BY KALISHA MENDONSA
Lacombe City council is currently working to define and finalize the City’s 10 Year Capital Plan, which was reviewed at the most recent council meeting, with a number of changes added for continued discussion.
Mayor Steve Christie said many changes are to come to the document, but that council is on its way to a definition. Council is currently gearing up to finalize the City’s budget and monitoring ongoing projects – factors that will help to carve out the final version of the plan.
Council discussed issues they had with the plan, expressing concern over some major projects that needed to be considered for future budget allocations.
As well, members of council discussed concerns over some of the proposed future costs, including projected costs towards fleet upgrades, infrastructure developments and debt management.
“The 10 Year Capital Plan is an important document, and a living document,” said Christie.
“There are things in there that can be removed upon completion of ongoing projects. For example, we have items in the document that are being included in the arena upgrades, and we will be able to take those out after those upgrades are complete. As well, we’ve got mention in the plan of some wastewater issues but we will be taking those out once our regional line is complete.”
Members of council deliberated on certain priorities of the City in order to add several major projects to the document for later discussion.
These projects – including the C4 Initiative, land development concerns and downtown planning upgrades – will be deliberated further and amended or removed from the 10 Year Capital Plan as necessary.
Certain projects such as the C4 Initiative require documented support or interest from the City in order for the groups managing the project to apply for provincial or federal funding and grants.
“We have to put some of those items on to look at down the line. That is going to make the document look a little wonky but we have to have those items added so we can see what the later implications are,” Christie explained.
“It’s a ten year plan, so we have to consider how items might affect the community now but also how they will affect the community in four or six or 10 years from now. It’s a complicated document.”
Another major concern that was added to the document for future review was an issue known as the West Area Development in the northeast corner of the City at the intersection between Hwy. 12 and Hwy. 2.
Lacombe City and County councils have agreed to work together in order to bring services such as water and sewage to that area for future development.
Christie said this has been an issue brought before council many times before with little success, but that they are now closer than ever to having that issue resolved.
“The capital cost to get services out there is supported by off-site levies and both County and City council have made the decision to sit down and partner in getting services out to that area. When there are two or three partners working on projects like that, they become much more achievable,” Christie said.
He said development in that area would open up new revenue streams for the City and council in terms of taxes, business growth and increased traffic in and around Lacombe.
The 2017-2026 Capital Plan was significantly updated to reflect several changes including the inclusion of the Hwy. 12 Infrastructure program in 2017, updates to the Fleet and IT Equipment replacement programs, an updated trail plan, deferral of airport projects to begin in 2018 rather than 2017 and more.
Major deferrals include certain C&E Trail upgrades being moved to 2027 or later, Annual Infrastructure Program projects to 2018 from 2017, major trail work to 2026 and the new Public Works Building being deferred to 2028.
As it stands, the document was accepted as information by council with an official announcement and adoption to take place next year.