I hope this newsletter finds you all well. It has been a remarkable time for most of us since the beginning of March. Working from home, learning how shop online (I already knew how to do this well according to my husband!), wearing masks and sanitizing our hands and our homes more than likely they ever were before. Canada is in good shape and here’s hoping that other countries, especially the USA, a place I know we all like to visit, soon starts to show signs of recovery.
June brought a return to the County office for meetings. While there is much to be said about the convenience of working from home, saving on commute times and gas – I think it is good to see people in person, albeit from six feet away! Council has plexiglass partitions in-between each seat on Council (as does staff) and seating is limited in the Council chambers in order to comply with AHS guidelines. All said, we are adjusting and I’m glad to be back. Work of course continued, and for those public hearings we got behind on in the first couple of months, we held three Council sessions in July to ensure we caught up.
Last month I told you about a large investment into new space in RVC. What I wasn’t able to share, but is now public, is that Lowes Canada is building a major logistics centre near the County office which will contribute about $800,000 in taxes annually to RVC. Our economic development team is hard at work ensuring that we are a top consideration for business as they open up new or relocate businesses. Deputy Schule and myself are part of an Economic Task Force that just began, along with business leaders, the Chamber of Commerce, and internal staff including our economic development team. We are brainstorming how we can support local business, everyone from small home- based businesses and small businesses to large industries – not only to attract new, but to keep what we have! A balanced community is important and it serves no one well when businesses fail. We just began this task force and already have come up with many ideas that we are now researching!
Springbank Recreation Update: I haven’t received any official confirmation of the MSI funds (Municipal Sustainability Initiative) that we applied for a number of weeks ago, but I’m hopeful we’ll hear soon. That will be approximately $1M of funds to improve and add to our recreation in Springbank. Some much needed capital improvement to the Springbank Park for All Seasons, along with a small dog park in Commercial Court (hopefully open by the end of August). We still have another $1M +/- of recreation funds allocated for Springbank and I’ve been working with the Springbank Community Association, the Park for All Seasons, the trails and pathway folks, as well as our recreation department identifying potential projects – I’ll keep you posted. As you can likely imagine, dollars for recreation aren’t likely to increase any time soon.
We have more and more demand for funds, but with an anticipated lower assessment value for 2021, without a tax increase, we will have less dollars coming in. That is why it is extremely important to continue to add value to our community through improved amenities, such as recreation so that home prices won’t drop as much – or at least sell quicker if you are in that position. As well, I continue to work to identify other ways we can find money for recreation, such as land disposal. If we sell lands, I have made motions for those proceeds to be tucked away for recreation. This way we can have a nest egg of funds should the County not have the available budget for a project.
This past month I made a motion to direct administration to find a way to bring high speed internet to communities, this motion was co-sponsored by Clr. Gautreau. While this won’t be a County system, it will be a way for a community to come together to fund the infrastructure required, through a local improvement tax which could supply fibre to gain high speed internet. This won’t be a solution for everyone, but it will be a mechanism to make this happen. This motion was passed unanimously, and we’ll have a process ready for September. I look forward to giving residents another choice.
Ultimately, we can wait for the feds or the Alberta Government to fund this (and there may be grants available) but in the meantime, I have heard you and these past few months have absolutely demonstrated the need for a solution. I’m hoping the Elon Musk low altitude satellites will be another option soon and eliminate the need for costly trenching of fibre!
Stay well, enjoy your summers. I hope that the world becomes a little safer for everyone and that we take care of each other!
Councillor, Division 2