Kneehill County overcomes pandemic and ag disaster, rounds year off with award | DrumhellerMail
Last updateFri, 23 Sep 2022 3pm

Kneehill County overcomes pandemic and ag disaster, rounds year off with award

Kneehill County Council

Despite continued pressures from the COVID-19 pandemic and an agricultural disaster in the summer, Kneehill County continues to press forward with new initiatives, new business opportunities, and even a new award under its belt.
Kneehill County entered into a four-year agreement with the Town of Trochu and Trochu Housing Corporation to back funding for a proposed $32 million seniors’ living facility that will provide long-term care to aging residents--from independent living to the highest Designated Supportive Living 4 and 4D designations, which includes dementia patients. The Town of Trochu was unable to secure the $20 million loan on its own due to the town’s debt limit and approached Kneehill County in February; the agreement was officially signed in October.
At the October signing, 21 of 24 life-lease units were already pre-sold.
Throughout the summer, Kneehill County focused on drawing local tourism to the region through two methods, a paid parking pilot at Horseshoe Canyon recreation site, and a social media and online campaign. Parks and recreation staff were on-site at Horseshoe Canyon to collect the $2 parking fee and provide visitors with information on other recreation and tourism locations in the region beginning in May between Thursdays and Mondays.
Staff recorded a total of 7,696 vehicles during the 76 days they were on-site, with a majority of vehicles, some 88 per cent, from Alberta and six per cent from B.C. The pilot was considered a success and council approved to include provisions to continue the program in the 2022 budget.
As part of the social media and online campaign, QR signage was installed at Horseshoe Canyon directing visitors to the Kneehill County website’s visitors’ page; between the signage and other campaign initiatives, traffic to the visitors’ page increased by some 864 per cent, from only 3,166 views in 2020 to over 30,000 in 2021. Social media followers also increased on both the county’s Facebook and Instagram pages by over 900 and 1,800 per cent respectively.
During the summer, a citizen’s satisfaction survey was also conducted; approximately 10 per cent of Kneehill County residents responded to the survey and, overall, some 80 per cent of those respondents said they have a positive quality of life in Kneehill County. There were some areas where citizens were not fully satisfied, and Kneehill County council will use the survey results to determine opportunities and areas for improvement.
One challenge the county faced was unprecedented high temperatures and minimal rainfall during the summer months. In August, Kneehill County council declared a state of agricultural disaster as crop growth was stunted and yields were lower than anticipated; they were one of 69 municipalities throughout the province to declare an agricultural disaster. Despite this, harvest progress in the Central Region, which includes Kneehill County, was about 99 per cent complete by the final Alberta Crop Report in October, and over both the five and 10-year averages.
One big achievement for Kneehill County was receiving the 2021 Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) which was presented to council in December. The 2021 Kneehill County budget was published on the county’s website and provided ratepayers with a comprehensive and easy-to-understand document that was a collaborative effort between various departments within the county. While this is the first time Kneehill County has received this award, they are hopeful to continue providing similar budget presentations to ratepayers, and the 2022 budget documents are expected to be posted to the website in early 2022 ahead of budget deliberations.

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