Welcome to our new interim CAO Jocelyn Whaley, who started February 20th. She brings a balanced approach to the position as an elected official with extensive administrative skills, and we are already enjoying working with her.
In this issue you can read about the Grade Six students from H.W. Pickup School who participated in two Council meetings in our Chamber learning about how local government works. Thank you to everyone who made this valuable project a success for a second year in a row.
You can also read about the Drayton Valley Ski Hill, which has re-opened as an improved site after two winters without enough snow. The community has come together to make the ski hill a success, and I highly recommend grabbing your skis or tubes and visit the hill before winter ends.
We were proud to partner with the Town of Drayton Valley in February to donate a pickup truck to the Brazeau Foundation, to be used by the maintenance staff. As I mentioned in my previous report, our Council team is working with Drayton Valley and other municipalities to achieve success for all involved.
The County continues to work on behalf of those affected by the tornado near Breton last July. While the Alberta Emergency Management Agency has denied Disaster Recovery Program assistance so far, we have appealed the decision to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. I understand the magnitude of the damage caused, and how it created an economic hardship for affected residents. We have also reminded the Minister that farm insurance policies do not provide coverage for damage to corrals and fences or fields and pastures due to wind-related causes.
Similarly, residential policies will only address fallen trees if they caused damage to an insured building or structure.
Council will be working this spring to finalize the 2018 budget, keeping in mind Council’s priorities to invest in our communities and maintain our low tax rates. Our interim budget invests almost $35 million into infrastructure including $24 million for roads. Watch for more details in the coming months.
I encourage everyone to take in the Interactive Career and Education Expo on April 12 at the Omniplex. The event will create awareness of the variety of career options and job openings available to youth as well as to the general public. Brazeau County/Drayton Valley, like the rest of Alberta, experienced a significant downtown in the economy over the past few years. While we are seeing a slow recovery, this County has lost some of its previously employed skilled workers. We now need to be purposeful of attracting our youth to the impending careers and job openings that local employers will highly likely face a shortage of workers. The time to do this is now before our youth make future career plans that further escalate the challenge.
The May/June issue will contain our Annual Report for the year 2017. Keep an eye out for that in mid-May. Until then, enjoy the longer days, and hopefully, some warmer weather.
On behalf of Council and Administration we wish you a Happy Easter. We hope the bunny finds you along his way!
Reeve, Brazeau County