New feature to couple community with council

By VERNA MURPHY, Connect Weekly

There are many new things to celebrate with the Connect. New ownership, a new editor – Dawn Booth – and a new commitment to telling local stories. When I heard about the changes and was offered the opportunity to do a new column I was excited to sign on.

In the coming months, in this space, I will be talking about local politics. There will be coverage of council meetings, and more coverage on what our mayor and council are up to in the community.

I will be breaking everything political down so that we can understand the way council works and the decisions they make during their Tuesday night council meetings.

With another election looming in October on the Federal level, we will look at the candidates, their parties and what it all means for Fort McMurray. I will be breaking everything political down so that we can understand the way council works and the decisions they make during their Tuesday night council meetings.

With the format moving to meetings every second and last Tuesday of every month, to a meeting every week, they shouldn’t be as long as some have been in the past. This will depend on the agenda.

During the last council meeting (before summer break), there were about 12 items on the agenda, with some of the items bringing up a lot of discussion – both from members of the public, who were gathered in chambers – and there were also a lot of questions from Mayor Melissa Blake and the council members in attendance for the various presenters.

During this meeting, it was decided that $10 million would be given to Keyano College for an expansion of their theatre. The Rotary Golf course was also granted some money to help with the development of the new course.

It was also decided that more money, over $1 million in total, would not be granted to Wood Buffalo Housing and Development for another study on what type of housing or development should be built at Willow Square.

MLA for Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo, Tany Yao is currently working with the province on a business plan that would see the development on Willow Square include a long-term care and an Aging in Place facility.

The plan will include construction and operational costs. Yao hopes this plan will be ready within 30 days, so it should be able to be presented to council shortly after their break is done, at the end of the summer.

Go to www.rmwb.ca, and click on the “Municipal Government” tab, to the right it will state: “Council meeting agendas, minutes and videos”, once you click on it, you can catch up on all the past discussions.
One of the hottest topics is the development of the downtown arena. Council has asked for a “Letter of Intent”, so into the fall the public should be presented with more concrete details of what might be developed, by who and how much it will all cost.

To share comments, concerns or story ideas for Council Connects, please contact Verna Murphy at mackdale@hotmail.com.