Starland County, much like the rest of the world, has had an incredibly eventful year. It’s unfortunate many of the developments posed challenges for the county, but once again, our staff and residents stepped up to meet the challenge.
At the start of the year, all eyes were on the construction of the new combined office and shop located on the old CN Rail Lands in the north end of the Village of Morrin.
Construction began in 2019, with planning going as far back as the early 2000’s. The building was finally completed in August of this year, with staff moving in shortly after.
We are pleased to report the building has lived up to our expectations and opens the door to bringing more work in-house for our shop staff.
The building also includes space for Big Country Gas and our ATB branch. It has been designed so community groups can make use of the extra meeting and presentation space. We designed the building to be a great asset for our community going forward for a long time and we look forward to hosting a community open house sometime in the new year.
Financially, this has been another challenging year as the economic downturn continues.
The COVID-19 pandemic led to some difficult decisions being made by council in order to ensure Starland County doesn’t take on the kind of debt that could hinder our operations for years. Public works, recreation and agricultural services operations were severely reduced while a number of positions went unfilled. Several staff did their best to fill in for all the vacant positions and tried to keep up with the needs of the county.
We would like to thank the staff for doing their best in these difficult and abnormal times. Council would also like to thank the residents and businesses of Starland County for their help in these trying times. Many of our businesses and residents have had to deal with services which are less than ideal and, in some cases, residents have actually helped in providing some additional services.
This year has been hard on our ratepayers, just like it has been on us, and we are proud of the way our community came together. Looking to 2021, we are hoping things might get back to something that looks normal.
Starland County’s road and bridge network needs attention and our capital program will be focused on this area. We are also planning on replacing the waterline coming out of Drumheller which feeds our CLV Water System. This will be covered by the Municipal Operating Support Transfer (MOST) grant from the Government of Alberta. Depending on how our final budget comes out, we are also planning on increasing our summer staff to address many issues around the county we were too short staffed to get to last year.
Finally, we are also anticipating crushing our own gravel in the new year in order to reduce costs. We have begun the process of opening a pit which was purchased years ago in order to provide for our own gravel needs. The savings are expected to be substantial and will be used to invest in our community infrastructure.
Council is looking for input going forward into the new year, with public consultation in the form of a survey. We are excited to get feedback on services and priorities from ratepayers so we can work towards the best interests of our community.
Council will continue to advocate for our residents on all local and provincial issues.
Council would like to wish everyone a Happy & Healthy New Year and look forward to working hard for all of you in the new year.