Last year continued to see Lacombe move forward, and Mayor Grant Creasey expects further development and growth through 2023.
“We had lots of high points through the year,” said Creasey, adding that some of the more enjoyable events included the opening of the Vesta Fish & Fetch Park, the inclusion of E-Scooters around the community through the summer months, and the construction of the ‘Heart of Lacombe’ sculpture at the southeast corner of Lest We Forget Park which came about after months of collaboration and planning work by the DARP (Downtown Area Redevelopment Plan) Committee.
“It’s a great photo point for visitors, and we can add it to the list of ‘must-see’ spots in Lacombe all year round, and especially in the winter with the beautiful lights at the LMC,” he said.
Creasey said DARP was formed to help oversee the long-term development of the downtown core, with more projects coming up in the next couple of years.
Other hugely successful events this past year included Lacombe Days and the massively popular Light up Lacombe in late November, which attracted thousands out to enjoy a parade and plenty of other seasonal activities and events around the community.
On the infrastructure said, Creasey noted that there were extensive improvements made to City roads last year as well.
“All year round, people are appreciative of it,” he said, adding that overall, the City’s approach to these upgrades has been systemic and organized. That’s thanks to council and administration’s instigation of a system where funds are used in a way that benefits the community at large, he noted.
Matt Goudy, the City’s chief administrative officer, also pointed out that Lacombe is, compared to many other municipalities, in a financially enviable position overall.
“We are able to keep tax rate increases to the CPI or below,” he said, adding that the City’s books will be finalized in the next couple of months and a healthy surplus is expected.
“We’ve also had some partnerships with local agencies like Vesta Energy that have helped put the City in a great financial position. And we’ve seen our best development numbers in years,” said Goudy, adding that a lot of things seemed to come together in 2022, helped by a diminishing pandemic which at its height generated a constant level of uncertainty.
Goudy also pointed to the recent expansion of the Community Builder Grant Program as a step forward as well.
“They’ve created a $100,000 annual grant program that supports community partnerships for capital programs, events, recreation, arts, and culture programming – and that is all distributed through the Lacombe and District Recreation, Parks and Culture Board,” he explained. “This provides ongoing partnerships to deliver new services within Lacombe using community resources. A lot of that comes from being in a healthy financial position and being able to create these programs and effectively manage them,” he said.
“One of the really positive things we also saw over the summer here was a return to the City’s focus on historic resources and heritage designations. We were actually successful in municipally designating three different properties this year,” said Goudy.
Looking ahead, Creasey said the construction of a new public works facility is definitely in view.
“It’s definitely needed. There are parts of the current facility that were built pre-World War Two actually. We are long overdue in my opinion, so we are expecting that to be a major change in location and in operations for the City,” he said, adding that a number of municipal departments will be housed there as well.
Another major addition to the community will be the accessible fishing dock project, said Goudy. Construction is planned to begin in February.
Last fall, Council approved a Community Builder Partnership Grant of $75,000 to the Lacombe Fish & Game Association (LFGA) for the new dock to be built at Len Thompson Pond.
LFGA plans to construct an expanded, fully accessible, and pedestrian-friendly fishing dock with a target completion date of June. Several funders are also supporting the project including the LFGA, Team Jigger, Len Thompson Fishing Lures, CFEP (the Community Facility Enhancement Program), and Lacombe County.
Meanwhile, Creasey said he’s looking forward to a positive and exciting year for 2023.
“We have got so many people who are also invested in this community through their volunteer work, who continue to help make Lacombe a very enviable place to live. We consistently rank high because of the lifestyle that is available for everyone here in Lacombe,” he said.
“Overall, I’ll stack this community up against anywhere else when you look at it in a holistic way. It all boils down to the people who live here, and I’m happy to be a part of it.”