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.