Alberta Senator Doug Black is virtually meeting with Lloydminster leaders and organizations during his tour across the province.
Black began his tour at the end of September and has visited Peace River, Lethbridge, Fort McMurray and several other communities over the past few weeks. The purpose for the senators tour is to discuss the challenges faced by residents, non-profits, businesses and other organizations.
“I wanted to learn, in this very challenging times, how Albertans are doing. That’s exactly what I set out to do and that’s why I’m in Lloydminster to see here’s where we are, what are the challenges, how do we address them and get through this.”
Black spoke with Mayor Gerald Aalbers, the Lloydminster Chamber of Commerce, the Lloydminster Agricultural Exhibition Association, the Friends of Performing Arts and the Director of Education and the Chairman of the Lloydminster Catholic School Division Board during his virtual tour.
“I felt resilient leadership that understands the community and understands what they need to do to get past these challenges.”
He calls the Lloyd Exh and other agricultural associations essential to the community for both events and commerce in the area. Following a conversation about the association’s current situation he says he’s worried, but also confident the association will find a way to get through the pandemic.
“They are facing substantial challenges that frankly is going to require some level of government support. Until people start being comfortable to meet again, they’re not going to book events or go to events. So we had a conversation about potential opportunities for them.”
On the topic of the energy industry, Black says on some level the province will have to transition from a dependence on oil. He adds oil and gas will be relied upon in the coming years, but recommends the city pivot their focus on developing different industries in the area as a short-term solution and utilize skilled workers and resources already in the community.
“I’m urging people to think about advanced manufacturing. [Lloydminster] has a highly skilled workforce: welders, engineers, electricians, who build, fix and maintain things. When we’re in this environment of uncertainty, I think there are opportunities in Lloyd because of the natural assets and the two rail lines in close proximity to the city.”
During his tour, Senator Black aims to connect people and organizations to resources and programs to help support them through the pandemic. He also says he is creating a list of takeaways in each community and will be acting on those takeaways anyway he can.
“I’ve committed myself to both the mayor and the chamber to be helpful in introducing folks to other folks who might be able to move this agenda forward.”
Black says he will share what he’s learned during the tour to Canadians through newspaper op-eds and other forms of media. Black mentions he will also present a speech to the politicians at the Senate of Canada.
“I have seen nothing, but resilience and compassion on my tour. Albertans are resilient. We are in a tough circumstance, not only because of COVID, but the energy challenges as well. We’ve been down before, but we will get up. There is no doubt in my mind about that. I’ve also been struck in every community, including yours, of the compassion that people are showing for their neighbours.”