As always, the next four years for High Prairie town council will be interesting. Now that the election smoke has cleared, many are predicting what the next four years will bring us. Some good, some bad, everyone has an opinion.
What is not being said so far by anyone before, during or after the Oct. 16 election is that most of the hard work has been completed. The current council is set up to succeed, perhaps more so than any council beforehand.
Let me explain.
I don’t want the beat the Harold Johnsrude Report to death. It gave a bazillion recommendations on proper governance. Late in the last term of the previous council in 2012-13, and during the four years of the current council from 2013-17, both councils worked hard to bring about proper governance. By all accounts, they succeeded.
All that needs to be done now is to continue to steer the Good Ship High Prairie in a proper direction. Councillor Michael Long has already fired those warning shots to council at the last meeting.
There are many reasons to be optimistic. Let me list a few of the reasons, in no order of importance:
* the new Northern Lakes College campus appears ready to proceed. NLC and HPSD have reached an agreement, so all council has to do is sit back, stay out of the way and enjoy the benefits;
* Tim Hortons will “finally” proceed once approval for the speed limit is granted by Alberta Transportation. There is no magic wand council can wave and make this happen. All the work has been done. When Tim’s is built, the store will immediately prompt other businesses to locate nearby. As long as council lets business do its thing, one should see drastic change in that area the next four years;
* taxes are under control. Council mill rates are trending toward the average for towns the same size as High Prairie in Alberta the last few years. As long as this council doesn’t go hog wild on spending, there is no reason to see a hike in taxes. This was council’s most important accomplishment during the last term;
* Tolko’s re-opening and West Fraser’s modernization should continue to supply jobs for the region and further stabilize the local economy.
For these reasons, compared to other communities, High Prairie is set up to succeed the next four years. As long as this council keeps a firm grasp on what made it successful during the last term, there is no reason to believe it cannot be as successful this term.
Sure, the previous council had its squabbles. It had its disagreements and it had its petty differences.
However, through all of the debate and when everything was said and done, some very good work was done. Yes, personalities clashed as did ideologies, but debate can be healthy. Somehow, when debate had concluded and decisions reached, the end result was pretty decent government.
Yes, council did have some failures but no council is perfect. I think when you look at the record of the past council and where it came from since 2013, they can take pride in making significant steps forward.
The biggest job the elected council has is continuing the momentum. The first step toward realizing this goal is to remember where it came from and how it evolved. It should not be that difficult, as long as they don’t stumble over themselves.