Advocacy Priorities and Progress
The County of Grande Prairie wants citizens, businesses and community members to be aware of the efforts underway to secure provincial government funding for critical infrastructure as the Government of Alberta prepares a new budget expected for release early next year (2021).
The projects outlined below are urgently needed to address health and safety risks to the public, and to increase economic prosperity in the region. County Council and senior administration are working collaboratively with other municipalities, industry members, community groups and other stakeholders to meet and/or share information with Alberta Ministers, Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) and senior staff to raise awareness of the County’s needs.
Priority # 1: Increased Economic Development
Economic Development is the priority of the Government of Alberta. The economic impact of COVID-19 has resulted in higher unemployment, lower economic activity and ultimately lower government revenues. It is the highest priority of the Government of Alberta to get the economy back on track. It is focused on shovel-ready, core infrastructure projects that will create jobs and diversify the economy. The County of Grande Prairie is well-placed to support the Government of Alberta’s plan.
The County of Grande Prairie’s economy is driven by agriculture, energy and forestry. The County is building on its natural advantages through collaboration with its regional partners. The Tri-Municipal Industrial Partnership is one example of the County working with its neighbours to develop the regional economy. Because of the economic development of the County and its neighbours, major investors are building in the region, like Nauticol Energy.
Administration and Council are advocating for the County of Grande Prairie with the Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada. Advocacy has focused on the potential consequences of the Species at Risk Act as well as the creation of new programs to support economic development opportunities in value-add sectors like bio-industry, value-add agriculture and tourism.
Priority # 2: Critical Transportation
Our transportation network, including highways, is critical to economic development and the safety of our community. Inadequate infrastructure can be dangerous for our citizens. Traffic safety on the highway is a particular concern, due in part to traffic volumes, road configuration, truck traffic and weather. Volumes have been increasing over the past several years largely because of increased resource-based activities in the area. It is important for the Government of Alberta to understand that despite the success of oil and gas, and forestry in the region, a lack of investments in critical roads is resulting in transportation bottle necks and inefficiencies that are limiting economic prosperity and the potential of attracting investment.
Our priority transportation projects include:
- Twinning Highway 40;
- A new bridge over the Wapiti River;
- Constructing Highway 40X to connect Highway 40 and 43;
- Completion of Highway 43X;
- An improvement to the intersection of Highway 733 and Highway 43; and
- Access to Highway 2 at Clairmont Heights.
Positive progress has been made so far on the priority of Twinning Highway 40 and a new bridge over the Wapiti River. A partnership has been struck that sees the County contribute to the overall cost of the project. The MD of Greenview and the Government of Alberta are also partners.
Priority # 3: A New Health Facility in Beaverlodge
Beaverlodge Municipal Hospital is the oldest operating health facility in the province and is owned and operated by Alberta Health Services. A 2014 Alberta Health Services Capital Needs Assessment found the facility had “come to the end of its life cycle and has deteriorated beyond acceptable hospital standards and requires replacement.”
The Beaverlodge Hospital serves over 12,000 Northern Alberta residents, including the Town of Beaverlodge, surrounding communities in the County of Grande Prairie, and First Nations and Métis populations. The hospital handles over 30,000 patient visits annually.
The County of Grande Prairie has partnered with the Town of Beaverlodge to form the Mountview Health Complex Committee (MHCC). It is hoped that the MHCC will increase the likelihood of the Government of Alberta supporting redevelopment of the hospital. The MHCC is working with the Grande Spirit Foundation and P3 Capital Partners to develop a plan for the facility. Its work is ongoing.
Priority # 4: Provincial Support for the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum
The County of Grande Prairie owns the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum building and is requesting the provincial government fund the facility as an ongoing provincial asset. The Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum is a world class, award-winning facility similar in class to the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller and worthy of being included as one the province’s cultural assets.
The museum is not just a local facility. It is also an important historic resource, high quality tourist attraction and premium education and learning experience for all Albertans and the world. It would be fitting and appropriate for the Museum to be classified as a provincial asset giving it the same status and profile as other important provincial assets in Alberta. As a provincial asset, the Museum would have greater opportunity for increased visibility and profile, ensuring that its state-of-the-art exhibits, activities and resources are accessible to all Albertans.
In 2019, United Conservative Party MLAs and Ministers had the opportunity to visit the Museum. MLAs were impressed by the facility and interested in the potential partnerships the Museum could pursue. Potential partnerships are being explored on an ongoing basis.
Visit the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum website for more information on this premier facility.
Priority # 5: Combating Rural Crime
The County of Grande Prairie is a leader in fighting crime in the region. The County has funded additional police through the RCMP to ensure that the community is safe from crime. Investment in enhanced policing has seen results as the elevated crime rates from a few years ago have declined from their peaks.
The Government of Alberta is exploring significant changes in the field of law enforcement. They will be reviewing the Police Act, which governs police services. It has not been reviewed in decades. The Government of Alberta is also exploring the creation of a Provincial Police Force. Its creation would have an impact on how the County fights crime in the region. The County of Grande Prairie will be a strong advocate for its community as police services in Alberta are reviewed and developed.
Priority # 6: Increasing the profile of the County of Grande Prairie within the Government of Alberta
The County of Grande Prairie and the surrounding region are incredibly important to Alberta. The dynamic economy is a job and revenue-generator for the province. Despite its importance to the province, it is unfamiliar to some. The County of Grande Prairie has taken steps to increase its visibility to the Government of Alberta.
The County of Grande Prairie hosted members of the UCP Government Caucus while they attended the Growing the North Conference. MLAs and Ministers were able to see the contributions of the region and some of its assets, such as the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum. MLAs were also briefed on issues impacting the region such as the Species at Risk Act. Engagement for the County with MLAs and Ministers is ongoing.