Thursday, October 16, 2014

Summer/Early Fall Update

Here's some of what I've been up to for the past couple months:

Personal Vaycay
Cally and I spent the first part of the summer fulfilling a dream of ours to go to Europe.  We toured around seven countries for five weeks and were able to really experience a number of different cultures.  It was also an excellent learning opportunity as I got to see how cities operate over there.  We kept up a travel blog if that piques your interest.

Tourism Strategy
Council has been working on City-specific tourism strategy to compliment our position within the Grande Prairie Regional Tourism Association.  Several discussion points included how we can capitalize on the opening of the dinosaur museum, what we can do with signage and boulevards to beautify the city, and whether there is a need for a big attraction (possibly world's largest something??).

Downtown Enhancement
Council has had a couple of visioning sessions where we've discussed what we'd like downtown to be.  We will be engaging the public for feedback in the coming months.  We are currently waiting on a report that will identify all the sewer/waterline/storm water infrastructure upgrades that will be needed should we decide to encourage higher density development.

Montrose Site
In conjunction with the downtown enhancement project, we have began making plans for the empty Montrose site to the south of Montrose Cultural Centre. While nothing has been written in stone, there seems to be much support for a performing arts/multimedia centre and a town square/green space. 

Seven Generations Tour
Several Council members took part in a tour of a number of Seven Generations wellsites.  It was valuable to see firsthand the level of oil and gas activity in the area.  It's good for Council to have an ear to the ground with regards to economic activity as we can be better informed as to the anticipated pressure that will be put on the City's infrastructure and services.

Deputy Mayor/Community Events
I served my first term as Deputy Mayor and had the chance to run my first Council meeting (fyi--everyone survived).  I was able to attend several events put on community groups including:  Youth Emergency Shelter, Ronald McDonald House, Big Brother/Big Sisters, Free the Children, PACE, CSD Homeless Initiatives, Suicide Prevention Resource Centre, and the Mission Heights Neighbourhood Association. 

Wapiti Corridor Planning Society
We are currently working with residents of Grovedale who have had some concerns with the plan.  The Society will be working with Sustainable Resource Development to incorporate our recommendations into their Land Use Framework.  Consultations on the Framework begin in the new year.  You can find out more about the plan here.

Joint municipal meetings
We have held a couple meetings with our municipal neighbours to discuss a number of topics ranging from regional transportation priorities to water lines to advocacy efforts.  It's always great to connect with other Councillors in the region to hear their perspectives.

Municipal Symposium on Regional Governance
At the beginning of September we hosted a symposium where we brought together advocates and critics regional municipal governments.  The information that was provided was highly valuable.  You can watch clips of the symposium here.

Special Olympics
I was appointed to the 2015 Alberta Special Olympics board earlier this year where I've taken on the responsibility of making sure each of the 850 athletes and coaches are fed during their 3 days here.  I've been able to meet a lot of new people and am having a lot of fun with it!

Council attended the yearly meeting of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association.  It was a great time to meet with colleagues across the province and to meet with provincial cabinet ministers.  There has been a strong push for significant changes to municipal systems as the Municipal Government Act is reviewed.

City Council and staff have been gearing up for budget in one month's time.  Starting Nov. 13th, we begin deliberations for the upcoming 4-year budget cycle.  We are going to be using some new engagement tools to get public input on the stay tuned!

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