County expects busier times

Updating its economic development strategy, planning processes and road networks are among Red Deer County council’s priorities for the next year.

Updating its economic development strategy, planning processes and road networks are among Red Deer County council’s priorities for the next year.

Mayor Jim Wood said newcomers continue to be lured to the county and “we know that demand has to be handled.”

There are signs that the economic slowdown — which saw some projects such as a large residential development earmarked for Gasoline Alley put on hold by developers — is lifting.

“We’re seeing that our building permits have definitely increased over the year before. Staff are busy as far as taking in these permits.”

Short of some unpredictable world disaster, Wood anticipates development will continue to pick up.

“What we’re trying to do is ensure we have the infrastructure in place so that we can handle that development as it comes forward. And I think we’re in good shape that way.”

Council developed a strategic priorities chart in a three-day retreat last November.

Another top priority is to look at the county’s role in replacing the aging Autumn Glen Lodge in Innisfail, which is geared to low-income seniors.

Council voted to support a feasibility study last year but sent notice it wants to see the cost-sharing formula change.

The lodge managed by the Parkland Foundation is supported by the county and the communities of Innisfail, Delburne, Elnora and Penhold.

The original cost-sharing agreement dates back to 1959.

“Autumn Glen Lodge is extremely important,” said Wood, adding it provides valuable housing for seniors on fixed incomes.

The county has had discussions with Innisfail, the other key financial provider, about a new formula and those talks will continue with other municipalities.

Other high-priority items for 2014 include: updating a long-term road plan and the gravel extraction permit process, as well as developing an airport master servicing plan and a boat launch on Sylvan Lake.

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