Monday, November 30, 2009

A Grande Prairie Brand?

We just had a presentation from the consultants we hired to help us develop a brand for Grande Prairie. I'll post more info on it later but since I have 45 minutes before our meeting proper starts I thought I'd solicit a little feedback on some of the key points. Keep in mind that none of this is a slogan or a tag-line - it's meant to clearly define "... A widely held perception consumers have about a place."

"In Grande Prairie, you will have opportunities to achieve your dream. In Grande Prairie there is a willingness to try new things. Your creativity and ingenuity will be received with an open mind. We offer an environment that nurtures your entrepreneurial spirit, and a friendly nature to help you acheive your goals."

And, if I described Grande Prairie as a person like this (below) would
I be right?

"Grande Prairie is young, smart, open-minded, clever, positive and possesses a desire to acheive and help others acheive."

So, does all that sound like Grande Prairie?

Library Update - November 30th, 2009

I think it's been a while since I've posted an update from Laurie Harrison at the Grande Prairie Public Library but just in time for tonight's council meeting (see the agenda here) here's news from your library!

Can't make it in to the library but you need a good read? Your Library now offers Overdrive downloadable audiobooks and eBooks free to Library members.

The digital version of a print book (eBook) can be read on your computer, laptop or PDA. Audiobooks can be downloaded to an MP3 player or other portable device.

Quickly and easily place holds and download materials. Once your requested materials download, you have the materials for three weeks. After that time, the materials are automatically returned. You never have to worry about late fees.

Santa’s Workshop
Visit the Children’s Library Story Room for an evening of fun crafts, hot chocolate, and treats. Families with children three and older are welcome. Lug a mug. Registration required.

Date: Wednesday, December 9
Time: 7:00 – 8:30 pm
Location: Linda Smith Story Room

The Giving Tree
The Giving Tree in the Children’s Library will be accepting stocking stuffer donations from November 25 to December 18. New items such as toiletries: soaps and lotions, toothbrushes, hair brushes, manicure sets; slippers, socks, pajamas and housecoats for moms and teens gratefully accepted. Donations will go to Odyssey House."

In addition to Laurie's update, during my last visit to the library that signage is being installed in the Montrose Cultural Centre. In addition to helping you find where you're going the sleek metal lettering looks pretty sharp and is a nice final touch to the building.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Apartment Fire Aftermath

I'm not in the city today but I just received an update (12:45pm) on the fire at Eagle Manor via email. Here's the latest info on the fire and what's happening for effected residents:

Update (5:55pm) CTV has this report on their site suggesting arson maybe to blame.

"City of Grande Prairie
Media Release
November 28, 2009

Tenant Meeting Scheduled Following Fire

Boardwalk Rental Communities is holding a meeting for tenants of Eagle Manor displaced by Saturday’s major structure fire.

The session for residents to receive information and make enquiries will be held at the Church of Christ at 7 p.m. Monday. The property management company is providing accommodation to any residents needing housing.

A phone line is in place for loved ones of residents wanting to enquire about their whereabouts following the fire early this morning. Residents of the complex are also asked to call the number so emergency personnel can maintain contact with them. The phone number at the reception and enquiries centre is 780-538-4211.

The Fire Department was called to a significant structure fire at the building at 3:54 this morning. Major damage has occurred. Defensive firefighting operations continue.

The three-storey walk-up apartment building is located at 9701-92nd-Ave. No injuries have been reported. Residents have been evacuated to the Church of Christ at 9602-92nd Ave. Disaster Social staff have been deployed to extend all necessary care and accommodation to those registering and making calls at the reception centre.

The public is asked to avoid the scene. 92nd Ave. is closed from 96 Street to Resources Road. Motorists along the Resources Road will encounter moderate to heavy smoke.

The 30-unit building has been secured. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

There are 35 Fire personnel on site, equipped with four major apparatus. The Sexsmith Fire Department has been brought on board through the mutual aid agreement with five fire fighters and a ladder truck.

Media enquiries may be directed to:
David Olinger
Manager of Marketin
g and Communications/Public Information Officer

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

When A School Zone Becomes A School Area

Apparently, since the city did the upgrades to 116th Ave (just north of Crystal Park School) there's been some confusion in the public. Residents have been calling the city with reports of people speeding through the school zone but the thing is; there's no longer a "School Zone" there.

In addition to twinning the street the city also added a proper sidewalk along the south side of the street, fencing along the school property and a new pedestrian controlled crosswalk at the 92nd street intersection at the entrance to the Crystal Lake neighbourhood. (you could say we've finally made it into a "Complete Street")

With these improvements the School Zone and it's 30km/h speed limit was no longer warranted. So now it's designated as a "School Area" and has a 50km/h speed limit. Personally I still think it's a good idea to slow down a bit and make sure you're paying extra attention (why wouldn't you?).

More details in the city media release below:

Media Release
November 24, 2009
Crystal Park School Roadway Rezoned

Recent improvements to 116 Avenue have resulted in speed limit changes near Crystal Park School.

The section of road, adjacent to Crystal Park School is now considered a School Area, rather then a School Zone. Therefore, the speed limit of 30 km/h no longer applies.

School Areas and School Zones are determined by national guidelines. The criteria for allowing a section of road to become a School Area instead of a School Zone include having good sidewalk links, crosswalks, fencing in place, controlled access points and schools being set back from the road.

“The decision to move to a School Area was made in conjunction with the Grande Prairie Public School District,” says Colin Farynowski, Transportation Engineering Supervisor. “The safety of children was of prime consideration. This was addressed with the roadway enhancements and associated improvements.”

The pedestrian activated crossings at 92 and 96 Streets on 116 Avenue, separate sidewalks on both sides of the street, and fencing along the entire length of the school have reduced the need for school speed restrictions.

116 Avenue was twinned earlier this year prompting the improvements to the area surrounding Crystal Park School.

Kateri Drive, near Derek Taylor Public School, is also signed as a School Area. The Lions Learning Centre on Prairie Road is another example of a School Area in Grande Prairie.

Media enquiries may be directed to:
Colin Farynowski
Transportation Engineering Supervisor

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Committee of the Whole, November 17th

Council has a "Committee of the Whole" meeting today at noon and even through the agenda is only 3 items long we will be discussing some pretty interesting things. Here's the agenda with my comments in italics:

1. Marketing of Former Germain Park Property
At our last council meeting Ald. Blackmore made a motion to refer the issue to a Committee of the Whole meeting so we could all discuss the future of this property and what conditions (if any) are put on any future sale. Interestingly when council decided originally to list the property in June of 2008 we were told it was worth $295,000 but my the time the property was actually listed in Jan of 2009 it's appraised value had dropped to, $195,000. Now the report for this meeting contains a new appraisal (Nov 4th 2009) that values the property at $322,000. Quite a swing.

I still feel council should hold on to the property.

2. The Multiplex – Theming RFP 23-400-09
The construction plan for the multiplex has always included a budget for adding "theming" to some parts of the aquatics centre. What's "theming"? - think of Disney Land, or Galaxy Land at West Edmonton Mall... the areas that look like rocks and trees are "theming". The "fun" parts of the aquatics centre (like the spray-deck, dump tower, flowrider and adventure river) will get a theming treatment that will give the area the feel of a water park. We've always said that this facility will be an attraction for Grande Prairie and this is part of that plan. I kind of put it this way; we know lots of people come to GP from all over to GP to shop or visit friends... this will be an attraction, like West Ed Mall that they'll have to visit... hopefully getting them to extend their stay another day... and spend more money in our city.

The budget for the theming is $900,000 and Studio Y Creations out of Calgary the company that admin is recommending. You can see samples of their work in the Portfolio section of their website. (it told me I needed a newer version of Flash when I visited but I just went in anyhow and the site worked fine.)

3. The Multiplex – RCMP Office Expansion
Another part of the plan for the multiplex has been to have a office in there for the RCMP. It makes a lot of sense given that the site will be home to two high schools eventually (the current St. Joes plus a future Public High School) and that it provides coverage to the extreme south of the city.

The original plan called for a small 1 room office, in this report admin is requesting permission to expand that office into more of a "satellite office" with 4 rooms including 4 work stations, a waiting area an interview room and a communications room. The additional cost is $222,521.07 and would come from the Multiplex's overall contingency in the construction budget.

Monday, November 9, 2009

An Economic Forecast As We Go To Budget

Some time ago council asked administration to provide an economic forecast for us so we could have some idea of how the global economic downturn might impact us locally. On Monday the 2nd they presented it to council for review at an open public meeting before our regularly scheduled meeting. There weren't many people there, aside from council and city staff, to see it so I thought I'd share the presentation from the report here:

**a couple of charts didn't come through the conversion to the post here - sorry.**

All in all, yes; we have to be aware that things have changed... Development isn't booming like it was and revenue will be down because of that (by about $900,000) but at the same time Grande Prairie is pretty well diversified and in a much better position than many other cities.

I understand that admin already has some measures to deal with the reductions in revenue they forecasted so hopefully our budget session will be pretty straight forward. One thing that is uncertain, and that we won't know until the spring, is how much MSI grant money we will get from the province. Last year the province reduced this grant by about $2.5 million and it did impact taxes - because we had already committed it to the construction of the Multiplex.

At the AUMA convention last week Premier Stelmach assured delegates that we would (eventually) get all the MSI money the province had committed to so hopefully we can deal with any reductions in the short term.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Olympic Torch Makes It's First Stop In Alberta

The Olympic Torch made the first Alberta stop in it's cross Canada journey on Friday in Grande Prairie. I was out to attend the celebrations and snapped a few pics:

The torch made it's way into the city via chuckwagon.

The torch bearer is Grande Prairie resident, and world champion chuckwagon driver, Kelly Sutherland. Driving the wagon is Dean Dreger.

The final torch bearer for the relay was my friend Leigh Goldie.

Check out for a 4 minute video covering the Olympic Torch in GP.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

AUMA Convention 09 - Day One

The schedule for today at the AUMA convention is below and I've made some notes with a little more details on the sessions I'll be attending.

Wednesday, November 4
7:00am, Registration

8:00am, Committee Reports
I'll be attending the "Municipal Governance Standing Committee" Described in the conference package as: Today, more than ever before, Alberta municipal governments need to be prepared for the future and this session has been designed to provide members with important insight into navigating that future. Dr. Andrew Sancton from The University of Western Ontario will lead the group in exploring alternatives to municipal amalgamation, leading participants to think more creatively about changes that will help municipalities better serve their citizens. AUMA has committed to providing learning opportunities and tools to assist municipal governments in achieving sustainable futures. A review of municipalities’ issues regarding the assessment system in Alberta, discussion paper presentations at the President’s Summit, and on-going dialogue with members have resulted in the development of relevant policy papers that will be presented at the convention.

** Update ** After the above session I also managed to make it to a presentation entitled Opportunities For Small Communities in BioEnergy. Aldermen Minhas and Wong joined me as well.

11:15am, Lunch

12:15pm, Opening Ceremonies & Keynote Speaker Brett Wilson
Yes, that's Brett Wilson the Calgary oilman, TV Dragon, and possible PC party leadership contender
1:45pm, AGM & Awards

2:00pm, GP Council Meeting with Alberta Transportation. We've arranged to meet with the senior staff from the department to bring forward some issue we have in relation to funding for projects, transit funding, and maintenance of highways in the area.

3:00pm, GP Council Meeting with R.C.M.P. As with Transportation above we've arranged a special meeting with the top officials with the R.C.M.P. K-Division district to talk about some of the concerns we have in the policing area

3:30pm, Education Sessions
I'll be attending "Planning For The Economic Recovery: Be Ready To Act": The current economic climate has certainly added to the many challenges municipalities face. Just over a year ago, we were enjoying a booming economy but faced sky-rocketing costs and a severe labour shortage. Six months later, we were in an economic recession with increasing unemployment and funding cuts. Presenter Bud Crouch has a track record of successfully helping organizations prepare for the future. This session has been designed to help you successfully navigate through the unstable global conditions from both strategic and tactical perspectives. You will be given the tools to be proactive, to adapt quickly and to best position your organization to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.

3:30pm, Trade Show Opens

5:00pm, Additional Supplementary Sessions

6:30pm, Council Dinner

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

AUMA COnvention 09 - PreConvention Session

I'm starting my day off in downtown Calgary as I get ready to head over to the Telus Convention Centre which is hosting the AUMA convention this year.

I'm here a day before the convention actually opens because one of the pre-convention sessions caught my eye. At 9am I'll be heading off to hear about Managing Your Municipality in an Economic Crisis, the convention handbook describes it like this:

Turbulent economic times affect more than the bottom line of an organization and whether the economy is booming or in decline, it is the people who are impacted. If your municipality is looking for creative ways to manage your workforce through economic difficulties, this session will be of interest to you. Join our panel of industry experts to learn about new trends in management, developing a more functional and productive workforce, and how to incorporate better management practices. You will definitely leave the session with valuable insights and solutions that will make your workforce and your bottom line healthier.

Timely right? Last night before council we had an economic forecast presentation from staff and although GP is doing much better than many places we still heard that admin expects there to be a $900,000 drop in revenue from issuing fewer building permits. With that kind of news coming forward I thought this session could be very valuable. I'll report back.

If you want to check out any other info on previous AUAM Conventions click here or find "Conventions - AUMA" on the menu to the right.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Library Family Event & Fundraiser Featuring Little Bear.

The library’s annual fundraiser is coming up soon! This live action stage performance featuring the popular character Little Bear will delight and entertain children and parents alike. With the large number of families with young children in Grande Prairie, the library has found that family oriented events like this are really appreciated.

Little Bear Winter Tales

Monday, November 16, 2009
Douglas J. Cardinal Centre for the Performing Arts
Shows at 3:30 pm & 6:30 pm
Tickets: $24 (adult) & $18 (children)
Tickets available at the Crystal Centre Box Office

Council Agenda for November 2nd, 2009

Tonight's council meeting will be the last city meeting of the week for me. I'm heading to Calgary tonight for the AUMA convention and I'll be back late Thursday, just in time for Friday morning's arrival of the Olympic Torch! It's actually going to be a very busy week - stay tuned, I'll be posting from Calgary to keep you up to date on what's happening at the convention and what sessions I'm taking in.

Below is the agenda for tonight's council meeting I've made some comments on a few items of interest - you can see them in yellow like this.

3.1 The minutes of the City Council meeting held October 19, 2009 be adopted.
3.2 The minutes of the City Council Organizational meeting held October 19, 2009 be adopted.

Council adopt the agenda as presented.

5.1 Government Technology Exhibition and Conference Award (GTEC) Presentation
We won this national award for our cutting edge fire pre-planning system. It's another example of the great ways in which the city is using technology.
5.2 Mr. N.Dyck, re: Bill 50

6.1 Bylaw C-1100-148, to Amend the Land Use Bylaw
Bylaw C-1100-148, to amend the Land Use Bylaw to clarify the provisions for commencement of development, setback for decks, screening fences, and accessory buildings in front yards.
Council give Bylaw C-1100-148, to Amend the Land Use Bylaw, second reading.
Council give Bylaw C-1100-148, to Amend the Land Use Bylaw, third reading.

6.2 Bylaw C-1100-149, to Amend the Land Use Bylaw
Bylaw C-1100-149, to amend the Land Use Bylaw to rezone a 1.46ha site on the west side of 108 Street (Wapiti Road), from “IG – General Industrial” to “IB – Industrial Business”.
Council give Bylaw C-1100-149, to Amend the Land Use Bylaw, second reading.
Council give Bylaw C-1100-149, to Amend the Land Use Bylaw, third reading.
Click here for a map.

6.3 Bylaw C-1100-150, to Amend the Land Use Bylaw
Bylaw C-1100-150, to amend the Land Use Bylaw to rezone an undeveloped 35ha site which makes up a portion of SE 1⁄4 of 28-71-6-W6M, from “UR – Urban Reserve” to a combination of “IG – “General Industrial, IB – Industrial Business, CA - Commercial Arterial, and PS – Public Service”.
Council give Bylaw C-1100-150, to Amend the Land Use Bylaw, second reading.
Council give Bylaw C-1100-150, to Amend the Land Use Bylaw, third reading.
Click here for a map.


8.1 Bylaw C-1100-152, To Amend the Land Use Bylaw Bylaw C-1100-152, to amend the Land Use Bylaw to rezone the north half of SW 1⁄4 33-71-6-6 from “CR-5 – Country Residential and AG – Agricultural” to “UR – Urban Reserve”.
Council give Bylaw C-1100-152, to Amend the Land Use Bylaw first reading.
Council establish Monday, November 30, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. in Council Chambers as the date, time and location for Public Hearing purposes for Bylaw C-1100-152.
Click here for a map.

8.2 Bylaw C-1237, To Adopt the Municipal Development Plan Bylaw C-1237, to adopt the Municipal Development Plan.
Council give Bylaw C-1237, to Adopt the Municipal Development Plan, first reading.
Council establish Monday, November 30, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. in Council Chambers as the date, time and location for Public Hearing purposes for Bylaw C-1237.
We've been working on the MDP for quite a while - it's a very important document for the city and all in all I'm pretty happy with how it's turned out. More on this when it comes back on Nov 30th.

9.1 Council Committee of the Whole – October 5, 14 and 19, 2009
Council receive the minutes of the Council Committee of the Whole meetings held October 5, 14 and 19, 2009.

9.2 Pursuit of Excellence Committee – October 14, 2009
Council receive the minutes of the Pursuit of Excellence Committee meeting held October 14, 2009.

9.3 2010 Olympic Torch Relay Event Committee – October 15, and October 22, 2009
Council receive the minutes of the 2010 Olympic Torch Relay Event Committee meetings held October 15 and 22, 2009.

9.4 Public Works Committee – October 20, 2009
Council receive the minutes of the Public Works Committee meeting held October 20, 2009.

9.4.1 Q99 Stuff-A-Bus Charter
Council approve to provide a transit bus, free of charge, to Q99 for 2009 and each subsequent year, for the Stuff-A-Bus promotion.

9.4.2 Purchase of Four D40LFR New Flyer Transit Buses
Council approve the purchase of four 2009 D40LFR Transit Buses from New Flyer, at a cost of $416,000/unit, to be delivered in 2010, and further, amend the 2009 Capital Plan accordingly.
Two of these busses are replacements for units that are set to be retired from service and two of them will help us expand service as recommended in the new Transit Master Plan.

9.4.3 Tender T-39-546-07, Bulk Highway Salt
Council award Tender T-39-546-07, for the City’s 2009/2010 Bulk Highway Salt requirements to LaPrairie Group Contractors (Alberta) Ltd. in the amount of $263,339.70 excluding GST, as the most qualified tender meeting specifications.
Yep, just over a 1/4 million dollars for salt to keep the winter ice on city streets in check.

9.4.4 Tender T-37-546-08, Ice Control Materials -10mm Sand
Council award Tender T-37-546-08, for the City’s 2009/2010 -10mm Ice Control material to Wapiti Gravel Suppliers a Division of NPA Ltd. in the amount of $162,300.00 excluding GST, as the most qualified tender meeting specifications.

9.5 Combative Sports Commission – October 20, 2009
Council receive the minutes of the Combative Sports Commission meeting held October 20, 2009.

9.6 General Government Services Committee – October 21, 2009
Council receive the minutes of the General Government Services Committee meeting held October 21, 2009.

9.6.1 Request for Real Estate Commission Payable
Council direct Administration to pay the sum of $4,646.25 to Mr. P. Biegel, Top Realty.
This is the fee for the (non)sale of Germain park. It's essentially half the commission that would have been due had the property sold at the full value that we had it listed for.

9.6.2 Contract Approval – Pecuniary Interest
Council approve the agreement with Ms. S. Hally for the use of the Montrose Cultural Centre (Teresa Sargent Hall), as Alderman B. Given has a pecuniary interest.
This is me! My fiancé and I are going to have our wedding reception in the hall and any contract where a council member (or family member) has a financial interest has to go through a special procedure. We are paying the full rental rate, just like anyone else, this is just a formality. I'll declare a conflict of interest when this comes up, I'll leave the room and won't vote on it.

9.6.3 Economic Development Strategic Plan
Council approve the Economic Development Strategic Plan.

9.6.4 Priority Setting Process
Council adopt the Priority Setting Process to review Council priorities.

9.7 Arts Development Committee – October 23, 2009
Council receive the minutes of the Arts Development Committee meeting held October 23, 2009.

9.7.1Terms of Reference Amendment and Public Art Report
Council: 1. approve the proposed amendments to the Arts Development Committee Terms of Reference,
2. approve the creation of a Public Art reserve fund from any unallocated funds from the Arts Development and Festival fund each year and that this reserve be administered by the Arts Development Committee, and,
3. direct Administration include a Public Art policy as one of the components of the City’s proposed updated Cultural Plan for early 2010.
It's great to see this come forward finally! Some communities have passed 1% for Public Art bylaws any in time I'd like to see us get there but this is a step in the right direction.

9.8 Protective Services Committee – October 27, 2009
Council receive the minutes of the Protective Services Committee meeting held October 27, 2009.

Fire Dispatch Agreement – MD of Northern Lights No. 22
Council approve a contract with the Municipal District of Northern Lights No. 22 to provide emergency fire dispatch services for a five year period in accordance with the fee schedule attached as “Appendix A”.

9.9 Community Development Committee – October 27, 2009 RECOMMENDA TION
Council receive the minutes of the Community Development Committee meeting held October 27, 2009.

9.9.1 Muskoseepi Park Master Plan Presentation
Council approve the Muskoseepi Park Master Plan as presented.

9.9.2 Draft Resolution on the Canadian Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination to be Presented to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities
Council support the Draft Resolution on the Canadian Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination and further, that the City of Grande Prairie submit the resolution to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Conference.



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