Highlighting several goals and plans for the coming year and beyond, Mayor Grant Creasey delivered the State of the City address Wednesday at the Lacombe Memorial Centre.
The talk, hosted by the Lacombe and District Chamber of Commerce, focused on the vision Creasey and the new council – voted in last October – have in general for Lacombe.
“It was just three short months ago that our municipal elections concluded, and I want to thank the residents of Lacombe for placing their trust and faith in a very good council,” he said. “Our backgrounds vary, but we have a common vision – to increase openness and accountability in government, to better engage the public on important civic issues, and to promote growth by overcoming any barriers to economic development,” he said.
Creasey said that even during tough economic times, the City has grown at a steady pace. “Perhaps not as fast as we would like, but steady.”
He noted several projects completed over the past year such as the major construction work done in the downtown core, giving credit as well to the former City leadership team. “I’m happy to report that this project is largely complete,” he said, also pointing to the expansion of the Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex which wrapped up last summer.
“This facility is now barrier-free, and a viable, regional sports hub for decades to come.”
More partnerships were established over the year as well, which the current council will continue to work with – such as with Lacombe County and the Lacombe Airport.
“I want to thank Reeve Law and the County council for their collaboration. The City is proud of the long-standing and positive relationship we have with Lacombe County – we are honoured to be part of a great partnership that has led to many positive outcomes for both communities. I see no reason why that won’t continue well into the future.”
Looking forward, Creasey said much of the council’s initial emphasis will be on establishing a more open, accountable system of government including recorded votes and live streaming of council meetings.
“The goal is for transparency and openness. We are committed to conducting our business in an open, transparent and accountable fashion,” he said. “We want to embed these important principles right within our statutes, procedures, policies and bylaws,” he said. On that note, amendments are currently being explored to the procedural bylaws.
The goal is to bolster engagement in the work of government and the civic decisions that directly affect the public at large.
“I know that all of council appreciates the public’s interest and their input,” he added, referring also to residents’ input on the budget cycles.
Other key goals are to be increasingly fiscally prudent and to ensure nothing stands in the way of Lacombe’s business development, he said. “A strong economy is required to build a solid community,” he said, noting that the trend of the past few years has been positive.
“To achieve these goals, it is clear that government cannot bring about change on its own,” he said, adding that all sectors need to be part of the process of encouraging new enterprise and investment.
Council is however working on a number of fronts to help the local business community succeed, he said, pointing to the municipal development plan for example. “These plans allow the City to manage and approve standards and types of land development based on sound urban guidelines and practices.
“We’re doing everything within our legal authority to help this development along, but we are waiting – just like everyone else is – for the owners and developers to announce their decisions,” he said, adding the City is also working to revise the land use bylaw in an effort to cut down on red tape that may inhibit growth as well.