Ron Gorr Memorial Arena receives upgrades

Kneehill Logo 2019

Kneehill County Council held their regular meeting Feb. 11, 2020.
Tax Cancellation Request
Property taxes in arrears prior to and in 2019 in the amount of $1,485,335.53 were expensed and cancelled on seven rolls. Another approved motion was for administration to submit an application under the Provincial Education Requisition Credit for the uncollectible education property taxes on oil and gas properties, to total $150,121.33. Administration was also directed to void any 2020 penalties currently attached to these rolls.
As explained by Caroline Siverson, Tax/Assessment & Utilities Manager, some tax rolls did not have 2019 assessment and were transferred to the Orphan Wells Association. The outstanding tax arrears require cancellation (bad debts) in order to inactivate the tax rolls (some dating back to legal attempts to recover since 2015). “In addition, Courts have made decisions that directly affect a municipality’s ability to remain a secured creditor for collection as indicated in the Municipal Government Act. The Virginia Hills decision was not given opportunity to be heard by the Supreme Court so municipalities do not have any recourse when it comes to linear tax arrears.” She noted that the Redwater decision also affected the oil and gas sector and that liability claims by the Orphan Well Association far exceed the remaining value of the asset, leaving no funds being available to disburse to the municipality.
Draft Land Use Bylaw 1808
Council moved first reading of Land Use Bylaw 1808. A public hearing was being scheduled but Council made a decision to wait and receive recommendations for a public consultation date to get feedback on the various changes. At a previous Committee of the Whole meeting, Council requested some amendments, while Administration incorporated some clauses, clarified some sections and added some uses to create further opportunities for landowners. Some of the more significant proposed changes: increased percentage of variance allowed from 10% to 15% in hamlets/ex-hamlets and 20% in any other district. Development permits will not be required for roof mounted solar panels, nor will it be required for storage containers on lands greater than 20-acre zoned Ag Districts. Recreational vehicles as living accommodation not permitted for longer than 14 days. Relocatable industrial accommodation is prohibited as a permanent dwelling. The number of lots have been reduced per quarter section from five to three (including the remnant).
Mountain View County ICF
Council appointed Deputy Reeve McGhee and Clrs Christie and Keiver to the Kneehill/Mountain View Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework committee. Reeve Wittstock was appointed as alternate.
A public hearing was held for the Town of Three Hills and Kneehill County Intermunicipal Development Plan. There had been a previous bylaw (1610) but it was considered out-dated and was prior to the 2013 annexation so the IDP is considered to be a prudent collaboration. Barb Hazelton gave Council a brief outline of the contents, with maps that got the attention of Clr. King, who noted an imperfection in one of the maps. Council was also surprised by the mining that had taken place and wondered if Planning Department had any concerns in that regard. Otherwise, with no public letters for or against and no one speaking today on behalf or against, Council approved all three readings to pass the bylaw. Barb advised that this bylaw was replacing three previous bylaws, which were rescinded.
Council approved all three readings for Bylaw 1816, a Short-Term Borrowing bylaw. This bylaw has and continues to be just a formality, a requirement to have a bylaw in place. It is not anticipated to be utilized in 2020.
Council received as information the 2019 Preliminary Operating Budget Results report. The projected surplus for 2019 is $3,732,332. Council approved the additional reserve contributions of $55,000 to the Water Service Area Reserve, $145,000 to Revenue Stabilization Reserve, and $1,500,000 to Revenue Stabilization Reserve (tax issues). Council also approved the remaining balance of the 2019 Operating Budget surplus be allocated to the Roads Reserve, with one Councilor opposed. There was some discussion in having a portion of the amount going to road reserve, set aside for development of Horse Shoe Canyon (for purposes of earning back some income). It was noted however, that any such developments at the Canyon would have to be pushed off to another year. That reserve has $750,000 but it wasn’t deemed enough for any development this year. Bill McKennan, Director of Corporate Services also suggested that Council should consider having a General Capital Reserve versus having a number of various and distinct ‘project’ reserves. There was nothing wrong with project reserves but having a General reserve would allow Council a place to put the surplus dollars from the budget and give Council more time in deciding what projects would be best served at a later date. Councillors verbally expressed their appreciation of Administration and staff for their dedication and conscientious contributions in creating thorough budgets that actually have some surplus.
Discovery Nights
Council authorized attendance of Councillors who are able to attend the Kneehill Area Community Discovery Nights 2020 being held in Carbon (March 3- 5:30-7:00 pm), Linden (March 5 - 6:30-8:00 p.m.), and Acme (March 12-6:30 - 8:00 p.m.).
Council approved cancellation of the Feb 18, 2020 Committee of the Whole meeting as there were no critical agenda topics.
Ron Gorr Memorial Project
Brad Buchert provided Council with an overview of the Torrington Ag Society enhancements to the Torrington Arena Project. A delegation was also present from the Torrington and District Agricultural Society who thanked Council for their support along with the many community members who volunteered. It was noted that since the changes, there has been an increase in the number of inquiries to utilize the facility. The enhancements were many including lighting, remodelling, paint, flooring and furnace (for upper floor). Savings were already being noted for the ice plant (zamboni shed being switched to a freon unit) and the Arena L.E.D. Retrofit (lighting). Enhancements included the foyer, change rooms, flooing, kitchen, ice sheets and more.