2017 has been a year the new Mayor of Penhold will never forget.
Mike Yargeau says he not only celebrated the birth of his daughter this year but was also elected the town’s new Mayor on October 16.
According to Yargeau, his past experience volunteering in previous elections helped with his campaigning.
“It’s stressful for sure, you lose a lot of sleep, there are a lot of nights where you wake up at three in the morning and things run through your head whether you forgot something, but it was nothing that I didn’t expect going into it.”
Yargeau admits there’s a steep learning curve for him and the four new councillors elected this fall, but he feels it’s going well so far.
“I’ve got a lot of regional mayors nearby that have been a huge help to me,” explains Yargeau. “Anytime I have any questions I can reach out and ask them about things that maybe they’ve dealt with, so it’s been nice for me.”
Looking ahead, Yargeau says the Town has a large annexation plan to the east the provincial government is currently looking at, with hopes the province might have some answers for them regarding those plans by April.
“Just expanding our commercial businesses in town. We’ve got a lot of concern, we’ve got two major highways running through town with Highway 2A and Highway 42 and we’ve got to work with Alberta Transportation to get some better controls over there," Yargeau says. "Whether it’s crosswalks or lights or just something to slow down the traffic running through town.”
Yargeau says the town’s growth areas will be to the east towards the QE2.
“It’s a lot of commercial and industrial land that would be kind of the first to go,” explains Yargeau. “Being on the central Alberta corridor and being so close to Highway 2, we could have a lot of success out there and Red Deer County is interested in that area as well. There’s a really good opportunity for us to work together with them and develop that.”
Yargeau points out the need to bring down the Penhold's residential tax rate as well.
“We’ve got to do a little better with our water,” says Yargeau. “We’ve got a new reservoir which is way ahead of schedule thanks to the weather, so it might even be ready to go before the end of the year. We’ve more than doubled our storage capacity for water and we’ve also got another well coming online to give us a lot more water capacity.”
Crime prevention is another area that Yargeau says the town will be focusing on in 2018.
“Everywhere in rural Alberta, property crime is huge right now,” says Yargeau. “We’re trying to work with Innisfail RCMP and the County as well. We’ll see what we can do to help there.”
Looking ahead, Yargeau says a new strategic plan is still in the works and council did recently pass their Operating Budget for 2018 with no proposed tax rate increase.
“As we move into the new year, we’re going to sit down and go through our capital plan and that strategic long-term priority,” explains Yargeau. “So we’ve got a lot of exciting things happening in Penhold. We’ve got a few businesses that have even opened up since the election and just a lot of good things coming that we’re working on.”
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