By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny South News
Municipal Affairs Minister Shaye Anderson visited southern Alberta for the first time last month, stopping places such as Coaldale, Picture Butte, Vulcan, Nanton, Medicine Hat and Lethbridge.
“It’s my first time down south, and I wanted to make sure I got out to these communities and talk to not only the elected officials, but community groups, watershed alliances or victim services, FCSS,” said Anderson. “We’ve had some really good meeting down here, and for me, we want to make sure th voices of rural Alberta are heard, especially if you get down south or up north.”
Anderson, who was first elected during the 2015 provincial election, represents the riding of Leduc – Beaumont, a riding located south of the city of Edmonton. He became minister of Municipal Affairs earlier this year.
Acknowledging that people living away from the province’s larger cities may feel like they’re being ignored,
“Sometimes, people feel they don’t get heard as much, so it was important for me to do this,” said Anderson. “I’m from a small town too, and I understand people want to be heard.”
Anderson’s trip started in Lethbridge with the start of Whoop-Up day festivities, before heading to Medicine Hat. On Thursday, Aug. 24, he was in Picture Butte for a tour of the feedlot at Van Raay Paskal Farms.
“I met with Rick Paskal and talked about the cattle feeder and what’s going on there, what they see as opportunities, and we talked about the transportation routes, obviously, they have some big trucks going on the roads,” said Anderson. “We had a really good conversation about what’s going on with the municipal government act, and it was a really good conversation.”
After the tour, Anderson then visited Nanton, Vulcan and Lethbridge, and was in Coaldale the following day to represent the Alberta government as the communities involved in the Coaldale and District Municipal Enforcement program thanked the province for their support.
During his travels, he had the opportunity to hear questions and concerns from residents.
“Some of the big ones (concerns) out here have been water, for one, probably the number one issue; Highway 3 has been another issue. But there’s also some little concerns, unique things in each community that are going on, whether it be health care or education or things like that,” said Anderson. “It’s been really exciting for me actually, to come out and hear from people.”
Having to traverse Highway 3 to Medicine Hat, Anderson saw first hand why southern Albertans were pushing so hard to get the highway twinned.
“It’s a huge corridor for all the agriculture that’s out here, and you see all the big trucks, so its completely understandable,” said Anderson. “You can really tell, when you drive this corridor, how busy it is, and especially once the crops start coming off, the sugar beets and things like that, and they start using these roads, they get bottle-necked.
“To have economic growth, you need those transportation routes. And I know municipalities are concerned about it, we have to make sure the roads are taken care of. It’s a huge effort on all of our parts.”