Winter is once again upon us, bringing the sub-zero temperatures many dread. It is also the time when organizations with vacant or seasonal properties need to look at taking the right steps to protect their buildings from weather-related issues.
Water damage is one of the most common problems in buildings that do not see regular occupancy. Water can do a huge amount of damage to a building in a short period of time. It can severely damage floors, drywall, and electrical wiring. Water has a way of getting into every nook and cranny a building has.
The first step in preparing a vacant or seasonal building for winter is to turn off its main water supply and drain all the lines completely. These steps help prevent lines from freezing and bursting, plus prevent a large discharge of water should the plumbing fail in the cold. Once the main water supply is turned off, very little water can escape, thus limiting or outright preventing any damage.
Once the water is off, it is safe to reduce or turn off the heat in the building.
The second step is to unplug all appliances. This protects appliances in the event of power surges or lighting strikes, which, though rare, can cause costly damage. Depending on the building’s location and the availability of the shut off, it may also be worth turning off the power. This could be as simple as turning off all the electrical breakers.
The third step is to go through the building and ensure that all windows and outside doors are locked. This will deter trespassing while the building is unoccupied and deter animals who may see it as an attractive place to spend the winter months.
Finally, we recommend removal of all garbage in and around the building. This limits the chance of a fire in the event the trash contains combustibles.
We always suggest using checklists to make sure winter preparations for the building are complete and everything is done properly.
No one wants to come back in the spring to discover a building needs major repairs. Following the above steps will greatly reduce the risk of an incident during the cold winter months.
Rural Alberta has a strong voice at the FCM Board of Directors and Committee Tables
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Board of Directors is comprised of elected municipal officials and affiliate members from all regions and various-sized communities across Canada. The FCM Board meets quarterly to develop policy position on key national municipal issues and sets priorities that reflect the concerns of municipal governments and FCM’s affiliate members.
Rural Alberta is well represented at FCM board meetings at both the board and committee levels. RMA members appointed to the FCM Board and committees include:
Al Kemmere, RMA – FCM Board Member
AnnLisa Jensen Parkland County – FCM Board Member
Krista Balsom, RM of Wood Buffalo
Katie Berghofer, Strathcona County
Wayne Bokenfohr, Sturgeon County
Robin Kurpjeweit, Cypress County
Steve Upham, County of St Paul
Taneen Rudyk, Councillor with the Town of Vegreville, is also an active member of the FCM Board of Directors and a strong advocate for rural Alberta. These representatives bring the rural perspective to committee and board discussions, championing the need for a rural lens to be applied to policy discussions. While not all positions are in unison with the final positions of FCM, the rural voice is definitely at the table.
The recent FCM board meeting in September included discussions on the FCM’s annual general meeting that was hosted in Quebec City in June and was also the forum to establish directions for the upcoming year. Election readiness discussions were also at the forefront, which ended up delivering in real time with the federal writ being dropped during the FCM board meeting. The FCM’s Federal Election platform has been delivered to members through the Contact newsletter but is also available here.
In the attached FCM Report to Council, the various resolutions passed are identified, in addition to other items that will be of interest. Of note, new FCM membership fees received approval by the Board in response to the increased workload that the Board has prioritized in an attempt to raise the profile and importance of municipalities in the eyes of the federal government. Board and committee members believe we have seen the results in this with the numerous municipal programs that have been announced over the last five and six years. Further, increased investment in federal advocacy has resulted in more funding for local governments, including the $2.2 billion doubling of the Gas Tax Fund, increased investment in the Green Municipal Fund, the Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program, and the Municipal Asset Management Program. The FCM has also been a strong advocate for the need for broadband access for rural, remote, and northern communities, and federal government announcement of a coordinated national broadband strategy that would deliver up to $6 billion in investments in rural broadband over the next 10 years, prioritizes universal internet for all Canadians.
In November, the FCM Board will be meeting for ‘Advocacy Days’, which includes members gathering in Ottawa to participate in meetings with as many Members of Parliament and Senators as possible to deliver the municipal message. In recent years, FCM has leveraged opportunities during Advocacy Days to emphasize rural issues as a top priority to ensure that federal decision makers understand the importance of Canada’s rural areas in policy decisions. This is spurred by a resolution sponsored by RMA and adopted by FCM in 2018, calling for the application of a rural lens in policy tools for solving rural challenges. Also in 2018, the FCM released a report, Rural Challenges, National Opportunity: Shaping the Future of Rural Canada, which demonstrates how rural communities drive Canada’s economy, but need tailor-made policy and resources solutions.
We encourage members to visit the FCM website to learn more about their efforts and will continue to keep members apprised of advocacy efforts leveraged by FCM at the federal level.
RMA board members had the opportunity to meet with Minister Pon
RMA had the opportunity to meet with the Honourable Minister of Seniors and Housing, Josephine Pon, last week. These meetings are crucial for building relationships with the new government and discussing issues of importance for rural Alberta. The following items were discussed:
Funding for various levels of seniors’ care in rural Alberta:
Funding for lodges can be a cost-effective way to provide seniors’ care outside of a long-term care or acute care facility.
Access to home care, lodges, and acute care in rural Alberta is important to allow seniors to age in place and be able to be close to family.
In the past, the Affordable Supportive Living Initiative (ASLI) has been an effective tool to fund seniors care facilities.
Access to capital financing:
Seniors authorities would benefit from being able to access credit from the Alberta Capital Finance Authority. This would provide the seniors authorities with a lower cost source of credit without being reliant on a municipality to co-sign the loan.
Funding for hospice care:
Related to funding for seniors’ lodges and acute care, funding for hospice care in rural Alberta is critical for allowing seniors to remain in their communities.
The RMA will continue to work with the Minister and her staff on these and other items, and looks forward to future discussions on issues relevant to the Ministry of Seniors and Housing.
The Miistakis Institute and Cows and Fish invite you to learn about how beavers can help increase watershed resiliency in Alberta
The Miistakis Institute and Cows and Fish present the “Putting Beavers to Work for Watershed Resiliency and Restoration” symposium on October 23 - 24, 2019 in Calgary. The symposium will focus on generating awareness about the role of beavers as ecosystem engineers. It will also promote coexistence through the demonstration and implementation of various tools, including pond levellers, culvert protectors, and tree wrapping.
Below is a draft outline of the events:
October 23 (Day) – Symposium presentations, Ross Glen Hall, Mount Royal University
October 23 (Evening) – The Beaver Believers film screening, Ross Glen Hall, Mount Royal University
October 24 (Tour) – Coexistence tools demonstration sites tour, Calgary and surrounding region.
Click here to view a draft agenda and purchase tickets to the symposium.
To recognize the importance of advanced education and the ongoing success of rural Alberta, every year the RMA awards five scholarships of $1,000 each to students who are a resident of an RMA member municipality. One scholarship is awarded to a student from each of our five districts. This year’s recipients are:
Jade Nelson – County of Warner, District 1
Morgan Burgemeister – Special Areas, District 2
Jenelle McCuaig – Parkland County, District 3
Bethany Barthel – County of Grande Prairie, District 4
Megan Russnak – Beaver County, District 5
There were many excellent applications this year; those who were not selected are encouraged to apply again next year.
The Elected Official Education Program (EOEP) has multiple courses coming up. Furthering your education and being the best elected official for your municipality is our mutual goal.
Municipal Corporate Planning and Finance in Leduc on October 16, 2019, in conjunction with the Alberta Summer Villages Association (ASVA) conference. Please note that all elected officials are welcome to register for this course, registration is not limited to ASVA participants. The course will run from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm
Munis 101 will be offered as a one-and-a-half-day session in:
Edmonton – October 21 and 22, starting at 1 pm on October 21
Clearwater County – December 2 and 3, starting at 10 am on December 2
Council’s Role in Service Delivery, November 12, 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, at the RMA convention
Council’s Role in Strategic Planning, November 12, 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, at the RMA convention
Registration for EOEP courses at RMA’s fall convention must be completed through the registration website for the convention, available here. To register for any of the other courses, email the EOEP Registrar at email@example.com.
For more information on upcoming courses, click here.
The EOEP also works with municipalities to co-host courses. If your municipality is interested in hosting a course for yourself and other municipalities in your region, contact EOEP Registrar, Leanne Anderson, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 780.989.7431. In particular, we know there are a number of new councillors who would benefit from attending Munis 101 and we are interested in re-offering this course in 2019 in regions where it is most needed. Let us know if your region would benefit from Munis 101.