The City of Cold Lake hosted two Budget Open Houses on Thursday. The same information was presented in both the day and evening session. In both Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Kevin Nagoya discussed the City’s Strategic Priorities; basically, the long-term projects they hope to accomplish.
“Annually, Council sits down on a formal basis, outside of a regular council meeting, called a ‘Strategic Priorities Session’,” Nayoga explains these sessions are not in the public view, “whenever a new Council gets elected or there’s a lot of things on Councils’ minds. We (administration) will go through and list everything that’s on their minds. Then we pair them down and discover what we actually want to tackle in a short amount of time.” Nagoya says Council understands they may not be able to accomplish every item on the list within a four-year term; but the focus is there.
There are five top projects on Council’s Strategic Priorities list:
- Annexation: “This has been a big project for the City,” says CAO Nagoya, “even gearing up to the formal application, was a two-year process to apply for annexation.” The City is looking to annex some land from the Municipal District (MD) of Bonnyville. The lands are crown land and with Cold Lake expanding it makes sense, to the City, for those lands to become part of the city, explains Nagoya. “We have negogiating with the MD of Bonnyville for various lands out in the MD of Bonnyville. We are making some progress, mind you it is very slow. Slower than one may like; but I do have to say there have been some exchanges more recently, that helps to move the project forward.” Nagoya says it is Council’s hope to have the project completed, “it’s in the best interest for the tax payers of Cold Lake and the development of the community.”
- Transition CLAWR (Cold Lake Air Weapons Range ID-349) to Cold Lake: This has always been a priority for Council, explains Nagoya. LCN will have more on this priority with Mayor Craig Copeland shortly and will update this section when it is available.
- Commercial Air Service: The City of Cold Lake overcame some major obstacles in bringing commercial air service to Cold Lake. Including changing Federal legislation. The City was able to change legislation in regards to CATSA, the service that check your bags when you’re boarding an air plane. “The legislation surrounding that is very complicated,” Nagoya explains that a lot of the complexities come from CATSA being tied to flight safety legislation. “If something’s going to change in Canada, it affects Homeland Security in the United States, it affects France, it affects everybody that connects to Canada. There’s a world-wide engagement of anybody flying in and out of Canada.” Nagoya says it is pretty significant that the City of Cold Lake was spearheading the project with a few other municipalities, “we were successful in changing Federal legislation. Now, CATSA is available for some of us municipalities that were able to restructure that legislation.” Meaning, Cold Lake can check bags to final destinations outside of Canada, rather than off-loading in a larger airport for baggage to be checked. “The next step is to actually finalize agreements (with major air carriers) and finalize agreements with 4-Wing to land them here.”
- Doctors: “We are still no more doctors today, then we were ten years ago,” Nagoya says recruiting more doctors to Cold Lake has been a top priority for some time. “This continues to be a community issue,” Nagoya says just surveying the staff of the City of Cold Lake, only half have a family doctor and believes that stat is reflective of the community. “That is a challenge and it continues to be on Council’s radar to continue to have those discussions with the Chief of Staff at Alberta Health Services; we are lobbying them.”
- Trail Strategy: Council wants to continue to increase funding to the trail system, says Nagoya, “expanding Millennium Trail and linking Imperial Park. There continues to be a broadening of the trail system in Cold Lake.” Council did a Parks & Connectivity review, “we want to leverage that,” says Nagoya. “You see all the attachments that are going down to Kinosoo Beach. There’s a new wide trail path, people like it. Council would like to see something that connects Kinosoo Beach to the Marina area. Revitalize that and bring new life to the trails that were there 15-20 years ago.”
There are five other priorities that are on Council’s radar:
- Phase III Energy Centre Arena/Field House: Construction is already underway with contracts awarded.
- Portage College Expansion: The college is at max capacity and the City has had meeting with Portage College on how they can help lobby the Provincial Government expand the facility and programming.
- Beautification of the City
- Protect Water Resources: With the waterline going to Bonnyville. Council wants to be stewards of the water and discover the impacts the waterline may have on the body of water and how they can minimize any of these.
- Community Standards Enforcement: Increase awareness on unsightly premises, and RV parking in the community. Tailoring those standards that may impact development.
Nagoya says as the needs of the community change, so may the priorities, “something may come up that we need to look at.” The Strategic Priorities are a major element of budget planning, “as you can see some need funding and others are more lobbying.”
For more on the City of Cold Lake’s Budget you can visit coldlake.com. LCN will have more on the Budget Open House over the next couple days.