The Northern Alberta Development Council is looking to follow up on a recommendation from the Fair Deal Panel on regional strategies for northern development. Board Chair MLA Tracy Allard says though she is not yet able to provide specific information, potential development of multi-modal, or “transportation utility,” corridors across northern Alberta are on the table.
These would include broadband, utilities, road, and rail access from the northwest to the northeast of the province without having to detour through Edmonton.
“It would be the idea that you pre-determine these corridors and then interested parties can plug-and-play and be part of this corridor,” says Allard. “So it would be a place where broadband would go through, rail if necessary would go through, roadways would be built there; it would be predetermined, pre-approved and it would make it much easier for those large infrastructure projects to occur.”
“We’ll be working with our municipal partners, and partners right across the north, Indigenous groups, to flesh out a nuts-and-bolts plan for the north rather than just ideals,” she adds. “Ideals are great but I’m a practical person so how do we take that ideal and move the needle and get moving on that and get somewhere on that.”
The Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism Tanya Fir recently appointed five members to the Council to promote growth in northern Alberta. All five appointees, including two new members and three reappointments, are longtime residents of northern Alberta. Included in those reappointed is Cody Beairsto, who has previously served one year as president and four years as a member of the Grande Prairie and District Chamber of Commerce.
Omer Moghrabi, mayor of Lac La Biche County, and Loretta Lieverse, a partner with MNP’s Assurance Services team in Grande Prairie, will be joining Peter Cardinal, Cody Beairsto, and Jason Schulz on the council. Each member was identified through their involvement in their respective northern communities. Fir has identified each member will serve a two-year term.
Though having recently taken over as chair of the council, Allard says she is keen on establishing a clear direction for where she would like to see the council direct its efforts, and prioritize fleshing out an action-oriented northern development strategy.
“I only joined the council as chair last December. I’m a firm believer that you can, if possible join work that’s already in progress and I really wanted to clearly understand what was happening, and did we have a clear mandate and goal; and we had a fair bit of work to do there,” she says.
The council further serves to help essentially translate and clarify dialogue between the government and northern Albertans, as well as provide recommendations to government to help plan for the future of the region.