2021 was a “big year” for Blackfalds in terms of infrastructure and that trend is expected to continue in 2022, says Mayor Jamie Hoover.
“Opening the Eagle Builders Centre was a huge endeavour and an exciting thing for the town. With that, we brought the Bulldogs to town. That gives us something to rally around, which is something we’ve been lacking for a lot of years,” Hoover said.
“Not only is (the Eagle Builders Centre) an amazing facility for hockey and concerts, but it also has a beautiful library … that opened just over the holidays.”
The process of bringing a high school to Blackfalds also began in 2021 and construction will begin this spring. The school is expected to open in 2024.
“We’ve done all of our work as a town to have a road and infrastructure set up for them to start building,” he said.
“It’s extremely exciting to bring our youth back into town. For a lot of years we’ve been shipping our high school students off to Lacombe and Red Deer. To finally have them back in town is going to be great for the community.”
Like every other community across the province and country, COVID-19 brought some challenges to Blackfalds this past year, said Hoover.
“We had to make some really challenging decisions in terms of the Restriction Exemption Program, which initially we didn’t support. We wanted to keep our facilities open and available to everyone, but that was fairly limiting, so we had to finally adopt the program to allow the main uses of those facilities,” he said.
“That decision was not made easily and we did that knowing it was going to impact a pretty sizable portion of our community.”
The mental health and social wellbeing of residents have been impacted by the pandemic as well, Hoover added.
Plenty of infrastructure work will be done in 2022. In addition to the new high school beginning construction, an outdoor gathering space, which is part of the Eagle Builders Centre project, will be built this year. The town received a “significant grant” for the space, which requires it to be complete by June, Hoover noted.
Additionally, the Womacks Road/Gregg Street realignment will be an important project for Blackfalds, said Hoover.
“That’ll change the transportation (system) throughout the town, which is something that’s been greatly needed. The town has exploded in the last few years and keeping up with infrastructure has been a challenge,” he said.
“All of the construction on the west side of Highway 2A has kind of cornered a lot of residents in there. We’ll be really excited when that roadway is complete. It’s going to be an adjustment for residents in terms of how they drive throughout the town, but I think in the long run it’s going to make for a much better transportation system.”