Mayor of Parkland County recaps what has been a challenging year for the county.
It has been a whirlwind year for the county of Parkland.
Speaking with Mayor Rod Shaigec about the past year, he has a lot to look back on, but focusing on the election he believes the fact that council was fully re-elected sends a large message. He states, "I think as a reaffirmation to all the members of council that the work that the work that we have undertaken from 2013 to 2017 was certainly well received and secondly I think the residents recognize we are in a very challenging time in Parkland County and we needed to have experienced leadership moving forward".
In reference to the challenges facing the county, Shaigec is speaking more to the phaseout of coal and the impact it will have on tax revenue in Parkland. Shaigec adds that Parkland County has been in conversations with the provincial government in an effort to mitigate some of the stress the county will endure during the phaseout. He adds, "we felt we had some positive conversation, and have put forward some of the proposals we have, and we strongly feel what we have put forward will serve both the provincial government and the residents of Parkland, so we have asked the province to respond to us by the middle of January on the proposal we have put forward".
Looking back on 2017 as a whole various elements and projects stand out to Mayor Shaigec as highlights throughout the year. Speaking again to tax revenues, Shaigec says one of the key things council has done is try to find new ways of bringing in revenue. Two projects he is particularly proud of is bringing Champion Pet Foods and Pinnacle Renewable Energy. Addressing both of these facilities he explains, "combined these two facilities represent over $325,000 of capital investment and once they open they will create around 280 direct employment opportunities in Parkland County".
Upgrading the transportation infrastructure was another highlight in the year for the Mayor as he and council both recognized the significance the Acheson Industrial Area has in Parkland County. More specifically, this meant council approved funding to upgrade at Township Road 531A and Highway 60.
Another achievement Shiagec addresses is the completion of the Devonian Trail. The trail runs from the North Saskatchewan River to the botanical gardens, and Shiagec states this will better help to protect the sensitive ecological systems in addition to helping to lure more investment for tourist opportunities around the botanical gardens.
With all that went on in 2017 Mayor Shaigec had this to say, "despite the challenges we think we have made some very significant and positive moves in 2017 not only growing out economy but protecting our environment as well".
Now looking ahead to 2018, economic development is still the key focus for the Mayor of Parkland County. "Our focus will be on responsible balanced growth as we move forward and looking at ways we can attract new businesses and investment and diversify our local economy" Shaigec explains. This will be accompanied by completion of the county's growth study and the assistance of the Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board and Edmonton Global. Shaigec explains this cooperation with 13 other municipalities will help collectively to compete on a global level with other municipalities.
In terms of more services, Shaigec says the efforts will continue to help repair roads within the county as it has been a struggle due to the unpredictable weather.
Additionally, the Mayor adds Parkland County will be embarking on a fibre optics program which will bring optic cables to county homes. This program hopes to give residents faster broadband internet which will open up a ton of new opportunities on the knowledge front.
In closing, Mayor Shaigec discusses the new customer service program which will be implemented in 2018, and looks forward to annexation discussions with the City of Spruce Grove. After what was a busy 2017, 2018 already looks to be an interesting year in Parkland County.