Morinville — Less than a month after visiting the voter polls, Morinville residents will be looking towards the 2015 provincial election when Wildrose leader Danielle Smith hosts a Meet and Greet at the Rendez-Vous Centre Nov. 19. The event will include a brief public address and will then open up for a question and answer period. Because she will be in Edmonton and area until June, Smith revealed she will be making many trips out to smaller municipalities to speak with local residents.
“A lot of the issues that come up when I do these kind of town hall meetings are issues around infrastructure,” said Smith. “Is there a need for schools? Is there a need for hospitals? Is there a need for seniors’ centres? Are there intersections or highway upgrades that have been put off? Are there promises that have been made that haven’t been kept? I’m just here to listen so that there’s another voice in the legislature to speak for this community.”
During the recent 2013 municipal campaign, residents made it clear through comments on social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter that they want a stronger voice to represent the needs of the community. In the last year, there have been a number of provincial cutbacks to programs such as the Morinville Public Library’s youth Summer Reading Program and to community services such as the local Career Employment & Counselling Services Centre. The latter will close its doors this December after losing its provincial contract.
When questioned about these recent cutbacks, Smith stated that “the problem with the province is that they want to centralize all the decision making and, when you’ve got more than 350 municipalities, they are not able to make the right decisions every single time. That’s why we believe strongly in local decision making to be able to ensure the dollars are flowing through to municipalities so that the local officials can identify their priorities and have the dollars that they need to be able to fund them.”
Another problem residents have expressed concern over is the Cardiff Corner intersection, about which Smith cited the need for a Public Prioritized Project List. “The frustration for a lot of communities, and Morinville’s no exception, is they have no idea, if it’s not on the three year capital plan, whether they’re going to be waiting five years, seven years, 10 years or 15 years. We think that every single community should know where they are on the list and the criteria for how the list is made so they have some understanding of what it’s going to take to be able to get the projects completed.”
Municipal funding, infrastructure and additional topics will be open for discussion with Smith at the Meet and Greet, which takes place from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The event is open to the public.