Several upcoming changes and projects in the works were laid bare for the small group of the public that attended town council and administration’s State of the Municipality Update meeting, held July 8.
Interim CAO Donna Tona took to the mic to explain the strategic planning goal town administration is zeroing in on. “We’re moving toward a strategic planning way of doing things in Rimbey.”
For Tona, this is not something that can take place overnight, as it includes many different aspects of the town and due diligence must be taken by those responsible.
“First of all we have to decide in the Town of Rimbey how we’re going to quantify success,” said Tona.
One area affected by strategic planning will be the business sector and Tona does not want to simply flood the town with new businesses without the groundwork in place. “And we have to make sure our current businesses are healthy.”
A base budget dealing with water, sewer and roads must also be addressed.
“But we have service levels, many of them. We have to have an operating budget that achieves success,” said Tona.
Also, before the town can move full steam ahead a decision needs to be pinned down on what kind of businesses Rimbey would like to attract; the same goes for demographics.
“And of course a good, solid base for a community is a mix,” said Tona.
Part of the strategic planning includes increased communication with residents and Tona says information bulletins are going to be released with people’s monthly utility bills to keep them up to date on town progress.
Tona says ratepayer culture also needs to be established. “We hope it’s positive culture . . . we’re excited to do this.”
Bob Stevenson, chair of the economic development sustainability committee, made up to 10 volunteers, also attended the meeting to speak. “We all volunteer to look at the big picture, not hit zones or short patterns of time.”
The committee is currently looking at three primary areas of focus: who/what is Rimbey, how to support businesses and services and how to attract youths and keep them involved.
Each member is in the midst of speaking with businesses for a survey and Stevenson says he recently spoke with a group of high school students to gain their input.
He advocated an adopt a school program should be looked into as a means to get youths more involved in the community. He says first aid training could be administered and the youths could work community events such as the rodeo and races, under the guidance of EMTs.
Stevenson also mentioned developing other professionally-driven trades programs to keep youths in the schools and in the community.
“So going forward the sustainability committee is looking to bring advice to the town,” said Stevenson.
Tona says residents are going to see a few changes with next year’s budget, starting with how it processes donation requests. Tona says she wants organizations in town to take the next few months to really assess their needs and have their requests in by Sept. 15. “This allows us to stabilize our budget.”
“We’re going to pass a budget Dec. 31 2015,” she added. Tona says this will cut down on the interim budget and reduce the scrambling most municipalities face come spring when they have to finish up one year’s budget and put the current one together.