Two candidates — one local and one from near Calgary — have been hired and began work for the Village of Canal Flats as business liaisons in mid-March.
Both Diana Brooks from the Radium Hot Springs-based Brooks and Associates and Chris Fields from Okotoks-based Rynic Communications were announced as the successful applicants during the village’s Monday, March 14th council meeting.
The long-awaited business liaison position, funded through a $50,000 Columbia Basin Trust grant in the wake of the closure of the Canal Flats Canfor sawmill, is a central piece of an economic development strategy being pursued by the village as it considers means of diversifying away from its now-departed single largest employer.
The liaisons’ tasks will include investigating possible public-private partnerships and carrying out a community visioning process for the village.
In January, Mayor Ute Juras told the Canal Flats Economic Development Working Group that the village had at that time narrowed down a shortlist of three candidates. Council had planned to hire one person, but determined that Brooks’ and Fields’ skill sets were complementary, so both were hired.
Brooks, a former regional manager for the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, had recently retired, but will now serve as lead for the contract, and will focus on business expansion, retention and retraction.
Fields will look after community engagement and marketing. He brings 24 years of marketing and communications experience to the position. His LinkedIn profile describes his work with more than 50 communities and community development organizations in B.C., Alberta, and Ontario over the past five years, as well as clients in land development, radio, product packaging, promotional products, information technology, electrical contracting, and energy.
Logging trucks given road use permit
A one-time temporary road use permit was granted to Canal Flats’ Hoobanoff Logging to use sections of Grainger Road and Beatty Avenue as a truck route to move their heavy equipment from now until August 31st. Juras noted the issue has been heard by council before, and arises from the fact that power lines along some streets in the village hang somewhat low where they connect to individual homes, making it difficult for logging operators to use those routes.
Coun. Marie Delorme had some reservations about issuing the permit, noting heavy trucks could potentially be going past Martin Morigeau Elementary School while children are walking to school.
“They are not bringing loaded log trucks to the shop most of the time; they’re bringing machinery to the workshop,” noted public works manager Bill Doroshuk.
“I’m really not comfortable saying it’s OK for all these big trucks to go by,” said Delorme.
Council suggested Hoobanoff Logging also contact Shaw and Telus to inquire about getting power and phone lines raised on certain streets. Chief administrative officer Sylvie Hoobanoff declined to participate in the discussion, as she is related to an owner of the business.
$60,000 remaining in water line grant
Canal Flats council approved a modification agreement to allow the village to receive the final $60,000 of a $400,000 Towns for Tomorrow grant received from the province two years ago to allow for a new drinking water system connecting the village core to its outlying developments.
Interim chief financial officer Cheryl Otting advised council that a formal agreement would be needed by the end of March to receive the remainder of the money, after $340,000 was received by the village several years ago.
CAO termination questioned
Long-time Canal Flats resident Jerome Froehlich questioned why the village of Canal Flats recently parted ways with chief administrative officer Brian Woodward, but was given little information by Juras, who explained the details of Woodward’s contract are confidential.
“We mutually agreed to part ways,” said Juras, who said any details around possible severance pay could not be discussed in public.
“I have a bit of a problem with that,” replied Froehlich. “I understand people don’t all get along. What I’ve been hearing, and I know it is hearsay, is that we paid out substantial money to end his contract. If that is the case — the Village of Canal Flats isn’t that rich.”
“This council is very conscious of how we spend money, especially in the situation that we are in now,” responded Juras. “Rest assured we are taking very good care of your tax dollars.”
“I hope this happened in the best interests of Canal Flats and not for personal reasons,” replied Froehlich.