by Lucie Roy
Morinville News Correspondent
It was a packed hall at the Rendez-Vous Centre on Thursday night where Sturgeon County Mayor Tom Flynn announced his intention to run for mayor for a second term.
In his opening statements, Flynn said, “During my first term as your Mayor we’ve made improvements in everything we do. I’m especially proud that we are now showing other municipalities a better way. Others are learning from the way we provide service to the public and work with our neighbours.”
Flynn reflected on his idea of In Everything We Do, We Want Better and the many accomplishments in the County in the last four years; the identification of best practices and implementing that to written policy, clear standards and measurements for success, established priorities and identified needs and the Cost Effective Service Excellence that guides their actions.
He spoke of the raised expectations of what is possible and the improved work environment and the County’s CAO being nationally recognized as a finalist for CAO of the year in 2015. More public engagements and Let’s Talk Roads series was also covered as well as the Online Services website portal for residents to voice their opinions.
“Alberta Venture Magazine has ranked Sturgeon County as the number 1 highest rated county in Alberta in which to do business,” Flynn said. “All these things build confidence in the county as a great place to do business.”
Accomplishments in the last four years included the new Fire Hall, a Water Reservoir expansion in the Sturgeon Valley Area, the replacement of the Wastewater Lift Station in Cardiff, and current work on a water line to Alcomdale. The Northwest Refinery is nearing completion and the County is working to get approval for Phase 2. The creation of the Sturgeon Regional Emergency Management Plan is now in place for any emergency that is too big for one municipality to handle.
Flynn said they completed the Sustainable Road Improvement Strategy and the result is that hundreds of kilometres of roads will be rebuilt and repaired in the next 6-10 years.
“We are planning to spend $80 million dollars on road improvements over the next three years,” Flynn said. “Finding the money we need will be a priority. Making sure the money is well spent is a promise. This will be well measured and well managed.”
Flynn said they have more than 1500 kilometres of roads in the county and they have a plan for construction, maintenance and ongoing improvements as well as addressing drainage concerns.
Rebuilding relationships with the Province and other municipalities was one thing done in the last four years which in turn has provided the County with major assistance from the province for energy projects and transportation improvements. Alberta Energy agreed to a request from the County for a smaller footprint for an approved plant by Fort Hills, this freed up land which helped to bring in the Billion Dollar Pembina plastic plant to the Heartland Industrial area in the county, and the design work has begun on this project.
The $4 billion Polypropylene Pellet Plant will turn low-value natural gas products, like propane into higher value consumer plastics. This will be a major boost to the local economy and to the energy sector.
Alberta Transportation is now investing in Provincial highways in Sturgeon, including highway 44, 37, 28, 28A, 825 and 643. Also regional transportation improvements are now being acted upon by the province. This has led to the start of a Regional Economic Development Project and how the concept of a shared investment and shared benefit is to be the norm for the entire capital region of Alberta.
What the Future Holds-After the election
Flynn said that after the election he wants to begin working on an Agriculture Master Plan to look forward 20 years or more.
“Planning for the future of agriculture has never been more important for our County as well as our nation,” Flynn said, noting the work would involve agribusiness of all kinds and the protection of agriculture land to keep the youth on the land and in the industry.
After the election, Flynn said work would commence on the Inter-municipal Collaborative Framework to develop projects and agreements of mutual economic benefit when the opportunity arises.
Another project is the County Campus which Flynn said needs more study and consultation. The aim was the amalgamation of the nine county offices that are scattered within the county.
Other items on his agenda if re-elected is to obtain a secure, long-term supply of gravel at stable prices for the roads, planning to meet the recreation needs of the county, conducting a Recreation Operating Grant review and improving quality of life though cooperation with others.
Flynn said they also need to be thinking about business diversification and growing the assessment in all sectors over the next years and decades, which includes more value added in the Heartland, the Villeneuve Airport and an agriculturally based commercial park.
Also on his agenda is to continue working with Morinville in reaching an agreeable formula for a future Recreation Centre as is the finalizing of a plan for the future of Sturgeon Valley. Also the Build Sturgeon Fund to finance needed community infrastructure and projects and development of the Regional Growth Plan which will protect farmland and prevent 40,000 acres of farmland from going out oif production.
“I believe in the things that unite us and the best is yet to come,” Flynn said. “I love working for the residents of Sturgeon County. I’m proud of my history of public service, both with the County and many service organizations. I’m inspired by the opportunities ahead, and I have a passion for building for the future. I can’t wait to see what Sturgeon County looks like in four years. This is my vision for the future, and I need your support to make it happen. That is why I’m running for Mayor.”