The beginning of a new year is often a time when people look forward with hope and take stock of the preceding year.

Mayor Nancy Dodds says that though there were some challenges in 2023, the year wasn’t all bad.

One of the biggest accomplishments was the grand opening of the new Ricochet Aquatic Centre, which was 12 years in the making. “That was definitely a highlight for our community,” she says.

Dodds says the Town is grateful for the volunteers, participating councils, organizations, and businesses who contributed to the project.

There was also the 70th anniversary of the Discovery Well celebration. “That’s huge for not only Drayton Valley, but for all of Alberta,” says Dodds.

She says there have been improvements in Town beautification, including a new light display for the holidays.

The most significant challenge for 2023 was the Buck Creek Wildfire, which saw the community evacuated from May 4 to May 16. Both the County and the Town worked together to organize emergency services from across the country to get the fire under control.

“It’s been a difficult year with the wildfire and the budget,” says Dodds. “There were a number of things that were out of our control.”

She says the wildfire, inflation, insurance and utility increases, as well as increased costs for the RCMP all affected the Council’s decisions with the budget, which includes increases to both residential and commercial property taxes.

Dodds says when she looks ahead at 2024, she is most excited about the collaboration with the County. In the past, the Town Council and County Council have had different priorities, which made some common interest projects challenging. However, Dodds says the relationship between the two councils seems to be improving.

“In the last quarter of the year, that relationship has improved, not to say that it was bad,” she says. “I would hope that that collaboration and relationship building continues.”

She says the two councils have been advocating together to the province on a number of different issues.

The Registered Nursing Degree that will be starting at the Clean Energy Technology Centre in September is another thing Dodds is looking forward to. She hopes that having the program in town will help with the shortages at the hospital. In the long term, she hopes that it will start discussions about bringing back some services such as obstetrics. 

The Free Press also reached out to Reeve of Brazeau County, Bart Guyon, but he was leaving on vacation and didn’t have time for a chat. However, the Corporate Communications Coordinator, Ken MacInnis, emailed some of the highlights of the last year.. Those included reduced tax rates on small businesses and vacant non-residential properties; formation of the Technology Innovation and Investment Attraction Committee to continue to develop and promote the Western Economic Corridor (WEC); and the signing of a recreation cost sharing agreement with both the Town of Drayton Valley and the Village of Breton to ensure equal access to recreation facilities and services for residents.

MacInnis says they have a few priorities they will be focusing on in 2024. One of these is an improved relationship with the Town.

They also plan to continue to focus on the Western Economic Corridor, economic development, improvements in emergency response, and keeping taxes and fees low in the final 2024 budget.

By Amanda Jeffery, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jan 04, 2024 at 15:14

This item reprinted with permission from   Free Press   Drayton Valley, Alberta

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