Leduc County mayor John Whaley re-affirmed his promise to the region to use the strength of the county in its entirety to help stabilize the region and the communities within during this time of economic hardship, speaking at the Leduc Regional Chamber of Commerce luncheon held March 4.
“We’re not immune from economic challenges … We deal with it and we’re committed to helping the community the best we can,” said Whaley.
Whaley explained the county is running scenarios of what the future may look like as a preventative measure and to create solid strategies. “We’re positive this region is a good place to live.”
In order to help create successes and foster positive growth Whaley says partnerships within the region are instrumental. “There is no borders.”
Diversification and adaptation are also important. However, Whaley says keeping a focus on balance is needed. With the Aerotropolis Viability Study Leduc County is able to plan long term the land uses of land surrounding the Edmonton International Airport (EIA).
“It’s important to know our airport is an economic regional model,” said Whaley. EIA is one of the last 24/7 airports in North America and with its continuing growth remains a major economic driver for the region.
Land uses must be balanced between diversification and agricultural uses. “As communities grow they tend to take up more good land,” said Whaley.
“Agriculture must be recognized and respected as a land use, that’s where we’re going as a county,” he added.
In February of this year Leduc County approved moving ahead with a drafted, highly focused agriculture strategy plan.
Whaley says finding a balance between land uses had been a contentious issue in the region for years.
The flat farm land in the area is also attractive to the City of Edmonton, leading to the ongoing annexation issue the county has been dealing with for several years. Whaley says there has not been much progression over the last three years.
“People are itching to know what’s going on with annexation. We’re limited to what we can say,” said Whaley.
Last year the first phase of Nisku Spine Road opened. The four-lane highway is an alternative route to Highway 2 and will connect Edmonton to Leduc. Phase 2 will come with more funding and an application was submitted to the Building Canada Fund for resources.
Whaley informed attendees the county prides itself on good project management. “It is possible to seize these opportunities through good fiscal and project management, it can be done. And as (City of Leduc mayor) Greg (Krischke) said ‘Now is the time to do more work if you have the cash’.”
Whaley says this allows people to keep busy and during times of stability services and resources should have been pooled for that reason.
“People have faith that things are going to get better and they’re taking advantage of the slow times,” said Whaley.