The newly elected Cowley council has big plans for the community.
Mayor Barbara Burnett, deputy mayor Dave Slingerland and councillor Paula Watson were acclaimed in September, assumed their respective positions Oct. 19 and already have their sights set high.
They’ve decided to focus on growing the community by bringing in more services, more tourism and more business.
“I’d like to see a lot more economic development here. Cowley has so much potential,” says Slingerland. “There’s so much there could be and it seems like it’s sat stagnant for an awful lot of years.”
Slingerland has been a member of the community for a little over a decade and is the owner of HC Forest Products, a local sawmill and timber business. He decided to step up and run for council to give back to his neighbours.
Burnett has similar plans for the community. She says she’d like to see diversity in the village increase and find a way to attract more visitors.
Burnett’s first foray into local politics was in the 1990s when she served as a Cowley councillor, overseeing the development of the first water treatment plant. Now that she’s retired, she’s back for a second go and she thinks the job will be more challenging this time around.
Previous councils were larger and less bound by regulation, she explains, and she’ll have to familiarize herself with the Municipal Government Act.
As for Watson, she’s interested in reviving the village’s vibrant atmosphere and upping the amount of amenities available so residents don’t have to travel as far to get essentials.
“The times that we’re living in now, a lot of the community spirit’s lacking because everything’s done virtual, so it would be nice to bring some of that community spirit back,” she says.
Watson is an early-childhood educator by trade and currently works as a parent educator and respite caregiver. She ran for council because she believes the community has a lot of potential.
“I think if you want change, you can talk about it, but if you really want to do something then you’ve got to step up,” she says.
The council is still in the early stages of planning and has yet to actualize any of its goals. For now, members are focusing on catching up with unfinished business from the previous council, prioritizing half-finished construction projects and reviewing the budget.
“I’m looking forward to finding some goals that we’ve all got, working together, and I think we’re all coming from the same viewpoint that we want the community to grow and be better,” says Watson.
Gillian Francis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze