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Aalbers recaps 2022 highlights

By December 15, 2022No Comments
The highlight of the year for Mayor Gerald Aalbers was having Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and former Alberta Premier Jason Kenney visit the Border City for the heavy oil show in September. File Photo

 

The highlight of the year so far for Lloydminster Mayor Gerald Aalbers is the exposure the city gained when the premiers of Saskatchewan and Alberta spoke at the Lloydminster Heavy Oil Show.

In a year-ending review, Aalbers says the high-profile visit by Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and former Alberta premier Jason Kenney to discuss energy put the spotlight on the city during the September show.

“It was great for the industry that is very supportive of our community and having both premiers here at the same time highlights just how important it is,” said Aalbers.

He also lists the approval to annex land for future growth from the County of Vermilion back in January as one of the top economic developments of the year.

The annexation includes 23.5 quarter sections of land along Lloydminster’s northern, western and southern boundaries within Alberta.

“This annexation will help us provide attractive options for new business and housing developments,” Aalbers said at that time.

The RM of Britannia is also proposing to designate approximately 259.20 hectares of land adjacent to the city to support future industrial growth on the east side of Lloydminster.

Also top of mind for Aalbers this year with the economy is the opening of the new Fire Station No. 1 in August.

“That was a huge piece to the infrastructure to replace the fire hall, as old as it was,” he said.

Aalbers also points to the $15 million Wellings of Lloydminster development west of Holy Rosary High School as creating another option for seniors for housing and for living in our community. 

He includes the completion of the new Canadian Tire store in October among the local construction milestones of 2022. 

“I understand the grand opening will be next spring because they couldn’t do Christmas and the grand opening at the same time,” Aalbers said.

On the bi-provincial red tape reduction front, the city recently broke the news about Lloydminster Alberta craft liquor manufacturers being granted an exception to deliver direct to Saskatchewan retailers.  

“We did see approval of Alberta beer brewed in our city being able to be sold in the Saskatchewan side of the city without putting a 1,000 kilometres underneath that beer to send it to Regina then ship it back,” said Aalbers.

A liquor retail store in Lloydminster must place an order through the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Association’s (SLGA) special order process with the exception. 

 SLGA will issue a purchase order to the Alberta craft alcohol producer located in Lloydminster and authorization to deliver the product named in the purchase order directly to the Saskatchewan retail store.

The next step, he says, is to have Alberta accept similar products in the city coming from Saskatchewan.

“There’s a long list of red tape items, including the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) being able to ship sandwiches across the city without being federally inspected,” said Aalbers.

Looking back on the events of the past year, the mayor says it was tough picking a favourite, even with activities such as Ribfest, the Battle of Alberta Oilers and Flames alumni hockey game and the Alberta Air Tour to choose from, before settling on the Lloyd Ex Fair.

“I think having the fair back was likely my favourite event in conjunction with the chuckwagons,” said Aalbers, due to having people gather again to have fun after the pandemic.

The cost and need for the proposed $86 million Lloydminster Place event centre are the two hottest issues Aalbers and the city got feedback on from concerned taxpayers and supporters this year.

He reminds people the city completed an extensive building review and assessment process of the aging Centennial Civic Centre to learn it had just five to eight years of remaining use due to several irreparable structural and safety issues.

Aalbers says COVID and inflation have pushed up the original cost estimate, but the need for the facility will continue going forward.

“The cost is a concern and certainly, we understand that concern,” he said.

“That’s why we’re continuously looking for funding partners and looking at all the government grants we can look at to try and make this a viable project.”

The city plans to borrow about $33 million with an estimated balance of about $53 million paid for by grants and revenue funds.

He says there will be a lot more discussion yet before council passes a final motion to go forward with the project.

“We want to build and I think the community wants it, but we want to make sure people are well-informed until we get to that point,” he said

Albers says his biggest disappointment of the year is the lack of understanding at the provincial and federal levels of the cost drivers of municipalities.

He went on to explain this includes the cost of delivering the infrastructure to schools, hospitals and other fed/provincial facilities “which they don’t have an understanding of.”