Budget, water among council priorities

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Black Diamond’s new council has some busy days ahead as it gets to work tackling issues ranging from water to finances.

Following last week’s swearing-in ceremony, the town’s new mayor along with four new councillors and two incumbents are jumping in and getting down to business.

Coun. Ted Bain, who is starting his first term, said one of council’s top priorities is to address a petition submitted by residents seeking a stop to all large-scale residential developments until adequate water sources are found.

Black Diamond and Turner Valley have been on either Level 2 or 3 water restrictions since the 2013 southern Alberta flood washed out Black Diamond’s water treatment plant and all but two water wells in the towns. Water has since been supplied by Turner Valley’s water treatment plant and some new water sources have been established over the years, but more are being sought to get the supply back to the post-flood levels.

“It’s up to the CAO to make a decision on whether or not the petition meets all requirements for a legal petition,” Bain said. “We definitely have to look at what the citizens of Black Diamond are concerned with and the major concern seems to be water.”

Another immediate business item, said Bain, is the budget.

“It’s also a major concern for the citizens of Black Diamond,” he said. “When we take a look at the budget we will have to see what we can do about taxes and maintaining services. The word that I get from the people I talk to is they feel the Town is spending more than they should so we will take a look. They may be right, they may not.”

Bain would like to see council address another concern brought up during the campaign – keeping the public better informed of what takes place at council meetings, committee meetings and other important town business.

“We need to make it simple to access information,” he said.

“Not everyone has access to the Internet to view the town website. I have a couple of ideas but I would like to float them by my fellow council members. I hope to sit down with council and say here are some of my ideas and what are some of your ideas.”

Coun. Daryl Lalonde also has his mind on the town’s water situation as he settles into his first term on council.

“I would like to look into opportunities for improvement,” he said.

“Maybe directions that haven’t been looked at before.”

With budget being one of the first items of business, Lalonde said he’s eager to dive right in.

“I’m really looking forward to finding out where the dollars and cents go,” he said.

“When you know where it’s going it’s easy to tell people confidently and justify it.”

Lalonde said he’s also looking forward to working with council and under the leadership of Mayor Ruth Goodwin, incumbents Brian Marconi and Jackie Stickel, as well as Sharon Hart who served on council from 2010 to 2013.

“I have a strong feeling we’re going to be a great council,” he said.

“I think we are going to be a strong council. It’s like a hockey team where we’ve got the veterans and the newbies. With the three experienced councillors we are going to get into great shape rolling into the fall.”

Stickel, who is starting her second term on council, is also confident she’ll be working with a good crew for the next four years.

“They were willing to ask questions (at the Oct. 23 orientation) and they seemed to have a sense of humour, which is important,” she said.

Stickel said the work will be tough and the learning curve steep, especially with the budget being one of the first orders of business.

As for amalgamation, Stickel expects it won’t be as high on the priority list.

“I think there’s lots to go through to make sure everybody is up to speed and gets a feel of the direction that everybody wants to go and just make sure everybody is very knowledgeable,” she said.

Stickel said getting settled into the role of council takes time.

“First of all, sitting at that table when the public is there is a pretty intimidating thing,” she said.

“You are not quite sure because you don’t know enough background so you’re a little hesitant.

“Yes, you are prepared and read all the stuff and asked questions, but then the conversation goes a little different than you thought.”

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