County planning to meet new ministers

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Big Lakes County officials will soon meet with new ministers of the provincial United Conservative Party government.

At its regular meeting May 22, council approved meetings with new Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn and nine cabinet ministers.

“The purpose of the meetings should be to develop relationships with the new cabinet ministers and our new MLA to touch on our top priorities,” CAO Jordan Panasiuk says.

“We want to start building relationships and pushing our projects early.”

Rehn and the UCP MLAs were sworn in May 21, more than one month after the election April 16.

Panasiuk requests the county inter-governmental relations committee meet with the MLA and nine ministers on local issues.

Dates will be determined when ministers are available and could be over two days, notes Panasiuk, who will also attend.

He says June 27-28, July 8-9 and July 17-18 are potential dates.

“We may have to be flexible with our dates,” Stewart says.

The county committee includes deputy reeve Ken Matthews, Prairie Echo – Salt Prairie Councillor David Marx, High Prairie East – Banana Belt Councillor Don Charrois and Kinuso Councillor Ken Killeen.

South Sunset House – Gilwood Councillor Ann Stewart is optimistic about the new government she believes will benefit the county.

“I’m really hopeful,” Stewart says.

She was invited by Rehn to the swearing-in ceremony where she met several ministers.

Stewart says she met Municipal Affairs Minister Kaycee Madu.

“He seemed absolutely open talking with us,” Stewart says.

She also spoke with Seniors’ and Housing Minister Josephine Pon.

“I got some positive feeling back from them,” Stewart says.

The county delegation also plans to meet with the RCMP to lobby for a police dog handler in High Prairie and to fill a sergeant position at Faust RCMP.

Big Lakes wishes to meet:

-Municipal Affairs Minister Kaycee Madu to discuss changes to the Municipal Government Act and the future of the Municipal Sustainability Initiative funding program.

-Indigenous Relations Minister Rick Wilson to discuss funding for a waterline in Prairie Echo and Grouard and consultation.

-Health Minister Tyler Shandra to discuss diabetes treatment at High Prairie Health Complex, dialysis and a helipad.

-Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda to discuss grants for water distribution and water projects and flooding issues in the Horse Lakes area near Grouard.

-Service Alberta Minister to discuss a provincial broadband strategy and funding.

-Transportation Minister Ric McIver to discuss road paving at Hilliard’s Bay, Highway 749 from High Prairie south and rural water funding.

-Seniors’ and Housing Minister Josephine Pon to discuss seniors’ housing and home care and the lack of Level 3 care.

-Environment and Parks Minister Jason Nixon to discuss Hilliard’s Bay road, Horse Lake flooding, aquatic invasive species and plans to dispose wood chips at landfills.

-Agriculture and Forestry Minister Devin Dreeshen to discuss grazing leases.

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