Kneehill County Senior Planner, Calvin Symington, completes orientation

Mr. Calvin Symington, Sr. Planner, has completed his orientation period and was approved for appointment as designated Development Officer. To meet the requirements of land titles, Council approved a four-month extension for a conditionally approved subdivision and waived any extension fees.
Also, at their March 10, 2015 meeting, Kneehill County Council moved to accept the implementation date of May 1, 2015 for moving to 10 grader divisions (from the previous eight). The full implementation was expected to be delayed to August, waiting for the required equipment, but notification was received that equipment would be arriving earlier than expected. The manpower is also available and April 30 coincides with the start of the three-year contracts for the contracted grader divisions (1, 5, and 7).
Brad Buchert, Sr. Manager of Transportation and Facilities presented Council with some changes to the Residential Dust Suppression Policy. One of the changes is payment with the application, to reduce administration invoicing time and delinquent accounts, with a strict deadline on applications. Residents only are allowed to apply for the program. Spec Crude applications, older than three years, will be assessed for safety concerns and restored to original condition if normal maintenance cannot be sustained. It will be the same rebate as last year and the fee charged includes patching for three years (spec crude). Calcium Chloride and Spec Crude are still the main two dust suppressions. Brad noted that MG30 (which has a 15% calcium chloride mix in it) is the only other alternative out there. The policy changes will be communicated to the ratepayers in the County newsletter, scheduled for later in March.
Economic Development Officer
David Kalinchuk, Economic Development Officer with Rocky View County, was an invigorating guest at the meeting, sharing an hour of advice and information. Kneehill is very interested in obtaining a Regional Economic Development Officer, which has been one of the ideas raised through Regional Summit meetings (Councillors from Three Hills, Trochu, Carbon, Linden, and Acme and the County). David provided Council with an overview of his job responsibilities, some accomplishments, his relationships with the province, MLA's and professional organizations and partners, his budget, travel events attended, up and coming conferences and how he invests his time. David explained some of the potential prospects the Kneehill area could benefit from and that within their land use bylaw, suggested that 'sweet spots' be identified for potential development. David viewed the County's regional approach as unique with much to value in partnerships and neighbors and the lure of rural geography. He identified a few main points on what the County should consider as they proceed in the direction of hiring a development officer. Reeve Long and Clr. Holsworth, Chairman of the Regional Summit Committee, showed enthusiasm at the prospect of a development officer, both adhering to the idea, "that it is better to lead development than be reactive."
Assessment Summary
Troy Birtles, of Accurate Assessment Group, provided Council with an assessment summary for 2014. The assessment for the entire municipality totals 9,074 parcels with a breakdown of taxable and exemptions, land and improvements totaling $2,642,904,870. There were also comparison charts of total taxable assessments, a breakdown by mill codes and further comparison (2013 vs 2014) breakdown of residential, non-residential, linear, Industrial, farmland, and exempt. "The MGA tells us how to do our jobs," said Troy, "and we follow the rules. There is a full review of the MGA at this time, yet it is still unknown what the impact of that will be. I have sat in on a couple of sessions to aid and steer the process."
On the industrial side, the group described a downward trend, with 24 cancelled accounts (disconnections at well site and in some buildings, as well as location moves). In 2014 they noted 70 new wells and 31 new industrial accounts, but clarified that a new well doesn't always mean it's active. There are almost 7000 well sites in Kneehill County. "With the major decline in oil prices, companies are exploring assets with the greater return," said Troy. "We expect to see a greater decline in drilling and exploration for 2015." The sequence of events for the Assessment group is today's sharing of information with the County, filing with the province by deadline, then inspections in April, deal with assessment questions and complaints in May-June, review permits in July, analyze the market in the fall, review any outstanding inspections in October-December and then start back crunching numbers for next January.
Council received, as information, an item dealing with the original owner of a subdivided parcel in the Gamble water service area that wasn't properly charged the local improvement levy. The error was found during a review of the water bylaw and corrected without protest.
Wheatland County paid Kneehill County the amount of $701.05, which pertains to a property in Kneehill, that Wheatland was collecting taxes on. The parcel was located on the border of both Counties, having been assessed and taxed by both. The property owner's address had never been corrected with Kneehill County or the registries office and notices mailed from Kneehill were unanswered. In the meantime, Wheatland was receiving tax payments. The property had been taken by Kneehill County for unpaid taxes in 2011. Kneehill County had been taxing the property since 2008, while Wheatland County had been taxing it since about 1995. It was explained by Administration and Mike Morton, Director of Finance that the boundary followed the CNR Right Of Way (ROW). "Anything north of the ROW was Kneehill County. It took four months for Municipal Affairs to reach a decision, which in the end was in our favor." Mr. Morton advised that there are another two or three in the Rosebud Creek area that is being investigated. Council moved to cancel all outstanding taxes and penalties in the amount of $1446.23 and direct administration to remove the tax notification and remove the caveat.
Fire Protection
Approval was given to the updated Bylaw 1683 - Fire Protection Services, 12 years since it was last reviewed. Input for updating the bylaw was received from the Fire Management Committee (representatives of all Fire Departments). The bylaw will be posted on Kneehill County's website, along with significant changes posted in the County's newsletter. Kneehill County is divided into seven fire districts, with six provided through a contract with its urban partners and Torrington Fire Department through Kneehill County. Many of the changes are a result of organizational structure changes, elimination of Coordinator position, fines more in line with associated costs, and amended fire permitting dates to year round. The latter change should allow for better monitoring of permitted burning and alleviate confusion of dates. The term of office for the Torrington Fire Chief is identified as two years as appointed by Council. Council added a couple of clarifying amendments, including the addition of smudge fire in the definitions and that it will require a permit. The fine for open burning within 15 metres of a structure was raised from $250 to $500. Lighting a fire without a permit was raised from $100 to $500 for the first offense, and up to $1000 for a third offense. Use of a fire hydrant without consent went from $250 to $1000. Designated Fire Guardians, for the issuance of Burning Permits for 2015, were named and appointed.