Copeland: The Forgotten Region

Mayor of Cold Lake, Craig Copeland says the most important project for our region, and the Province is pipelines. “We have to get a pipeline out of Alberta. We need to lay the foundations of growth for our area. This will be a big challenge that, our government and the feds, have to deal with. ”

“When the oil rebounds, it’s going to be up to our region to provide the cash-flow to build out the province,” Mayor Copeland says despite the fact that the Lakeland, Lac La Biche County, and Wood Buffalo (Fort McMurray) provide all the oil revenue, yet there is little capital put back into those regions by the Provincial Government.

“They call it the Forgotten Highway for a reason,” Mayor Copeland sighs, exasperated that his efforts for getting attention for Highway 28 seemed to go unnoticed with the absence of any work on the roadway in the Provincial Budget. The only project listed for the Highway is work on a 4-way and round-a-bout near Waskatenau. “When you go and meet these Transportation people, they claim Highway 28 is the 33rd worse highway in the province and you’re left scratching your head going, ‘really??!!’ It’s very disappointing.”

“I’m interested to see if any Capital Projects for our area have been approved,” Mayor Copeland lists a number of vital projects, including Highway 28, that need immediate attention; the waterline to Bonnyville & Cold Lake First Nations, renovations or modernization to the Cold Lake Hospital. “We’re not too sure what is funded.” There are some projects that are listed in the Budget, that were approved last go-around; including the Cold Lake Lodge and the nearly completed Cold Lake Elementary School. No new projects for the Lakeland area have been specifically named, from what the mayor has seen so far.

There has been some approvals for waterline related projects under the Alberta Community Partnership (ACP) grant program locally and along with an overall increase to the Water for Life program, that seem to indicate there could be funding for the waterline project in the near future; however the waterline has not been specifically named as a project for 2016.  “The Water for Life money, it doesn’t appear to be a great deal of new money. But it wouldn’t surprise me if 2018-2019 the waterline was identified as a new project,” explains Mayor Copeland, “but I haven’t heard anything more on the waterline.”

“I wasn’t surprised that the debt went up, they’re using a lot of debt for operations,” Mayor Copeland says he followed the election closed and the NDP are following their mandate. “I’m not going to be critical of the NDP government, because this is what they believed in.”

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