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: 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.

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.