Despite the prominent downturn in Alberta’s economy the City of Leduc mayor Greg Krischke is confident the city will be able take the situation in stride and still experience some positive growth.
Krischke presented the city’s economic standings at the Leduc Regional Chamber of Commerce’s luncheon, held March 4.
“I know I’m stating the obvious when I say we’re experiencing hard times,” said Krischke.
“The prosperity we’ve had over the last number of years was great while it lasted. Yet we can meet this challenge head on,” he added.
He told attendees, as part of the city council, he and other councillors would continue to work as a strong team to ensure the sustainability of the city and all its factors. “Clearly we are fully aligned in the vision of where we want to go. We’re all strong leaders.”
In 2015 the City of Leduc experienced consistent population growth to more than 29,300 residents. “Which you can see is a 2.5 per cent increase over 2014 and 72 per cent growth rate in population since 2006,” said Krischke.
However, in 2015 permit values took a hit. There was a reduced number of new residences built; 637 in 2014 dropped to 324 in 2015.
Leduc did see a slight increase in commercial and industrial development last year.
“In total we had $255 million in new construction starts in 2015,” said Krischke.
A long term strategy the city is using to combat the recession is concentrating on non-residential development. Krischke says a focus is a 60/40 ratio of residential versus non-residential development. “As I’ve stated before planners call that a well balanced community.”
“Ten years ago we were at 76 (per cent), 24 (per cent). And this year we are at 68 (per cent) 32 (per cent),” he added.
Krischke explained how hard it is to change that ratio as new jobs bring new people and the larger a community grows the more businesses see it as a viable location. For every 1,500 new residences the city would need another quarter section of non-residential development to keep that ratio balanced.
While the city has not stagnated it is not seeing the same kind of growth as in past years. Krischke says people may not be able to control the economy but they can choose how they respond. “We can influence how we rise above these tough times.”
Krischke says by continuing to implement the Japanese principles of kaizen, which it the practice of continual improvement Leduc will be able to main successful. “These guiding principles are as follows: good processes bring good results, see things for yourself, speak with data and manage by facts, take action and work as a team.”
Another recognized important factor of sustainability, success and growth is collaborating partnerships. In the past the City of Leduc has partnered with Leduc County and the Edmonton International Airport to focus efforts to create fire emergency services that meet all the collective needs.
The City of Leduc recognizes the importance and strength of partnerships and has built 33 joint agreements with different programs, initiatives and events in the region.
More positive growth seen by the city recently includes the downtown revival plan. In 2012 the city had developed a master plan, a revival plan plan was adopted in early 2015 and then the project went to tender. However, what came back was too expansive and city council decided to hold off one more year.
There is a squeeze on the project as a large outlet mall being built at the Edmonton International Airport comes to fruition. Krischke wants the downtown and the city ready to welcome the thousands of visitors that would come to the community for the mall and have a strategy in place that will ensure the growth this mall will spur is fully realized.
“We will weather this storm and we will do it together,” said Krischke.