Town vs. City

Town vs. City

At the Beaumont Town Council Meeting on April 24, 2018 I voted “YES” to change the municipal status of Beaumont from Town to City….as per the Notice of Motion that was tabled. This vote passed 4-3.

The meeting recording is available on the Town of Beaumont Facebook page. You will hear me speaking at about the 15:00 mark of the “last recording” of the night.

Since then, I have been speaking with people and watching all of the comments on Social Media.

My statement summarized:

I will be supporting “City.” During the engagement completed by Administration (in 2017) at the direction of the past Council I supported “Town”….and since then, I have switched my position to support “City.”

When my wife and I moved to Beaumont, we moved for the small town feel…..Regardless of town or city, the small town feel comes people, each one of us…from waving on the street, knowing your neighbours, attending events. I believe the benefits of becoming a city focus on future economic opportunities. One of the pillars the community is going to look back on to decide if we have done a good job is economic development.

If we imagine the tool belt that we have have right now….we have:

·         New land

·         New Council

·         New Economic Development Team

·         (And we could be) ALBERTA’S NEWEST CITY

And, THAT IS POWERFUL!

How did I arrive at my decision?

The simple answer? I arrived at my decision by:

1.       Reviewing past feedback collected (from 2017)

2.       Speaking with friends and neighbours – thanks to folks for answering my calls and taking time of your busy days to provide the feedback!!

3.       Speaking with other elected officials and senior administrators from around the capital region at the various meeting and events I have been attending

Here is a more detailed response:

Once it was clear that there was an upcoming decision to be made….forming my decision is not one that I have, at any point, took lightly….so, let me back this up a little.

During the General Election Campaign: I did A LOT OF LISTENING to folks that I met everywhere. The Town vs. City conversation came up a few times but not often….and, not often even during the 28 day period when community opinion/comments were being sought-after and collected. I can share with you that at any point when I had a conversation with folks….I heard “City” more often than I heard “Town.”

During the By-Election Campaign: Again, I did a LOT OF LISTENING, but the topic of Town vs. City rarely surfaced. One of the commitments I made was that I would not be “shying away” from any of the tough conversations and issues that may arise….that I would be looking forward to educating myself and making decisions in the best interest of Beaumont. I believe that is what I was elected to do.

Since Being Elected on February 5, 2018: The Town vs. City conversation came up a few times in conversation when other elected officials from around the capital region asked me “when is Beaumont going to bite the bullet and move up to a city….you guys are missing out!” Yes, I did hear this more than once…always brought up by others. At that point, I was LISTENING!

Since the Notice of Motion was put forward: I have been speaking with elected officials regarding “Town vs. City” at the various meetings and events I have been attending and guess what I have been hearing? “It’s about time…you guys have been missing out!” I honestly haven’t received 1 piece of feedback that would incline me not to want to make the move to a City.

Some facts about Alberta:

Of Alberta's 352 municipalities, 264 of them are urban municipalities (18 cities, 108 towns, 87 villages and 51 summer villages), 6 are specialized municipalities, 74 are rural municipalities (63 municipal districts, 8 improvement districts and 3 special areas) and 8 are Metis settlements.

# of Cities: 18

# of Towns: 108

So, when a new business entity wants to start up in an “Albertan City”….we’d be 1 of 19 choices…instead of now being 1 of 108 “Towns.” Just like that our chances improve! But that’s not all….

City Status is a PIECE OF THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PUZZLE…not “THE” solution:

What I mean is that there is no “silver bullet” to economic growth. It is hard. It needs a plan. It needs a champion. It needs resources. Becoming a “City” would be part of this economic development path!

Since the Council Meeting on April 24, 2018:

I have reached out again to friends and neighbours. The feedback I have received 1 on 1 is all positive. For those that haven’t agreed, they have all understood that I put a lot of effort in before I made the decision and that I did not make it lightly.

There have been a range of comments on Social Media, as there always is! I truly believe that no matter the feedback….positive, negative, or just plain rude….there is always a “nugget” or “theme.” I try to take the positives from everything….as tough as it can be sometimes.

Responding to some of the comments being made:

On Previously Completed Community Engagement:

#1…..If you missed all of the engagement opportunities made available by Administration and our previous council, that’s too bad. Here is a summary of what was completed over that 28 day period:

·         Website: The website has a special page dedicated to the municipal status question. A unique URL was developed to make it easy for residents to find the page.

·         FAQ’s: A list of frequently asked questions was posted and updated throughout the campaign.

·         Local Media: Local media were engaged and they reported the campaign.

·         Newspaper: ½ page ads were placed in La Nouvelle on March 10, 17 and 24.

·         Brochure: A brochure was produced and printed for distribution at open houses and in facilities.

·         Online Survey: An online survey was posted on the website and Facebook for 28 days.

·         The BIG SIGN: A slide was displayed on the new digital sign for 28 days totaling approximately 25,000 impressions.

·         Social Media: Social media was utilized throughout the campaign.

·         Open Houses: Two open house events were held for the public, which included social media promotion and newspaper advertising.

·         User Groups: Through the CVO list, service groups, sports groups, seniors’ groups and the faith community were contacted.

·         Chamber of Commerce: We reached out to the Beaumont Chamber of Commerce, seeking and receiving their participation.

·         Business Leaders Group: The Business Leaders Group was polled in person at a meeting.

·         Our Youth Centre: The Chantal Bérubé Youth Centre were engaged separately.

Now, you can call/email your councillors and town administrative staff AT ANY TIME!

The most effective way to communicate your concerns surrounding anything going on in Beaumont is to work directly with the mayor/council/town administration.

On Population Growth:

The population in Beaumont is going to continue to grow based upon our location in the region. Here is a summary:

2010: 12,586

2011: 13,287

2012: 13,977

2013: 14,916

2014: 15,828

2015: 16,768

2016: 17,720

2017: 18,320

On Facts:

Administration will be posting some FAQ’s in the near future!

On Comparing ourselves to other communities…

While it is something we all immediately try to do…..and want to do….it is difficult. Every situation and community is unique, and has a history on “how they got there”……we are writing our own right version right now!

On Council Being Elected to MAKE DECISIONS:

During my campaign(s) I heard:

·         “enough talking…we want and need council to dig in and make some decisions”

·         “we are electing council to make decisions in the best interest of Beaumont”

·         “we need a new direction for the next council”

There were many comments from residents wanting to see new energy, and, a group that will challenge the norms and take Beaumont to the next level.

For me…..That’s what I am trying to do for Beaumont!

You can contact me anytime at:

Steven.vannieuwkerk@beaumont.ab.ca

Cell: 780-991-0871

 

 

Steven vanNieuwkerk