On Thursday, Mayor Gerald Aalbers will be celebrating one year of being in office.
“It’s been a very exciting year for myself, the newly elected council and for our city. The city does not stay still, we’re very active and a growing city, we’re a young city. There’s a lot of things on the move continuously,” says Aalbers.
The Mayor says there was a bit of learning curve when he first accepted the role.
“One of the biggest challenges that I think councils overcome is we’ve all realized how much of an effect the two provincial governments have on our city. Every time the government of Saskatchewan or Alberta makes a cabinet change it has a dramatic effect on our City.”
In February, Council voted to have George Cuff come in and conduct a Governance Audit, since then there has been some shifts at City Hall.
“Council has certainly helped set some direction here at the city regarding governance and priorities. There has been a lot of the changes within policy at the City. We’ve had some staff changes that have resulted in people coming and people no longer with us. We’ve worked through some of the challenges we thought that were there and it was supported by the Cuff report. Its lead to a lot of policy development in the city,” says Aalbers.
Over the past year City Administration also went through a bit of a restructuring, eliminating three positions and discontinuing the use of the General Manager title. Along with relieving the duties of former City Manager Glenn Carroll.
One thing Aalbers is proud of is how council is able to connect with residents.
“From what I’m hearing from people, they say city council as a whole is very available and are approachable and reachable. We want to continue to convey that [with] having council meetings online, people can attend the meetings, they can hear that [and] making ourselves available at every opportunity.
The Wastewater Treatment Plant is “the number one priority” for the City in the council’s next three years according to the Mayor.
“We haven’t accomplished our goal yet but we’ve been working diligently on it from both council and administration sides because it’s a work in progress. We’ve got it this far, we’re getting closer but we’re not there yet. From where we started to where we are today, I think we’ve made sure that the governments are fully aware of the need.”
The plant recently received an extension until 2020 to complete upgrades that were supposed to be done this year. The estimated cost to replace the plant is $80 million. Aalbers adds the city will also be looking at the Lloyd Needs survey and using the results for what to work on in the city, along with working on the economic development.
Aalbers says, “it’s been a very exciting year and we’re looking forward to three more very busy and exciting years ahead.”