It has been a busy year in Wheatland County with a number of projects as well as working on updating its policies and procedures to be in line with the new Municipal Government Act (MGA).
The Mail took some time to chat with Amber Link, who became Reeve of Wheatland County at their organizational meeting in the fall of 2018.
“The county has had some growth and it has been a really good year. I am proud of the work staff has done and our council has done,” she said.
She explains that with the new MGA there has been a lot of work completed. While it is not as visible as brick and mortar style projects, it is nonetheless important.
“There has been a lot of governance things we have had to work on,” she said.
One highlight is the work of the Wheatland Regional Corporation. This has been going on for a few years. This year, they were able to complete the second phase which brought water to the Village of Rockyford. This water is taken from the Western Irrigation District and treated in the Village of Standard.
“That has significantly improved the quality of water in Wheatland which I am thankful for, for our ratepayers,” she said.
Work is being done for the third phase to bring water to the Rosebud and Redland area, however, it has not been finalized.
Over the last couple of years, there have been some emergency events due to weather and wildfires where residents and travellers have been stranded. The county has undertaken Reception Center Training for volunteers, and this has happened in 8 out of 13 communities.
“Our Wheatland Family and Community Support Services (WFCSS) has done an incredible job spearheading those training projects and has done a phenomenal job. I actually attended one of the training sessions in Gleichen and it was excellent for the community volunteers and for the community to feel more ready, particularity for our communities that are located on weaker transportation routes who are called on frequently in winter storms or wildfires. That training has been critical,” said Link.
The county has also been busy updating its Fire Series Bylaw and this week will be hearing a draft reading of a new Bylaw.
“It is a number of legislative pieces that come together and basically come to an understanding we are responsible for fire service and we need to do that in an effective way while keeping our firefighters safe,” she said. “We have gone through some really good consultation, our fire associations have provided excellent feedback as well the Alberta Fire Commissioner provided feedback to the administration for drafting the bylaw and council will be looking at it,” she said.
The county has hired an economic development officer to help attract and retain new businesses.
One project coming to fruition in the very near future is the grand opening of the Strathmore Motor Products Sports Centre. This is a partnership among Wheatland County, the Town of Strathmore and Golden Hills School Division. Construction began on the facility in 2015. The George Freeman K-9 school is attached to the sports center, which will have gymnasiums, a walking track and ability to host trade shows and other large events. The county invested $3 million into the project.