Elected Officials Participate in Roundtable Discussion
Local elected officials participated in a virtual roundtable discussion on May 6.
The event, organized by the Vegreville & District Chamber of Commerce, had businesses submit questions for local elected officials to answer. There was a good sampling of questions relating to how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting municipalities both economically and personally.
Those questions were fielded by Lakeland MP Shannon Stubbs, Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville MLA Jackie Armstrong-Homeniuk, Town of Vegreville Mayor Tim MacPhee, and County of Minburn Reeve Roger Konieczny. Their answers were then posted on the chamber of commerce’s Facebook page for members and non-members to read.
Chamber President Jamieson Brown said they were very happy with the response of all four elected officials. “They offered unique perspectives and inputs answering specific and general questions.”
Even though the questions were prior to the Province’s Relaunch Strategy, Brown said participants have done a great job keeping businesses in the loop and offered a summary of recent provincial and federal announcements. “The information was great for businesses to hear from local officials first hand.”
While many industries are facing their fair share of challenges, agriculture was one of them that was front and center during the roundtable discussion. “We all agree it is uncertain how long the economic effects of this will last. For us at the County of Minburn, we will cautiously move forward with our planned summer projects,” stated Konieczny.
The summer projects the County of Minburn has slated include road construction, relay of oiled roads, repair or replacement of culverts.
Vegreville Mayor Tim MacPhee said he enjoys working with other elected officials, and wants people to know they, along with him, are always working together for the betterment of the communities they serve. A total of five students have been hired for the 2020 season which runs from May to September. While the municipality had considered cuts to these positions, the enhancement of the Federal Canada Summer Jobs program due to COVID-19 made it possible to keep its original plan.
MacPhee also pointed out that things are “changing all the time” and they are implementing new processes to assist residents. Town council recently reduced the amount of property tax residents and businesses will have to pay in property taxes this year and have waived the penalties and fees associated with utility payments. “It was good to see the local involvement and to bring people up to date with what we’re doing and how we a trying to maintain the same level of services.”
Lakeland MP Shannon Stubbs stated, “I was grateful for this opportunity to answer questions from the community on issues regarding the economy and COVID-19. Agriculture was definitely a priority item within the discussion and I have offered to work with the local chamber to do a subsequent round table focused solely on agriculture.
The discussion can be accessed via the Vegreville & District’s Chamber of Commerce Facebook page.