Grande Prairie City Hall sign (Erica Fisher, mygrandeprairienow.com staff)
The City of Grande Prairie has released a 20-year economic road map with improvements it believes need to be made to help the local economy blossom.
“The intent of the Long Term Economic Development Strategy is to help really establish a vision to where the city wants to grow,” says Senior Economic Development Officer Rebecca Leigh.
“Looking at specific action items we can take to help move us towards that ultimate vision we have for the community,” she adds.
The plan is broken down into three sections: Smart Growth, Maintaining Economic Diversity and Compete Successfully for New Investment.
Paul Blais, Executive Director for MDB Insight, the firm which helped carve out the plan, says Grande Prairie finds itself in a good position when it comes to diversifying away from the heavy influence of oil and gas.
“You have strength in agriculture, strength in the forestry sector. You’re a regional hub for government services, the hospital, the college. You’re also a regional hub in retail.”
Blais says when it comes the residents of the city, the hope is not only to keep what is traditionally considered a transient population, but to find out where they would like to live within the community, and what impacts they will have.
“That’s all about creating a better quality of life within the community so that people who are coming here for a short stint and see the opportunity they could have by being here full time.”
Leigh adds the majority of the recommendations in the plan are plucked directly from the community, trying to keep the plan as apolitical as possible.
“A big goal of developing this long term vision is to ensure we have clearly identified priorities that expand beyond administrations time, beyond individual council’s time. We are really focusing on the priorities that were set through our engagement with the community itself.”
Public consultation included 19 meetings with stakeholders, members of the public and business owners around the Grande Prairie area. The full document will be available for public consumption at a date to be determined.