The year 2014 was a big one for Lacombe in terms of infrastructure development, building community spirit and seeing projects to completion. The New Year will see much of the same, with a large emphasis on residential development.
Several projects came together in 2014, including hosting the men’s provincial curling championships in February, the development of the Best Western Plus Lacombe Inn & Suites and the development of 15 acres of industrial land.
“There were a lot of things happening this year. A lot of things came to fruition in 2014 that had been irons in the fire for a few years. Our hotel was built, and that was something that we were working on for three or four years. There were some commercial buildings beside that hotel and some also in the industrial area,” said Mayor Steve Christie.
“We developed 15 acres of our industrial land this year, too, out of the 35 acres that we purchased. We’re going to be using 10 acres of that for our new public works facility in the years to come.”
Infrastructure development was something that Christie said was big in 2014. He also said that the City’s capital works program went very well, even though the capital budget was lower than years previous due to work on Hwy. 2A in 2012 and 2013.
“A lot of things came in under budget this year, like our industrial land projects. We always like to see that happen. We also repaired some roads and streets and did a lot of dirt-work in developing residential areas such as Sheppard Heights.”
Lacombe was also connected to Blackfalds and Red Deer with a brand-new regional transportation service this year, which launched in July. The service has been well used so far, according to Christie, and the City is accepting feedback on how the system is working so far.
The service has been well used so far, according to Christie, and the City is accepting feedback on how the system is working. “It’s amazing to walk out of my office and see a City bus go by – it still feels like a novelty,” he said.
Something that Christie said he was very proud to see in the past year was abundant volunteerism.
“It kicked off with the men’s provincial curling championships we hosted in February of 2014. It takes a lot of people to make that happen. We’ve never hosted an event to that scale and we came through with flying colours due to the volunteerism by the people of Lacombe who were out, supporting that event and making it happen. It was -35C and -30C, and they still filled that arena during almost every day of that event,” he said.
Last year also was marked by two major events that struck the community – the passing of Bill Nielsen and the tragic hit-and-run of Leah Cobetto, who lost her leg as a result of the accident.
“Bill Nielsen’s passing was a huge loss for our community. The run in honour of him was very, very well attended and was a great event. That was a lot of people coming together to support a great person in our community,” said Christie.
“Also, our City really came together to help with Leah at the time of her accident.”
Lacombians rallied together to fundraise for her treatment, as well as contributed to online donation pages and showed their support through social media.
“We are still the newest city in Alberta, and it’s quite amazing to me when I look back at 2010 when we became a city. Citizens of Lacombe weren’t hung up on that title – it’s got our small-town feel and it’s the people that make that. That is a big thing that happens in Lacombe.”
This coming year will be a year of development for Lacombe. There is planning for residential, commercial and industrial development. Several neighbourhoods are being worked on in Trinity Crossing, Mackenzie Ranch and Metcalfe Ridge.
Lacombe Market Square and the first section of the City’s new ring road at 34th Street are also in the works.
Two major recreation-based projects will also commence in 2015.
“Our arena project will be huge. It’s been something we’ve been working on for a couple of years, with the code and safety deficiencies. Council has come to an agreement to spend up to $10.8 million on that project. We’re getting some more exact numbers and we will see where that’s going to take us. That is a big and much needed project for us. It’s also caused us to look down the road a little bit to determine when we’re going to need another ice surface,” Christie said.
The other major recreation facility will be an off-leash dog park that will be built next to the future public works facility in Lacombe’s industrial area.
Although the C4 Initiative will not break ground in 2015, much planning is underway to bring a cultural hub to the City. The aim is to create a multi-use facility for family care and artistic entertainment. Christie said he knows this is a much-needed project that will benefit the entire community.
“We see Alberta growing so much. In Lacombe, we’ve had steady growth of about 2.5 to three per cent each year for many years. That is something that is manageable and is something that we can keep up with. I think we will see continued growth along that path.”