The Town of Strathmore recently unveiled their new strategic plan for 2022-2025. After thorough discussion and community feedback, town council chose six areas to prioritize. The following areas are not ranked based on importance or significance.
Amid a nation-wide housing crisis, town council said creating affordable housing is one of their priorities for the coming years. Mayor Pat Fule said Strathmore has already taken steps to create affordable housing like the condominiums in Brentwood. With projected growth on the horizon, Fule hopes to create more options, like apartments and town houses.
"We're hoping with the growth that's coming to Strathmore in the next few years, with all the industry that's on the horizon in the county and in the town that some of the builders will be looking at finding ways to maybe have more rental units, town houses that could also be used in the rental markets," he said.
An unexpected solution may be converting detached garages into living spaces for rent.
"One of the things we're looking at is zoning changes and working with our planning department to figure out ways that people could possibly convert detached garages that have alley access, they could actually potentially convert those into rental units. The good thing about that is you could have a senior who is having financial difficulty with an investment to bring it up to code and bringing it up to a rental style unit. They could generate some income and possibly stay in their homes longer or have some financial freedom. You could also have a younger family who might own a home in an established area with a detached garage, they might be able to afford their mortgage more or make extra payments on their mortgage."
Fule said this has been done in other countries, so he knows it's possible. However, this is still in the early discussion phases for Strathmore, so he said the town will be holding an open house to hear what residents think. He added that council may be looking into basement suites for rent as another affordable living option.
Creating financial sustainability is a must for any municipality that hopes to grow, and Fule says generating reserves will be a big focus.
"We have to generate more reserves, like any family, any household, it's really important to have money set aside for rainy days and things. And there's some big projects on the horizon in the next five to seven years where there needs to be some money set aside."
He added the town is actively working to resolve any debts they have as well. Another big aspect of financial sustainability is how tax dollars are used, as well as changing any negative perception about how people in Strathmore are taxed. Fule says negative feelings about taxes is a common problem regardless of where you are.
"Strathmore, and I think basically every town's mayor that I've ever talked to tell me that people think their town has the highest property taxes of any town. And Strathmore is just not that way, but it's really hard to defeat that kind of mindset if people think that they're really heavily taxed. We have reasonable property taxes in Strathmore, and we're in a town that has a great number of amenities for a town our size; all the recreation facilities and things that are in place."
Intentional Community Development
As Strathmore grows, it's important that communities have all the supports they need. This includes, but isn't limited to: counselling groups, FCSS supports, and various service groups and departments to increase what people have access to.
Fule added creating employment opportunities is also very important for community development.
"We're looking at things like improvement of employment opportunities for all of our residents. For example, when the solar farm was being built by Bora Construction we made sure that they had a hiring fair right here near the town office in the Farmers Market Pavilion. And we specifically said we wanted our town and county residents and also Siksika residents to be able to have a chance to apply for jobs."
With big investments like the $230 million Phyto Organix Plant coming to Strathmore, Fule hopes to create plenty of employment opportunities for locals. Not just for the construction of the plant, but to work in the finished plant as well once it's up and running.
Community wellness is different from intentional community development in that wellness is more about general wellness for citizens, while development is more focused on services and support systems. Fule explained wellness relates to things like community walking paths, or the walking track at the Strathmore Motor Products Sports Centre.
Other aspects of community wellness includes supporting volunteers to create a connected community, increasing amenities and the use of amenities, and preventing and reducing crime.
Strathmore has several big investments to look forward to from Wheatland County, but there must also be a focus on promoting local business. To create a resilient and revitalized community, the town will look to increase the amount of active business licenses, while also lowering restrictions and red tape so business have more flexibility. Mayor Fule said he believes it's very important to support local, and he tries to stay in town as much as possible so he can hear feedback and do what he can to make life better for businesses.
"I try not to go away as much as possible for things like retreats and strategic planning sessions because I believe as mayor it's really important to support our local businesses and to try and stay in town for these kinds of get togethers."
Climate Resiliency Including Environmental Stewardship
To protect, manage, and enhance the local environment, town council hopes to find ways to lower Strathmore's water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. To create a more sustainable future, the town hopes to see a percentage growth in green businesses, while also monitoring infrastructure density.
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