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Town & MD discuss economic development

The Town and Municipal District of Bonnyville are researching the need for an economic development officer for the region. An ad hoc committee has been formed between the two municipalities with the proposal of $160,000 set aside, over two years, for the position and any incidentals that may be needed for the position.

Over the course of a month, councillor Elisa Brosseau visited local businesses to hear from the owners on their success, limitations and potential opportunities in doing business in the town. Many cited updating bylaws, such as sign and parking bylaws, could help encourage business. Businesses also cited they would like to see the town more involved in economic development and encouraging existing businesses, as well as new businesses.

Both municipalities are interested in researching the need further, with the town wanting more information before committing to funding the position.

Mayor of Bonnyville, Gene Sobolewski explained that before the town could commit funds, they would have to know more about what the position and which municipality would the position fall under. “If the position is through the municipalities, we need to know who is doing the hiring and what that is going to look like.”

“At our joint council meeting, between the MD and the town, this is going to be one of our topics. We’ll start moving towards the concept of what this [position] is going to look like and charge each administration with crossing the ‘ts’ and dotting the ‘is’.”

The mayor anticipates the issue of finance will be brought up and is unsure whether or not the town has the means in their budget to allow for an $80,000 contribution.

MD Reeve Greg Sawchuk confirmed the funding has been supported during budget deliberations and will wait for confirmation if the town approves funding from their side.

The logistics still need to be worked out, said the Reeve. “We’re not sure how it’s going to work, it’s a tough one to measure. Prior to having any sort of position, we would have to lay out what we want to do with the position; what is our goal?”

Should the town decide not to fund the position, Reeve Sawchuk said it is likely the MD will continue pursuing the position without the partnership.

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