Speed dating with council keeps doors open

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Citizens discuss issues, ideas, concerns with council

INNISFAIL – It was a date with a lasting impression.

The first speed dating with council took place at the Innisfail Library/ Learning Centre on March 3.

Cindy Walker, adult and youth programmer with the library, approached council at the end of 2017 with the idea of hosting a speed dating with council event. The idea originated from Camrose.

“We were totally on board with it and excited to be a part of it,” said Stuart Fullarton, communications coordinator for the Town of Innisfail.

Mayor Jim Romane, CAO Todd Becker and all six of Innisfail’s councillors participated in the inaugural event.

Residents were given about three to five minutes to speak with council members in a speed-dating format. They were invited to ask questions and discuss concerns or ideas.

The town also provided draft copies of the 2018-2021 Strategic Plan.

“Council has been so keen about interacting with the community and hearing (residents) one on one,” said Walker. “They’re approachable, transparent and open.

“Some people have stayed over the time limit but (that’s) good because you know they are really engaged and they are having a good discussion,” she added. “That’s what today is all about.”

One Innisfail resident at the event was Andrew Reimer.

“I talked to just about everyone here,” said Reimer, noting the good turnout. “I (discussed) what they were doing on council and what were their projects. I also talked about the Strategic Plan, which I think is amazing.

“I think they should continue to do this, maybe once a quarter,” he added. “It would be a great idea.”

Coun. Jean Barclay noted several items Innisfail residents brought to the table.

“Seniors’ housing has been discussed quite a bit,” said Barclay. “There’s going to be an issue come before council on March 12 with a piece of land that could be changed from commercial to industrial and area landowners are here talking about that. It’s good to hear their feedback.”

Other topics of discussion included Innisfail’s proposed new skatepark and concerns over a lack of volunteers and facilities for the Innisfail Minor Football Association.

“I’ve heard a lot of people say it’s great to put a face to a name and get to know people. I feel the same way,” said Barclay. “I’d love to see us do this more than once.”

Walker said the event could be the start of a tradition in Innisfail.

“Many residents said it was so timely,” she said, noting the recent implementation of the town’s first-ever Public Participation Policy.

“People care about their community and feel like they have a voice.”

Cindy Walker, adult and youth programmer, Innisfail Library and Learning Centre.

“People care about their community and feel like they have a voice.”

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Kristine Jean

Kristine Jean is a reporter with the Innisfail Province, joining the newspaper in 2013. She covers Penhold municipal politics, news and community events as well as sports in and around the town as well as in Innisfail.