An Interview With The CAO Of Thorsby

  • Oct. 16, 2014 11:00 a.m.

Pipestone Flyer

Interview Submitted to Linda Steinke

How would you describe the past six months?

There has been a lot of change. From the day-to-day operation and management of the fire department to a by-election, the Village has seen substantial operational and political change over the past six months. I expect there will be more change underway as Council begins its budget discussions.

What change has been the most challenging to implement?

The new water rate has been challenging to implement. The reality is water was being subsidized through property taxes, which is an unfair way to pay for water, especially if you have low-consumption. Basically, residents were giving a discount to high volume users. The new water price involved rate shock. Council continues to explore ways to adjust the rate and ensure that it is priced in a way that is fair to consumers. We need a better system where price increases can be phased in over time. We also need to build our financial reserves to replace our aging water and sewer infrastructure.

What do you like most about Thorsby?

I must say I am a fan of the Chinese Restaurant in town. I will grab a bite before Council meetings. I also enjoy the Arctic Spa Recreation Centre. I joined a bike spin class and have taken my kids bowling several times. The community is fortunate to have such a great facility at its doorstep.

At Council meetings, there are concerns about the community’s ability to afford the Recreation Centre. What are your thoughts?

Very few recreation centres in the region or the province break even financially. Recreation is a social good. Indoor recreation gives residents an opportunity to stay active and healthy throughout the year and is a tool to market the community as a great place to live, work, and play. With that being said, we have to find ways to reduce operational costs. Recently, Council approved a keyless system so residents can access the weight room and field house outside of regular business hours. We hope this will increase the number of memberships. We are also condensing the ice schedule so we can reduce staff time to operate the facility. We are also working to find sponsors and increase revenue for the facility.

As CAO, what keeps you up at night?

Like many municipalities, our infrastructure needs replacement. Most people point to the condition of our roads as our greatest need. I tend to focus more on the stuff you can’t see, like our water and sewer lines. No municipality can exist without water and we need to ensure residents and businesses have stable and reliable access to water. We cannot afford to repair our roads and then have a waterline break. We need to fix what is underground first and then take care of the surface.

Are streets going to be repaired?

Yes, there will be a plan in place to maintain our road infrastructure. This year alone we spent over $60,000 on patching roads that had been damaged by waterline breaks. The Public Works staff (Phil, Ted, and Taylor) have worked very hard and filled over 800 potholes using 7 tonnes of materials.

To put that volume in perspective, that’s the equivalent of 7 baby elephants or 9,338 cans of pop. It is also a testament to the poor condition of our roadways.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

When I arrived in Thorsby, it drove me crazy driving over the train tracks. It was so bumpy. Public Works staff would find hubcaps scattered around the tracks. I managed to strike a deal with CP Rail to have the tracks paved and now the ride through the Village is much smoother. In addition, I negotiated a deal to use CP Rail’s lands for a snow dump site at no cost. This will save the community thousands of dollars and make our snow removal efforts more efficient.

Speaking of snow, what is being done to improve snow removal in the community?

Council approved the purchase a new front loader. The equipment will be arriving from England shortly. It is the most versatile piece of equipment we could purchase. The old bobcat system we had in place was very inefficient and could remove only small amounts of snow at a time. Residents should notice streets being cleared faster than ever before.

What’s on your plate going forward?

We are entering budget season and I expect Council to have a healthy debate about service levels. There is also a committee exploring the future of the community hall. On top of this, there is work underway to see what efficiencies can be identified by working more closely with Calmar, Warburg, and Breton. For example, I managed to negotiate a waste management agreement for all of the communities that will see a reduction in fees charged to consumers. The future of the community depends on cooperation with our neighbours and finding ways to share resources.

Just Posted

Mentally healthy workplaces boost bottom line: speaker

Robert Manolson says employees looking for kinder workplaces

Wetaskiwin reader horrified at Trudeau’s weakness

Trudeau ignores child murderer’s transfer: writer

Residents not happy with county order to remove approach

County of Wetaskiwin says approach unapproved, dangerous

Leftover pumpkin recipes

Pumpkin cake recipe complete with icing

Ponoka County fire crews handle second baler fire in 12 hours

Fire crews handled a baler fire just west of Gull Lake

Singer k.d. lang receives Alberta’s highest honour

Celebrated singer-songwriter k.d. lang received the Alberta Order of Excellence in Edmonton

Payette invites critics to ‘come and spend a few days’ with her

Governor General Julie Payette made her first official to B.C. back in March

Police say suspicious death of B.C. artist ruled a homicide

Patrick Zube Aylward’s body was found in a residence on a rural road outside of Seton Portage, west of Lillooet, B.C.

Temporary roads being built in areas affected by landslide in northern B.C.

Emergency Management BC news release says Disaster Financial Assistance is available to eligible residents of the Peace River Regional District who may have been affected by the landslides

‘Mom, I’m in trouble:’ Canadian faces 10 years for alleged graffiti

Brittney Schneider, another tourist caught spraying message on walls of Tha Pae Gate in Thailand

Feds consulting on national anti-racism strategy behind closed doors

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez says people still face systemic racism in some communities

Pot sales down by nearly 70% on Day 2 of legalization in B.C.

Several products on BC Cannabis Store are still sold out

Colourfully named cannabis products appeal to youth, Tory health critic says

Conservative health critic Marilyn Gladu says the Liberal government needs to do more to ensure cannabis products available online are not enticing to young people

B.C. high school teacher faces sexual assault charges

A Mt. Boucherie teacher has been charged with child luring, sexual exploitation and sexual assault.

Most Read