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The goal is growth

The message is familiar, frequent, and is a view shared by many in the community in both the public and private sector: We need to grow.

For Wetaskiwin to maintain its vitality, we need to continue to support our existing businesses while also bringing new business to town — creating jobs and attracting more families to live here. Each of these goals brings with it direct and indirect positive impacts on the local economy, as well as a boost to community morale. On this we can agree.

The path that leads from today to the future we desire is where opinions begin to differ. We see this debated in the coffee shops, board rooms, and among administrative drivers of change. The road forward requires that we move strategically, purposefully, and with careful consideration of our values. It’s not growth for the sake of growth that we desire, but meaningful development that allows us to maintain the intrinsic charm that attracted (or kept) us here. We want to amplify Wetaskiwin — not lose our identity in the name of expansion.

At the City, we are looking to the future with an ambitious and positive outlook. The Community Vision that we all aspire to create is attainable, but success won’t be possible without the combined efforts of multiple agencies and organizations. If we consider the wisdom that it takes a community to raise a child, we need to consider how much bigger the task is to grow a whole community. We need to find avenues for business and government to collaborate for our mutual benefit. We must draw upon the strength of our personal and professional networks locally and abroad and recognize the value of the community assets and amenities that serve to create a lifestyle we enjoy.

Some of our hurdles are not unique but are shared across communities of all sizes — not just in Alberta, but throughout the country and globally. Workforce is one item on that list. We hear from our business leaders that their greatest challenge is maintaining skilled and reliable staff. This is an area of key concern to support our existing businesses, as well as attracting new ones. Talent attraction needs to be an area of focus. We can’t lose sight that talent we need may already be here, enrolled in high school. How do we help our youth find their sense of place here and inspire their passions when they are ready to focus on a career and/or start families of their own?

I recently arrived in Wetaskiwin with my wife and children. I am delighted with the experience we are having in the community and am encouraged by the potential for the future. If you see that bright horizon as well, I would love to have a conversation with you and hear your ideas, questions, or concerns. Please reach out to chat at vern.may@wetaskiwin.ca or 780.361.4450.