Despite a tough economy and ongoing closures in both the public and private sectors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Cold Lake is seeing signs of confidence in its future.
“These are very challenging times, and we’ve heard many stories of hardship, both because of the current challenges in the energy sector and because of the closures associated with restrictions due to COVID-19,” Mayor Craig Copeland said. “But there is light at the end of the tunnel and strong signs that investors see a bright future for our community.”
Mayor Copeland pointed to a variety of development and business activity both before and after the start of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the construction and opening of Starbucks and Edo, the ongoing and significant remodeling that M&M Food Market is undertaking for its planned move, and the makeover of a commercial property that Renu Hair Salon and Day Spa has moved into next to the ESSO station in Cold Lake South.
“It is also our understanding that an investor has recently purchased the former site of the GM dealership in downtown Cold Lake with the intention of an interesting and exciting development for downtown, while walls are currently going up at a new commercial location for the Cold Lake Brewing and Distillery Co. in Cold Lake North, and yet another new franchise for Cold Lake – Burger King – has just opened its drive thru operations in line with the COVID restrictions,” Copeland said. “It’s clear that while very real and significant challenges continue to face our businesses, there is a strong measure of confidence in what our community has to offer now and into the future.”
Copeland noted that, over the past several years, the community has seen significant private investment in commercial and retail operations, private medical facilities, as well as government support for a potential expansion at Portage College, and an expansion at the Cold Lake Provincial Park. Also of note is the federal government’s looming Future Fighter Program, which will see expansion and rehabilitation of facilities at 4 Wing Cold Lake.
“This is significant activity for a community of under 15,000, especially given the challenges the oil patch and the global economy are facing,” Copeland said. “It shows that we are a well-rounded community with resilient, committed businesses and valued partners in the business, education, tourism, health, and not-for-profit sectors. We have strong ties to the oil patch, the aerospace sector, a budding tourism industry, and a wealth of innovative entrepreneurs. Most importantly, we have partners who share our vision for a strong, vibrant community.”
In addition to measures taken locally, the federal and provincial governments have announced support for small and large businesses and for people whose employment has been affected by the pandemic. And the Cold Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce has worked to ensure its membership and the wider business community have access to the information they need.
“We appreciate the help that the province and federal government has offered to Canadians and their businesses,” Copeland said. “At the same time, we fear that the ongoing response to the pandemic will mean that not all businesses will be able to survive the shutdown. Our hearts go out to those who have had their employment or their business – often their life’s passion and work – negatively impacted by the current situation. I know that our community will continue to support its local businesses as best it can and, when this has passed, we will continue to work together to build Cold Lake’s bright future.”