As a current sitting member on Town Council, we have provided a zero percent tax rate increase for the past two years to help citizens navigate through the economic hardships of the global pandemic and economy in Alberta.
I think Town Council and Administration did a great job in moving forward with projects fiscally by leveraging partnerships and government grants, e.g. Arts and Learning Campus and Affordable Housing project.
As a Town Councillor for the past eight years in Okotoks, I have supported the Town’s vision of being a thriving, sustainable community. The Environmental Master Plan was developed by Council to help the Town achieve this vision.
One direction in this Master Plan focuses on creating an energy efficient and low-carbon environment to improve the health of our environment and wellbeing of our residents. The Town of Okotoks will support a transition towards the use of renewable energy through a comprehensive Renewable Energy Strategy. The Strategy will focus on renewable energy production at both the micro-scale (e.g. on individual buildings), and macro-scale (e.g. at the community and/or utility scale). As Okotoks has some of the best solar potential in all of Canada, and has focused on supporting the use of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems throughout the community and in our Town buildings, e.g. Operations Centre, Okotoks Recreation Centre, etc.
The Town will identify options to enhance resident access to financing that mitigates the up-front cost of purchasing a solar system, as well as any other additional incentives. For new construction projects, the Town will explore requirements for new buildings to, at minimum, be built “solar-ready”, and/or to require a certain number of buildings within a new development to be equipped with solar PV panels. Larger scale options, such as community and utility-scaled solar systems, may also be considered in the future.
Ways that this can be achieved is through green building requirements for new constructions. Other initiatives include DIY Home Energy Audit Kits to residents with basic instructions and tools to conduct their own residential energy audit and identify opportunities to upgrade their energy efficiency.
The Town supports alternative funding programs such as Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), which assist residents in affording major energy efficiency upgrades and the installation of renewable energy into their homes.
The Active Transportation Plan outlines a number of strategies to encourage non-automotive forms of transportation and the construction of more active transportation parking facilities (i.e. bike racks). The Town has also installed eight electric vehicle (EV) charging stations around Okotoks, encouraging a shift away from gasoline-powered vehicles.
Okotoks will partner with other local governments to encourage the adoption of a province-wide energy benchmarking regulation. In the meantime, Okotoks will work with building owners and other municipalities to explore ways of starting to benchmark local buildings. To support these efforts, the Town will also work with utilities to improve building owner and tenant access to energy use data, and explore a future requirement for energy audits and the release of energy performance data at point of sale.
Firearm legislation is a federal matter and should remain under the jurisdiction of the Government of Canada.
Fundamentally as a current sitting Town Councillor, I would not vote to put in place any vaccination passports or masking measures that are outside of what the Province has mandated. My vote would land where the Chief Medical Officer of Health has directed, as the AB Gov't is the regulating authority in this manner.
As a current Town Councillor, I can speak to the work we have done with community members, Town engineers and the local RCMP and Okotoks Municipal Enforcement to address this.
The complaints raised by tax payers have resulted in traffic studies being conducted for Cimarron Estates, the Milligan Drive and Crystal Shores Road intersection, to name a few. Solutions were found for these problematic areas, including flashing lights on stop signs, speed bumps and speed reductions within the neighbourhoods. If there are vehicle behaviours that are endangering the public on Westridge Drive, this needs to be brought forward to the Town so that they can increase police presence and implement traffic safety measures.
As a current Town Councillor, I can speak to approving the Urban Deer Task Force and their final report in May 2021.
The report and recommendations showed that effective deer management requires a number of different tactics and approaches. The final report was a very comprehensive document, which provided the research and guidelines to develop a long-term program for managing the deer in our community.
The recommendations from this final report included action items to manage the deer population, including decreasing negative human-deer interactions, decreasing property damage, and increasing public awareness of individual actions residents can take to maintain a respectful, safe relationship with urban deer.
The Town has already implemented one of the recommendations with a temporary fencing pilot project currently underway. This provides residents with the option of protecting their gardens by extending their fences to deter deer from getting into their yards. There will be more findings implemented over the next few years.
The cost of the deer management program in Okotoks would be for contractors, studies, staffing resources and public education campaigns. I would imagine most of these costs would be ‘soft’ expenses such as Town of Okotoks staff, etc. The task force consisted of unpaid volunteers.
The full report can be found here on the Okotoks website: https://www.okotoks.ca/sites/default/files/2021-05/2021-05-10-UDTF%20Final%20Report.pdf
I would continue to offer what I had been doing for the past 8 years on Town Council, being fiscally responsible and leveraging partnerships and grant money to subsidize tax payers portions of capital and operational projects where possible. It is also important to note that according to the July 2021 report from the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB), Okotoks continues to have one of the lowest spending per capita rates in the province, ranking fourth for large municipalities based on two metrics, operating spending per capita growth from 2010-2020, and 2020 operating spending per capita.
In the May 25, 2021 Town Council meeting, Craig Snodrass put forth a Proposed Alberta Coal Restriction Policy, which was accepted as information by the Town Council. I supported the Town of High River and Mayor Snodgrass' version of a new policy that works towards protecting the our water resources in perpetuity.
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