Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - October 3, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta
Damage deposit legislation should ease local board's headaches By ANDY OGLE Herald Staff Writer A proposed new landlord tenant act that would eliminate damage deposits in their present form is to be introduced at the fall session of the Alberta legislature, a public forum on landlord tenant relations was told Tuesday Steve Wild, chairman of the city's recently- formed landlord tenant advisory board told the meeting the board has not yet received a copy of the proposed act. but he understood one section provides lor the replacement of damage deposits with .something called a rent security deposit. Under this proposal, he said, a tenant would pay an extra month's rent when he moved in and would then get the last month of his tenancy rent free. Mr. Wild said the board has received more complaints concerning damage deposits than any other area in its first month of existence. The meeting, intended to introduce the board and its function to the city attracted about 75 people to the Civic Sports Centre, and judging by the questions asked there were more landlords than tenants in attendance. Most had inquiries obviously based on per- sonal bitter experience and they revealed a Pan- dora's box of problems that have no easy solution. One woman, for instance, told of getting an agreement to rent a suite and a deposit che- que only to find a week later that the would-be tenant had changed his mind and cancelled the cheque. She was told her only resource was through the small claims court to try and recover the lost potential rent. Another landlord wanted to know if he could change locks on a tenant that hadn't paid his rent. The answer was no. because the premise is still the tenant's until proper notice has been given and the month is up. but the landlord can get a sheriff's order to seize some of the tenant's furniture to hold for payment of the rent. Mr. Wild told the meeting that of the 73 com- plaints received in the board's first three weeks. 29 came from landlords. Two complaints have resulted in formal grievances which will go before a board hearing. The board has the power to investigate com- plaints and then to advise the complainants as to the best course of action open to them but it has no way of imposing penalties if its advice is not heeded. We hope we can act as a referee." said Mr. Wild. "We feel the biggest problem is a lack of communication." Ik-cause of the nature of the board's duties it must steer a studiously neutral course offering its services to both landlords and tenants but never appearing to favor either. .Joe Mould, a member of the board, told the meeting investigations of the work of similar boards in Calgary and Edmonton showed a ma- jor part of landlord tenant problems lay in the rental agreement. "It's not good to have a verbal agreement." he said, and urged the use of a kit formulated by the board which includes a rental agreement and condition report form that, if used, protects both parties. The kits are selling for each and 25 were sold immediately after the meeting. They're available at Information Lethbridge in the Yates Memorial Centre. Mr. Wild said the question of determining what is damage and what is normal wear and tear is one ol the big headaches the board is deal- ing with. He cited as an example one complaint from a landlord about damage done by a tenant. "We checked it out and found that the rugs were a little shabby, the walls somewhat soiled and one or two locks on doors didn't work quite right. "But when we checked it out a little further, we found that the tenants had lived there for five District The Letttbtidge Herald years and during that time the landlord had not invested one cent in maintenance. "We decided the damage was normal wear and tear." Hut this story was quickly countered by a man in the audience who said he rented a suite for two months but the tenant skipped out after one month. During the month luHfad been there, he pound- ed a big nail in a new wall, left greasy tools all over a new carpet and kept a big dog who made a mess and bothered other tenants, the landlord said. "ThaJ's the other side of the coin." Hut some landlords seemed prepared to be philosophical about the whole thing. One said after the meeting: "I've had a lot more good tenants than bad. so 1 guess I'm ahead Local news SECOND SECTION Lethbridge, Alberta, Wednesday, October 3, 1973 PAGES 13-22 Subtle signs There are plenty of obvious signals that winter looms in our near future. The leaves have turned, the wind seems to chill deeper every day, dusk is slowly infringing more and more on daytime. Herald photographer Bill Groenen caught these somewhat more subtle signs of the season this week a mushroom growing from a stump in Indian Battle Park and bull- rushes turning to fluff in a marsh southeast of Lethbridge, First aid brigade slams facilities Opposition 'needs' Syncrude details By ALSCARTH Herald Legislature Bureau EDMONTON Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed should immediately release more details of the agreement with Syncrude Ltd. to develop a synthetic crude oil plant in the Athabasca Tar sands, Social Credit house leader Bob Clark said Tuesday. Mr. Clark said he made the request for disclosure in a letter to the premier the day alter Mr. Lougheed announc- ed the giant development Sept. 18. The Socred house leader said that if the deal was as good as the premier would have the province believe, the government should release the details. "To carry out our duties as responsible members of the legislature, we have to have that information and we'll get it." he said in an interview. Mr. Clark said the opposi- tion had asked for information on environmental concerns and on a start-up date for the giant operation. He also said that he and several other MLAs would make a tour of the operation at Fort McMurray in northern Alberta shortly after the ses- sion opens Oct. 10. By JIM LOZERON Herald Staff Writer The city should provide a first aid room to members of the St. John Ambulance Brigade at civic-owned sports and recreation centres, says the secretary-treasurer of the local St. John council. Stan Coxson, who says he has made two presentations to the community service department asking for better facilities, says "It's time somebody on city council got riled up to take action." There is no designated first aid room at the civic centre at two locations: the ice centre and the basketball court. And at the Adam's Ice Centre the first aid unit must share a room with officials. At Henderson Park Ice Centre, volunteers must share a room with officials during minor hockey games, although the room is set aside for doctors and first aid peo- ple when the Longhorns junior team plays. The hockey team has an agreement with the city by which the room is set aside. Mr. Coxson says the brigade attends about 10 times more recreation and minor league games than Longhorns games. "Because of the fact our children are involved and it is strictly recreational hockey which neither makes money nor attracts crowds the city feels it is not necessary to provide a first aid says Mr. Coxson. "It means we have to pack our equipment from place to place because we have no place to store it." he says. Brigade superintendent Gerry De Heer says the first aid unit must sit in the cold stands at the Civic Ice Arena, at Henderson Park Ice Centre and Adams Ice Centre. The only thing preventing St. John from withholding its first aid service is the question would be hurting more, city council or the people we say; Mr. De Heer. Mr. Coxson says he is not satisfied with the answers of the community services department to the presen- tations made by St. John. One presentation was made in August a year ago and another last August. Community services direc- tor. Bob Bartlett in a letter of Sept. 14 to the organization ex- plains first aid rooms are be- ing planned in the construc- tion of new facilities. The letter states that during minor hockey games at the Henderson Park Ice Centre the "extra room must be shared by your volunteers and the referees involved." "I am sure that you can appreciate that in this situa- tion minor hockey officials, referees, instructors are all in the position of being volunteers and all expect as fair treatment as says the letter. "I do hope you will bear with us for the coming year, and that we can mutually solve the difficulties we have." it says. Mr. Bartlett advises St. John that a parking area has been designated for first aid people at the Henderson Park Ice Centre. Mr. Coxson says the answer does not satisfy him. He says he will make another presen- tation to city council, if necessary. "These are our future citizens and our future hockey players and we are not looking after them." "If they wanted to they could put first aid rooms in. I don't swallow the argument that they can't put them in." says Mr. Coxson. "It may have been all right when all we had were outdoor arenas, but we're not driving model T's anymore." Mr. Coxson says St. John first aid service is taken for granted and that the lack of facilities is one of the reasons St. John is finding it difficult to get volunteers. "If somebody get's killed or some young person dies because there is no first aid. then the city will do something to provide the ser- vice." he says. A number of doctors work as volunteers helping the brigade says Mr. Coxsen, "but they are getting awful tired of doing it because of the condi- tion of first aid facilities." New high corn price Southern Alberta grain corn producers have been offered a new high price for their product. Pioneer Grain Co. Ltd. an- nounced Saturday a purchase price of 27 cents per bushel above the Chicago December future price for all farmers holding delivery contracts for grain corn to be used by Palliser Distillers Ltd. in Lethbridge. This price combined with a trucking allowance and a provincial government grower incentive of 40 cents per bushel would have given growers the world's highest price for grain corn. Now the Alberta Wheat Pool has announced it will pay 40 cents above the Chicago December price. A news analysis City's development pressures conflict with county By WARREN CARAGATA Herald Staff Writer A growing city has one insatiable demand land. Like a 22 square-mile ameoba in the centre of Southern Alber- ta, the City of Lethbridge. having already digested undeveloped land within its boundary, is now turning hungry eyes on the flat expanses of farmland surrounding the city. To those people who live and work on those flat expanses of farmland, the city must seem relentless in its search for new land on which to build shopping centres and high-rises and fac- tories and houses. The city's growth not only creates individual problems for rural people who see their way of life churned under by the blade of city development, but for the governments urban and rural which are trying to control and channel the growth. Special problems The development pressures in the Lethbridge perimeter pose special problems for the municipal government that has authority over both the band of land surrounding Lethbridge and a wider area of rural land outside the perimeter but which still centres on the city. Development pressures also create a potential conflict situa- tion between the Citv of Lethbridge and the County of Lethbridge. For county councillors, the problem is two-fold how to ac- commodate themselves to urban growth while, at the same time, preserving agricultural land in production. New phenomenon Counties and municipal districts in the Edmonton and Calgary areas have been faced with the contradiction for many years. But for the County of Lethbridge. it's a new phenomenon. Because the city government has more funds, a larger bureaucracy, and speaks for more people, the county often finds that it has been lost somewhere in the crowd. And that is at least a major part of the problem county councillors feel ignored, over-powered by the bigger and more powerful city government. Says Coun. Henry Nummi: "In plain words we've been ig- nored, to this point, as a small little brother." Little contact He says that in his experience, the city rarely contacts the county council on city plans that in some way affect the county. Reeve Dick Papworth points out that future expansion of the Lethbridge airport will require county land, yet city council has not contacted the county to explain its plans. Whenever the city expands, the county loses part of its small tax base through annexation of land, and to county officials, that's important. But when the city was planning the West Lethbridge development, which involved annexation of county land, county council was brought into the picture after most details had been worked out. Cut and dried "I can remember only one meeting with city council and that was just before West Lethbridge was annexed but by that time everything was cut and dried." Coun. Nummi said. An illustration of the way county councillors feel carne at the August meeting of the council when Coun. Jim Nicol accused the city of meddling in county affairs. Coun. Nicol was upset that the County would have to change its bylaws to accommodate a new business location for Marshall Auto Wreckers, which had been forced to leave the city under pressure of downtown re-development. Felt slighted Highways Minister Clarence Copithorne had written a letter to Lethbridge Mayor Andy Anderson advising him that a permit for the new Marshall's site east of the city would not be granted unless the county amended its bylaws to make the business a non-conforming use. Both councillors felt slighted because they were sent only a copy of the minister's letter. The feeling that county officials are ignored seems to be borne out in two other incidents. Both city and county sent delegations to the 1973 Summer Games in New Westminster but in a Herald story from the games, only city representatives were mentioned, even though the 1975 Winter Games, which the delegations were promoting, will be held at sites throughout Southern Alberta. When the Stewart Game Farm, located on county land south of Lethbridge. had its official opening. Mayor Anderson was in- vited the reeve was not. County manager Bob Madill doesn't think there are any par- ticular points of conflict with the city, but he does agree there hasn't been enough liaison. Reeve Papworth and Coun. Nummi both agree communica- tion has been lacking. Coun. Nummi suggests that the two councils hold three joint meetings a year to discuss common problems. This would be the best communication there would be." he said. Near-iron law "It's like with your neighbor if you don't get together, you don't know what they're doing." Increased communication can solve part of the problem, but the conflict really goes deeper than lack of communication. And to a certain extent, it goes beyond the power of either municipal government to solve it. The conflict arises from a near-iron law of urban development cities get bigger and rural areas decline. At the interface of city and country, the conflict becomes most pronounced, and highly visible. As cities grow, they need land, and much of the land sur- rounding Lethbridge is prime agricultural land which county of- ficials want to keep in production. Commuters "Especially around the city." Reeve Papworth says, "there is a lot of good land that should be kept for agriculture nobody wants to go out and settle on the coulees." With life in the city becoming more unattractive, many people are moving to country residences within commuting distance of the city, In many cases, rural acreages take farmland out of produc- tion, but in addition, it creates a demand for services which the county, with its small (compared to Lethbridge) tax base, is un- able to meet. Reeve Papworth says some of the people moving to the country are trying to evade taxes by having their acreage class- ed as a farm. Cheap taxes sought In addition, he says, most but not all. want cheap taxes com- bined with fully-serviced country living. Mr. Madill says the county doesn't have the facilities to provide sewer and water systems. Because these systems are expensive, and with its tax base, the county can't afford to provide them. And because services are better in the city, industry most often locates there, leaving the county with what "Reeve Papworth calls the dirtv end of industry, which the city doesn't want. The Oldman River Regional Planning Commission was set up in an attempt to ease the conflict through orderly planning of development. But in the commission's preliminary, regional plan, it states that a "heavy reliance on the property tax as a source of revenue leads to competition for that revenue with the result that sound land use management is often compromised." Balanced development The preliminary plan endorses a scheme of balanced develop- ment for the entire region, recognizing that under existing trends. Lethbridge will continue to expand at the expense of rural areas. The superficial problem that now exists between the county and Lethbridge can probably be resolved. A new county office across the street from city hall, coupled with Coun. Nummi's suggestion of joint meetings, can bridge the communication ?aP But the deeper problem development pressure will likely continue until the provincial government decides to release municipalities from the bondage of property taxes. If that doesn't happen, the county will continue to lose assess- ment as the city expands, and will continue to run a losing race with the city in attracting industry. If the taxing structure is changed, and the province gives municipal governments and the planning commission the Minority to foster balanced development in Southern Alberta, the real conflict between city and country could disappear.