Economic development should be Morinville’s priority as it looks forward to becoming a city, says mayoral candidate Lisa Holmes.
Holmes, 33, is Morinville’s deputy mayor and one of four town residents in the race for the mayor’s chair. She sat down with the Gazette last week to discuss her platform.
A town resident since 2009, Holmes was first elected to council in 2010, taking the third-highest number of votes in the council race after Gordon Boddez and Paul Krauskopf. During her last term, she helped create the town’s finance and audit committee and launched the on-going Incredible Edibles project.
She is involved with a long list of local and provincial organizations, including the Capital Region Board and the Premier’s Council on Alberta’s Promise, and was the 23rd person to graduate from the Alberta Urban Municipality Association’s elected official program.
“We are right on the cusp of becoming a city,” Holmes said, and in the next four years, residents will have to choose where they want their town to go. “Do we want to be a residential community or a complete community?”
Morinville has always been a place where people move to raise their families, Holmes said, and residents want to keep that small town feel. But it also needs more support for local and home businesses so residents can live, work and shop here as well.
“In the previous council,” she continued, “we started the process of looking at economic development in a new way.” The town is hiring an economic development officer to work with developers and lay the groundwork for future projects, and has brought in the Coeur de Morinville plan to make it easier for business to move into downtown.
“Morinville needs to start promoting itself more.” Holmes said her top priority if elected would be to bring in an economic development plan to draw more light industrial and commercial development to town.
The town doesn’t have a lot of industrial land, Holmes said, and needs to look at partnering with Sturgeon County to develop the lands on its borders. Council was now in talks with the county to create a joint area structure plan around Morinville, she noted, one that could bring more homes and industry to the region.
Holmes also planned to do an operations review of all the town’s programs and services. “We have some areas we excel in,” she said, such as snow removal, but council needed to make sure it was putting its cash in the right places. “Are we getting the right value for the money we’re spending?”
Town residents want a regional recreation facility, Holmes said, and council is now working on a plan to make it happen. “I’d like to see us look at a staggered approach,” she said, one that would see the facility built in chunks – an arena first, for example – instead of all at once. This would give the town more time to finish paying for the Community Cultural Centre. “We can’t do a facility like this on our own,” she said, so partnerships would be essential to make it happen.
Holmes said she had a proven record for integrity on council and was dedicated to her role. “I want there to be a vision for Morinville that residents have created.”
Also running for mayor are Coun. Sheldon Fingler, Shotgun Sally’s manager Christa Naughton and Lions Club president Carrie Foss.