Just months after becoming the new MLA for Drumheller-Stettler, Rick Strankman has officially opened a satellite office in Stettler.
Actually, he simply moved into the office of former MLA Jack Hayden, the Progressive Conservative cabinet minister who was unseated by the Wildrose candidate in the provincial election last April 23.
“We still want to have a presence here in Stettler,” said Strankman, a farmer from Altario, just a few kilometres from the Saskatchewan border, about 200 kilometres east of Stettler.
Located downtown on Stettler’s main street, the office is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a lunch break from noon to 1 p.m.
Gary Wilyman will operate the Stettler office under Strankman’s constituency assistant, Patrick Turnbull.
“Anyone is welcome to come in to the Stettler office,” said Strankman, who was appointed Opposition critic for tourism, parks and recreation by Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith in early May.
With the main office in centrally-located Hanna, Strankman also has a branch office in Drumheller.
Even in Opposition, he said he’s committed to serving the vast needs of the expansive riding.
“All people and communities deserve to be represented,” Strankman said last Friday.
While many residents and municipal councillors have told him that an Opposition MLA is not as effective as an MLA in the governing party, he contends his role is just as valuable.
“The government can be benevolent or vindictive to people in the Wildrose constituencies,” Strankman said.
“If people have a legitimate complaint or issue, there should be no bias.”
Like his predecessor in Hayden, Strankman said he’s serving the constituents by taking their issues to the applicable ministries, which can respond “appropriately.”
Strankman said Wildrose stands firm on balanced budgets and frugal spending and reducing a culture of fear and self-entitlement.
“That’s what I hope to represent locally and in the legislature,” he said.
Town of Castor was one of the first municipalities he met with, on July 23, discussing environmental and health-care issues.
“They have concerns about dead spaces with environmental issues, such as former fuel stations and potential concerns for health-care facilities for long-term sustainability,” Strankman said.
He plans to meet with other municipal councils in the Stettler area and school boards, before the legislative session resumes on Oct. 23, to hear their concerns and issues.
With steps to build tourism and economic development in the entire constituency high on his agenda, he recently met with Tourism, Parks and Recreation Minister Christine Cusanelli, who talked about funding available for tourism.
“I gave her some of my ideas about involving private investment, such as a plan to create an economic corridor along Highway 12 from central Saskatchewan to central Alberta and eventually to British Columbia,” Strankman said.
“I want to see some of these things to fruition.”
He also wants that economic growth to include Canadian Badlands funding for the entire Drumheller-Stettler region, not just Drumheller.
Strankman can be contacted in Stettler by telephone at 403-742-4284, by fax at 403-742-4295 or by email at email@example.com.