The Special Areas Advisory Council finished up their quarterly meeting this past week, with the thirteen-member Advisory Council spending three days together in Hanna discussing emerging issues, providing direction to administration, and reviewing organizational performance. Although the locally elected Advisory Council meets quarterly, the December meeting is particularly busy as the group reviews the upcoming year’s proposed budget and work plans, current year interim financial statements, ratepayer meeting motions, and annual operational reports.
In between discussions on road program costing and land management, the Advisory Council welcomed a variety of presenters - from wildlife biologists to staff from Alberta Transportation. Appreciative of the time taken and distance travelled by many presenters, the assembled group enjoyed robust discussions around wildlife management issues, long-term infrastructure, and some potential changes to provincial funding.
“The Advisory Council works because everyone on it works. These meetings give us a chance to get together and find out if the issues ratepayers are having in one area are the same issues ratepayers are having in other areas. Finding ways to help ratepayers while supporting our region as a place to live and work is what brings each of us to the table. Sometimes, talking this through as a group is the way to find the best solution.”
Brad Slorstad, Chair – Special Areas Advisory Council
The was the first Advisory Council meeting since provincial political candidates were confirmed, and both Mark Nikota (Alberta Party) and Nate Horner (UCP) met with the group to discuss local needs and specific regional priorities. Economic realities facing the entire province were discussed, along with continuing to use innovative funding models and partnerships with the province. Chris Warwick and Kim Neill joined the meeting to provide an update on the Hanna Climate Change Taskforce, touching on their government advocacy work, upcoming grant opportunities and potential projects.
“The Hanna Climate Change Taskforce continues to work hard developing innovative projects which will provide real benefits for people who call Hanna and the larger region home. We have extensively consulted with local residents and businesses, and our Community Action Teams are developing exciting projects to make a real positive impact. What we are focusing on is getting the support we need from the Province and federal government to make these projects a reality.”
Chris Warwick, Mayor - Town of Hanna
On the final day of the meeting, the Advisory Council passed resolutions related to regional economic development tools, the Special Areas Land Use Order, and community pastures. Committees with representation from Advisory Council and Administration were struck to further investigate, with recommendations and draft documents expected to be reviewed at future meetings. The proposed 2019 budget was recommended for approval, including the proposed 2019 road construction and surfacing programs.
The next meeting of the Special Areas Advisory Council will be held in the spring in 2019. The Special Areas Board meets bi-monthly throughout the Special Areas.