Mayor Gerald Aalbers says 2019 has been a quick year with a lot of highs and lows.
Two projects he highlights: funding the wastewater treatment plant and the repaving of the airport runway.
“It was a challenge from the time I got elected and to see it come to fruition in 2019 for at least the approvals. We still have a long way to go. We still have to build the facility and get it operational and commissioned but I think it was a big step in getting the $48 million from three levels of government to help support the taxpayers in building this facility.”
A concern that has been brought up to the mayor is the state of the economy in Lloydminster. Aalbers says he regularly talks to residents about it and has brought the matter to the federal and provincial electives many times. Despite a poor economy this past year, Aalbers says the city is still growing.
Another negative he points out is the crop left in the field due to uncooperative weather.
“The local economy is driven by many factors. Agriculture plays a huge factor and so far the market has gone down a little on oilseeds and grains. The cattle markets are not too bad from what I understand which is a positive going into 2020. Farmers and ranchers know where they need to be for their bottom line.”
Aalbers says while Lloydminster’s economy is based on the energy sector there won’t be the same level of oil exploration and production as in the past.
“But at the same time, the Husky upgrader and refinery are going to go through a turnaround which is good for our local economy.”
Aalbers expects tourism in the city will see a boom in the next year as there are several events that will be hosted in the Border City including the chuckwagon finals, an oil show and the 2020 Summer Games. He says they’ve spent the past year ensuring all the facilities are ready for the games.
A focus going into the new year will be the future of several city buildings that were deemed near end of life. Firehall #1 is a priority as the building was built in the 1940s. It has been renovated multiple times and it is no longer practical to use the building as a Firehall.
With a city election on the horizon, Aalbers says the city will continue to run the same way as it did in the past. The last four years has been a new experience for five out of the six city officials and they will be watching both provinces budgets in the spring.
“Federally is going to be the most interesting one in 2020 because of the minority government. A minority government can last four years or it can last a series of months. We will watch that one very carefully and see.”
A focus in 2019 was to be more transparent and open with residents which the mayor says has been successful. He points at the many Your Voice nights as well as himself and other councillors present at the many events throughout the year.