The Page – March 27, 2024

“It is after you have lost your teeth you can afford to buy steaks.” – Pierre Renoir


The most popular spot for ice fishing huts on Lesser Slave Lake is in front of Joussard.
Even so, there are lots of other popular locations on the lake. Cutbank. Widewater. Slave Lake. Plus other locations that usually don’t see huts but get lots of visitors out drilling holes and fishing, with or without collapsible tents.
This year, due to thin ice, there were lots of huts that were never taken out to favourite spots. Even so, Joussard managed at least 110 by The Page’s count.
That was already down to 65 in mid-March with warm weather prompting many people to shut the season down. Huts have to be off the ice by March 31.


Local politics is a thankless job, says one perennial observer.
We can add to that observer’s comment. It is particularly thankless when, like schoolyard bullies, one’s fellow councillors gang up on one or two councillors who aren’t ‘running with the pack’ so to speak.
Usually, it is up to a reeve or mayor, as chair of a meeting, to reign in bad behaviour. In many cases, he or she just sits there watching the babble. In really bad cases, the chair actually joins into the bashing of another councillor.
That happened in Wheatland County in southern Alberta. You can read the story on albertachat.com, with more stories in the Strathmore Times newspaper.
See address below.
In this case, Wheatland County Councillor Glenn Koester was accused in a closed door meeting of a code of conduct violation. When council came out of the meeting, it announced in public Koester was accused of a violation. Koester demanded the actual accusation be made public. The rest of council refused, and reminded Koester he could not talk about closed door happenings.
Following that, and great pressure from media and voters, Koester asked several times in following council meetings the accusations be made public. He said it was damaging his reputation in the community. A majority of councillors, knowing full well this was happening, continued refusing. In fact, they always went behind the closed doors every time Koester made a motion to lift the lid on what was going on.
So Koester sued them.
As the news story goes, Koester won.
The Page talked with Koester several months ago on the happenings. He said it was absolutely ridiculous, but he would comply with council votes “out of respect for the positions, not for the councillors determined to make him look bad.”
Interestingly, Wheatland County has decided to appeal the court decision. As per normal for Wheatland, they talked about doing so behind the closed doors. Again!


Our own take on the item above, and on many other circumstances that happen in government, is there is way too much overreaching in way too may circumstances.
One big example is the common, “We can’t talk about that because it is a matter of confidentiality.”
How so?
“It’s a personnel issue.”
Or a favourite of councillors.
“It was behind closed doors so we can’t answer questions.”
This whole thing of ‘confidentiality’ may have some good intentions. The fact is, it is more and more being used as a ‘cover your ass’ trick to hide incompetence. Or in the Koester case, to hide not only incompetence, but malicious deeds.
This all might seem to be just too big an issue for any small government to get involved in. But those sincerely interested in good government for the people, and for transparency and accountability, should be taking a close look at when and where they are keeping secrets.


Another story on albertachat.com is a ‘hold on to your hat’ kind of story. It’s about farmland values in Ontario moving upwards. How does $33,000 per acre sound?
But there are more realistic values, too. $22,000 per acre. Wow!
For perspective, local price highs range around $2,000 to $2,500 per acre with lots of properties going for less. Produce and irrigation In Ontario have a lot to do with the stratosphenric prices.
Following up on that story, we understand northern British Columbia land actually dropped in value by about 3.2 per cent last year. There is a story coming on that next week on the same website.

To access the Strathmore Times story go to:
https://albertachat.com/coun-koester-wins-in-court-over-wheatland-county/

To access the Ontario land prices story go to:
https://albertachat.com/the-latest-on-southwestern-ontarios-rising-farmland-values/

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