The Town of Strathmore recently released their 2022-2025 strategic plan, which outlines some of the Town’s priorities for the next three years.
Mayor Pat Fule said after meeting to brainstorm for the plan, they boiled their priorities down to six concepts: affordable living, financial sustainability, intentional community development, climate resiliency including environmental stewardship, economic development, and community wellness.
“We had a really solid strategic planning weekend, it was very intense … it was actually the best strategic planning session I’ve ever been involved in, in 12 years on council,” said Fule. “Those six areas are the ones that council basically comes up with the concept of higher-level priorities like this, and then administration gets together with the CAO and the senior leadership team to come up with actions that can help accomplish some of the some of the goals within each of those six priorities.”
During their brainstorming sessions, council broke down into working individually, as well as in small teams, to discern what they believed to be immediately important to the town.
Though the publicly available document does not elaborate heavily on the details of the strategic plan, Fule summarized each of the key points.
“We do have a lot of a lot of people looking for affordable housing rents. I know people’s rents have been going up and there’s definitely a shortage of decent places that people can rent,” said Fule who explained some of the options for the Town to explore expanding affordable housing options include working in partnership with organizations such as Siksika Nation, or to dive into Town-owned projects working with contractors to encourage more builds in affordable locations.
“We would (also) want to … increase the number of its own properties in town if, finances are still good. There are opportunities for the Town to become involved in assets of land and things and then we can start to possibly work with other partners to develop places to rent or purchase.”
Strathmore is expecting to see a noticeable increase in local employment options in the next several years, an example being with the scheduled construction of the Phyto Organix yellow pea processing plant, which in turn will also require more local housing options.
“There’s going to be a lot of need for people to possibly rent or they might even decide they’re going to move to Strathmore. We do have to look ahead to housing, what’s going to happen and how are people going to be able to get good jobs in our town,” said Fule.
“We know that the Town has some debt that we can tackle, so we’re working towards the initiatives for that. We have our budget workshops coming this fall and it’ll be the budget for 2023,” said Fule. “Some of the things we’re going to be looking at is how much money is available to us to pay down debt, to put into reserves for future needs.”
Among financial priorities that the Town will be addressing is enforcement and protective services, for which more reserves will need to be created.
Fule explained the Town is looking to find a balance between gaining assets for the municipality while still continuing to complete projects to help residents and address ongoing debt.
“We also have to keep in mind tax increases, because we don’t want to hit people hard with tax increases. Council, and I, have to pay taxes too, so we’re very aware of when property taxes go up and obviously, sometimes people have a lot of concerns about them,” said Fule. “We have to always find that balance between moving the Town forward and either sustaining services or trying to add services in places. And then you have to couple that with trying to keep property taxes reasonable.”
“We’re looking at things like a transportation plan, possibly in town, or there has been lots of talking about regional transportation,” said Fule who added that he intends for the Town to be in discussions with Siksika Nation and Wheatland County to further develop the region.
Regarding the Town’s relationship with Wheatland County, Fule spoke highly of the collaborative effort between the two administrations to remove Strathmore and Wheatland Countym the Calgary Metropolitan Region Board.
Fule hopes to build on that relationship and foundation going forward with the strategic plan.
“We were able to really work hard at developing a regional partnership approach. And you can see that in some of our projects — the Phyto Organix project in Strathmore is going to help Wheatland County and Siksika farmers.
“Perhaps if they decide to grow yellow peas, there could be jobs available to all the groups, including the Town of Strathmore as residents,” said Fule.
Among the Town’s other ideas and priorities for the community are maintained ideals for reconciliation, economic development and potential partnerships with local school boards. More detailed information can be found at Strathmore.ca by searching strategic plan.
John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times