20 Ques­tions with Mayor Heather Col­berg

The Mail sat down with Mayor Heather Col­berg for a ques­tion and an­swer in­ter­view to re­view the year that has passed as well as dis­cuss what is com­ing in 2019.

The Drumheller Mail - - NEWS -

1. What would you con­sider the biggest suc­cess of Coun­cil in 2018?

The down­town plaza, the Cel­e­bra­tion of Ex­cel­lence, the Eco­nomic Task­force, hav­ing all Com­mit­tee of the Whole meet­ings recorded. I have never seen so many peo­ple in Drumheller will­ing to step up and make this com­mu­nity a bet­ter place for all.

Giant steps to­wards town clean up. Re-work­ing the com­mu­nity stan­dards by-law to ad­dress derelict build­ings. Cre­at­ing a new tourism cor­ri­dor by-law to beau­tify of tourism cor­ri­dors. Ad­vo­cacy and lob­by­ing. The Fes­ti­val of Lights has re­ally come along nicely. The down­town plaza has evolved with lots of po­ten­tial to be de­vel­oped fur­ther and the Roger Brooks pre­sen­ta­tion pro­vided us with an im­age as to what we can be. Most notable though, is the seem­ingly less neg­a­tiv­ity amongst res­i­dents, al­beit the need to still spin this fur­ther. Look­ing for­ward to what we can ac­com­plish in 2019. 2. One ob­vi­ous suc­cess is the down­town plaza; it proved to be a pos­i­tive space for res­i­dents and vis­i­tors. Are there plans to make it per­ma­nent? Are there any other vi­sions for down­town Drumheller?

Yes, this spring we will use the space where the Elks build­ing is (and soon to be was). We will be us­ing the space this year to see how it works. The goal is to fol­low along with Roger Brooks where there is a place to con­gre­gate and hold ac­tiv­i­ties through­out the year as well as beau­tify the streetscape in down­town. 3. How does the plaza play into a larger tourism strat­egy?

The plaza is for both res­i­dents and vis­i­tors to Drumheller. Many of the most suc­cess­ful nights last year had the plaza filled with res­i­dents en­joy­ing the mu­sic and com­pany. It was won­der­ful to lis­ten to peo­ple visit with other res­i­dents they haven’t seen in months. I was ex­cited to hear these com­ments. We see the plaza de­vel­op­ing a larger com­mu­nity feel as well as bring­ing vis­i­tors down­town to en­joy our warm hos­pi­tal­ity and great shops and restau­rants in the down­town. 4. If we are a tourist town, are there lobby ef­forts be­ing made to our MLA for ser­vice/ sig­nage im­prove­ment?

Yes, we are work­ing with the prov­ince to en­hance the ser­vices we pro­vide to res­i­dents and vis­i­tors by im­prov­ing tourism-re­lated in­fra­struc­ture, in­clud­ing sig­nage. 5. Flood mit­i­ga­tion and map­ping have been at the fore­front of many res­i­dents’ minds. Can you give an up­date on mea­sures taken?

We are chang­ing the chan­nel on flood mit­i­ga­tion. We are grate­ful for the flood-map­ping grant we just re­ceived. Coun­cil and ad­min­is­tra­tion have been work­ing hard to lobby both se­nior lev­els of gov­ern­ment on en­hanced fund­ing for flood mit­i­ga­tion in the val­ley. In­cluded in the work from 2018 is up­dat­ing the emer­gency man­age­ment plan, con­cep­tual de­sign on the ap­proved dike pro­jects in down­town, east Mid­land and New­cas­tle, and the start of a com­mu­ni­ca­tion plan for res­i­dents on how to plan for emer­gency events, in­clud­ing floods. We started pub­lish­ing in­for­ma­tion last month and will con­tinue in 2019. 6. Coun­cil is look­ing at a 5 per cent cut across the board in its op­er­at­ing bud­get, how might that af­fect res­i­dents?

It is too early to tell. We are look­ing at items that may re­duce ser­vice lev­els in some ar­eas such as re­duced mow­ing in some parks or chang­ing the hours of op­er­a­tion for the BCF or Aquaplex. Those dis­cus­sions will come for­ward as part of the 2019 bud­get dis­cus­sions in Fe­bru­ary. 7. Is there a con­cern that with a new pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment that there is a pos­si­bil­ity of aus­ter­ity bud­get­ing?

Un­for­tu­nately, in the present po­lit­i­cal at­mos­phere, none of us can be sure what the fu­ture will bring. We have started talk­ing about it at coun­cil and what we would need to do if pro­vin­cial fund­ing was cut sig­nif­i­cantly. While we can’t pre­dict what the mea­sures from the prov­ince could look like, it might mean re­duced fund­ing for road main­te­nance, so­cial pro­gram­ming, and gen­eral op­er­a­tional fund­ing. 8. Are you ex­pect­ing smooth ne­go­ti­a­tions as the unions be­gin con­tract talks?

We are start­ing our dis­cus­sions this month so it would be pre­ma­ture to dis­cuss any union ne­go­ti­a­tions in pub­lic 9. With the down­turn in the pro­vin­cial econ­omy, what bright spots are you see­ing lo­cally?

We are ex­cited to have an Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Of­fi­cer in place early Fe­bru­ary and with the sup­port of the Eco­nomic Task­force and the Eco­nomic Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee, Cham­ber and Com­mu­nity Fu­tures, and other or­ga­ni­za­tions, to­gether we will find ways to help our com­mu­nity. I speak with many may­ors and coun­cil­lors and we are all strug­gling in this area.

We are see­ing some com­mer­cial con­struc­tion in town as well as busi­nesses im­prov­ing their fa­cades. There has also been an in­crease in oil and gas wells in the val­ley, which is good to see. We see a new Marks build­ing go­ing up and the ren­o­va­tion of the build­ing on the cor­ner of High­way 9 and 10. We will have a new mi­cro­brew­ery in 2019 and we have seen some restau­rants ex­pand. Of course, we all want to see more busi­nesses lo­cate to the com­mu­nity, which is the rea­son for the Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Of­fi­cer. We are also ex­cited about the tax in­cen­tives we ap­proved late last year. 10. How will the move to the new in­fra­struc­ture shop im­prove town ser­vices? What are the plans for the old site?

The old shop was in need of many re­pairs and was well past its prime. It is al­ways nicer to work or live in a place you feel good about com­ing to ev­ery day and we hope that our staff feels that way with the new fa­cil­ity. Our plans for the old site will be to even­tu­ally turn it into res­i­den­tial hous­ing as it is sur­rounded on most sides by res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties. As well we are ex­cited the po­si­tion of Di­rec­tor of In­fra­struc­ture will also be filled in Fe­bru­ary of this year. 11. Are we get­ting closer to pur­chas­ing a new snorkel truck? The new truck will be pur­chased in 2019. 12. Are there any plans for ma­jor in­fra­struc­ture pro­jects in the com­ing year?

We will be con­struct­ing the flood mit­i­ga­tion works in the New­cas­tle, east Mid­land and down­town ar­eas this year 13. Can you out­line pri­or­i­ties for road pro­jects?

Com­plet­ing the re­con­struc­tion of the last leg of Hunts Cres­cent and var­i­ous as­phalt over­lays of streets are the main fo­cus for 2019. 14. What do you fore­see as the great­est chal­lenge fac­ing Drumheller in 2019?

I think the abil­ity to get every­thing we want to be done within the con­straints of the bud­gets we have to work with. 15. Is­sues with the Aquaplex last year were cer­tainly chal­leng­ing. Are there any mea­sures that can be taken to en­sure more re­li­a­bil­ity?

Both is­sues were the cul­mi­na­tion of the same leak and were re­lated to the con­struc­tion of the pool. Cer­tainly, the se­cond leak was com­pletely un­ex­pected. Now this item is re­paired, we don’t think there are mea­sures that can en­sure more re­li­a­bil­ity. A com­par­i­son at home would be the hot water tank spring­ing a leak. You can’t plan for this but need to re­act as quickly as pos­si­ble to re­store ser­vice if it does leak. 16. Af­ford­abil­ity of town fa­cil­i­ties is a con­cern ex­pressed. Can you tell me some of the ways the town and other agen­cies are mak­ing sure res­i­dents and fam­i­lies have ac­cess?

The town has had a pro­gram for sev­eral years to as­sist in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies on a low in­come to at­tend the BCF and Aquaplex. We are also work­ing, through FCSS, on a poverty re­duc­tion strat­egy to help peo­ple at­tain the re­sources they need to live. 17. Are there any plans to the aban­doned the CN line?

We have been en­gag­ing with CN on the rail line. We are ex­press­ing to them the ad­van­tages to both CN and our com­mu­nity. We have had con­tin­u­ous com­mu­ni­ca­tion and we will con­tinue to keep this line of com­mu­ni­ca­tion open. 18. There have been on­go­ing is­sues with wil­ful dam­age, theft of prop­erty, (even squat­ters). Are we see­ing any turn­around?

This is an is­sue with all com­mu­ni­ties in Al­berta. Com­mu­nity groups such as Cit­i­zens on Pa­trol are a great as­set to both the com­mu­nity and the RCMP and help be the eyes and ears for our res­i­dents. The more peo­ple we have on the street helps show crim­i­nals that we are pay­ing at­ten­tion and we care and they will move on. I en­cour­age peo­ple to con­tact COP to see if/where they can help. 19. Res­i­dents are grate­ful for the town’s mos­quito abate­ment pro­gram. Is the town able to con­tinue with the pro­gram? There are no plans to dis­con­tinue the abate­ment pro­gram. 20. Are there any other ma­jor con­cerns/ ac­com­plish­ments is­sues you would like to ad­dress?

Con­tinue to work on tourism cor­ri­dor and com­mu­nity stan­dards by-law. Keep work­ing to­wards the vi­sion to be the clean­est, friendli­est, most sought af­ter com­mu­nity in Al­berta. This coun­cil and ad­min­is­tra­tion are com­mit­ted to re­view­ing the by­laws, poli­cies, etc. to make the com­mu­nity a place where peo­ple want to live, work and play.

Mayor Heather Col­berg took some time to an­swer 20 ques­tions from The Drumheller Mail.

Mayor Col­berg

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