Edward

Sands

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The next Council will face an exciting array of issues to manage in the next term. Listed below are my thoughts and positions on a few of the issues which I feel will be priorities for the next Council.

1. Okotoks 3.0: Negotiating our annexation took a significant percentage of our time and attention last council. Now that the annexation has been approved, our focus will shift to detailed planning of what that growth will look like.
I am pleased with the public consultation that went into creating our new Community Vision in 2014. It is important that resident input is incorporated into a Municipal Development Plan which is reflective of where we want to see Okotoks in 50 years!

In addition, the Community Sustainability Plan goes a long way toward setting a plan for development ito the future. It is important that resident and business concerns are revisited now that the annexation details are finalized.
It is vitally important that our leadership in sustainable development is not compromised.

2. Secure Water Supply: Current political & economic conditions have delayed the funding and construction of our proposed water pipeline from Calgary. Interim solutions have been successfully implemented with several significant water licence transfers, permitting development to proceed for the next several years. This will allow developer contributions to accrue so that 'new growth' supports a significant percentage of the cost of the pipeline when arrangements are finally made.

It is essential that funding of the pipeline be spread across a number of sources so that it does not become an onerous burden on the existing residents of Okotoks. Securing the approvals for the pipeline are vitally important, but ensuring that it is affordable is paramount!

3. Recreation Infrastructure: I look forward to being part of the design of the development of the 40 acre Community Campus on 32nd Street. This was an innovative solution to keep the public high school in Okotoks, plus set aside land for future culture and recreation facilities. I was a strong supporter the twinning of the Pason Centennial Arena in Okotoks to provide urgently needed space for our ever-expanding minor hockey and figure-skating programs. The recreational ice surface will prove to be an innovative way to provide ice time for non-competitive users without reducing availability for our ever-expanding competitive users.

The Rotary Perfoming Arts Centre has served a vital role in the development and maturation of Okotoks theatrical and performing arts. Council has been actively pursuing the development of a larger, modern Performing Arts Centre, in keeping with the recently adopted Performing Arts Feasibility Study (which is due to be updated). As with our water pipeline, economic and political realities have delayed more timely approvals. I will continue to champion the pursuit of expanded arts facilities in Okotoks.

4. Financial Stability: The new growth phase that will come post-annexation will be an interesting challenge moving forward. Council must continue to develop a long range financial map to prioritize and plan for the new facilities and services which will be required to support new residents and businesses in both the short and long term. Residential taxation does not fully support the myriad services required by our residents. Existing as well as new residents need to be able to have a clear understanding of the cost of living in Okotoks - now and into the future.
I understand the need to expand our non-residential tax base by making Okotoks an attractive destination for businesses and their customers. Businesses provide employment for our residents and enhance Okotoks as a regional service centre. Businesses also contribute to the tax revenue stream which will help keep residential taxes low.
One of the newest features in budgeting was the addition of the 'Citizen Budget' online app which allowed residents to weigh in on planning and priorities.
In addition, as a resident and former business owner, I totally understand the need to keep the taxes in Okotoks affordable to all residents and businesses.

5. Participative Governance: Residents deserve to be informed of what is going on in the community and be afforded the opportunity for input into what happens in the community. We have come a long way in the past year, and I will work with administration and my fellow councillors to implement a meaningful public participation process where residents and businesses can feel that their input has been heard and incorporated into the decisions affecting them.


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