Creating a better long-term plan for the future was the object of a public information session hosted last week.
Representatives from the Town of Bashaw along with consultant Brian Austrom from Calgary-based Vicinia Planning were at the community centre Jan. 22 to hear from people and gather ideas that could be implemented into the town’s strategic plan.
In the presentation, Austrom noted six keys that Bashaw is looking at as it develops the plan, which is slated to cover the next five years.
Among the keys are attracting new industry and business, finding ways to deal with aging municipal infrastructure, the fiscal challenges of a small community to come up with budgets for three years of operations and five years for capital, what to do when it comes to recreation, attracting and retain youth and younger families plus seeing what can be done to work on how the overall town looks.
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten,” was one point Austrom made when explaining why municipalities need plans for the longer term.
He added that coming up with a good document is only the first step, as true success is had when the plan is completely implemented.
Aside from being able to use the plan to focus on the town’s vision, it also works to narrow priorities on areas to spend as well being able to look at the bigger picture instead of micro-managing.
The presentation outlined Bashaw’s strengths — which included distance to larger centres, local police and medical help, the new school, low rents and property taxes as well as good municipal service delivery and recreational opportunities.
Although it also noted challenges facing the community such as the distance to larger centres, the expense to develop available industrial land, no market for vacant lots, an aging population and the expectation that the town should be providing a large range of services.
All of these need to be balanced out with other threats such as the lack of quality retail spaces, downloading of provincial responsibilities and the increasing cost of services.
All of this was followed by residents being divided into three groups to discuss and come up with thoughts on what the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are for Bashaw.
Town office assistant Andrea Benoit, who attended the session, explained each group talked about then wrote suggestions on sticky notes for each of the four areas. Once each group was done, all of the suggestions were discussed by the whole group.
She added, “Council was interested in learning what stakeholders and residents of Bashaw are most concerned about or proud of within Bashaw, so they can consider these thoughts as they move forward with developing their strategic plan.”