Wheatland County has seen some huge investments recently, with a $210 million dollar wallboard facility, a proposed hydrogen energy project and a 950 acre solar farm from Nova Energy. On top of all of those investments, Strathmore also has a $230 million Phyto Organix pea processing plant to look forward to.
While these investments aren't Strathmore specific — with the exception of Phyto Organix — Town of Strathmore's Director of Infrastructure, Operations and Development Services Jamie Dougdale believes this will greatly contribute to Strathmore's growth.
"Strathmore is of course a service centre for the larger sub region, including a large part of Wheatland County. So there will be an economic spinoff that will benefit Strathmore. More local jobs will drive smaller business, more tax revenue to allow for infrastructure services to be expanded here, and to accommodate that new growth. It will also create some need for more increased and more diverse housing products within Strathmore, which will be good for our developers, and also demand for more choices for consumers that do come to town in terms of retail and other services."
None of these projects have begun construction yet, so Dougdale said it's hard to have projections regarding how much economic or residential growth we could be seeing. He said Strathmore has seen a steady growth rate at a couple percent a year, and these projects could boost that once construction begins. However, we can expect at least 200 jobs to be created, and more to follow during construction.
Like Dougdale, Mayor Pat Fule is very excited for what the future holds. He said the investments are good not only for the immediate impacts they will bring, but the potential domino effect that could follow.
"It helps showcase and helps highlight the potential in our region around here. Those three projects from the county are huge, and it can also attract other investments as well," he said.
"Those success stories can spread into the business community, and other investments may follow suit and decide 'it's really great to build with Wheatland County, they're very positive, they're very efficient and orderly in how they do things. And then maybe the Town of Strathmore can benefit."
While these projects are several years away from completion, Strathmore has to be ready for the expected growth. Dougdale believes Strathmore is well equipped to handle it.
"I think the key is that we do have several residential areas that still have a lot of capacity for growth, such as Edgefield, Lakewood, as well as Wildflower. So we do have a lot of room for growth in terms of residential. The other things we're doing is getting our policies and plans up to date to encourage and be ready for new growth. We've been very good at maintaining different infrastructure such as water, wastewater etc, so I think we're in a good place to accept that growth as it comes," Dougdale said.
As for Mayor Fule, he's really excited to see the town grow and is looking forward to what the future holds.
"I feel there's a real buzz in the air in the community. People know there's big things coming. One of the huge things for our town and the county is going to be job opportunities. We have a lot of young people, young adults, who sometimes have to leave the town either for training, education or work. But there's going to be more employment opportunities for young adults, or adults with young families. They'll be able to get jobs right here in Strathmore or the surrounding area and it'll keep our people employed."
"The future is so bright we got to wear shades"
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