(File photo)

(File photo)

A reflection on 2021 with Stettler County Reeve Larry Clarke

We have so much to be thankful for here in the County of Stettler, despite all the challenges thrown our way throughout 2021.

What we know for sure from 2021, is that Stettler County is made up of resilient people.

First we would like to thank each and every voter who turned out to vote in the 2021 Municipal Election in October.

The turnout was better than ever at almost all of our voting stations and we, as a council with two new members, have really hit the ground running and carried on the important work of our municipal government.

For the first time in two years, we were able to attend in-person, the Rural Municipalities of Alberta Fall Conference in Edmonton, joining up with new and old council members from throughout rural Alberta to share ideas, stories and support each other through examining and debating unique rural challenges.

We enjoyed the opportunity to meet again with provincial cabinet ministers and discuss and debate issues.

The message being shared by the province is that ‘Alberta is Back’, and things are looking up for our economy, our oil and gas sector, and new innovations and entrepreneurial ideas are developing all over our province.

Both the provincial government and the official Opposition have shared plans for expanding and improving rural internet services, to meet the ever growing needs of rural residents who are schooling online, working online and doing business online, spurred on of course by the ongoing pandemic and fueled by the outcry of rural citizens.

It was good to see ‘rural’s’ being heard.

We have a tireless advocate in our MLA for Drumheller-Stettler, the Honourable Nate Horner who holds the portfolio of Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Economic Development.

It is refreshing to have an MLA with a portfolio who very clearly and intimately understands rural Albertan’s challenges.

We look very forward to continuing our conversations with Mr. Horner and having him represent and advocate for our region in caucus.

This fall, council began strategic planning workshops and we look forward to adopting a new strategic plan and priorities early in 2022.

We are deep in budget discussions of course, and once our strategic direction has been adopted we will begin to make tough budget decisions.

Municipal revenues continue to decline as do grants to our municipality, and while the decisions will be tough and many, we are confident this council will strategically determine a fiscally responsible path forward.

We are happy to report 2021 development in the county beat our historical data and exceeded expectations.

Our citizens are making plans and moving forward, and we applaud and support these responsible developments and entrepreneurs and businesses who are expanding.

We held much engagement with south shore residents/owners of Buffalo Lake in 2021, as we worked through developing the Buffalo Lake South Area Structure Plan, and we have been excited to work with them to improve this area for those who live, travel and recreate at Buffalo Lake.

In the new year, pandemic restrictions willing, we have big plans to get back out to our rural communities for some face-to-face conversations.

We miss the connections.

If you wish to reach us we are always available either through our website where you can click on “Submit a Request”, by emailing info@stettlercounty.ca, by emailing your council members directly through our staff directory at www.StettlerCounty.ca, by direct messaging us through the Stettler County Facebook or Twitter pages, by calling our ratepayer request line at 403-742-4441 extension 1, or through Canada Post by sending your request to Box 1270, Stettler, AB T0C 2L0.

To kick off 2022 we will be holding public budget consultation towards the end of January or the beginning of February.

Please watch our website for details and try to join us to discuss budget and plans for 2022 and beyond.

Thank you to everyone for the support we have received throughout the year, for the resiliency you have continually shown through these challenging days, and we would like to wish everyone a safe holiday season.