By Collin Gallant on January 3, 2018.
A new year should bring good news, according to mayor Ted Clugston, but residents of Medicine Hat will need to stay tuned a little while longer.
Speaking after city council’s final session of 2017, Clugston said the city is poised to make gains in the coming year, perhaps some big ones.
“There are quite a few major economic developments that could be announced in the first or second quarter of 2018 that are really fascinating,” said Clugston.
“I know that I’ve alluded to it in the past, but I think some of the work that we’ve done is going to pay off.”
“It’s really, really interesting stuff.”
During the October municipal election the incumbent candidate said the stage was set for economic improvement.
He hinted that manufacturing interests had toured the city and private sector investment could follow.
Later in the year, he told reporters that companies were “lining up” to take off power produced at the city’s new north end power plant.
As much as three quarters of its 43-megawatt capacity could be used up with new projects, Clugston said.
Aside from a boom of commercial construction, economic developers have also pointed to several positive signs as a cause for optimism.
The region will see $320-million wind farm built in Whitla, southwest of Medicine Hat, over the next 18 months.
The current unemployment rate is notably lower than over the last two years.
In late 2017, the Weil Helium group announced it plans to built a cyro-facility to compress and export helium from its sites in Southwest Saskatchewan. That could be done in partnership with the city’s own helium exploration program, say administrators who say talks are underway.
In terms of major new public sector projects for 2018, the city plans to begin construction of an expanded northwest storm sewer truck line.
The completion of repaving the Medicine Hat Regional Airport Runway will force the facility to close for most of May.
Also set for completion in the year ahead are the Industrial Avenue flood berms, Fire Station No. 1, and the final stages of a major remaking of South Railway Street.
The city’s curbside recycling program will come into operation in April or May, likely with plans for a pilot project for food waste collection announced at that time as well. As well, the results of a regional collaboration study regarding solid waste and landfill operation should be complete this year.
Council received the annual update on the natural gas and petroleum resource division during a closed session meeting on Dec. 18.
Council will hold its strategic planning meetings in late January to set goals for the new four-year term.
Council will debate property tax rate in late March for the 2018 tax year, the last of the current city budget. Administrators will also begin work this year for the next two-year budget plan that will be introduced in early 2019.
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