Edward

Sands

Re-Elect

Experience Counts

Who Am I
Priorities
Why Ed Sands
Town Election Page
Okotoks Online Profile
Pamphlet
Forums
Advance Vote
Election Day
Western Wheel Questions
Issues Raised on Campaign Trail
Contact Me
Home

While going door to door, a number of questions were raised and I did my best to search out the answers, and as well, some Facebook threads had comments to which I replied. These are listed below (sorry - some are a bit long). Feel free to contact me if you would like further clarification.

Ed Sands' posts on Facebook:
Not sure where to find the posts on affordable housing, so let's start a new one:
Affordable Housing is a very broad issue. At its base, affordability is based on market - more sellers, lower prices, more affordability; more buyers, higher prices, less affordability. Many things go into a market with more buyers: an attractive community that draws more people to it (ie: Okotoks), highly paid locally accessible employment (ie: Okotoks - close to Calgary, oilpatch jobs). (given the recent trials and tribulations suffered by the oilpatch, including cancellation of pipeline projects, we may see more sellers soon, with a resulting lowering of prices, with greater affordability - but to whom?)
But I digress . . .
There may be more to affordability that simply having the municipality provide homes: there was a local program where rents were subsidized to the renter - the landlord didn't need to know the rental was subsidized. Also, if the tenant's circumstances changed, the subsidy could be readily decreased, without having to have them move out of a subsidized 'facility'. I am not sure if that is still available. I believe it was a Federal subsidy.
Most importantly, an aspect of affordability is to have people have a livable wage. I won't get into the debate of HOW that would be done - having local employment opportunities is a good start. Having the Federal taxation changed to have a much higher level of income BEFORE it is taxable would be a start. The current level of about $18,000 when taxes start is ridiculous! $18,000 barely covers rent around here.
Those are a few thoughts, though not an exhaustive discussion.

Email or "At the Door" questions:

Q: We were at the Tues. Oct. 03, 2017 All Candidates forum. On the question of a Water Source, all candidates seemed to be focused mainly on one solution. That is a pipeline from Calgary for a water supply from Calgary. I understand that other communities are also getting water from Calgary. I would be interested in hearing the pros and cons of such an arrangement with the City of Calgary. Also, has the Town of Okotoks looked at other sources that would allow the Town to provide water for Okotoks without being dependent on another municipality? As Okotoks, the City of Calgary and the other communities grow in area and population, what effect will such growth have on costs and the amount of water available to Okotoks from Calgary's source? We moved here from a very small incorporated village that depended on other larger municipalities for some services. While the larger municipalities did provide the best service(s) they could it wasn't always the best for the small village or the most economical for the residents, and understandably, the needs of the providing municipalities came first.

A: Re: water from Calgary.
As you can appreciate - it is a complicated issue.
In November, 2013, shortly after launching on our annexation process, we approved a (rather contentious) motion, which tied Okotoks to researching and investigating a single water source: treated water from the City of Calgary, via pipeline.
It essentially forced us to abandon other avenues of investigation. I was opposed to the motion, and indeed had made a motion in September, 2013, which allowed us to investigate at least three options, however, with the election between these two meetings, procedurally, we were permitted to re-visit it before the usual 6 months.
Though I was on the losing side, a decision of Council is a decision of Council and we have all backed the process since.
Are there other options: yes, but we 'committed' to this option.
Is there opportunity to look at other options: perhaps, though we feel we are VERY close to a satisfactory solution. Any satisfactory other solution would be seriously considered by us at this time.
The Province is being quite a turkey with how Calgary accounts for the water they are prepared to give us - trying to impose different processes/standards than in any of the other of several similar arrangements they have with other municipalities.
The Province has not played fair with us - they pulled away any further licencing from us, commoditized the water market, wont work with us on grant funding, stands in our way for licence transfers from Calgary and won't consider any of several creative options which DO exist.
Costs: since we HAVE all the water for the people that are here, our philosophy is that new water that serves new growth should be paid for by that new growth, in the way of development levies that will pay for enhanced capacity and treatment.

Q: I would also like to know if your team of council members would look into taking a different charging method for water consumed as most water used in the summer is not going to the treatment plant but is either being used for watering or drinking or recreational activities ( kids playing , extra ) And what is your vision of tax hikes as it seems we pay more tax for less services .

A: You are referencing the fact that there is a water and a sewer charge on the utilities bill. We already take into account the consideration that not all summer water use gets into the sewer system. In the winter months, the sewer charge is based on the water consumption but in the summer months, it is based on an average of the water consumption in the winter. If the water use is much higher in the summer, it is assumed (though not entirely) that that extra usage is used outside, and does not enter the waste water treatment system so is not billed.

I am kind of hesitant to comment on the second part as I don't see that we are paying more tax for less services. Indeed the tax bill is higher than in years past, but the level of service is MUCH higher than in the past.
As Council discusses service level, even keeping the same service level implies greater service, cuz there are more people, more roads, more pathways, more 'everything', so it takes more people and resources, and more money to pay for the services.
A consideration is that the fact that there are more people than in the past implies more tax revenue, but it is generally understood in municipal finance circles that residential taxation pays about 60% of the cost of municipal services consumed, commercial taxes pays about 110% (or a bit more) of the cost and industrial taxation pays 130% or more. That shows the need for increased 'non-residential'assessment base, to offset the cost to residents.
So, I guess the vision for tax hikes is to continue to advocate and work toward increasing our non-residential tax base to reduce the burden on residents.

Q: Who paid for the irrigation around the Cimarron Storm Pond around 2007 and why is it not being used now?

A: The irrigation system around the Cimarron Springs storm pond was installed by the developer, Tristar Communities, at their expense. The Town requires new vegetation is watered for establishment purposes, typically 5 years after planting for new trees. Now that the vegetation is established at this site, the irrigation is not needed to be run. The Town only runs irrigation systems in high foot traffic sites such as sports fields and where trees have limited access natural rainfall such as the trees surrounded by concrete through downtown Okotoks. On non-irrigated public lands, it is expected that turf will go dormant in the heat of summer. These operational practices support Okotoks overall water conservation initiatives.

Q: Why haven't the damaged trees been replaced on my boulevard yet?

A: Dead or dying trees that are removed are tracked and scheduled for replacement. Replacement plantings occur the following spring in most cases unless there is an unusually high number of replacements, then some may get bumped to the following spring. Replacement trees usually go back in the same or similar location unless utilities, line of sight, or other conflicts are evident. The specific trees in question here are scheduled for replacement in spring of 2018. Once replaced, the new trees will be added to the watering list for five years.

Q: (these 14 questions were on one email)
1. How do you plan on spending tax-payer dollars?

A: Carefully, frugally and on approved programmes? The foundation document for spending is our Budget. It is being worked on now, based on priorities discussed and accepted in May. The Budget will be presented to Councillors in November, over 3 days of presentations, with discussion and amendments over the next 3 weeks with final decision in mid December. Council meetings will be videoed starting in November and you will be able to watch the process online.

2. Why do you want this position?

A: I enjoy being part of the decision making process. I continue to have great passion for what happens in this Town and want to be part of the planning for the new, expanded, "Okotoks 3.0".

3. What do you hope to achieve, what is your main goal?

A: As above, the next 4 years will be very exciting as we plan and create the foundational vision for the next 50 years - I wish to be part of the team that creates that.

4. What are your hobbies?

A: Theatre (Dewdney Players), music - play in two bands, plus help with others, fitness.

5. Personally, how would you handle the funding for the new treated water pipeline coming in from Calgary?

A: My plan is to get Provincial funding for 90% and have new development levies pay for the balance. If this takes a bit more time, that is OK - we really don't need to make a panicked decision.

6. What are your thoughts on a new performing arts facility? How would you go about funds for it?

A: I totally support a new performing arts facility! The challenge has been trying to make it THE priority over the calls for ice rinks, swimming pools, soccer fields, etc. It would be nice if there could be some private funding for it - a group is working on that very possibility now! - but one way to prepare for the funding is to determine the cost, determine how much money would need to be borrowed, what the annual payment on that debt would be, and then to gradually, over about 3 years, create a reserve with small annual increases which would cover the annual cost of the loan by year 3 or 4.

7. What motivates you? What do you value? What are your beliefs?

A: Big question: motivated by being part of a solution. I value teamwork, innovative ideas, helping people. Beliefs: get out of the way of a motivated group of people with a vision - they will surprise you with their creativity!

8. What are your ideas? Any new ideas?

A: I was at the table when Sustainable Okotoks was founded. I value the ideals of environmental stewardship, financial stability and responsibility to self and community. New ideas: have been doing this for 22 years - haven't been waiting til now to spring a new idea - I do come up with a few new ones!

9. What is different that you can bring to the table?

A: A strong sense of team and the ability to be calm, respectful and work on finding the best solution.
10. If you could make a fantasy city (say out of a video game or something), what would it look like?

A: It would look an awful lot like Barcelona!

11. Who would you call your role-model or ideal character you look up to?

A: Benevolent judge

12. Do you like animals? What is your favorite animal?

A: love animals - my first degree was in Animal Biology. Favourite animal is cats (and bears)

13. What is your favorite color? Why?

A: Red - bright, fiery

14. How are you supporting your competitors/future teammates?

A: Have been sharing doorknocking duties with Mayor Bill Robertson and Councillor Ken Heemeryck, due to mutual respect and a desire to see them re-elected as well and the wish to reduce some of the times residents get their doors knocked on. As noted, I support teamwork.

Some Facebook dialogue:

Q: What I find odd is that residents are paying their fair share of property taxes yet in some regards the services are unequal. Snowplowing is an example...we are all paying in but depending on what street you choose to live on, your road may never be cleared. In a harsh winter, I have been called by a number of friends to come drag their vehicles out of a snowbank or a drift. A senior's complex off Sheep River Drive have to fork out even more cash to have the Town come clear out their cul-de-sac. To my mind, this is really unfair. At the end of the day, how much additional effort is required to run a snowplow down the side streets once in a while? Perhaps the allocation of funds to road clearing needs review and maybe cutbacks to other non-essential services are in order to properly fund this. We live in a winter town after-all.
A: no city/town clears all the snow from all the streets. NO-ONE can advocate for that while suggesting taxes should be lowered. Snow plowing and removal is a balancing act between service levels and affordability.

Q: To: Candidates who have included Arts in their Platforms. Question #2 from the Arts Community:
Discussions of education policy have often focused on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, or STEM, as a set of core competencies but it now recognized that STEAM, which includes Art and Design, is where education is headed in Alberta.
What public improvements, if any, would you like to see in our community that would enhance the delivery by teachers and instructors in public and private education of this core competency to our youth?

A: - this kind on belongs in the School Trustee feed. I am deeply troubled with what seems to be an erosion of the Arts curriculum in schools and post secondary institution (MRU recently gutted their arts programs). We are fortunate to have the Alberta High School of Fine Arts in the Public system and very good arts programs at Holy Trinity Academy.
How to keep it: by parents advocating with the school divisions and Alberta Education, with supportive messaging from municipal councillors as well

Q: What are the candidates perspectives on air & light pollution here in Okotoks?
I ask this because as a sustainable environmentally friendly town IMO we shouldn't be endorsing wireless or light pollution, but yet that's exactly what we do. I'd like to know which candidates understand the gravity of our situation especially when it comes to things like the environment we live in every day.

A: Okotoks has been recognized in the past by the Astronomical Society for reducing light pollution. Our street lighting standards require downward directed light beams. Our development standards require same for commercial buildings. Costco was required to revise their lighting a couple years ago.
I support continuing with that sort of "Dark Sky" development.

Q: In the 7 and a half years I've lived here one thing has always bothered me about this town and that is the lack of in town public transit. Our disabled, youth, seniors, and people that choose not to drive, cannot easily get from point A to point B without having to walk a far distance, use the minimal cab service, ask for a ride from family/friends, etc.
I'm well aware we have the Southland commuter bus and the On-It bus. The On-It program is very commuter driven and the vehicles are much too large and expensive to run to be an in town solution, plus not accessible for disabled or parents with strollers.
What I would like to see an affordable solution that will, for example, help an independent senior get to their doctor appointment mid-day, a teen get to their after school job or extracurricular, a person get to the grocery store during the day, a parent get their baby or small child to Health and Wellness for an appointment, or a person without a car get to their job.
So my question to candidates is:
What do you plan to do, if anything, about the lack of transit in Okotoks?

A: On September 25, 2017 Council approved in principle a project that would provide an 'On Demand' system for discussion during the 2018 budget process.
I'll also point out that "affordable local transit" is a very difficult proposition. Someone pays - either at the bus, on the tax bill or private sponsorship as long as there is a willing corporate sponsor.
The option proposed has the possibility to be functional and affordable!

Q: One of the roles for Mayors and Councillors is to host and support events that reflect the make up of our community. A significant percentage of our community are directly involved in arts and entertainment or are avid supporters.
- If elected, will you host and support Arts and Cultural events in our community and how will you do that?

A: I have supported and hosted Arts and Cultural events in the community for over 20 years in Okotoks - indeed my involvement as a Director in this summer's "Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs" was my 60th consecutive production with Dewdney Players! I have been involved with hosting Regional One Act Play Festivals in Okotoks. I'd like to attract a Provincial Festival, but unfortunately, we don't have the facilities to effectively host that large of an event!

Q: Ed I give you credit for thinking outside the box, there's other things that could also help, water bills are crazy in this town, we all know this. It's great to have a roof over your head but it's important to have food on your table, shoes on your feet and some lights on while you gather around the table each night.

A: Danny - I'll share a little tidbit of information that is probably not well known or publicized regarding water rates: "a reliable source" in Provincial government has suggested that one of the reasons they have been slow to step up to funding our pipeline is that our water rates are SO LOW compared to other communities that we should just jack up the rates to pay for the construction ourselves!!!!!!!
That is some of the background to the delay!
Has Council been hiding things? Yeah, some of the political quicksand that we have been mired in, trying to be political and play nice in the sandbox.
Yeah, water rates may seem high, but with our graduated rate system, conservation measures at home can go a long way to reducing the costs of utilities. Ours is most certainly a User Pay system - use more, pay more, use less, pay less. I am proud of that!

And maybe it is time to mobilize Okotoks residents and businesses to lobby for the pipeline funding directly to government. 30,000 will be heard much louder than the 7 of us!

- Ed is there a plan B and or C if the pipeline isn't a go ahead, I always think its a responsible thing to have, does council have one in case we don't get the deal we need for the pipeline?

- There was a Plan B and a Plan C in 2013, but it was overridden at the first meeting of this Council term to just be this Plan A. I'd perhaps call it Plan D is to continue to seek Sheep River licence transfers until adequate funding is achieved. I'd take Federal support as well - to complement whatever comes from the Province. Plan E: continue and enhance conservation practises to allow the same licenced volume to provide for more people. Plan F: continue to lobby a clay-footed provincial bureaucracy to recognize innovative practices, such as 'return flow credits' which in itself would give us capacity for perhaps 100,000 residents.
Have we been fixated on one solution: NO - many, many balls in the air, with many, many talented folks involved in the discussion.
What is publicized? "that we haven't succeeded in finalizing the pipeline". Very frustrating messaging!

Q: Speed Limit:
I'm interested in actionable answers to the questions below, following my statement.
Dropping to the 40km in residential areas was hard enough, now the speed limit of 30km/h in a residential areas where there are NO parks or Schools is pushing it.
Also the speed coming into Okotoks from any direction but in particular Hwy 2A that goes from 100km/h to 60 km/h.
Our speed limits in certain areas are too low for what is normal yet still safe. I truly believe they are used as speed traps to access more money because these are the areas the police tend to sit most commonly. (no I have not received a ticket at either of these locations, just a huge pet peeve of mine and yes I do prefer to drive faster than I walk ;) )
Question:
1. Why the need for 30km/h in non-school/park areas? ie/ Cimarron Estates
2. Why the need to go from 100km to 60km outside the city rather than at least 100km to 80km to 60km (once closer to lights on Mulligan Dr and Northridge)


A: the move to lower speed limits was entirely to increase pedestrian safety! We have a very young community, with LOTS of little kids. I don't think the inconvenience of a lower speed limit is an onerous trade-off for safety of children.
The lower speeds (30 km/h) in Cimarron Estates was implemented at the request of the residents of Cimarron Estates who were concerned that the speed of traffic going through their neighbourhood was too high, especially given that there are no sidewalks on most of the streets there.
The '100 to 60" change outside Okotoks (Highway 2A) is a Provincial jurisdiction. You will notice that the 60 km/h zone is the same distance northbound and southbound - a Provincial requirement.
"Soon" - with development on D'Arcy Ranch and Wedderburn quartersections, the profile of Northridge Drive will change to a more urbanized profile, with buildings and sidewalks much closer to the road, and the limits in place will seem more logica

Door Knocking Humour:

Dog #1: "Wanna hear a joke?"

Dog #2: "Sure"

Dog #1: "Knock, kn-"

Dog #2: "Bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, . . , "



Committed to Innovative Solutions
Okotoks Chiropractic Office

Copyright Edward Sands 2017 All Rights Reserved

Dewdney Players