2015 has certainly been a roller coaster year. The economic downturn in the province has had a negative impact not only on Drumheller, but is affecting municipalities across Alberta. We are lucky in Drumheller that tourism is a key industry, especially in the summer, and we certainly welcomed thousands of people to our beautiful valley.
Looking back on 2015 we got the new waterslide up and running, which took a little longer than we had hoped but it is up and running. Speaking of the Aquaplex we’re looking at building a gradual entry into the swimming pool. We probably won’t see that in 2016, but the engineering and preparations should be completed. The Town played a major role in the skateboard park, which looks great. Volunteers worked very hard to get this project off the ground.
TELUS completed a huge project which involved installing new fibre optic technology to help new and local businesses succeed. Nowadays not all business owners need to have a storefront, just top quality connectivity to the global marketplace. Not only is this new service vital for successful business, it also helps homeowners stay better connected with family and friends across the country.
We are very proud about our new neighborhood as well. Hillsview Phase II is a beautiful neighborhood that finally connects 10th Ave SE with 1st Street SW through Hillsview Phase I. There are a few homes up already and we did an active advertising campaign both locally and in Calgary to entice new people to Drumheller.
Flood mitigation continues to be a big issue for council. The Town of Drumheller has complied with everything the provincial government has asked for and I have contacted our MLA to lobby aggressively to give us some answers. We want to be able to get a shovel in the ground in 2016 and get some of these projects on the go. The government promised us that we would hear back by the end of the year or early 2016 about the grant application we put in back in September, and so far we haven’t heard anything from Edmonton as of yet.
We certainly put the “tough” in Tough Mudder this year. The weather was not the best, but volunteers and organizers worked tirelessly to ensure participants had the best time possible despite the cold, wet conditions. Over 6,800 people visited this year and Tough Mudder is excited about returning in 2016. You will notice some changes for the next mudder event, most notably is the starting point. Participants will now have to drive through Drumheller to the new starting point just east of Wal-Mart.
One of the things I’m most proud of was our tax roll back. We started 2015 budgeting for a 3% tax increase and we rolled that back to a 2% tax increase. Granted it wasn’t a huge roll back, but still quite a feat when you look at the inflation rate. Anytime a community can have a tax rate under the rate of inflation, I believe, is very good.
Looking ahead to 2016 economically, I feel we may be in for very much the same. I heard some encouraging statements from Premier Notley regarding natural gas and the importance of getting this product to market, which would certainly help our economy locally. In Drumheller I feel very positive about the tourism season, I’m excited to review our arts and culture programs and see what changes will be needed, and I hope we’ll see work begin on a gradual entry to our swimming pool. Having a gradual entry provides a safe way to enter the pool for both seniors and children. We’ve heard from the provincial government that our MSI funding will stay the same, and council has approved the Economic Development Advisory Committee’s recommendation of creating a storefront improvement grant to assist local business owners upgrade their storefronts if they desire too. So despite a tough provincial economy, the Town of Drumheller is trying to make the best of a difficult situation.
In closing, I’d like to wish you and your family all the best in 2016. Happy New Year on behalf of myself and Town Council.
Mayor of Drumheller