twitter I just noticed that the Province is asking for public input on the Bill, I imagine we'll as staff to prepare a submission.

On a somewhat related note; I think it's odd the province wants to create more auditor positions when they don't even fund the one they already have.

3. Customer Satisfaction Survey
D. Olinger, Marketing Communications Manager
This report formalizes the process of doing Customer Satisfaction survey's in the city every 2 years. The next one would be in March of 2011. Having it then will allow the new council (elected in October of 2010) to use the input from residents as they build their strategic plan in the spring of that year and the 3 year budget in the fall. It's a great feedback loop that will ensure that the views of residents are reflected in the city's business planning process.

4. Correspondence
4.1. Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, re: Government of Alberta Response to FISC Recommendations on Forest Industry Competitiveness

4.2. R. Danyluk, Minister, Alberta Municipal Affairs re: Unconditional Municipal Grant
This is an annual grant, and it's one of the few that comes without strings attached, like saying it has to be used by a certain time, or for a certain type of project or service. The total amount of the grant this year is $592,188 or approximately 0.00422 % of our yearly budget.

4.3. Town of Grande Cache, re: Invitation to Grande Cache’s 40th Anniversary
Congratulations Grande Cache!
In this letter they are inviting the Mayor to attend to help celebrate at their Opening Ceremonies on Friday September 4th. The weekend of the 4th to the 7th the Town will be hosing a Homecoming celebration for everyone who ever lived in Grande Cache - mark it on your calendar!

5. Other Business

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Summer Vacation

Canada Day Celebrations, Tug-o-War; Kids vs. Politicians. Left to Right: MLA Wayne Drysdale, Myself, Mayor Dwight Logan & MP Chris Warkentin.... we lost... pretty badly. Thanks to Tymmarah in MLA Drysdale's office for snapping the pic.

Summer is here and I'm going to be taking a little vacation for the next week. Susan and I are going to drive down to Vancouver to visit some of her family and friends. I have plan to fit in a fun activity that relates (kind of) to council - if that pans out I'll have pics but other than that you can expect the blog to be pretty quiet until about the 13th.


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