Road closures, Industrial lands approved, Langdon Quad Diamonds
FEBRUARY 9TH COUNCIL MEETING / FEBRUARY 10TH RGC MEETING
ROAD CLOSURES IN DIVISION 9 APPROVED
Two applications to close portions of the same road allowance, just north of Township Rd 262, in Division 9 were approved. Administration had recommended refusal, citing the proposal would landlock a parcel to the northwest (not owned by the Applicant) and that the road allowance may be needed in the future.
Due to topographic constraints of the Big Hill Springs Coulee, Glendale Road was built away from the original road allowance, leaving the undeveloped road allowance as it is today. The applicant wanted to close the road, because of hunters accessing the road allowance and creating safety hazards on his property.
Council voted to close all but the first 120m of the road allowance to provide access to the northwest parcel.
APPLICATION FOR RESIDENTIAL/INDUSTRIAL REDESIGNATION IN DIVISION 6
An application to redesignate 10.4-acres of an agricultural parcel to heavy industrial to store construction equipment and gravel and 6.6-acres to rural residential just north of Crossfield, in Division 6, was approved.
Administration recommended refusal because non-agricultural uses are not in keeping with policy and the applicant had not submitted any technical studies. The lands already had a first parcel out and the owner of that parcel wants to purchase the 6.6-acres to expand his home-based business. The applicant stated a separate party was interested in purchasing the 10.4-acre parcel for industrial storage.
Concerns were raised that the lands were adjacent to Crossfield’s future residential area and that industrial uses can be problematic in predominantly agricultural communities. I sided with Administration. Locating an industrial storage facility next door to a residential property and in an agricultural community is piecemeal planning, at best. The application was approved 7-2 with all but Councillor Hanson and me in support.
RECREATIONAL GOVERNANCE COMMITTEE – FEBRUARY 10TH MEETING
LANGDON QUAD BALL DIAMONDS
In July of 2019, Council funded the construction of a multi-million-dollar quad baseball diamond facility in Langdon. Administration has been managing construction of the facility and in anticipation of it opening this summer needed direction for how the facility would be operated.
At the January 27th Recreation Governance Committee, Administration and the independent consultant hired to advise on the issue presented four operational models:
· Community group operates it solely as a rental facility;
· Community group operates it as a rental facility, but also takes on organizing tournaments and other revenue-generating initiatives;
· County operates it as a rental facility, with any tournament organizing done by users renting the facility; or
· County hires an outside contractor to operate the facility.
The consultant estimated that the first three options would require between $30,000 - $38,000 per year financial support from the County. The fourth option was more expensive because of the outside contractor. The consultant’s recommendation, which was supported by Administration, was to have the County operate the facility for the first two years to establish a baseline for operational requirements and costs. This approach also left the County, not a community group, with any risks from the facility’s operations. It would also allow the County to develop processes that could assist with future County-owned facilities.
Schule, as the local councillor, was concerned that if the County was solely responsible for operating the facility the local volunteers who had worked for years on the project would be shut out. He proposed that the County enter into an agreement with the Langdon Community Association to operate the facility jointly for the first two years. Administration indicated that there was not enough time to get such an agreement in place before the facility would open this June.
After further discussion, RGC approved having the County operate the facility for the first two years. However, Schule had second thoughts and made a motion to rescind that approval. That motion was passed. There was then some discussion of how to ensure that the Langdon Community Association and its volunteers were involved in the facility’s operations. The issue was tabled until the February 10th meeting.
On February 10th, it quickly became apparent that the tabling motion had been very poorly drafted. As a result, Administration had not created a “hybrid” joint operations model with the Langdon Community Association.
Administration, Schule, and Deputy Reeve McKylor, who chairs RGC, had met with the Langdon Community Association between the two meetings, but no progress had been made in reaching a solution on the appropriate operational model for the facility.
I suggested re-tabling the matter so Administration could do the work RGC had originally intended. However, after some discussion, it was clear that the majority had different ideas.
Schule repeatedly emphasized the hard work the community had put into ensuring the project’s success, noting the $140,000 they had raised for the venture. He also stated that the Langdon Community Association (LCA) had done an exceptional job running the two existing Langdon diamonds – a fact no one disputes – and they wanted to continue their involvement by managing the quad complex. Administration made it clear that they would have first right of refusal for booking the facility – in essence they could book the entire space if they wanted to, an option that would leave them in the same position as operating it themselves only without the risks.
CAO Hoggan also emphasized that the Recreation Master Plan, which RGC had only just approved two-weeks prior, laid out clear processes for these types of decisions. He expressed concerns that RGC was straying from that so soon. He emphasized that Administration had no issues with the Langdon Community Association’s involvement but felt that following proper process was important. Staff repeatedly pointed out that county policy does not support sole-sourcing since it lacks fairness and transparency.
Along that line, I asked what the downside was in asking for multiple “expressions of interest” to operate the facility. The response I received was that all community groups in the area were on board and no one wanted an organization like the YMCA running it.
After a series of withdrawn motions and failed motions, Boehlke’s motion to negotiate a 2-year operational contract, maintenance agreement and license of occupation with the Langdon Community Association for the operation of all ball diamonds in Langdon passed 6-2. Hanson and I were the opposition.
I believe we owe it to all County ratepayers to ensure that the facility is run with optimum efficiency and that, as a new facility unlike others in the County, to understand what those efficiencies are, the County should operate the facility for the first-two years. Another key deciding factor for me was that under County operation, any risk would fall on the County, not the community group. And, in a time where COVID is still a key consideration for potential greater losses, that consideration is even more real.