Council discusses possibility of New Parking Lot

Monday, December 13th's Town of Three Hills Council meeting was a full night, with a whole array of issues covered.
Bob Long was in attendance at the meetings inception to present the Town of Three Hills with the Minister's Award for Municipal Excellence 2010 which is an outstanding achievement award for regional collaboration in the Canadian Badlands Region for economic diversity through tourism development. The Kneehill County sponsored this award that was also presented to 62 municipalities in this partnership.
Shortly after, three representatives from the Three Hills Arts Academy, Executive Director Ben Ewert, Board Chairman Sheila Adkins, and Executive Assistant Marilyn Sept, came to update Council on the year's activities hosted by the Academy.
The relationship of consistent funding and support by the Town took shape in 2008, as the Academy first sought to expand it's potential by hiring two paid staff, an Executive Director and Executive Assistant. The positions replaced Rhoda Murray, who had led the organization as a volunteer for 15 years.
Greater advertising, fundraising, planning, and volunteer management were needed to jump-start the Academy into the consciousness of Three Hills citizens as a committed organization, providing arts education and entertainment that is envied throughout other communities in Alberta.
As a nonprofit society with charity status dedicated to the promotion and development of arts performance and education in Three Hills and District, the programs range from Music and Arts Lessons, Wildrose Chamber Choir, Chamber Strings (Advanced), Wild Rose Strings (Intermediate), Fiddles 'n Fun (Beginner), Arts Workshops, Arts Festivals, theatre productions, and the Community Christmas Concert.
Ben Ewert says all this is not possible without the Town's financial help. The Academy requests the town consider the continued investment of $50,000 a year.
"We are proud of the Art's Academy and everything it's done, and how it has brought the community together," commented Mayor Tim Shearlaw.
Council will further discuss the funding for the Arts Academy.
After the Councillor and Management reports, the Requests for Decision were next on the docket.
The construction of the Grantville Improvement Project will continue in the spring. Under the Canadian Economic Action Plan. The Federal and Provincial governments provide funds to projects completed by March 31, 2011. Those not completed by this deadline require an extension to October 31, 2011. Council accepts responsibility for any costs incurred beyond October 31, 2011 to finish the Grantville Project.
Lorie Penner, Regional Coordinator for the East Central Junior Achievement of Southern Alberta (JASA), requested Council to support JASA and its programs. JASA offers programs that help young people acquire the skills required in today's work force, such as entrepreneurship, economic literacy, and e-commerce. The Town voted in approval to sponsor one class for the Spring 2011, at a cost of $500.
Three Hills Town Council approved the motion for three grant applications: $125,000 CFEP Grant for Arena Parking through the Three Hills Arena Completion Society, $75,000 CIP Grant for 2500m of trail through the BPOE No. 190, and a $50,000 CFEP Grant for Anderson Park through Three Hills Minor Softball Association.
At 7:00 PM, Council held a public hearing to discuss the possibility of the Town buying two lots available to purchase on the corner of 3rd Ave E, and 1st St. N, across from Centennial Place.
If approved, the area will be re-designated as DC-5- Direct Control District 5, and be converted into a parking lot. The purpose of this is to allow for off-street parking to alleviate parking congestion in this area during events at Centennial Place, the Curling rink, and the Aquatic Center.
Six residents attended the hearing to voice their opinions. All in attendance opposed the idea of the land being used for parking, for several reasons.
Vic Berg said, "This is in the center of a residential area."
He fears this approval could lead to further development, as he lives on the same block as the proposed development. He also feels that this might tempt young drivers to use the new parking lot for stunts, or large trucks, for overnight parking. Vic asked Council to visualize it cutting into their own residential areas.
Norma Hickok is concerned this development would devaluate the surrounding homes, as she lives next door to the proposed parking lot. She wondered if this would affect taxes, and if noise levels would increase as a result.
In response, Councillor Harold Leo asked the citizens to consider the positives, like the probability that it will cut down on congestion. CAO Jack Ramsden added that it will accommodate 40 cars. He also noted that there is no history of complaints of stunting in other large parking lots around town. Councillor David Nadeau said, "if not there, then where?" Councillor Terry Lee says this is necessary for growth, and we must utilize the existing buildings, and businesses. Mayor Tim Shearlaw said it is important residents have an opportunity to air their concerns, and Council needs to talk about the issue in great length before coming to a conclusion. He remind ed everyone that it just is a proposal, and nothing is finalized.
After moving to finances, and correspondence, Council went into closed session. The meeting was adjourned at 9:00 PM.