Good Ideas Matter: Foster Possibility and prosperity

Erin Stevenson sitting on a hill with Kenton in the background

It’s the art of what’s possible. Think about what we can do, rather than what we can’t. Think of who we, as a City, want to be 25 and 50 years from now. And now let’s backcast so we know what we have to do today to get there.

Success isn’t built overnight. A city doesn’t suddenly become a SMART City because they declare themselves to be. Businesses don’t flock to set up shop in your city just because a resident has asked council for it (I’m talking about you, Costco!).

Things happen because people make it happen. We’re a city of entrepreneurs who support local business and ideas, love this city through in through and want big things to happen. Council reflects that spirit and the art of possible is quite possibly the theme for council for 2021-2025. Maybe the 20’s are the roaring 20s after all!

The Ideas

There are 3 sections- ideas for going forward, current initiatives in progress, and initiatives that have been implemented


2021 Ideas Going Forward:

  • Create new ways for the city to support local and local led initiatives.
  • Push for SMART City status and prioritize initiatives such as broadband and the Internet of Things (IoT). In order for us to not be left behind, we need to be leaders in the digital transformation transition *
  • As we put renewed emphasis on our industrial lands, we should be creating a strategy to encourage residents to visit and discover what we have “south of the tracks”. This is an area of transformation and renewal and provides many opportunities for growth.
  • We want the city to grow, we want residents and existing businesses to stay and that often means renovations, additions etc. The current system and review process for our Development fees and fines bylaw is not enough. We have to consult residents on costs and not be nickel and diming and creating processes that are not necessarily in line with what residents expect.


Initiatives Currently In progress:

  • Broadband is being rolled out in our industrial areas and city centre and we won’t stop until the whole city is connected to fibre. We can’t be a SMART city without it. We will work with providers to connect Spruce Grove *
  • Continue to support the neighbourhood road renewals. Many of our older neighbourhoods are seeing major watermain upgrades and new roads and it’s a busy construction season. It’s wonderful to see.
  • Continue to support the financial reserves for infrastructure renewal within the corporate plan.
  • It is important that we maintain our cost of living here advantages and that includes  keeping taxes manageable and tax increases reasonable *
  • The City Centre Area Redevelopment plan is two decades in the making if not longer. The heart of our city deserves the facelift and will attract new investment into our city centre *
  • It is always important to be a welcoming community that invites private investment into the community and meets the needs and desires of our community (think Westwind and the baseball stadium). We’re a city on the move and our reputation is a shifting one (in the right direction of course).
  • It’s a pleasure for council to work with the Greater Parkland Regional Chamber of Commerce (GPRCC) to welcome new businesses into the community. Not every community does a ribbon cutting but we do!
  • We have so many partners that we work with to make our city better- whether it’s regionally, provincially or nationally. It might mean many committee meetings and travel to and from, but it’s worth it because we can accomplish so much together.
    • School board relationships
  • The Westwind buildout in phases that may also include the civic centre is a major economic driver and opportunity for Spruce Grove. We finally have some visibility on the highway other than our golf course! Seeing this area built out and others like Easton onHwy 16a is helping drive new business into our city.


Initiatives that have been implemented:

  • The opening of Pioneer Road was an incredible moment as it’s yet another major road to move people to the highway. It also created new opportunities with two new neighbourhoods- Fenwyck and Easton to be built and the building of the new baseball stadium for the Prospects baseball team.
  • The annexation of new lands from Parkland County was a smooth and cooperative process. Spruce Grove annexed 8 quarter sections of land and will provide us with enough land to grow over the next couple of decades.
  • Spruce Grove developed an Industrial Land strategy– this is a critical strategy as it’s important to have a strong non-residential tax base. It also creates local jobs and in turn, more residents to our community. There is a lot of economic spin off with such a strategy.
  • Covid-19 saw us make the easy decision to defer utility and tax penalties for residents and businesses in 2020. While the uptake was small, it was there for those who needed it.
  • A major review of the existing Economic Development Advisory Committee was undertaken and updated to meet the needs and reflect the make-up of our community. A new EDAC committee was created in 2020.

A * denotes this idea was a part of my 2017 campaign platform and was happy to support and vote in favour. It does not mean I was responsible for it as it is a council decision to move any initiative forward.

Good Ideas Matter: Enhance Safety and security

It’s been a wild council term when it comes to the safety and security of the city. Most times, you’d think of fire, police, enforcement and ambulance. You’d think of crime rates and whether you felt safe walking down your street. Well, Covid-19 added a whole layer of consideration to this mix.

Covid-19 required Council, our Administration and the Emergency Management team to make decisions that always kept the city and its residents safe. This meant unpopular decisions to some (mask bylaw, closing public buildings to the public, cancelling events, slower re-opening times) and it meant making decisions that previous councils have never have to make before. Anyone who ran in 2017 did not have a pandemic on their bingo card. We didn’t have previous council decisions to see how best to manage the spread of a deadly disease. We did our best. We managed as best we could. We did it as a team. We relied on the experts including our Emergency Management team to help guide us through and it was not easy. But we all did what needed to be done and protect each other. We’re not out of the woods yet and it’ll take strong leadership to continue to steer the ship steady through this 4th wave.

Erin Stevenson standing in front of the new protective services building in Spruce Grove

The Ideas

There are 3 sections- ideas for going forward, current initiatives in progress, and initiatives that have been implemented


2021 Ideas Going Forward:

  • Working for the city should be a safe place to work, free of harassment, including from ratepayers, contractors and anyone dealing with them at City Hall. Council is accountable to the ratepayers, but it does not mean they have to put up with harassment and harm either. I propose the introduction of a “Council Workplace Safety policy.
  • A common complaint is speeding on neighbourhood roads. It’s time to consider whether a 40km/hr speed limit is appropriate for our neighbourhoods.
  • Keeping our youth safe in locations where many gather. Consideration for cameras in locations like the Skate Park and Central Park should be explored.
  • Introduce Street Labs Spruce Grove. This can include reviewing the crosswalk policy. As our city gets bigger, cars get faster and kids are more mobile than ever (with many ways of being mobile), it’s time to review our crosswalk policy. Edmonton started a new Street Labs project earlier this year snd Street Labs exist around the world as a way for neighbourhood residents to be in control of the safety of their neighbourhoods, finding innovative ways to curb speed and keep people safe.


Initiatives Currently In progress:

  • We brought a more transparent ATE program to Spruce Grove, but it doesn’t mean we should always be reviewing ATE. This has to be ongoing and annual work *
  • Continue to assess our staffing and apparatus/vehicles for fire, enforcement, police and ambulance. In this past term, Council was able to make fire staffing levels a priority (we now have the right staffing levels for our size of city) *
  • relationship with “Citizens on patrol” or local neighbourhood watch groups *
  • Crime in our city has come down significantly in the last few years and a stronger RCMP presence in the city has been evident. Continue to review crime stats and ways we can keep residents and businesses safe. Crime statistics are now provided online. *
  • Support the work the new Community Road Safety Advisory Committee is doing.
  • Support the purchase of additional electronic speedway monitors- they work!
  • Continue to press the Covid recovery strategy in the city.


Initiatives that have been implemented:

  • I was lucky enough to be the council member to bring forward the motion to install a crosswalk in front of Prescott school. Council supported this initiative unanimously. We need to keep our school kids safe.
  • We have a fully indexed number of firefighters, a number that has been targeted for years and in 2021, it has been achieved. *
  • Council brought in a temporary city mask bylaw in 2020 (it has since been repealed) when the province was reluctant to do so. Safety of residents and preventing the spread was a number one concern and true leadership was shown during a time that any decision involving Covid created division. businesses sage and secure
  • With the legalization of Cannabis, Council had to create and review a number of bylaws to accommodate cannabis sales in the city.
  • Two years in a row, Council supported an enhanced community policing budget that allowed the RCMP to work additional hours within the city, patrolling parks and trails and being seen more regularly within the community.
  • Just a few months prior to Covid-19 emerging, Council passed an Emergency Management bylaw, so the city was prepared for any type of emergency (pandemic wasn’t on the list!). Amazingly, we did not have to declare a state of emergency in the city during the pandemic.

A * denotes this idea was a part of my 2017 campaign platform and was happy to support and vote in favour. It does not mean I was responsible for it as it is a council decision to move any initiative forward.

Good Ideas Matter: Deliver Transparency and Accountability

Erin Stevenson standing in front of city hall

We’re not a little city anymore. Our budget is nearly $100 million, and ratepayers deserve to know how their money is being managed. But transparency and accountability is more than just knowing where the money is. It’s about understanding the budget and corporate planning process, what the city is saving in reserves for future upgrades, the cost between operating and capital, what other sources of income the city has, our debt levels and expected debt levels, how council votes on an issue and where councillors stand on accountability to their residents.

This past term saw many wins in terms of bringing new measures of accountability and transparency to the ratepayers, from City Hall and Council. It wasn’t that there was anything to hide, it was simply that much of the info wasn’t being made easily available. That changed in the last term and we’ve seen some extraordinary changes in a short amount of time. Being accountable is a critical piece of being an elected official. Transparency is a part of that accountability. And there’s still some more to do.

The Ideas

There are 3 sections- ideas for going forward, current initiatives in progress, and initiatives that have been implemented


2021 Ideas Going Forward:

  • Explore the creation of a Mayor’s lobbyist registry. It’s important for residents know who is meeting with our mayor and concerning what issues they’re speaking to.
  • Review the city’s street naming policy. Many of our streets used to have a connection to the land and our residents but it is questionable whether this happens now. We should review our City Naming policy.
  • Our city archives currently sit on the Agricultural Society’s lands in a trailer, maintained by a group of small but dedicated volunteers, and not properly protected from the elements. This is our history and we should be finding a way to preserve it. We’re accountable to our residents to not lose our history.
  • There are too many ways for residents to connect with the city because the process on how to communicate with the city isn’t clear. Often many residents come to council as a last resort out of frustration. The process isn’t streamlined. We must focus on making a process that is seamless and easy-to-use. The current systems in place aren’t working for a city our size.


Initiatives Currently In progress:

  • Support and continue to push for reduce red tape, especially in planning and development. There is ongoing work to improve processes and customer service.
  • Continue to work on streamlining the budget/corporate planning process so it is an easier document to follow and isn’t cumbersome to read for ratepayers. 
  • Continuously improving communications and ways to reach our ratepayers, prospective businesses and current businesses. Communications processes have to be modernized (i.e. public hearings posted in the paper are not enough in our digital age). Find ways to get meaningful news to residents in a timely manner.
  • As we move back to in-person meetings and upgrade to Council Chambers carries on, Council meetings should be livestreamed and made available online. It’s important to be as accessible as possible. *


Initiatives that have been implemented:

  • Council expenses are now posted each quarter and made available online.
  • Council adopted a Council Code of Conduct bylaw in 2019.
  • Reviewed and revised the Automated Traffic Enforcement (ATE) program including covert vs over, operating hours, locations, making statistics available online, maps and daily locations all online bringing much more transparency to the program *
  • Adopted a Committee Code of Conduct bylaw.
  • No hiding behind votes (passed or failed). Now all votes at council meetings are recorded with who voted how and recorded as such (unless passed or failed unanimously) *
  • Council introduced a spring budget adjustment to reflect a true tax adjustment and more accurate budget.
  • Council rolled back their salaries in 2020 to 2019 levels and then continued to keep the 2019 salaries through 2021.
  • In addition, Council reduced council expense budgets by 1/3 in 2020.
  • Council introduced a Stormwater utility to be more transparent with budgets and how money is being spent. A utility fee can only be spent on utilities, so this ensures there is only money to upgrade and maintain the stormwater system.
  • Council also introduced seven reserves into the budgeting process and moved away from the accumulated surplus way of accounting. This is a more transparent model for ratepayers to understand what savings are being set aside for the various reserves over time.

A * denotes this idea was a part of my 2017 campaign platform and was happy to support and vote in favour. It does not mean I was responsible for it as it is a council decision to move any initiative forward.

Good Ideas Matter: Cultivate Sustainability and Liveability

Over 15 days of 30+ degree heat here in Spruce Grove (so far) this year, a record. The air has often been filled with smoke from massive wildfires. Everyday, it seems we’re hearing of another disaster that can be attributed to climate change.

It’s action time. The city believes in climate action and there’s plenty we’ve done and can do to help lessen our impact.

Climate change is destroying our path to sustainability. Ours is a world of looming challenges and increasingly limited resources. Sustainable development offers the best chance to adjust our course.

Ban Ki-moon
Erin Stevenson sitting on a yellow metal bench in the community garden


The Ideas

There are 3 sections- ideas for going forward, current initiatives in progress, and initiatives that have been implemented.

2021 Ideas Going Forward:

  • The city should not be car centred. We need to embrace multi-modal ways of getting around the city. Walkable city centre and neighbourhoods is a minimum.
  • Continue to explore and research ways to reduce our waste (waste to energy, recycling, compost). This is a regional problem and possibly a good Shared Investment for Shared Benefit (SISB) project.
  • Connecting our communities with our neighbours and making it safe to commute even in our industrial area and to services like the Eco centre, dog park and food bank.
  • Engage with residents regarding the land use bylaw. We’ve consulted with the development community, now it’s time to hear from residents. It’s time to find out whether we should be allowing liquor stores or pubs in neighbourhood strip malls. What are the benefits? Are we building the city sustainably?
  • We hear many of the same type of complaints over and over, but because of existing bylaws, there is very little that can be done. Is it time to review our dog and domestic animal control bylaw and determine whether cats should be included? Is it time to strengthen our noise control bylaw? I think so.
  • With the provincial government relaxing liquor laws, our municipality will have to review whether we would like to see responsible adults be able to drink responsibly in parks.
  • School bus passes are expensive. We have a local on-demand transit network. It’s time to explore ways to encourage youth to take local transit, whether it’s with a reduced fare or even free. Many students take on part-time jobs and access to transit opens up the opportunities for our youth without adding more cars to the road.  
  • Explore the creation of a dog park on the east side of the city.

Initiatives Currently In progress:

  • The city has a Climate Resilience Express action plan that we follow and I support it.
  • We’re not ignoring climate change at the city and we will not be afraid to make the tough decisions regarding our impact on sustainability in the city.
  • We continue to work through the initiatives laid out in the Social Sustainability and Cultural master plans
  • We have a very popular community garden in our city centre with a wait list. We need to build more community gardens, consider edible fruit trees in the city (it’s free food), look at locations for some orchards where we can grow all sorts of fruits and berries. *
  • Continue to advocate and push for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). The province has said they’ll bring in legislation, we need to ensure they do. The cost is on the municipalities in Alberta to handle the costs of recycling the product. IN every other province, EPR exists. It is time Alberta catch up.
  • Parks around Spruce Grove are seeing upgrades as they age or new safety measures are introduced. The park system here in the Grove is top notch and I support keeping our parks up-to-date and accessible.
  • Clean energy improvement program
  • Continue to monitor greenhouse gas usage and reduce where we can to meet targets.
  • Support the continued funding of the Heritage grant program
  • Support Local transit. Currently it is on-demand but we should be reviewing ridership and opportunities to increase riders in the community.
  • Support our membership in the Edmonton Metropolitan Transit Service Commission (EMTSC) as it rolls out in phases over the next few years.
  • Support updating Central Park and the skate park.  

Initiatives that have been implemented:

  • Council passed the Single use plastics ban bylaw in 2021. It will be brought in as of January 1, 2022. This was done after much research and consultation with local businesses and works in conjunction with the federal ban on plastics.
  • I am thrilled to see Council approve funding and the land for the trail connection to Stony Plain. It has only been 25 years in the making.
  • Covid relief- support for local non-profits during Covid
  • Pride is part of liveability wan the Canada and provincial flag purchase went a long way to show our community pride in 2020.
  • The mayor’s legacy–Spruce up Spruce Grove!
  • We have two historical designations in our city (the McLaughlin Home and the Grain elevator). It’s part our history and happy we created a policy to preserve them.
  • The Open Space area bylaw was updated to reflect new trends and ways our open spaces are being used.

A * denotes this idea was a part of my 2017 campaign platform and was happy to support and vote in favour. It does not mean I was responsible for it as it is a council decision to move any initiative forward.

Good ideas Matter: Boost Opportunity and Creativity

With two murals complete, there’s already an ask for us to do more. I get it! They’re stunning, and it’s been an initiative that council has discussed for years. It was great to partner with the Allied Arts Council on this project. Now we’re all driving around analyzing the sides of buildings on their mural suitableness.

Erin Stevenson standing on the rock steps at Kenton Park

The pandemic has been trying on many of us, and the creativity aspect in our city took a hit due to the restrictions that were necessary to keep people safe. We’re known around the region for having amazing Canada Day celebrations yet last year was cancelled and this year was a subdued affair. Our regular programming was either cancelled or scaled back. We feel the desire from the community to reconnect and that’s often through creative outlets. It’s our job to provide those opportunities.

It’s also an opportune time for us to think outside the box and come up with creative ways to deliver cultural events. So, let’s be brave and think big and not let perceived constraints limit our thinking.

The Ideas

There are 3 sections- ideas for going forward, current initiatives in progress, and initiatives that have been implemented.

2021 Ideas Going Forward:

  • Family friendly events around the city that are outside of the box. Think ‘tenting in the park’ ‘walk, drive or pedal in movies’, giants scavenger hunts and pet parades. *
  • There is a desire for more culture in Spruce Grove and to make it accessible. Ideas like a chalkfest or an arts centred summer event where artists come to Spruce and show off their talents (think art wall/art walk/or mural fest)
  • We have pride in our city, yet with the lack of signage on our highways to welcome people, some may beg to differ. Let’s enhance our signage around the city and let’s make it easy to find your way around town. Wayfinding does not just belong in the city centre.
  • More murals! Bring the colour!
  • More outdoor events in general and throughout the year. But let’s take advantage of our long summer nights with music in the park, introduce a summer concert series and provide more social opportunities to residents to get to know each other.

Initiatives Currently In progress:

  • The civic centre is in its design stage (will either be approved or defeated by the 2021-20265 council) but currently the civic centre will include two ice pads, a second library location, the art gallery, a black box theatre, meeting spaces for our multiple organizations in the city and more. This has come a long way in features and way down in cost. *
  • I have long supported having a second library location and even suggested in 2017 that it be part of the new centre. *
  • Support of the arts community with black box theatre. The Horizon stage is wonderful but it has its limitations. *
  • The City Centre Business Association (CCBA) has done tremendous work bringing public markets to the city centre including a Winterfest and supporting Fall fest. We’ve seen our community flock to them and enjoy the vendors, music and food. *
  • Every year, with a generous donation from RMRF , the city is able to buy local art and support our community. The city has an impressive art collection of paintings, sculptures and drawings. Many of the art pieces can be seen throughout the city.

Initiatives that have been implemented:

  • The city purchased acres of serviced land in the Westwind land for future development. At this moment, the idea is to develop the civic centre on these lands. This was all possible due to previous agreements with the developer and forward thinking council members (previous councils) to be able to assemble this land in such a prominent area and help drive opportunity around it.
  • The completion of the first two murals has already brought so much joy and positive chatter. Do check them out at the corner of King and McLeod (near Fas Gas) and on the Cumbria Centre building (west side, where Rainbow Palace is located). *
  • Council supported the RCMP Musical Ride that came to the region in 2019. It was an impressive display for those who came out to enjoy.

A * denotes this idea was a part of my 2017 campaign platform and was happy to support and vote in favour. It does not mean I was responsible for it as it is a council decision to move any initiative forward.

Good Ideas Matter: Advocate Diversity and inclusivity

I want Spruce Grove to be a welcoming and inviting place for everyone who visits, lives or works here. We have to work hard to be that place. While I see so many acts of kindness and see the good in so many people in our city, I am not naïve to understand that not everyone has a great experience simply because of their skin colour, religion, sexual orientation and race. I’ve heard from those who’ve had not-so-great experiences first-hand.

I’m aware that council is not representative of all groups in our community. It took until 2017 to elect three women to council at one time (we’ve only ever elected four women to council ever). It is my honour and responsibility to connect with groups that need that representation and ensure their voices are heard. It’s about listening and learning about their experiences and do what I can to bring initiatives forward that keep them safe from harm, allow them to express who they are without prejudice and feel they belong here in our city.

Erin Stevenson standing in the middle of the road in the pride crosswalk in front of City Hall in Spruce Grove

The Ideas

There are 3 sections- ideas for going forward, current initiatives in progress, and initiatives that have been implemented.


2021 Ideas Going Forward:

  • Start public conversation about Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity (EDI) in Spruce Grove. Public engagement including education and awareness sessions.
  • Immediately begin work on the calls-to-action from the Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) Commissions’ recommendations that pertain to municipalities. This includes calls-to-action #3, #5, #17, #40, #43, #47, #55, #57, #75, #77, 87, 88. An example is call-to-action #43: We call upon federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal sovereignty over Indigenous lands and peoples, governments to fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation.
  • Support the creation of a youth council and find ways to include youth in local government.
  • Create a Land acknowledgement for Spruce Grove. A land acknowledgement is an act of reconciliation that involves making a statement recognizing the traditional territory of the Indigenous people who called the land home before the arrival of settlers.
  • Find ways to work with neighbour First Nations to bring more education and awareness to our residents and acknowledge their history here on the settled land of Spruce Grove. 
  • Find ways to celebrate our growing diverse population of black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) in our community.
  • Audit all public city buildings, sidewalks, intersections and trails for accessibility concerns and fix any areas where there may be a barrier.
  • Ensure public meetings are accessible for the hearing and visually impaired.


Initiatives Currently In progress:

  • Support for our LGTBQ2S+ community with Pride initiatives such as the pride crosswalk, pride flags, participation in the GSA car parade, working with our GSA and more. *
  • Supporting more seniors housing development in the city, including a variety for those who have various care needs. As our populations ages, senior housing supports should be available here in the city.
  • Ongoing support for the ‘New Beginnings Indigenous Strategy’ presented to council in 2018.
  • Ongoing support for ‘Pathways home- 5-year strategy to end homelessness in Spruce Grove’ presented to council in 2018.


Initiatives that have been implemented:

  • Was ecstatic to see the success of the recruitment initiatives by the Spruce Grove Fire Department to recruit all-female firefighter candidates in the city to increase the number of women in the department.
  • In 2020, the City raised both the Treaty 6 and Metis flag, inviting our First Nations and Metis neighbours in the flag raising. The flags fly high at Jubilee Park.
  • In 2019, I made the motion at Council to bring in a conversion therapy ban bylaw and in 2020, Council passed this bylaw, signalling to our community that we support our LGTBQ1S+ community and this form abuse is not tolerated in our community.
  • At our very first council meeting in 2017, Council unanimously passed the first motion made to change our titles from Alderman to Councillor. The outdated and gendered title no longer reflected the make-up of our community, its leaders and the members of the 2017-2021 council. *
  • Was a strong supporter of the recommendation from our independent remuneration committee to provide parental leave for members of council. This initiative was a strong signal to our community that anyone, any gender and at any age is welcome to run for council and not have to choose between starting (or expanding) a family and representing the city.

A * denotes this idea was a part of my 2017 campaign platform and was happy to support and vote in favour. It does not mean I was responsible for it as it is a council decision to move any initiative forward.

Healthy Foundations Matter: Economic Well-Being

A healthy local economy is important to Spruce Grove. It is multi-layered and complex and often overlaps with many of the other areas of well-being simply because there is a cost (whether monetary or social) to each project.

There are many aspects to a healthy economy and so many I support. As a resident and a member of council, consider the following:

  1. Affordability- You can afford your taxes and feel you are getting good value for them. You are happy with the city’s approach to affordability that is driving residential  and business growth and retention, the permit and building process is clear and doesn’t nickel and dime you. You understand that the needs of a growing community are being looked after and budgets are reassessed to reflect emerging realities.
  2. SMART city– You are pleased to see Spruce Grove move towards being a SMART city and adapting to new technology and digital and well-managed city. You’re a big believer in broadband and know that opens the door to be a leader in the energy transition.
  3. Life Cycle asset management- You are glad the city is creating policies and planning budgets with life cycle asset management in mind. Aging infrastructure and assets are replaced in a timely and affordable manner. You appreciate the city won’t be caught off guard having to replace assets but with no existing plan to do so. (asset management, utility, building what we can afford).

Economic well-being is of course so much more than the three I’ve listed and I keep many aspects of economic well-being in mind as we develop the city. One of the critical areas we consider when looking at our budget is how we grow our non-residential tax base. New businesses means less reliance on the residential tax base. So how do we do that? With strong local economic development choices.

Local Economic Development is an approach that allows and encourages local people to work together to achieve sustainable economic growth and development thereby bringing economic benefits and improved quality of life for all residents in a local municipal area.

https://www.cogta.gov.za/index.php/local-economic-development-led/
Erin Stevenson at a park with Westwind in the background

We cannot be stuck in our ways. We have to look at creative opportunities that come our way. Broadband is critical. Being part of the digital transformation will be a necessity for this community.

During my first term on council, I was a member of the Economic Development Advisory Council (EDAC), a council that meets every three months to provide recommendations to council. In 2019, I was selected to the Chair of the EDAC committee, a position I still hold now. We had a major revamp of the committee including mandate, make-up of the committee (who from our public and business community sits on the committee) and when and how we meet.

This is a committee filled with excellent members from our committee who have committed themselves to making our city and our economic opportunities that much better They present their 2021 work plan to council in March, 2021.

In addition, as members of the Edmonton Metropolitan Regional Board (EMRB), we are members that believe in the idea of “Shared Investment for Shared Benefit” or SISB. Big opportunities exist for the region that on our own, are unaffordable. But working together, and investing in each other, we can start to see the economic opportunities to grow within the Edmonton region and in turn, Spruce Grove. 

Spruce Grove is also a member of Edmonton Global, an organization started with Edmonton region municipalities to help drive foreign investment into our region. Again, we can’t do it alone, but together we can invest in opportunities to grow our brand and economic opportunities within the region.

But as it is with community well-being, economic well-being does not happen on its own, in a vacuum.

It takes commitment from council to stay the course, even when the course looks to be of no immediate benefit. As a councillor,  looking at the long term health of the community is necessary, but is often hard to defend to those who want the short term win.

And it takes looking at each of the other aspects of well-being to make our community thrive- the social, political, cultural and environmental aspects are just as important as we move into what hopefully amounts to the new roaring 20’s.

Healthy Foundations Matter: Social Well-Being

Covid-19 has done a number on nearly all of us. The extroverts- we were not okay! Many of us learned just how important relationships and socialization is. Having it taken away in one form or another, has done a job on us. Most of us did so willingly because we understood the greater good of keeping each other safe. Social wellness took a hit. Now we’re all looking at reconnections and socializing with friends, family and neighbours again as we see restrictions lift and vaccinations rates go up. However, how do we do so safely while infection rates continue to climb, but the desire to be with others feels like it’s at an all-time high? That’s a debate we’ll be having for a while, but regardless of approach, we have to consider, as a council, the social well-being of our community.

Social well-being can be defined as the sharing, developing, and sustaining of meaningful relationships with others. This allows you to feel authentic and valued, and provides a sense of connectedness and belonging.

https://www.betterup.com/blog/what-is-social-well-being-definition-types-and-how-to-achieve-it
Erin Stevenson swinging on a swing at Jubille Parking. She's smiling and looking off to the side.

Relationships are important and the supports for them are necessary. Leave no person behind. Our relationships come in many forms including the support systems set up to help us connect and share our experiences.

Going forward, as we recover from Covid-19, our mental health , our physical health and social health key. As a resident and a member of council, consider the following:

  1. Support systems- You understand the role of FHSS and the critical part they play in social well-being. You believe in affordable housing, support for our not for profits and community organizations, our churches, the numerous associations and businesses who play a huge part in social well-being and taking care of each other.
  2. Socialization- You love community building. You desire neighbourhood block parties and wish to events within the community. You love the walkability and mobility of this city and popping off a cheery hello to those you pass. You value your health and the health of others. You enjoy volunteering and making this a better community to live in.
  3. Free to be you- You believe in seeing the beauty in the differences of those around you. You don’t discriminate against those that practice their religion, you accept with love and grace the LGTBQ2S+ community, our growing BIPOC community, welcome new refugees, new Albertans, and new Grovers. Accessibility is important for those with disabilities, our seniors and our young. You have compassion and empathy for your fellow neighbour and lend a hand with kindness and without judgement.

Spruce Grove is a growing community, one of the fastest in Canada. We aren’t the small city of 10,000 people I grew up with. We’re a medium-sized city on the verge of 40,000 people. Our problems are changing. Our demographics is changing. That means new ways of approaching some pretty wicked problems.

Healthy Foundations Matter: Cultural Well-Being

Covid has taught us many things, including how much we love our culture! And we miss it, a lot. With various levels of restrictions put on us by the provincial and federal governments to keep us health and safe, our culture took a massive hit. We know it, we felt it and we want it back.

We’ve had time to reflect on what was provided and what we need to provide in the future. It likely has most of the same elements, but it has shifted. How we support our community groups, from the library to the Horizon stage to our sports teams, art, dance, music and more, the desire to be a more cultural and livelier city is there.

We often hear that Stony Plain has more culture- more murals, more musical events, more connection to their creative community. That is a fair point and whether it’s a criticism or not, it makes me pause. What are we doing to support culture and what are the next steps to ensure Spruce Grove is seen as a vibrant, progressive and talented community?

This is my lens for cultural well-being. As a resident and a member of council, consider the following:

  1. Cultural vitality– You support the arts in many forms and appreciate the talent and the job it brings to our community. You understand there is broad number of interests that makes up a strong cultural community and appreciate that it takes investment, both public and private, to ensure a thriving and successful community.
  2. Sense of belonging– You feel you belong here. There is a place for you and interests you align with. Whether it’s sports, recreations, arts, music, social events, festival, public markets, the library or something we haven’t discovered yet, that there is an opportunity to participate and add to the cultural flavour in the community.
  3. History and building a history- We are who we were, and we will be who we are now. Spruce Grove has a rich history including an Indigenous history that we haven’t really explored. You support learning this history including support for our existing archives, our societies who work to keep our history alive like the Agricultural Society and know that we work on creating history every day here in the city. You recognize those who contribute to making this place a little better than they found it. (archives, ag society, buildings, new buildings, public markets

Cultural well-being is the vitality that communities and individuals enjoy through: participation in recreation, creative and cultural activities; and the freedom to retain, interpret and express their arts, history, heritage and traditions.

https://mch.govt.nz/what-we-do/our-projects/cultural-well-being

We have many great pieces already that provide a strong foundation from which we can build. We have an amazing central library with a proposed second location in the civic centre, we have an art gallery (currently co-existing with the library), the Tri-Leisure Centre, the arenas,  Fuhr Sports park, public markets, a new privately owned baseball stadium under construction, Henry Singer Park, pickleball courts, the Horizon Stage, Columbus Park (currently under major renovation), Jubilee Park, the Spray parks and more. As things open up, more programming is happening. More events will be offered. But can we do more?

The proposed civic centre, in its design stage, will provide a much-needed piece for our cultural well-being. No longer just focused on sports and potential trade shows, the re-imagined civic centre will be a bustling centre for culture. Two arenas are part of the design, with one being the home of the Spruce Grove Saints, and one a full-time community rink. There will be a black box theatre that can house a few hundred people for performances, event hosting and more. There will be the second library location, a new art gallery, more meeting space and more community space.

Erin Stevenson standing in front of a colourful mural comprised of two hummingbirds

The possibilities of what can be done, what can be hosted there, is in its early stages, but it is exciting on what doors will open to us as we move into the final design stage and vote on making this centre a reality (the current council has only approved funding for the design of the building, the new council will make the decision on whether the building is actually built). The most recent council decision was in April, 2021 and included a presentation to council to proceed with the design phase.