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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Year in Review: 2011

This last year has been marked with excitement, drama, strategic decision making and most of all defining and standing up for Strathcona County’s needs and rights!

Excitement comes from the amazing activities and events being held in our new Community Centre and all around the County in all our other rural hamlets.  To start 2011, it was magnificent to feel all the positive energy and ambiance of our New Year’s Eve celebrations.  My very first Mayor’s New Year’s Levee was a success.   Other annual highlights include the Josephburg Chicken supper, the Ardrossan lobster fundraiser, and the South Cooking Lake Trail Days.  These are just a few wonderful events throughout the year that took place.

I personally believe in community spirit and pride.  One of the many highlights of being your Mayor is attending as many community events as possible.  I have made some awesome memories this past year and have met so many of our residents.  I loved the Irish stew at the Partridge Hill Community Hall for the St. Patrick’s Day event.  The community of Brookville always teams up great pyrogies and Ukrainian food with great fellowship at their Ukrainian Christmas event held every January.

Enjoying a hotdog and ice cream after a ride on a beautiful mare at South Cooking Lake Trail Days and watching the families and children loving the candy toss was amazing.  Events such as this bring back such wonderful memories of a simpler, easier life.  It recognizes where we all came from and it celebrates our history and community spirit.

Of course, it’s always exciting to officially start the Christmas season in the Heartland with the Lighting of the Christmas lights at Heartland Hall.  I love listening to the children sing Christmas carols.  It’s always a pleasure talking with residents and seniors and I especially enjoyed the famous chili made by cooks at the Partridge Hill Community Hall.  The nativity display at the Bethel Lutheran Church, the  nutcracker’s at Good Hope Community Hall and all the other messages at  the Brookville and Bremner Christmas celebrations added charm to all the excitement.

Hastings Lake and Antler Lake continue to have wonderful community gatherings especially at the Red Barn.  Thanks for the invite!

There was plenty of drama through the year.  Thinking back on this, I refer to a quote from President Teddy Roosevelt. In his speech “Citizenship In A Republic” delivered on April 23, 1910, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

The quote from President Roosevelt’s speech reminds me of why I aspired to be your Mayor.  This quote says that the opinions of the people who criticize and observe others from the sidelines are meaningless, and that all the credit is due to the man who is actually in the arena, trying, failing, getting up again and fighting for what they believe in.  I believe in the people of Strathcona County.  I believe in you and I believe in our community.   You need (and deserve) to be heard, to be protected and safe, and to be healthy and to be respected.  I disapprove of injustices and will fight hard to correct any.

The majority of you have said we must continue to fight for our full treatment hospital; to bury the transmission lines, and to ensure proper transportation corridors which include overpasses and adequate exit routes.  I have and will continue to be in the arena.  I am and will be your voice.

Strategic planning sessions with Council and administrative staff identified the need for a rural strategy.  The Heartland was also identified as an important area to plan for.  The County identity branding initiative, with a public engagement process was identified.  Council further believed and endorsed a complete organizational review of our organization.  We fully support the pursuit of excellence in customer service.

During this year, I was honoured to be asked to represent Canada along with two other Mayors, Mayor Debra Button from Weyburn, Saskatchewan and Mayor Shari Decter Hirst from Brandon, Manitoba in a trip to Kiev, Ukraine.  This trip highlighted the important need for economic and gender equality opportunities.  This trip was a Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) initiative connecting Canada with the Ukraine.  Benefits for us are many.  Positive trade opportunities, labour force expansion, business connections, positive political relationships and investments into the future for both countries are just a few.

The Alberta Industrial Heartland Association (AIHA), of which Strathcona County is one of five municipalities, also includes the City of Ft. Saskatchewan, the County of Lamont, the County of Sturgeon and the City of Edmonton.  AIHA has expanded their mandate to market themselves in the global world and to attract the eyes of the world to the largest hydro carbon processing centre in Canada.  I am presently chair of this association and have just returned from Doha, Qatar.  With growing, cost advantaged feed stocks, supportive logistical systems and a supportive government environment, the AIHA is set to become a global centre for petrochemical and energy processing.

The primary purpose of trip was to attend the World Petroleum Congress which is held every three years.  It is the Olympics of industry.  Myself along with the Executive Director of AIHA, met with potential industry investors considering the Heartland for future investment.  Along with talking about who we are and what we can offer, this will open the doors to more business, therefore more jobs and further economic stability.

Both these opportunities were supported financially by FCM and AIHA respectively.

Thirdly, Communities in Bloom is a nationwide initiative that has put the bloom into communities.  The trees, flowers and amazing infrastructures, not to mention the exceptional volunteer pride, facilitates further growth in pride and health across Canada.  Next year our capital region will be hosting the national conference and Strathcona County will be part of this monumental event.  I also had the pleasure of attending the 2011 event in Quebec City.

Speaking of the Capital Region, the Capital Region Board, with 23 partnering municipalities, continues to work towards better governance, transit, affordable housing, GIS systems and possible economic opportunities.  We are a strong voice at the table. 

It has been busy.  It has been exciting.  Most of all it has been an honour to represent Strathcona County as your Mayor and to work together with a team of Councillors who are caring and passionate.

We have hard working dedicated staff and an amazing community of residents, businesses, agricultural richness and industry.  We are the best municipality in Alberta and dare I say Canada and the World.

2012 will be just as exciting! 

Happy New Year and the best to you and your family,

Mayor Linda

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