The importance of a Municipal Sustainability Plan

Blackfalds has seen tremendous growth and success because of good planning and sound leadership over the past number of years.

MELODIE STOL

Blackfalds has seen tremendous growth and success because of good planning and sound leadership over the past number of years. Now we are at a stage where we need to determine where we are going to be in the next five years so that we can continue to see success and sustainability into the future.

Our Town represents a future of community pride and achievement coupled with an exceptional rate of growth – 2009 – 5,600; 2013 – 7,200 and with our population trending towards 10,000 within a few years. Growth is important to any community and demonstrates an expansion of our social and economic base while addressing our residents’ daily needs and wants. These can range from commercial retail and service choices through to education and recreational needs. For the last 15 years, our Town council has been planning for and guiding the trend of change through various plans and studies and have resulted in the Municipal Sustainability Plan (MSP). The MSP is intended to be a reflection of residents’ needs and guides the strategies of the Town in turn meeting the needs of residents, infrastructure development and service requirements. As a result of the success of participation by residents in the MSP process in 2009, council is ready to update the MSP and is once again seeking public participation in the process.

Sustainability is ‘meeting the needs of the present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. As a resident of or visitor, what is your perspective about Blackfalds future sustainability and what does this mean to you? Within council’s planning context, there are five key elements considered in relationship to current and long-range planning (e.g. year 2040). These five key elements are governance, culture, social, economy and environment.

Governance relates to policy making and leadership within council. It has to do with planning and management of resources, planning for a sustainable future (such as by developing a sustainability plan) and managing growth. It also involves working on initiatives with other municipalities and governments.

Culture has to do with creating a community identity and works with the recreational and cultural aspects of the community. It also relates to managing the diversity of the community.

Social works with social community programs and services like emergency services, FCSS, education and health. It also involves communications, both internal and external, to make sure everyone these programs and services effect know what is going on.

Economy of course relates to the growth of Blackfalds’ commercial and industrial sectors. It also has to do with tourism and the communities financial well-being.

Finally, environment relates to land use, in all sectors. It is also connected to beautification of the community as well of the use and development of parks, green space and other open areas the community can enjoy.

The Town’s goals exist in two categories – Town controlled and non-Town controlled. With non-town controlled goals, other agencies, stakeholders or governments control how, when and where a decision is made. Education, a regional sewage line , health services, and provincial roadway upgrades fall into this category.

Town controlled goals are ones where the Town of Blackfalds can makes its own decision to proceed as long as it has the right resources. Bylaws, polices, facilities, emergency and protective services are some of the goals that fall under this category.

The Town of Blackfalds and its council want to hear from you. To contribute to the Municipal Sustainability Plan, share your thoughts via Facebook, email, calling 403-885-4677 or in person by visiting the Town Office or any of the upcoming open houses.

An open house will then be held June 14 in conjunction with Blackfalds Days at the Abbey Centre and the information will remain available at the Abbey Centre until June 21. Council and administration will then review the feedback and make any necessary additions or deletions to the draft MSP.

Melodie Stol is the mayor of Blackfalds.