Annual Report - Community Services
The Community Services Department consists of Agricultural Services, Community Peace Officer Enforcement, Parks and Recreation, Economic Development and Corporate Communications, which equals a staff compliment of 10 (not including seasonal staff).
Together with County funding and the assistance of our Grants Coordinator, community groups in our region have been very successful in receiving financial support for various operational and capital projects. In 2016, the County provided $323,259 in funding for community initiatives of which $211,967 was directly related to community hall improvements. This funding allowed the community to leverage an additional $167,912 in Community Facility Enhancement Program (CFEP) matching funds. The CFEP funds are distributed by the Province from lottery proceeds.
Moving on to Parks and Recreation, a key project highlight in 2016 was the Brazeau Sports Park receiving water and sewer servicing in preparation for the washroom/concession building planned for 2017. As always, staff were very busy around the County keeping our grass mowed along with our campgrounds and parks maintained.
On the Agricultural Services side of the department, weed inspections continue to grow from 1,600 inspections in 2014 to 2000 in 2015 and 2600 in 2016, respectively. Residents have been taking advantage of the 20% herbicide rebate program. In 2016, with a huge flush of weeds, we have seen a great effort made by residents to control weeds on their land with herbicide. Council increased funding from $12,000 to $24,000 for this program. On a final note, the fence line spray program was also increased from 1 metre to 5 metres and expanded to include Provincial Highway right-of-ways.
The office of Economic Development was very busy during 2016. Brazeau County, in partnership with key business and community stakeholders, hosted another successful Career & Education Expo in 2016. This year saw a 40% increase in business, education and government organization in participation equating to a sold out event. Nearly 600 students and over 100 members of the general public visited each booth to talk career planning or take it as an opportunity to apply for future job openings.
The Women in Business (WIB) Network grew by leaps and bounds in 2016. A new logo and visual materials brought its professional image up a notch and just in time for the first ever WIB Leadership Conference and Awards. This event hosted 100 female entrepreneurs and business leaders from in and surrounding Brazeau County, British Columbia and Ontario. The highlight of the conference was the Celebration of Success Awards Gala where we honoured the achievements of six local female business owners. Female entrepreneurs are leading the growth in small business in Alberta and it is a strategic priority of this Council and Administration to support that growth to diversity our economy now and for our future generations.
The last quarter of 2016 saw our oil and gas sector rise in activity with an optimistic outlook for 2017. While this is outstanding news for our region we will continue to look at opportunities to diversify within the bio-industrial and clean tech sectors; one key project will be providing education and resources to our farmers interested in growing hemp for commercial opportunity. Stay tuned!