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Campbell looks back on successful year for Lethbridge County

Posted on January 4, 2024 by Sunny South News

By Heather Cameron
Southern Alberta Newspapers
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Tory Campbell, Reeve for Lethbridge County, says that 2023 was an ‘exciting year’ with many successes and accomplishments for  Lethbridge County and the region.

Campbell says that although there were challenges to overcome, he believes that Lethbridge County was able to face them head-on and find unique and innovative solutions. One of the major challenges, Campbell says, was the fact that it was a dry year in southern Alberta. 

“However, I am always impressed by our producer’s determination and perseverance, especially when Mother Nature doesn’t always provide us with the weather we are hoping for,”said Campbell.

In relation to agriculture, Campbell said, there was also a positive note: the announcement of the $600-million expansion of the McCain Foods facility in the County at Chin, which is the largest investment in the multi-national company’s 65-year history. Lethbridge County, Campbell says, is proud to have such a facility within its borders.

“Our agricultural industry is a significant contributor to the provincial GDP, and we expected that 2023 would be no different,” said Campbell. “Our growers and livestock producers generate an estimated $3.7 billion (2021) in economic activity, and the direct, indirect, and induced impacts of the agri-food industry are substantial.”

Overall, Campbell said, 2023 was a very positive year in Lethbridge County. 

“We saw new investments come to the area, and we worked alongside our neighbours for the betterment of the region,” said Campbell. 

Campbell says that those new changes included the arrival of their new Chief Administrative Officer, Cole Beck, who brought a wealth of knowledge from a distinguished career at Alberta Health Services with him; the adoption of a formal Land Acknowledgement that is spoken at the beginning of all Council meetings and included on the County website and other materials; and a partnership with the Town of Taber on the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program – Rural Renewal Stream to address labour shortages in the region and also assists employees of businesses from the program on the path to permanent residency in Canada.

“New businesses are choosing to locate here, and many existing businesses have expanded,” said Campbell. “We have seen a steady stream of development permit applications throughout 2023, an indication that there is economic growth in the County.” 

Lethbridge County, Campbell said, also worked with their regional partners and neighbouring municipalities on a number of initiatives in 2023, with one being the LINK Pathway Phase 2 Memorandum of Understanding between the County, St. Mary River Irrigation District, and pathway committee for the pedestrian and bike path running through the County. They also renewed the collaboration agreement between the County, Lethbridge Northern Irrigation District, and St. Mary River Irrigation District staff. 

“Regional collaboration is a priority for Council, and we seek opportunities for partnerships and cooperation wherever possible and appropriate,” said Campbell. “County Council continues to focus on good governance, building strong relationships, and enhancing our region. Council feels strongly that if we can check these boxes, we can create an environment for our stakeholders to prosper. While our population has remained relatively stable over the years, we are seeing development throughout the County, which is positive for the community.”

The County, Campbell said, also completed several capital projects this year, including the replacement of a bridge southeast of Coaldale, and a new playground in Shaughnessy that was designed using input from the community, and built with the help of residents and County staff. As part of the County’s 2023 capital budget, Campbell says, a 6.5-kilometer portion of the south Park Lake Road was paved in November, including farm, field, and industrial accesses to ensure a smooth transition from the new overlay. Maintaining and upgrading their road network where necessary is a priority for Council, to ensure safe travels for all motorists, and a reliable transportation system for producers. 

All of the hard work the County of Lethbridge has done has not gone unnoticed, Campbell says, as they were once again the recipient of the Government Finance Office Association (GFOA) Awards for their 2021 Annual Report and 2023 Budget documents. The GFOA, Campbell says, is an international government finance organization.

“County staff worked diligently throughout 2023 to deliver services to our citizens and businesses,” said Campbell. 

Campbell says that Lethbridge County actually sought feedback from the public on several items throughout 2023, including proposed changes to the Animal Control Bylaw, which now allows for a limited number of livestock in hamlets. The County, Campbell says, also asked for input on speed limits, the new design for the playground in Shaughnessy, and proposed changes to the Land Use Bylaw. Campbell says that the County also undertook extensive public engagement in the summer on what economic development should look like in the County moving forward. 

“We appreciate those who took the time to share their thoughts with us on these various initiatives, as the feedback we received helped guide our decisions to best represent the interests of our citizens and businesses,” said Campbell.

Campbell states that Lethbridge County has ‘several exciting initiatives on the horizon’ for 2024.

Those initiatives, Campbell says, include Lethbridge County’s 60th anniversary, sanitary sewer upgrades in Shaughnessy, and the replacement of two bridges in the County’s road network. The County, Campbell says, also looks forward to the McCain Foods expansion beginning next year. 

“Council also aims to continue attracting new investment to the County to further grow our economy,” said Campbell. “Staff are always looking ahead and planning for upcoming projects and initiatives. With the 2024 budget being passed on December 21, we can now begin working on plans for our budgeted operating and capital projects. Council is grateful and proud of the accomplishments of County staff. Council sets the direction, but it is the hard work and dedication of staff that drives the County forward.” 

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