Jürgen Grau fell in love with Cold Lake 21 years ago, when he first moved to the city to manage Kinisoo Ridge Ski Resort. Using his background in Ski Area Management, Municipal Management & Leadership, as well as marketing & promotions, Grau has transformed the ski hill into the gem of the Lakeland. He wants to bring that knowledge & leadership to Cold Lake City Council and is asking for your vote on October 16th.
“We came up here, we visited the community and we fell in love,” Grau, with wife Valerie, raised two kids while managing Kinisoo Ridge Ski Resort. “The ski hill, itself, things were pretty run down there… But I saw so much potential. I did research on the demographics on the community and knew [the resort] could grow.” He laughs that he had a five year plan to turn the hill around and head to the Rockies; 21 years later, Grau is five years from retirement. One of Grau proudest personal moments we being recognized by his peers with the Lars Fossberg Award for innovation at a small ski area.
“I hire and train 90 staff, every year, so I have to work really well with people,” Grau says there are a few take aways from managing the hill that’ll be a huge asset to the Council table, “it’s owned by the Municipality, so you’re always working with directors & Councillors. You get a really good feel as to how that works.” Kinisoo Ridge has given Grau some really interesting insights to local government and entrepreneurship, “you’re always running it like an entrepreneur, but in a municipal setting. That’s probably why I have some an interesting set of skills.”
“I, honestly, didn’t run for Council because I have some sort of agenda. I’m really sincere when I say that when we moved up here, it’s because we fell in love with the community,” Grau has seen Cold Lake go through a lot of growth and stages in the last 21 years. He feels it’s time to give back to the city, “the community has given us a lot. We’ve enjoyed success in our careers. The community has embraced our family. We were a great example of how a community raised kids. It’s my time to give back.”
It’s my time to give back. That’s really the ultimate commitment, to serve your community politically. – Jürgen Grau Candidate for City of Cold Lake Councillor.
Grau says crime is not part of his platform, rather an ongoing core issue. “It’s one of the core services that a city provides. Crime is out of control, everyday you’re stories of people’s vehicles or quads going missing,” Grau explains that on the campaign trail he spent a lot of time discussing the RCMP force. “People understand that the RCMP in the area are doing what they can,” Grau says the general consensus is that the RCMP proficiency is not in question, “a little more coverage would be okay.” This can be resolved in a number of ways, including adding additional members to the force and even reducing the number of false alarm calls that the RCMP have to respond to on a daily basis. “I really believe that we need more members, but we also have to be a little more proactive in ensuring our property is locked up. I really support the community watch groups, they’re taking their community back and are making some good progress.”
Grau suggests that shortly after the new Council is elected, a meeting be held with the RCMP to discover what areas of improvement may be needed and how Council can help; whether that’s with more members or more public awareness, or a combination.
“People are right, Cold Lake is spending,” Grau has had an opportunity to look at the City’s plan and sees it as balanced. “I think the whole strategy behind ID-349 was that they showed they needed the money, now they have the money and they have to spend it. That spending is a double-edge sword. It doesn’t work for the province and it’s not going to work for us.”
With the uncertainty of the renewal or continuation of ID-349 looming, Grau says it’s time for the City to adapt plan that includes saving. “I’m hearing rumours that if we don’t get that money, then we’re going to have to cut services. That tells me that maybe we’ve over built.” Grau believes he can be an asset in discovering new ways to recover costs on some of the recreational facilities and programs. “What happens if all those facilities were built on a deficit and if the money is gone, how are we going to pay that deficit? We’re going to have to raise taxes.
“If I get in, as a Councillor, my voice will be one that’s a little more conservative. It’ll be making these facilities able to recover costs a little better and run more efficiently; without raising user fees or taxes. Let’s make these facilities run a little smoother.”
Grau would like to see a focus on infrastructure, “the pipes, roads, and sewers. Ultimately, those are the ones that are going to bite us in the butt, going down the road.”
“There’s power struggles going on. Those have been going on for the last eight years, some of them are naturally occurring, but those power struggles need to stop,” when going up against the provincial government to receive money for infrastructure, health care, ambulance & emergency services, schools and seniors, the region needs to stand united, says Grau. Not through regional government, but rather through cooperation in looking at what’s best for the region as a whole. “Watching some of the forums, in the MD, everyone seems to be of the same mind. Let’s focus on challenges we have in common [and how to resolve them].”
As far as cost-sharing, new mandates from the provincial government may have municipalities opening up their wallets to each other, “the new additions to the MGA (Municipal Government Act) and ICF (Inter-Municipal Cooperation Framework) are heading us in that direction, where we may be forced to do it.” Grau suggests the region be proactive in this, “there is a lot of money in this area and the challenges we have to this area can be solved with the amount of money we have in this region. ID-349 is vital for this. The stability we have in one part of the region is important to another part. Once we start looking at it that way, that what’s important here is important in Bonnyville or the other way around, we’re going to be better for it.”
“I want to see the city grow. I love seeing families grow, recreation grow and culture trying to break through. It’s been a really good living here. I want that for the region.” Grau hopes that in four years the relationships between neighbouring communities are bended and strong. He wants for the city to be financially stable, with reserves.
“Vote me on Monday. I’ve lived here for the last 21 years, my family has grown here and I want to see the city continue to grow.”
The election is Monday from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm at the Cold Lake Energy Centre. For more information visit coldlake.com.