MLA Stier visits with Pincher Creek town council before spring session -Pincher Creek Echo

Wildrose MLA Pat Stier appeared before town council at their committee of the whole meeting on Wednesday, Mar. 4 as part of his travels around the large Livingstone-Macleod riding.

Stier was visiting with the various councils in his riding to prepare for the upcoming legislative session in Edmonton. The provincial representative said that the meetings could benefit council as well.

"It's important to me for a number of reasons but it's an opportunity for you as a council to perhaps share with me some of the things that have been giving you issues of late," Stier said. "Some things, that sometimes, an opposition member can bring to the attention of the government that they often don't want necessarily brought out."

"It's great to see everyone on a regular basis and I try to keep in tune as much as I can," he said.

After referring to the defection of nine Wildrose MLAs including then party leader Danielle Smith to the PC party late last year as the "Christmas situation" Stier talked about his party's opposition responsibility.

"Obviously our opposition role has changed somewhat," Stier said, noting their research and communications team was reduced.

"Still, nonetheless we're out there doing the same things we have been doing," Stier said. "Bringing to the attention of the public and the press and everyone else issues that we think they need to know about or what the government is doing and not doing and maybe should be doing better."

The MLA's responsibilities have grown since the defection. In addition to reviewing Sustainable Resource Development, Stier added the Transportation, Infrastructure and Municipal Affairs files to his critics portfolio.

"I'm now back on one of my favourite topics, municipal affairs," Stier said, who is a former Foothills MD councillor. "With that being the case, I am an extremely busy guy compared to before."

Stier says he is intrigued by issues in each file.

"There has been a lot of interesting things going on in the past few months with respect of those portfolios," he said.

In the Pincher Creek area, "The most controversial topic always seems to be the power lines and wind development," he said.

Stier said he lost count how many emails and calls he received from constituents after AltaLink held recent public meetings about their Castle Rock Ridge to Chapel Rock project.

"The message seems to be the same," the MLA said. "These people are concerned about the amount these power lines are being proposed and continue to be a thing they think is a negative impact on the view shed... The general feeling is, and I share this too and I'm proud to say so, is I think for the future we need to know what the long range plan is. We need to know if there is a limit on how far these things should proceed."

Stier says he will push in some ways available to him to, "ensure the Alberta Utilities Commission does have a proper needs assessment done on all these things."

Beyond power lines Stier says he is paying attention to other infrastructure issues in Pincher Creek, including the need for upgrades at Crestview Lodge.

"It's very disturbing to think that we all at sometime or other walk around in our lives and hope that those types of services and facilities will be okay when we have to make use of them," Stier said. "And it must be pretty scary for the people who are having to endure situations where there are things that appear to be not up to standard and not acceptable."

Other issues Stier is interested in include the flood mitigation plans happening around Calgary, disaster recovery applications from 2013 and upgrades to Highway 3. He also touched on the situation with rural ambulance service in southern Alberta and how the MD of Willow Creek purchased their own emergency vehicles.

"They're trying to be on top of that issue and I think it's terrible that we have a government that can't, I think, after seven years of trying to centralize that thing and they can't provide the service," he said. "I think it's absolutely pathetic."

Stier and the Wildrose Party are expecting a spring election. Stier also noted that his opponent from the previous election, Evan Berger, had secured the PC nomination for the riding.

"We do feel there will be an election. I think everybody is pretty well convinced of that," he said. "I don't think it makes sense for them to be doing this at this time but it seems that's what they want to do."

While Stier is not sure how long the fall legislative sitting will actually last if an election is called but he says "it should be an interesting session nonetheless."

Council also brought some issues and projects to the MLA's attention during the meeting. Stier and the councillors discussed the town's water treatment intake issues, the Windy Slopes emergency room upgrade project, and Bill 10.

Councillor Tammy Rubbelke specifically asked Stier what the Wildrose Party's position was on gay-straight alliances in schools.

"As for various groups that are in schools or communities or whatever, they should be allowed to have whatever kind of clubs they want to have," Stier said. "If they so wish to have one in the school I think they should work with their school board to see if they can have one of those. Should it be legislated to be mandatory? That's the big question we had to scrap about last time."

Stier urged the councillors to contact him anytime they have community concerns.