The Economic Development Task Force has become a real force to reckon with within the Town of Drumheller.
Three months ago, Town Council created this task force to bring intelligent and passionate people together to come up with recommendations to progress the sustainability and resourcefulness of Drumheller.
A steering committee of enthusiastic members of the community was at the helm and then subsequent committees were made afterward to focus on different, but equally important, topics. Almost 50 people volunteered to take on this challenge.
Kim Suntjens, Bob Sheddy, and Ken Schinnour presented a summary to Council on behalf of the steering committee and subcommittees on Monday, May 7.
Subcommittees were split into eight categories: Education, Tourism, Housing, Arts & Culture, Film & Media, Medical/Government, Industry, Manufacturing and Entrepreneurs, and the Drumheller Advantage.
“My time spent on the committee was very rewarding. I was able to work with some amazing people and I have a huge respect for a lot of people I never met before. I can’t believe the enthusiasm and positive attitude of Drumheller now,” said Schinnour.
For education, the committee wants to create an Education Marketing Plan, Customer Service Ambassador Program, International Programs, and a Community Wellness Challenge which is a program that works with the Badlands Community Facility (BCF) and local businesses.
For housing, Schinnour described the committee’s desire to review bylaws to allow smaller footprint housing and for greater density housing throughout the Valley like condos, row houses, and duplexes. Extensive flood mitigation lobbying will continue.
The Arts and Culture Committee wants to revive a festival that would benefit the area. A community calendar would create a comprehensive and consistent standard the community could utilize. A mural festival would address alleys, side buildings, and existing aging signs by inviting artists from around the world to create art while working with business owners. A museum collaboration would explore a possibility of a Museum Collective with promotions like one ticket admission for all.
The Film & Media Committee would like the Town to adopt a film-friendly policy.
The Tourism Committee wants to make a vibrant downtown core with lights and music and change the stigmatized term of ‘tourists’ to ‘visitors’. They have requested a budget and policy for buskers and other entertainment and to promote Drumheller as a place for food truck vendors to do business. They are going to continue working with CN Rail on a trail project. They want Council to create a reserve for maintenance of tourist facilities, and potentially make access to public washrooms in the downtown area.
The Medical and Government Committee wants to become a standing committee to continue lobbying for change. They want to create a welcoming environment for nurses and doctors as a strategic effort. They wish to make an annual awareness campaign to invite physicians and patients to see the specialized services the Drumheller Health Centre has to offer such as the Cancer Care Unit.
They want to lobby for another transport ambulance and hire four more paramedics for the area. Introducing a new revised AHS community standard would ensure efficient ambulance service.
They will continue to address the need for an assisted living complex for the aging population that requires SL4 care. The committee wants to promote the hotels that are willing to offer special hospital rates for patients and families rather than having them go to an urban centre for treatment.
The committee wants to lobby the federal government and pursue the possibility of doubling the size of the penitentiary to bring additional new high paying jobs to the area. A sign will potentially be installed at the end of the road to the Institution with advantages of living in Drumheller.
A business evaluation was conducted and they want to focus on the Drumheller Advantage. They want to create a business package to ensure information on locations, populations, markets, transportation, connectivity, and education will be in one place for interested people to explore.
Advantages include breathtaking scenery, great central location, full health care service, proximity to larger centres such as Calgary and Red Deer, fibre optic networks available in almost all of the community, world-class attractions, small town living like lower housing costs and insurance, great recreational facilities, and educational choices.
They want to create a shepherding committee to assist entrepreneurs with new business startups as well as provide guidance and support to existing businesses. They will review permits and hope to simplify applications.
The Business Committee wishes to attract retail services, agriculture like cannabis and brewery, food processing and packaging, and agriculture manufacturing for example.
They identified many communities that have tax incentives whereas Drumheller does not. They want Drumheller to be competitive in this market.
Each subcommittee recommended a full-time Economic Development Officer (EDO) to support Drumheller to keep momentum for change going.
A grant writer was also suggested. This person would be in charge of marketing and promotions of the Valley as well as oversee the Town’s website and social media.
The committees want to create, maintain, and link a website that has up-to-date information, with a film-friendly tab and a ‘Drumheller Advantage’ tab to promote the Valley on an easy platform for viewers to use.
“Most of these ideas are very attainable and will definitely come into fruition,” said Schinnour.
A detailed summary will be submitted to Council for their review.