Tightening their fiscal belts and enhancing core services highlighted in feedback.
Lac La Biche council members reviewed the comments from the two budget open houses, one in Lac La Biche and the other in Plamondon, and the online survey during Tuesday’s council meeting.
In total, only 45 residents filled out the surveys and gave their opinions on how council can spend their 2021 budget better. There were 6 questions in total for residents to answer. There was a big push from residents for the County to focus on the sewage system and more water hook-ups.
“Lac La Biche residents wanted us to focus on our main street and put in the water and sewers, to keep building our infrastructure, and we will continue to do that,” said Lac La Biche Mayor, Omer Moghrabi.
“You know some comments are about not spending so much money and we will probably have to tighten our belts for the upcoming year.”
After the floods that occurred in June, one of the questions asked if residents had any input on how the County can better care for rural infrastructure and prepare for future floods or other natural disasters.
The general consensus was that the residents were happy with how the County handled the flooding, and they suggested repairing the culverts and asking for the provincial government to be held more accountable at maintaining provincial highways.
Another suggestion from residents was for the County to spend less money on the Bold Center and athletic fields, and to not plan any more projects like swimming pools. These comments come before the County had announced that the Bold Center would be getting an aquatics center.
Moghrabi says that it is difficult to balance both the rural and urban areas wishes, but the health of the newer generations comes first.
“The bold center now is the jewel of the region, and some of the complaints are warranted we have rural and urban areas and it’s hard to find balance,” said Moghrabi.
“So when we are talking about ParticipACTION, when we are talking about the health of young kids, we’re going to invest in it. The pool will also draw people in.”
Other comments involved giving more attention to the downtown area and McArthur Park and having it better maintained and developed further.
The County said they will consider all suggestions while deliberating about how to best spend the 2021 budget.
“We have spent close to $200 million in the last 6 years on infrastructure, we still have a $300 million deficit and it keeps going up every year. So we engage our public, the budget deliberations are public and we encourage the public to continue to engage with us,” said Moghrabi.