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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.

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.