County of Grande Prairie Reeve Leanne Beaupre joined other municipal leaders from the City of Grande Prairie and the Municipal District of Greenview at the Grande Prairie Chamber of Commerce’s virtual State of the Region event last Wednesday.
“To be successful isn't just about growth that requires innovation, thinking differently,” said Beaupre, who delivered an update on the county’s plans and future outlooks.
“There's a direct link between investment in infrastructure and economic growth, to set the foundation for community resilience and long-term sustainability,” said Beaupre. “The county made strategic investments right through the pandemic.”
She said that residential and non-residential construction values are on the rise and lumber prices strong as the areasindustries continue to diversify and innovate.
She noted that the Richardson Pioneer high-throughput grain elevator near Huallen “will have a significant positive impact on the agricultural economy in our area.”
Rising oil prices have brought a boost in the area as more drilling rigs begin to move into the area.
Beaupre said Nauticol Energy's plant, slated to begin operations in 2025, will create 200 permanent jobs once operational.
The county is looking into the geothermal capabilities and “results look very promising.” Beaupre said the county is planning to conduct a pilot project.
“A local oil and gas study is underway to help us understand future development time within the region, so we can support the industry and reduce industry impacts on nearby residential, agricultural and recreation areas.”
The county is working with the MD of Greenview and the province on the twinning and improvements of Hwy. 40 just south of the city, said Beaupre.
“Greenview has committed $60 million to this project, which is roughly a 50 per cent stake in the project, and we're more than happy to have the County of Grand Prairie as a partner in funding,” said Dale Smith MD of Greenview reeve.
“Once complete, Hwy. 40 could generate as much as $483.7 million in economic benefit for the region, according to an economic impact study that was conducted,” said Beaupre.
“About half of the county's budget is directed to county and regional transportation networks,” she said.
The county is cognizant of quality of life, noted the reeve.
Beaupre said the county “is providing funding to assess the development of an innovative specialized regional medical centre that's based on the Mayo Clinic model of care.”
The county is also advocating for the Mountview Health Complex in Beaverlodge, which soon hopes to break ground, she said.
Meanwhile, Grande Prairie mayor Jackie Clayton noted the importance of an efficient criminal justice system.
“Grande Prairie has gone for many years without a sitting Court of Queen's Bench justice,” she said.
“The city appreciates the county's support in advocating for the appointment of a local Court of Queen's Bench justice.”
In the past year, COVID has been taxing on other aspects of life than simply health, noted Beaupre. The county spent $2.2 million on COVID-related expenses though the reeve noted provincial grants covered those costs.
“We supported community organizations granting over $6 million to local groups whose operations were impacted by the pandemic, some at risk of closing permanently.”
Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News