At a regular meeting earlier this week, Blackfalds Town council voted to adopt the 2014 Municipal Sustainability Plan after making a few revisions to the final draft.
The Plan is reviewed and revised as needed on an annual basis and following each municipal election, a community input process is taken. At the Aug. 26th meeting, Economic Development and Communications Officer Jennifer Hartigh presented council with recommendations for revision after public input.
The Town sought input through a number of avenues as part of its engagement process. Hartigh said the Town posted a survey on its web site, invited comments through the Town Facebook site and had a presence at the Blackfalds Farmers’ Market, Blackfalds Days, the Abbey Centre, Town office and library.
The five questions asked residents what they most valued about Blackfalds, what it was like for them to live there, what changes they would most like to see, what their future longterm hopes for Blackfalds were and how they can help to realize those goals.
Top answers to questions one and four were somewhat contradictory, with responses indicating residents valued Blackfalds’ size and its small town feel but also saying they would like to see continued sustainable growth without losing that small community feel.
“If you take a look at the things we are doing – the Abbey Centre isn’t something a small town has, those are kind of big town things,” said Councillor William Taylor. “Everybody I talk to wants to see the advantages of a growing community, they don’t want to see any disadvantages.”
“There was a real dichotomy that folks had,” said Hartigh. “They wanted services and they wanted programs and they wanted us to grow but they also wanted us to stay a small town.”
Administration still proposed rewording Section 6.4.1 of the plan to read, “To plan and implement sustainable Town growth with a focus on commercial and industrial development.” rather than the previous wording, “To balance Town growth from primarily residential development, by increasing commercial and industrial development.”
Councillor Richard Poole was unsure about how the change benefitted the plan, as no changes to strategies were recommended.
At the recommendation of Chief Administrative Officer Myron Thompson, the wording was changed to, “To balance sustainable Town growth from primarily residential development and focus on increased commercial and industrial development.”
Two other wording changes were made – one to include consideration for residents looking for more accessible housing in terms of mobility and one to include support for small to medium enterprises as well as home-based businesses and services in marketing.
Prior to voting on the proposed revisions and adopting the plan, Mayor Melodie Stol voiced her support.
“I think that the Municipal Sustainability Plan and the recommended changes remain to be a good way to continue to bring the community forward to look at all sides of an issue.”