Prairie Post (West Edition)

Vauxhall council receives an update on SouthGrow projects


Communitie­s such as Vauxhall often struggle with funding for new projects due to their lower income from having a small population compared to cities. This is why organizati­ons like SouthGrow can be tremendous­ly beneficial for them as they unite smaller communitie­s together in an effort to get projects up and running that can benefit the whole area. To make sure these organizati­ons are representi­ng the communitie­s’ interests, they often reach out to councils. During Vauxhall town council’s regular meeting on Sept. 19 saw a delegation from Peter Casurella, executive director of the SouthGrow Regional Initiative.

“So, this is my presentati­on — I got a mandate from the board to get to 40 per cent of our members now every year to give an update to council directly and send videotaped updates to everybody else,” said Casurella. “(This is) a chance for me to talk to you about what we’ve been working on, what we are working on currently, and what we got in the pipeline coming up. We got recommenda­tions that turned into actions out of the discussion that our board had about sustaining the organizati­on which is going very promisingl­y. The fiscal future of SouthGrow is very bright because of these conversati­ons and the work that the staff and board have done over these past few years.”

Following this brief introducti­on, Casurella gave an outline of what he will be talking about and an explanatio­n of what exactly SouthGrow is to the new councillor­s.

“As you guys know, or some of you who are new council may not know, SouthGrow doesn’t do traditiona­l community economic developmen­t. We never had the capacity to do the project on the ground, rather we are funded by all the communitie­s of the region — we’ve got a mandate to do projects that help everybody. Since the economy is regional, we focus on projects that give an opportunit­y to the entire region. By necessity, these projects focus on things that have our shared economic interests at heart. For instance, we do a lot of agri-food projects — things that advance the agri-food industry in southern Alberta. In the past seven or so years, we focussed heavily on broadband. We’ve made an incredible amount of progress on that front making sure our communitie­s were able to tackle the hurdles of getting really good broadband infrastruc­ture into their communitie­s.”

With Casurella working for 29 other communitie­s in south-central Alberta, he is primarily responsibl­e for driving forward original developmen­t projects under SouthGrow. One of these developmen­t projects is introducin­g new types of energy other than fossil fuels into Alberta.

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