The County of Wetaskiwin has a new Reeve. Josh Bishop was nominated and elected by the County of Wetaskiwin Council to the Reeve position at the regular Oct. 27, 2020 County Council meeting.
Bishop was elected to County Council in 2017 and has served two years as the Deputy Reeve as well as being the Chair of the Agricultural Service Board.
“It is an honour and privilege to serve the county in my new role as Reeve,” says Bishop. “There has been a huge learning curve to get to this point and am confident we as a council are heading in the right direction.”
In his time on Council, Bishop has played a part in many important projects completed by the County. Bishop says the most important project being the recently completed Service Capacity Review.
“This was an issue that took a couple years of discussions and planning to proceed and has turned into a great success. As chair of the steering committee I was involved in setting the priorities for the audit as well as selecting the consultants,” says Bishop.
“The report identifies many areas we can improve efficiency and effectiveness. Many of the recommendations are already completed while others will take quite some time to fully implement. Some of these steps have allowed us to realize cost savings and higher productivity.”
Another major project tackled by the County while Bishop served as Deputy Reeve was the purchasing of packers to aid the graders in a pilot program to increase efficiency with fall gravelling and gravel packers in the County.
Previously, the County was on a winter gravelling program where gravel would be applied on top of frozen snow and ice during the winter, which was resulting in a large amount of gravel ending up in the ditch because it was difficult for the graders to plow snow without removing the fresh gravel.
The purchase of the packers helped as the packers were used to harden the driving surface and keep gravel on the road, creating roads with excellent drivability. Bishop says the combination of these projects “will end up increasing efficiency in the gravelling budget with those funds going towards much needed road upgrades.”
The biggest project that the County will face in 2021, with Bishop at the helm, is the 2021 budget.
“Looking forward, the next big project will be budget 2021 and there are many challenges to say the least. Increased costs and reduced funding sources are going to impact our decision making for the next several years,” says Bishop. “We will have many hard discussions and difficult decisions will need to be made. As we deliberate in the coming months, council as well as staff realize the position we are in and will work diligently as a team to minimize the impact to our ratepayers.”
Bishop is ready to face the County’s upcoming projects and challenges and looks forward to what the future on Council as Reeve brings.
“I look forward to meeting new people and continuing to advocate for our residents,” says Bishop.
At the Oct. 27 County Council meeting a new Deputy Reeve was also appointed — Lyle Seely.
Seely was elected to Council in 2013 and has been a part of several important decisions made by Council.
“A highlight from my first term on Council was amending the Land Use Bylaw to clarify the use of RVs. Council was not able to fix all the areas in the County but changes we did reduce nonconforming RV use,” says Seely. “Another big success for me is getting sewer collection to the east end of Alder Flats. I was pushing for this way before I was elected to Council.”
In his new position as Deputy Reeve, Seely says, “looking forward I have a very long list of project I would like to see done but at the top I am excited that we are moving forward with a Hamlet Revitalization Strategy.”