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State of the County squared

Sturgeon doubles-up annual address
TWICE THE SPEECHES — Sturgeon County Mayor Alanna Hnatiw gives the 2023 State of the County Address at the Calahoo Community Hall Sept. 19. She gave the address again at the Edmonton Garrison on Sept. 21. KEVIN MA/St. Albert Gazette

Sturgeon County’s mayor will hold an encore presentation of the state of the county tonight to make sure more residents can hear it.

Sturgeon County Mayor Alanna Hnatiw gave the State of the County address to about 60 people at the Calahoo Community Hall Sept. 19.

In a shift from past addresses, which were aimed at business and political elites, this week’s address was focused on ordinary residents, and came paired with an open house where people could ask staff about county services. It also will happened twice, with Hnatiw giving a repeat of her speech Sept. 21 in Building 210 on the Edmonton Garrison at 6 p.m.

In an interview, Hnatiw said the county went with this more casual approach to better reach out to the community, and with two events (one on either end of the county) to make it easier to attend.

Building connections

Hnatiw’s address focused on community connections and how council’s actions were improving the lives of residents.

Hnatiw spoke on how Phase One of the county’s broadband strategy (approved in 2020) was now rolling out, with some $7.5 million being spent to bring high-speed Internet to about a thousand people in the county’s southwest.

“I know many of you were disappointed your properties were not able to be connected in Phase One, but we did the very best we could with the resources we had,” Hnatiw said.

Sturgeon County broadband project advisor Rob Schneider said crews have mostly finished hooking up homes west of Villeneuve and hoped to have those to the east done by the end of the year. He encouraged residents to weigh in on the next phase of the broadband project through a survey at, which closes Sept. 29.

Hnatiw spoke on how the county’s Villeneuve Airport area structure plan had “finally” been approved by the Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board as of Sept. 15.

“Development in this area will have a generational impact,” she said, and could eventually bring some 1,700 jobs to the region.

In an interview, Hnatiw said the plan now has to pass third reading at county council, after which the county can start promoting it to investors and members of the Villeneuve Landing Network. She emphasized that it will be up to area farmers to decide if and when the developments in the plan actually happen, as they own the land the plan covers.

Hnatiw noted how the county had started a Clean Energy Improvement Program (CEIP) to help residents reduce their energy bills by making energy efficiency upgrades they pay for over time through property taxes. Sturgeon was as of Sep. 19 the only county in Alberta offering this program.

Unlike St. Albert’s $5 million CEIP program, which is just for residential properties, Sturgeon County’s $7.3 million program covers residential, non-residential, and farm properties. It also still has funding available, unlike St. Albert’s, which was tapped out for the year after a day.

County energy systems specialist Brandon Sandmaier said he was surprised that the fund wasn’t drained dry soon after it launched on July 5.

“We didn’t do a lot of advertising up front because we anticipated we’d have a flood (of applications),” he said.

Sandmaier said the county plans to step up its promotion of CEIP later this year. About half of this year’s funding is still available, as is an incentive covering up to five per cent of a project’s costs. Visit for details.

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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