Over the past year, there’ s been a lot of talk in Hardisty about the collaboration efforts in the region. But no one really had an opportunity to officially voice their opinions, concerns and ideas to our elected officials and community leaders.
In Hardisty, that changed on October 25th, as Town Council hosted a public discussion on the Communities Collaboration Initiative as part of its regular meeting.
For myself, as Mayor, it was an opportunity to hear first-hand what the people we represent have to say about the initiative. This is extremely important to all of Council, as we should make decisions based on what our citizens want, not what we as Council want. And what better way to find this out than talking as a group.
There is a wide range of opinions. Some completely support closer relationships with our neighbouring communities and some are not in favor of these relationships. And there are a few that want us to show them the plan, and then they will decide if they like it or not. However, there are some common themes or concerns that virtually all people shared, and that is a good place to start when trying to build consensus.
Three key themes stuck out as areas we need to address:
- People are worried that Hardisty will lose its identity. This shows they truly care about the place they call home and are invested in the community.
- People would like to see more efforts on regional economic development. This shows they understand that we are stronger as a group of communities rather than “prairie islands”.
- People would like to see more shared services between communities. This shows they are open to closer relationships with neighbouring communities as long as there is an economic and social benefit.
Of course other ideas, opinions and concerns were brought up, but these three provide a solid foundation to build from. And, whether we like it or not, we have to go down this path and discuss the long-term future of our communities. Changing government expectations, declining economic opportunities and shifting demographics in our communities will not change to meet our desires; we need to adapt to suit them.
That is why it is important people join the conversation and make their voices heard. This isn’t something any individual Council or group of community leaders can do on their own. We want & need your help!!! Please take the time to read the information package and attend an open house in your area. Get involved! The future of our communities are counting on it.