On Thursday afternoon, July 6, after the regular council meeting, councillors were invited to take a tour of the county’s new Public Works Facility off Hwy. 56.
“We are proud of the work and service we have been able to provide to date, but we are also eager to experience improved energy efficiencies, operational abilities and advancements that we will realize in this new facility,” said CAO Tim Fox.
In 2012, the County of Stettler council acknowledged the need to assess the condition and current needs of the county shop and offices. A committee was formed, which led to a thorough assessment and evaluation, resulting in the project getting a nod in summer 2016.
On Wednesday, June 8, 2016 the council voted in favour of holding a Vote of the Electors regarding Borrowing Bylaw 1564-16, which authorized the borrowing of $5,261,000 to build a new County Shop.
According to the MGA, council had to choose to either defeat the proposed bylaw; or to proceed with the proposed bylaw and submit it to a vote of the electors within 90 days, before Sept. 4, 2016. Council chose to take Borrowing Bylaw 1564-16 to a vote of the electors.
The Vote of the Electors took place on June 27, with advance polls on June 23. This decision came after Petition #2 was submitted to the County on May 17, 2016, stating: the electors of the County of Stettler #6, request a vote of the electors regarding Bylaw 1564-16 (borrowing bylaw), for a new county public works shop facility.
Any petition needs to bear the signatures of enough electors to equal 10 per cent of the population; the County of Stettler has a population of 5,103 according to the 2013 census. Therefore, 510 valid signatures were required to declare sufficiency. A total of 758 signatures were collected on Petition #2 with 527 signatures meeting the requirements to be considered valid.
Council chose to still take $2 million out of reserves for the Public Works Facility project, leaving the County’s reserve balance at $9,200,000. They used $1 million from the 2016 Municipal Sustainable Initiative (MSI) funding, and $1 million from the 2017 MSI funding. The Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) is funding from the province, which helps support local infrastructure priorities and build strong, safe and resilient communities.
The old county shop, built in 1969 did not accommodate the size of the equipment the county now services, and neither did it observe the safety codes that are now in place. Besides, located in the middle of Stettler, it was not a safe or ideal location to base an operation of that size or scale. The original shop was built to last 25-30 years, but it had been stretched to 47 years.
“We had to consider the health and safety of staff as well as the needs of the county today, tomorrow, and 30 years from now,” Fox said. “The county had approximately $11 million in reserves. Local trades were looking for work, and the council had the unique ability to move forward with a project, which would stimulate our local economy, while at the same time taking advantage of a very competitive construction market.”
According to Fox, the new facility along with the new location, serves as an excellent placement to handle all of the county’s heavy equipment coming and going, without the staff having to worry about urban pedestrian traffic from the walking trails and recreational facilities, such as the ball diamonds and soccer fields, which used to present constant potential safety hazards.
Grand opening of the new Public Works Facility is on Thursday, July 20. Everyone is welcome.