Trochu Golf And Country Club Sets Sights On Irrigation Pond

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Trochu Council held a Regular Meeting on February 12, 2024, attended in person by all Councillors, and virtually by Mayor Barry Kletke. Joining Council were CAO Carl Peterson, Director of Operations Dave Nelson, and Recording Secretary Toni Nelson. The meeting was called to order at 6:00 pm by Deputy Mayor Martel. Council accepted the meeting’s agenda with minor amendments, accepted the previous meeting minutes as presented, and moved the Housekeeping Report with minor amendments.

Director of Operations Dave Nelson put on his Golf & Country Club Board hat and presented a delegation to Council at 6:10 pm. 2024 is the Club’s 100-year Anniversary. The presentation to Council focused on the Club’s efforts to install an irrigation pond.

The club spent a whopping $95,000 on water in the previous year, as they were advised that golfers would only golf on a green course. A wetting agent was applied to the fairways and greens to open the pores of the grass to receive water more easily and this cut water needs significantly; even still, profit was reduced to $13,000 compared to a $100,000 profit the previous year due to high water demand. Income was very similar between summer 2022 and summer 2023.

The club has been working for three years to obtain permission to dig an irrigation pond to collect runoff from the creek that intersects the course, cutting down on their need for treated water. Once full, the pond could water the whole course for 2-3 months during the summer, greatly reducing the Club’s expenses, and conserving treated water amidst growing drought concerns across the province. So far, $60,000 has been spent on engineering costs and two applications for water licenses (one to pull water from Alberta water reserves which would enable them to no longer use Town water, and another license to divert water from the creek into the retention pond). Another $20,000 has been approved to complete engineered drawings and finalize the Water Act applications. Approvals have taken a long time but they are hoping to have applications done at the beginning of April and to get shovels in the ground in the fall/winter. Because of high groundwater levels and because groundwater is very salty and unusable for irrigation, a plastic liner will need to be installed for the bottom of the pond, covered by rock or clay/soil (hopefully from the Senior’s Housing project) to hold the liner down.

The total cost for the project will likely be $1M to be covered by grant funding, donations, fundraising, and borrowing. Money will need to continue to be spent on course and clubhouse maintenance, but any additional funds are being put toward the pond project. Reducing water costs would help to pay off the loan more quickly.

Nelson shared that 2018 carts have replaced the Club’s 2008 carts; they now have 36 2018 carts which is a $25K increase in the club’s value. The clubhouse will be updated with new appliances, flooring, windows, and the barn door will be removed. The update will cost $10K and a $10K grant will be requested. Fees will be increasing by 5% across the board, though not for food or liquor at this time. Kneehill County provided a $5,000 grant for new satellite irrigation control boxes (total project cost was $12,000).

Council was impressed that the Club was still able to make a profit each year despite the high price of water and how dry the past few years have been and commended the Club on being a jewel of the community and making great decisions at a Board level.

While perusing the Grantwriter’s Report, Councillor Cunningham asked that MP Kurek be contacted to ask that Trochu be included in the summer jobs grant this year, having been shut out in the past few years. There are approximately 12 summer job grant positions in Trochu. Mayor Kletke would contact MP Kurek and the Grantwriter’s Report was filed.

Director of Operations Dave Nelson presented his Operations Report for January 2024. Upgrades at the pool and arena are now officially finished. After the retirement of a long-time rink attendant, a part-time attendant has been hired. Lighting upgrades were completed in the spectator stands, as well as adding timers to the entryway exterior, both paid for by a $10,300 ATCO grant.

The public works department has been busy with street cleaning. They recently received a new skid steer.

Water crews responded to a water break on January 6th-8th, and a leak further down the highway was noticed on January 9th. It was too cold on the 9th for any vac trucks or excavators to come out, so water was diverted to a storm drain until it was warmer and a 3rd party company and Alberta Transportation came out to fix the rusty, leaky, 25-year-old valve on January 16th. Twenty residences had their water turned off, largely the same twenty affected by the January 6 break. Water samples came back satisfactory.

At the pumphouse, the motor for new distribution pump #1 was installed by a third-party company, but it is still not in full working condition as the pump is drawing too much power. Electricians are trying to solve this problem.

Lastly, a representative from Alberta Environment met and audited the Town’s Water Operations crew. There were no major concerns but some areas of minor improvement were recommended; other areas were graded as above average.

The Director of Operations Report and the Water/wastewater report were accepted without discussion.

Chief Administrative Officer Carl Peterson presented his report. He attended the Kneehill Regional Partnership Council Orientation Refresher and felt it was well done, led by Ian McCormack. He also attended a meeting between CAOs, Mayors, and Doctors in Kneehill (which Mayor Kletke later reported on). He noted that as of February 1st, the Town is working with Vincovi for IT support and while there are a few glitches, they are overall pleased with the transition. The Town’s final audit has been scheduled for March 4-5. Council accepted the CAO Report and moved on to Councillor Reports.

Councillor Armstrong attended and enjoyed the Council refresher seminar. He attended a Community Futures Wildrose meeting on February 1st. He was very pleased that the loan repayment rate for the RRRF loan is at 67%; 30% was what was expected. A new auditor has been hired.

Councillor Cunningham attended a Kneehill Housing Meeting and reported that the Trochu Valley Manor is full. Golden Hills Lodge still has many vacancies and while they have been doing okay financially, they have been receiving Covid compensation which ended abruptly without warning at the end of 2023. At least another three months of funding was expected and they now have a significant deficit in the budget. The requisition from GHL will soon be coming out and will be much higher than usual.

Councillor De La Cruz noted that Sunterra has hired several new employees.

Councillor Lyver attended a Marigold meeting; the CAO of Marigold would be happy to attend a Council meeting should Council desire. There was a Library Board meeting in January and a hire has been made for the library clerk. There’s also a new book club up and running which met for the first time on January 30th.

Councillor Reeds sits on several subcommittees and had meetings for EPR and Palliser. He had information for the Closed Session.

Deputy Mayor Martel reported that FCSS has started advertising for their volunteer tax program, that the Community Service Directory has been published, and that January was dementia month with good participation from Council and business owners. FCSS is holding parenting sessions from now until April.

Mayor Kletke reported that he toured an international developer around the community who could be a good fit for Trochu. Kletke and a group of Mayors and Reeves will be meeting with local doctors on February 26th; he noted that family practices are having a tough time and that we need to deal with it before it becomes a crisis. Kletke also mentioned that Danielle Smith has a new liaison, James Carpenter, who was the former CAEP Director and a good ambassador for Rural Alberta and everything oil and gas related. Council filed the Council Reports with all in favour.

In their Correspondence Listing, Council had Marigold Library Board January 27, 2024 meeting highlights, an invitation from Alberta Municipalities to submit resolutions by February 23 for their March 14-15, 2024 leaders caucus meeting, Three Hills RCMP Q4 crime stats, and the National Police Federation 2024 Pre-Budget Submission to the Provincial Government, none of which required discussion.

Council discussed the Alberta Mid-Sized Towns Mayors’ Caucus terms of reference draft. There are 84 towns with a population between 1,000 and 14,999 in the Province who are invited to come together to strengthen their significance to the Provincial Government, to collaborate and help advocate for the needs of rural Alberta and smaller communities. Membership fees are set at $250 annually. Trochu Council would like to join and they motioned to write a letter of support and join membership. Council was all in favour.

Council also had a letter from Price Leurebourg of “Shared Tower”, informing Council that they are building a 60m carrier-neutral tower outside of Trochu to hopefully enhance cell service should carriers choose to sign agreements to use their tower. This was received for Council’s information.

The January 2024 Bank Reconciliation was filed with no discussion. As of February 1, 2024, the Town’s bank balance (general operating account) was $75,715.58.

In New Business, Council had a request from Blaine Hoppins for ice time donation for their 3-on-3 hockey day for U7-U11. Council accepted this request with all in favour.

The second item in New Business was a Trochu Parent Council Request for quilter and crafter retreat donations. $100 was given in 2020 and 2022. Council accepted this request with all in favour.

Council entered Closed Session at 7:25 pm. The next Regular Meeting of Trochu Town Council is scheduled for February 26th, 2024.