The past year was a tremendous one for Red Deer County. Once again, the county is on solid financial ground and has had several major achievements over the last 12 months.
The most significant event in 2017 was the municipal election in October. Once again, the public voiced their opinion on who should represent them and I am happy to report that almost all of county council returned for another term.
The year 2017 saw major infrastructure changes to Gasoline Alley. New roundabouts and changes to the road network are setting the stage for major commercial and residential development. This area is now maturing into a sought after place to locate both businesses and homes.
A major partnership for 2017 was with our neighbours in Mountain View County. Both counties co-hosted the 2017 Agricultural Service Board Tour. This showcased some of the most progressive and exciting ag operations in Central Alberta.
Red Deer County undertook and completed a successful Community Needs Assessment. We asked residents from across the county to identify their priorities on recreation, transportation and family services. The feedback will be the foundation of our community services going forward.
Our economic development department unveiled a new strategic plan, which will guide the way we attract new business to the county.
I am excited to say that our county once again received the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) Award for our budget document. The award is proof that we are effective and efficient in our budgeting process.
The county continues to prepare for the worst. We were major participants in mock emergency exercises in 2017. Our emergency management team is the envy of the province. We partner with our surrounding municipalities to ensure the entire region is well equipped to handle any emergency that comes our way.
Rural crime was a major area of concern for council in 2017. I am happy to report the county provided increased funding for additional policing and produced top quality information on how residents can help themselves to avoid being victims of rural crime. Rest assured, this will be a top priority for council in 2018 again.
Finally, council is aware Red Deer County is not an island. The county continues to work toward agreements with adjoining municipalities. In 2017, we began formulating inter-municipal agreements with several urban neighbours. These agreements will make things like land use planning, recreation, and protective services easier and more efficient for everyone in the region.
In conclusion, I would like to wish everyone a very safe and happy Christmas season and a healthy and prosperous 2018. Thank you for making Red Deer County such a great place to live, work and grow.
Jim Wood is the mayor of Red Deer County.