After weeks of deliberating, Cold Lake City Council is set to approve the 2016 Budget tonight in chambers. Mayor of Cold Lake, Craig Copeland says the deliberations are through and there should be little debate left for tonight’s approval process. The goal is to keep the mill rate the same, and not increase taxes; while continuing to improve and grow the City and its services. There will be some big-ticket items approved in the Budget; including transit service, Phase III of the Energy Centre, Kinosoo Beach, a storm drainage system, and updating the twinning of Highway 28 in the City.
“We’ve gone through the Operating and Capital Budgets,” explains Copeland, “and we’ll be finalizing what we refer to as the ‘matrix’. We also gone through a 10 year vision for the City. It lists all the projects that we know we need to do.”
Copeland explains there’s $100,000,000 in funding needed to complete these major projects, “even with the CLAWR money, we’re still 100 million short in what we need to accomplish as a municipality. It speaks to the volume as to why the Province saw the need for the City to have financial help.”
The Capital Vision Projects for the City in 2016 are huge – Craig Copeland Mayor of Cold Lake
The transit service and whether or not the City will carry out a cost for rider has been a big issue in the deliberations, says Copeland. “We’re operating transit, we bought used buses to keep our costs down. The City is geographically challenged, it’s spread out so much. With the free transit, it’s been fascinating to see who’s been using it and how it’s benefiting people in a big way.”
The Mayor says he discusses the free transit with residents as often as he can to get feedback on the service. “When I walk around the community, and go into businesses, I’m quite surprised by the stories I get from the workers and what a benefit it’s been. Especially saving them money.”
In terms of the NDP announcement on climate change, I would argue Cold Lake was ahead and contributes to cutting back on emissions by having transit. We’re taking vehicles off the road and making it more accessible for the people. I think our free transit fits into the NDP philosophy in a big-huge way, helping the working poor. – Craig Copeland Mayor of Cold Lake
Mayor Copeland anticipates free transit to be included in the 2016 Budget.
Phase III of the Energy Centre will also be in the Budget. Mayor Copeland says there are a lot of great plans in mind, all of them focus on family and functionality. “We’re going to the second arena. It’ll be about a 300 seat arena, which will be attached to the existing arena. In between the two arenas will be a 150 seating lounge, that will allow the Jr Bs to have an area for people who want beverages and for concerts, it will give us the ability to maybe have private suites.” The lounge’s design will look into both hockey arenas.
The second arena will have an “indoor” section so people can view the game from a warm area, Mayor Copeland says it’s all about enjoying the game, “that way a parent can watch their kid play hockey in comfort.” Another cool feature to the second arena, explains the Mayor is a climbing wall. “We’re going to be doing a climbing wall feature, that’ll be right behind the rink. The way we’re going to build it, is close to the arena. It’ll give the parent an option to keep their little ones busy, if they have other kids.”
Another way to keep the kids busy is a mini-sticks hockey arena, says the Mayor, “on the second level, of the arena, we’re going to put a mini-sticks arena. The kids that have the little mini-hockey sticks, we’re going to try to build a little rink for them. It’ll be really small, but for tournament and that, if kids want to play and burn up some energy, there will be a mini-sticks hockey arena.”
Our Council is all about the kids – Craig Copeland Mayor of Cold Lake
The City has taken a lot of feedback from the community on what they want and need out of the facility, explains Mayor Copeland. “There will be meeting rooms for some of the clubs, like Minor Hockey and Minor Soccer; as well as the Lions Club.”
Mayor Copeland says the City will see how tenders go on the second arena and all the add-ons that come with it, then the plan is to expand the field house area of the Energy Centre. “The hope is that we can then go to the next phase, which would be a twin field house arena. Once that gets constructed we’d do a conversion of the existing field house and turn that into gymnastics and dance facility.”
There will be meeting rooms in the second level of the field house area, more specifically, “space for organizations to utilize,” says the Mayor. “We’ll keep the running track on the third level.”
Those are big construction projects for 2016-17. We feel with the prices for construction we might just hit it just right – Craig Copeland Mayor of Cold Lake
Council made a strategic plan to borrow money to follow through on Phase III of the Energy Centre, says the Mayor. “We’ll borrow money and use some of the Air Weapons Range funds and go hard here and build out our recreation for the kids and the families.”
Part of the whole Energy Centre Project is the artificial sports field, which will be located where the soccer fields north of the Energy Centre are, says the Mayor. “One exciting project is the artificial turf field, for soccer, football, and rugby.”
The projects, should they pass the approval stage of the Budget will go to tender in early 2016. Mayor Copeland anticipates these projects will be approved in the Budget tonight.
It’s a huge vision of Council’s, we’re moving forward. We’ll just tie everything up in a bow tonight and make sure everybody’s comfortable with the vision – Craig Copeland Mayor of Cold Lake
Kinosoo Beach will be in the Budget, says the Mayor, “we’re going to spend some money on some enhancements on the beach. We’ve allocated money to continue to make that a showcase of our community. We’ll be doing landscaping and improvements, and we’ll have the zip line in place. We’ll do another boardwalk, paving stone, from the splash park to the other side of the beach.”
We’re going to spend a lot of money on the beach to continue on with our theme – Craig Copeland Mayor of Cold Lake
The City is in need of a large storm drainage system, which may not be as flashy as the other Major Capital Projects, but is very vital, explains the Mayor. “It’s a really significant drainage ditch that needs to be done, right by the Imperial Motor Inn, there’s a culvert right there. We need to get in there and do the culvert to help drain and storm water management. We’ll be putting some money to that project. It’s a multi-year project that we’ll start in 2016.”
The other large project the City will start in 2016 is updating the twinning of Highway 28 in the City, says the Mayor. “We’re going to twin the highway to today’s standards. Starting at the Lakeland Inn to, hopefully, as far as Assumption School. We’ve gotta fix that interchange right at A&W, it’s not to today’s standards, that’ll be part of the project.”
We’ll be allocating $4 Million to that stretch of road, from Lakeland Inn to Assumption School – Craig Copeland Mayor of Cold Lake
“Our big focus was to keep the taxes at a zero increase,” Mayor Copeland explains the mill rate and taxes are set in early spring, though the City is working hard to not increase residential or business taxes. “Our Council is really concerned about the economy and we understand money is really tight, we’re very concerned about raising people’s property taxes at this point.”
The City of Cold Lake’s goal is to land at a zero tax increase – Craig Copeland Mayor of Cold Lake