Editorial – Time to renew the Alberta Advantage

Richard Froese

A new vision to build rural and northern Alberta communities is being set out by Premier Danielle Smith.
After the new cabinet was sworn in Oct. 24, the new premier has stated her priorities and strategies in mandate letters to the ministers.
Forestry, Parks and Tourism Minister Todd Loewen (Central Peace Notley MLA) has been directed, as one point, to invest in campgrounds and trails to ensure sufficient high-quality and low-cost recreation sites for tourists and to develop more tourism opportunities on provincial lands.
Now that the MLA for the Smoky River region is the parks and tourism minister, will local municipal leaders revive the issue of rebuilding and reopening the Winagami Lake Provincial Park wading pool that was closed in spring 2019 by Alberta Environment and Parks? McLennan town council started to do so at its meeting Nov. 14.
Loewen is already well-versed about the issue after he heard concerns from many local municipal councils.
A plan to boost economic growth in the north is a priority for Jobs, Economy and Northern Development Minister Brian Jean. He has been directed to focus on economic development and interconnectedness in north Alberta.
Specifically, the premier wants him to work with Transportation and Economic Corridors Minister Devin Dreeshen, who is the lead, to pursue the expansion of economic corridors from Fort McMurray to Grande Prairie and British Columbia, as well as interconnect the major population and economic centres in the north.
Smith promoted the High Prairie area as a hub when she spoke in that community Aug. 4 on the campaign trail in the leadership race for the United Conservative Party.
“I’ve been talking about a northern corridor to create new trade partners and build strong investment,” Smith said in a story in the South Peace News issue of Aug. 10.
“You could become a strong economic growth region.”
Steps to boost agriculture have been laid out to Agriculture and Irrigation Minister Nate Horner. The premier urges Horner, as lead, to work with Trade, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Rajan Sawhney to reduce trade barriers to inter-provincial trade of meat and other challenges in the world market.
Horner has also been directed by the premier to examine ways to reduce food costs for consumers.
Unpaid taxes from energy companies to municipalities is another priority. Municipal Affairs Minister Rebecca Schulz has been directed to work with Energy Minister Peter Guthrie to consult with the energy industry and with the Rural Municipalities of Alberta on how to address the issues associated with the linear property tax and unpaid municipal tax bills.
More mandate letters are on the way to other ministers.
Albertans trust the new premier and cabinet to make progress to create what Smith calls the “Renewed Alberta Advantage”.

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