It was the wet weather that had the biggest impact on the County of Grande Prairie over the past year. In her State of the County address at Evergreen Park Thursday, Reeve Leanne Beaupre says the region got some of the worst weather she can remember.
“We had many [infrastructure] projects that were either delayed or carried over, so we’re working hard to get those projects… the infrastructure and the roads that we have to have that keep people busy, moving to work, to schools, and it really is dependent for the economic development of the region.”
The County’s budget for 2017 included $33.2 million for capital road projects, and council invested another $20 million for improvement projects in June. Beaupre adds that the constantly wet weather also directly affected the region’s economy.
“We had road bans on earlier and longer than we wanted to and that affects industry; when they can move, whether they’re going at night, and it also affects their bottom line too.”
Looking ahead, Beaupre sees the proposed changes to Alberta’s electoral boundaries as the next hurdle for the municipality. The province’s commission has recommended creating a completely urban electoral division made up of most of the city of Grande Prairie, and moving some of the western part of the county into Dunvegan-Central Peace-Notley.
Beaupre would rather keep things as they are, especially as the county’s population continues to grow. She points out that those residents moved into the Dunvegan-Central Peace-Notley riding would have to travel over the Saddle Hills to get to their representative in Fairview.
“There is only one type of taxpayer in the province of Alberta, and if they’re not getting the same opportunity to access their MLAs to have their concerns and issues addressed, then the representation just is not equal and distance is a big issue.”
The electoral boundaries commission will be in Grande Prairie to hear from residents on July 17th, and Beaupre encourages anyone with concerns to attend or reach out to the province in other ways.
Difficulties aside, the past year has also brought positives to the region. The County is working to better embrace technology, taking online reservations for Pipestone Creek Campground. Beaupre highlighted in her speech that they now have six enhanced RCMP officers who are fully paid for by the county, and their partnership with the Horse Lake First Nation means members are now trained to fight fires.
More planning is in the works to protect the Wapiti River while improving the spot for recreation use, and council is still taking feedback on their 50 year growth strategy. Beaupre says they’re also moving forward with the City of Grande Prairie and MD of Greenview on a master recreation plan.
“We talked about an initiative to hire an individual that will manage the direction that the board will be giving it. It really is an individual that would be looking at the advertising, the marketing, over and above what municipalities already do for themselves.”
The idea is to make sure that the region is recognized as a one-stop shop for recreation.